Archive for November, 2011

What Is RSS and How Does It Get Readers to My Blog?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The firs and possibly most important step in promoting your blog is having an RSS feed. RSS, which stands  for “really simple syndication,” enables people who want to read your blog in the future to be notified when your blog has a new blog post.

 

When new blog owners find out that RSS is a tool for broadcasting their blog posts across the internet, they get  excited. They think it’s the equivalent of standing on the roof of the tallest building and yelling through a bull horn. They think everybody in hearing distance is getting their message. When it comes to RSS, just because you’re broadcasting doesn’t mean people are receiving your blog posts.

 

Your Blog “Radio Station”

How RSS works on your blogThink of your blog like a radio station. Radio stations send out content via the airwaves . Your blog works the same way.  Each time you publish a new blog post it’s like another radio wave going out into the world. But just because radio waves are out there, doesn’t mean people can hear them. Fortunately, radio waves roll right past us if we’re not tuned into them. Imagine how crazy making that would be if you heard every radio wave out there!

 

In order for listeners to hear what your radio station is broadcasting, they need 2 things. They need a radio AND their radio needs to be tuned to your station. Your blog works the same way.

 

Your Blog “Radio”

In the case of your blog, the “radio” takes one of 2 forms:

How RSS WorksBlog Reader

A blog reader is a place where you can collect all the blogs you want to keep track of. There are many free blog readers out there (Google reader is the most popular) and they work similarly to your email program. You have the equivalent of an inbox where you can view the blogs you’ve subscribed to.

Email
People can also have your latest blog posts show up in their email inbox. This is a good option for you the blog owner because it doesn’t require the subscriber to remember to check their blog reader. Your blog posts show up in their inbox as if they were a regular email.

 

 

Tuning into Your “Signal”

While having a blog reader or email is the equivalent of a radio, subscribing to your feed constitutes tuning into your blog. To sign up for an RSS feed, look for an orange button with a dot and 2 curved lines. It should roughly look like a signal going out. When you click on that button, another page appears with either the raw feed (looks like a bunch of code) or a web page with options for signing up.

 

How Do I Add an RSS Feed Signup to my Website or Blog?

If you know how to do it, RSS sign up capabilities is not difficult and doesn’t take much time. However, unless you’re willing to learn a bit about coding websites, I recommend asking your web designer to add it for you. I’ll give you a quick overview of the process so you know what’s involved.

 

Feedburner is the easiest and most commonly used  tool for adding RSS feed sign up capabilities to your blog.

  1. First, you  need to create a Feedburner account.  but since Feedburner is owned by Google, if you have a Google account that will get you in.
  2. Follow the steps to create the feed URL. It’s easy!
  3. Then add an RSS sign up image to your site and link it to your feed’s URL.

 

That’s it! Now people can sign up for your blog.

 

You’re paying attention to your Analytics, right?

One of the reasons why I like Feedburner is that you can login and see how many people subscribe to your blog and where they found your blog. It’s a valuable metric and helps you not feel like you’re talking to yourself. Put it on your calendar to login in at least once a month and check your progress. When you know how many subscribers you had last month, it motivates you to have more subscribers next month.

 

RSS feeds are a valuable marketing tool. In a future blog post I’ll talk about other uses of RSS for building an online audience.

 

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