Recently I talked about how to set up your own blog and now I’m going to continue by emphasizing the importance of an RSS feed. What is it? Basically it is a unique format in which content from frequently updated sites (like a blog) is syndicated. Web syndication allows you to share the content of your site (blog) to many different sites automatically. This is specially useful for people who are interested in following your blog. Sure, you can let them type your blog’s site each time or simply allow them to receive updates on their email, feed reader (I recommend Google Reader), etc. After all, you don’t want your followers to have to remember to visit your site every time if there is an easier option out there. Sure, you already made your blog social but that was meant to facilitate comments and sharing of your blog’s content by it’s visitors. While publishing your blog to Twitter will get initial visitors into the blog, an RSS feed will complete the job when they suscribe to it.
Blogging platforms will normally create an RSS feed for your blog. Yet, this is a plain XML file which is just a pain to read. However, the good news is that you can burn your feed which makes it pretty. That’s where FeedBurner comes into play.
To use it, you simply have to give it your RSS feed XML url and choose a name. For example, the RSS feed XML url for Fellgernon Bit is http://fellgernon.tumblr.com/rss which is rather ugly, but looks much better with FeedBurner at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FellgernonBit The content is readable and FeedBurner allows your visitors to suscribe using a wide variety of tools with a few clicks.
This is not the end, as you can create lots of interesting gadgets through FeedBurner. For example, you can add a link with the number of suscribers (as counted through FeedBurner):
To do so, enter the FeedBurner page for your blog then click on the “Publicize” tab and go to “FeedCount”. There you’ll have several options (like choosing the color, type, etc) and you’ll get a piece of html code that creates the link:
<p><a href=”http://feeds.feedburner.com/FellgernonBit”><img src=”http://feeds.feedburner.com/~fc/FellgernonBit?bg=CC0033&fg=444444&anim=0” height=”26” width=”88” style=”border:0” alt=”” /></a></p>
Now simply paste it in the html file of your blog wherever you want it to appear.
FeedBurner offers other options, statistics, etc but I think that one of the most important one is BuzzBoost (again under the Publicize tab). This allows you to show the most recent entries of your blog in other sites you own. Friends might also want to link your blog. In my case, I’m using it show the most recent posts from salmoblog.org as I want to publicize it, plus I’m part of the contributors there. As with FeedCount, BuzzBoost has several options and will give you an html code. Here is the code for Fellgernon Bit:
In the end, if you make your blog it’s worth the extra minutes to configure your RSS feed and make it easy for your visitors to suscribe to it. Plus, you can use FeedBurner to make it nice looking and add some cool gadgets if you want.