You find a new blog. Read it while nodding, laughing or perhaps wiping a tear. LOVE IT. Want to read more. So you Bookmark.
Then you forget about it. Or cannot find the Bookmark. What was the name again? Google google google.
As a blogger, this is a scenario that I want to avoid and so I am looking for ways to connect to my readers, so that they return to my blog. There are several ways of doing this. I can use Social Media to reach my readers, I can add an email subscription button and I can finally get to grips with RSS feeds.
I have heard of RSS feeds but never truly understood what it is about. Sometimes I click on a RSS feed button on a blog and it brings up a page of gobbledegook. What am I supposed to do with that, I have asked myself.
Yesterday I decided to investigate and this is what I found out.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. I won’t go into the technical details about how it works
as I am not quite sure that I understood it Â but here is what you need to know to get the most out of RSS.
RSS feeds push content from your blog to the subscribed person, via a website called aÂ feed reader (which I will explain in a moment). So when you put a post on your blog, it is sent magically via internet sprites to the person who has signed up to receive updates. Without them having to go looking for it. This is the clever bit – you are getting your blog out to the people who you know are interested in reading it, saving you time and effort in publicising your blog.
If you have not set up a RSS feed for your blog, do think about doing this. I found a fantastic blog called Tentblogger which explained it all for me. Using a website called Feedburner to set up your RSS feed is very easy. You paste your blog url into the Feedburner website, do a bit of tweaking and that is it. It may take you an hour or so Â but it is well worth the effort. Tentblogger explains how to set up the RSS feed on Feedburner to get the most out of it.
You can of course leave the reader to do the work, they can add your blog feed to their reader manually, but you want to make it as easy and simple as possible. To add a blog to my feedÂ reader, I have to open the website, copy and paste the blog url, insert it and save it on the reader. Offering your readers a one click option, straight from your blog is more likely to encourage them to sign up.
Here is what it looks like when you have it set up – as you can see there is a variety of available RSS readers. Your follower chooses which one he/she uses and with one click has subscribed to your blog.
That was easy! Now onto FeedÂ Readers.
I have tried a few blog readers, and never really got on with them. I used Bloglines for a while, but it was not available for the iPad and I do a lot of blog reading at night in bed. Google looked promising, but I was not keen on the interface, it felt a bit clunky and busy.
Then I discovered that Bloglines is changing into Netvibes – purely by accident while I was sorting out my RSS feed and email subscription buttons for the blog. I was impressed by the sync opportunities to iPhone and iPad. There is no app, but there is a mobile website, and you can add a Netvibes button to your homescreen.
Here is how it works withÂ the RSS reader Netvibes.
Register, either with email and password of via your Facebook account then you can start to add your feeds. You can add blogs, webpages, feeds of news outlets Â and lots of other interesting stuff to your page, and the thing that I like a lot is that you can have several tabs. For example, I have one for general websites and one for blogs. This is what my page looked like this morning. You can see that I have added Mumsnet, Pinterest, Twitter, BBC News – I also have my email client on there, LinkedIn, other news channels, a weather widget, and Â Facebook (although it doesn’t seem to be working correctly at present).
It is my new homepage – I can see at a glance if I have a new email, if someone has added something of interest on the websites that I use, I see Breaking News and last but not least, can read the blogs I follow. All on the one page. Pretty nifty.
Adding content is pretty easy. Click on the ADD CONTENT button then choose what you would like to add. For a blog click “Feed”. If the blog has a RSS button then try that first, as it is easier than adding manually.
You can change the details, depending on how you want your dashboard to look. Â I like the Classy Slideshow option for blogs with a lot of pictures, and have chosen Magazine for those without. Here is something to think about on the Does-A-Blog-Need-Pictures debate – pictures make the blog and the post stand out and I am more likely to click on it and read the post.
With a click, you can open the blog post, either in a simplified Feed View, without the blog header and distracting side bars, or in normal website view. Without leaving Netvibes page, which is really handy particularly on the iPad.
You can share with others, via Facebook, Twitter or email.
There are hundreds of other applications that I haven’t even touched on – setting up an open page so that you can share with other, using it to publicise your business. I have concentrated on the advantages to bloggers since that is the area that most interests me.
Now all I need are some subscribers…