08 January 2011

RSS Feed Tutorial for Writers

by Carrie Bailey

By special request from Perry Block, I've got another installment of blogging series for writers. Today it's going to be RSS Feed and the solution that I came up with. Of course, there are many options for how to manage and display your feed, but this is one. First, you need to have your feed burnt. I don't know what that means honestly, in fact, I don't think that's even the correct term at all, but I do know that I use Feed Burner (owned by Google) to distribute my feed or whatever it does, see my technical knowledge really breaks down at some points, but my research skills are still high:

What is RSS? <<<visit this site for a much clearer overview of what RSS really truly is.

Obviously, I don't have to understand it to use it though.

Why should you care about RSS if you're a writer and an artist and you just want create and not get into marketing? Hmm...well, there is a reason. Your readers can subscribe to your feed through varies means and continually return to your blog from a link in their browser or other feed subscription service. Seriously, I had no idea people would want to keep reading Peevish Penman over and over again when I first started, but they do and the RSS feed is one way for them to find their way back. 

There are many small buttons that you can install on your blog and that accurately show how many are subscribing. Personally, I opted for one that had to be manually updated. My reason is that it looks awesome. I could change the images and lie if need be. I don't, but I could if I wanted to and to demonstrate that fact, I'll change my RSS feed followers to 1,000,001 just for today (it's really 163).



How to install a RSS feed follow:

1.Sign up with Feedburner or another similar service. Save the URL of your blog's feed.

2. Redirect your the feed from your blog to Feedburner. In blogger, go to settings and click the site feed tab and enter the URL (the http:/// thingy).

From here there are many options and I'll explain two:

First, click on the name of your blog in Feedburner. Choose the "publicize" tab and then select "chicklet chooser." The chicklet is the little monocolor button. Copy the code and insert it into a gadget or widget in your blog:

Subscribe in a reader

It will look like that. Then, if you want to show off in real time, the number of subscribers on your blog, you go to "feed count" and add the html code to a gadget on your blog, which will look like this unless you customize the color:



But, that's not what I do. I'm very visual and I like to show some personality in my feed count, so here is the script that I use:

You'll have to replace the hosted images, the numbers of subscribers, and the URLs of your feed and your twitter name. This script can be customized to remove or insert any elements you choose, too. Originally, it included my Facebook followers, but I thought it was too bulky so I took them out. And the images I used I found online.

Social Media Icons <<<here's a link to many different social media icons. Just sign up for a file host, upload them, copy the direct link and replace red lettering below: 


<style>
.rss-mbt {
    background: url(http://placeimageishosted/hostedimage.png)no-repeat;
    height: 68px;
    padding: 0px 20px 0px 80px;
    margin-top: 20px;
}
.twitter-mbt {
    background: url(http://placeimageishosted/hostedimage.png) no-repeat;
    height: 68px;
    padding: 0px 20px 0px 80px;
    margin-top: 20px;
}
.follower-rss, .follower-twitter, .follower-facebook {
    font-family: Georgia,  sans-serif, Times;
    font-size: 1.2em;
        font-style:italic;
        color:##333399;
}
.follower-rss span {
    font-size: 1.2em;
    font-weight: bold;
        font-style:italic;
        color:#b45f06;   
}
.follower-twitter span {
    font-size: 1.5em;
    font-weight: bold;
        font-style:italic;
        color:#3143ff;      
}
</style>
<div class="rss-mbt">
<div class="follower-rss"> <span>168</span> readers
</div>
<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourBlog" rel="nofollow">with RSS</a>
</div>
<div class="twitter-mbt"><div class="follower-twitter"><span>3948</span> followers</div>                          
<a href="http://twitter.com/YourTwitterUserName" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" title="I definitely follow you back">on Twitter</a>
</div>


And it looks like this:


168 readers
with RSS

By the way, while manually updating your feed count and twitter followers may feel tedious. I find that it can often be more accurate that real time feed counters. For no reason some days my subscribers will drop by forty while only ten visited the blog post for the day. Then, the next day precisely forty will subscribe to my blog without a change in traffic to have those numbers make any sense. It happens all the time...

Other blogging articles I've written:

Beautifying Writers Blogs

Social Media Buttons

5 comments:

  1. I've been wrangling with feedburner of late; finally got it figured out. I should have just asked you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anything you see on my blog I figured out myself just from doing searches online and reading about it.

    I am always happy to write a post explaining any element just for writers and happy to clarify anything, too.

    At least, my solutions...it can take so long to figure new things out...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much, Carrie!

    As always, I would marry you in a minute if ever you decided you could not live without a bald 60 year old Jew with no money ....

    ReplyDelete
  4. And as always Perry, I would marry you in a minute if you could get over being a bald Jew with no money.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very nice tutorial!!! =) RSS can be a powerful tool!

    ReplyDelete