Comments for the Bloggiesta RSS Mini-Challenge
Bloggiesta RSS Mini-Challenge: 06/10/10
You're a blogger or you're thinking of becoming one. Blogging is one part journal keeping and one part interaction with readers. With so many hundreds of blogs available, you want to make it as easy as possible for your readers (and potential readers) to know when you've posted something new. The best way to do that is to include an RSS feed.
What is RSS?
RSS ("Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication" depending on whom you ask) is an XML variation and a cousin to HTML. If you're using a blogging platform (blogger or WordPress) you're probably already generating an RSS feed and you just need to get that feed added to your webpages. If you're working in flat HTML (like me) but still want to provide an RSS feed, you can and I'll teach you how.
RSS on a Blogging Platform (Blogger/Typepad, WordPress and LiveJournal):
The two main blogging platforms are Blogger and Word Press. Both sites have help pages to get you started with RSS. If you are on blogger / typepad: Google has a step-by-step tutorial you can use to get your blog's feed set up.
Doing it by hand:
Maybe you have a site that isn't using a database or a blogging platform but you want to offer an RSS feed. You still can. Download a copy of sample.xml and fill in the blanks as instructed.
The <channel></channel> tags contain the information about your blog as a whole. You need to provide your blog's title, the link (URL) to your blog's HTML site, and copyright info.
Each blog post goes in as a separate <item></item>. For each post you need to provide a post title, a post description and then in the <![CDATA[ section you put the content of your blog post. If you have images or links to other pages on your site, make sure they are absolute URLs in your RSS feed.
For example: <a href="sample.xml"> would become "<a href="/blog/2010/comments_06/sample.xml">
If you want to see a full, working version, download my blog feed by right clicking or command clicking to save a copy. You'll see that I keep ten days of blog posts in my feed. You can include as many or as few days as you want.
If you are hand coding an RSS feed, it is very important to run your feed through a validator. The one at feedvalidator.org will give you tips on how to improve or fix your code.
RSS buttons and browser detection
Now that you have an RSS feed, you need to let your readers know you have one. One easy way to do that is to use the standard RSS icon. There are many sites that offer free RSS icons for download. Some of them are: Snap2objects, Smashing Magazine, Widget Buckets.
The other thing you should do is put your RSS in the header of your blog so that browsers auto detect it. When you're online and you see the RSS icon at the end of a URL, you know that the site is configured with an RSS feed and that your browser has found it for you.
To add your feed so that it auto detects you need to include it in your header:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="TITLE OF BLOG" href="/blog.xml">.
Make sure to change "blog.xml" to whatever your blog's feed is.
Subscribe by Email:
Some readers will prefer to subscribe via email. An easy way to offer that service is to set up an account with FeedBurner. You can follow the instructions for Blogger / Typepad here. For all other services: the instructions are here. Once you have the service turned on, make sure you provide a link near where you have your RSS icon your side bar.
Now it's your turn:
Links to help you get started:
Comment #1: Friday, June, 11, 2010 at 07:31:09
My blog is on WordPress and it has a built-in feeds function but it can't be customized unless you pay for the CSS fee. So I can't monitor how many subscribers I have and other such information. I'm now thinking if I should use FeedBurner instead.
Comment #2: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 17:28:37
I'm not sure if you can add a feedburner link to a free WordPress blog.
Comment #3: Friday, June, 11, 2010 at 11:45:06
This was a pretty easy challenge compared to some that I will be working on all weekend or for awhile - using blogger and a template cut down some of the work!!
Comment #4: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 17:33:14
I'm glad it was an easy challenge for you.
Comment #5: Friday, June, 11, 2010 at 14:35:08
Thank you for your post. I added an email subscription to my RSS feed/feed burner and I am downloading a new icon that draws more attention to my blog.
Comment #6: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 17:34:43
You're welcome. Glad I could help or inspire.
Comment #7: Friday, June, 11, 2010 at 14:53:21
Help! I'm using Blogger and am having trouble understanding what to do.
I started with the step-by-step tutorial. I set all of the pull downs to full and hit save settings. I then went to the section on "site feed template" tags.
I'm lost and not sure what to do.
I'd appreciate any help.
Comment #8: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 17:44:45
Sorry I missed your comment when it first came in. I know you've managed to get it working. I've been completely slammed with work and family commitments.
Comment #9: Friday, June, 11, 2010 at 15:36:10
I think I figured it out. It was way easier than I thought. Now onto the email thingy. Thanks.
Comment #10: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 18:02:53
Good job on figuring it out.
Comment #11: Saturday, June, 12, 2010 at 02:09:18
Awesome post! I just set up a feed and a subscribe by email option on my blog!
Comment #12: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 18:21:20
Wonderful. I'm glad you found the challenge useful.
Comment #13: Saturday, June, 12, 2010 at 14:03:26
Well I half way did this! I verified that I have an RSS feed but I can't figure out how to download and install an icon...
Comment #14: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 18:23:28
Follow the links I provided or do a search for "RSS icons" on the web. Right click (PC) or control click (Mac) on the image you want to save. Save the image to your computer. Then upload it either to your blog or to a site like Flickr or Photobucket. Then use the image as you would any other image on your blog.
Comment #15: Saturday, June, 12, 2010 at 15:30:00
I just realized that I didn't put my RSS into my header. At least I don't think I did.
How do I do that? I can edit the HTML for my blog, but where in the header do I put the code.
And the "blog.xml" thing. I'm not sure what to change mine to. I used Feedburner if that helps.
Comment #16: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 18:27:53
Your RSS is already in your header. You can tell because the RSS icon is next to the URL at the top of the browser.
To put it in your header, type this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="TITLE OF BLOG" href="/blog.xml">.. The RSS link that Feedburner gives you would replace the "/blog.xml" part.
Comment #17: Saturday, June, 12, 2010 at 17:50:08
Thanks for hosting this mini challenge. I am no long "feed" challenged :)
Comment #18: Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 18:30:57
Comment #19: Saturday, June, 12, 2010 at 22:46:34
I just had to make sure my RSS was working properly!
Comment #20: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 18:10:24
Comment #21: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 07:44:42
Thank you Sarah, this was really helpful! I have a simple RSS feed subscription beside the e-mail subscription too and will add it to ym header once my header is done (it is being designed).
Thanks, it was really helpful!
Comment #22: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 18:10:24
I'm glad you found the mini-challenge helpful.
Comment #23: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 11:16:21
Thanks Sarah this was very useful. I would like to put up the Feed icon where it displays how many people subscribe by feed to my blog. Could you please help how I could do that?
Comment #22: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 18:28:11
Feedburner has just what you need.
Comment #23: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 17:23:40
I have gone as far as I can with this challenge and wordpress but am still hoping to move over to a .com by the end of the year so I can better customize things to my liking!
Comment #24: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 18:58:27
Good luck with the new domain when you get it.
Comment #25: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 17:41:13
Great tips! I actually went in and tweaked some things in Feedburner like adding an e-mail option. I'll be adding this button to my site asap (as soon as I figure out how). Right now I have a feed button near the top o'my site next to the Twitter icon.
Comment #24: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 19:00:58
Comment #25: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 18:44:45
Thanks for a great challenge, Sarah.
I haven't done the email sub yet but will get to it this week.
Comment #26: Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 19:04:48
Comment #27: Sunday, June, 13, 2010 at 23:04:33
Great mini-challenge! I read through and I think I'm already good to go, but it looks like others have learned a lot about this super-important step.
Comment #28: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 18:38:30
Thanks. Glad you could verify that everything is working.
Comment #29: Friday, January, 21, 2011 at 04:41:13
Comment #30: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 17:01:44
I'm glad the mini challenge helped. I hope you had fun with Blogiesta.
Comment #31: Friday, January, 21, 2011 at 19:57:30
I'm so glad this challenge was left up, my understanding of RSS was limited but today I went in and really worked on my subscriptions, and putting them in folders. I wandered around to many of my favorite sites to gather their feeds, and noticed that some involved looking forever for the links, so that, and this prompted me to add larger feed links and twitter links for easy access
Comment #32: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 17:03:58
I'm glad you found the challenge helpful.
Comment #33: Saturday, January, 22, 2011 at 18:34:16
I wimped out and went for Feedburner... but at least now I have a great big button in my sidebar! And hopefully I will be able to get some Feedburner analysis. Thanks for the mini-challenge!
Comment #34: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 17:04:07
Feedburner is a very useful tool. I don't think you wimped out at all.
Comment #35: Sunday, January, 23, 2011 at 02:14:58
Thanks! I updated everything on my blog :)
Comment #36: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 17:07:21
I'm happy you found the challenge useful.
Comment #37: Sunday, January, 23, 2011 at 06:31:03
I added both a RSS and a email subscription (although I did mine weirdly since I'm on Wordpress and I'm completely un-tech savvy).
Thanks for the help!
Comment #38: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 17:09:36
Wordpress does have its own way of doing things but it sounds like you got things working. Congrats!
Comment #39: Friday, March 30, 2012 at 12:57:30
I recently added this :)
Comment #40: Frday, March 30, 2012 at 11:08:25
Comment #41: Friday, March, 30, 2012 at 18:58:57
Awesome post btw :)
Comment #42: Frday, March 30, 2012 at 11:48:58