Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Smart Tips for Bloggers


This is going to be a fairly long post, but here's the short version: get feeds from your favourite blogs to your homepage. You'll thank me for it!

Right, now for the long explanation. I'm fairly new to blogging. I started on December 8th of last year. So far, I've had a great time and I'm really enjoying the experience. However, one thing I've noticed is that it takes a lot of time!

One of the real pleasures of blogging are the comments people leave on posts, and I like to join in the conversation on various blogs. Apologies to all of you who've had to put with up my so-called "humour". Anyway, it was a real pain having to type in blog addresses, or click on links from one blog to another. Remember, I'm not really that savvy about web things.

Then I discovered the beauty of bookmarks. Yes! Go to a page, bookmark it, click on your bookmark folder and all your favourite pages are available! What's more, I discovered that with Firefox I could drag the bookmarks onto my toolbar! I click on a button and I'm there on your blog's doorstep!

Even so, there wasn't enough room for all my bookmarked pages on the toolbar, my favourite pages were increasing exponentially, and I was spending a lot of time going to a blog only to find it hadn't been updated since my last visit. Time for a bit of research...

A lot of bloggers were talking about "Feeds". Huh? What's a feed? Are bloggers particularly hungry people? Then they kept mentioning things like "RSS". Doesn't that stand for Repitive Strain Syndrome? Not clicking on that, I thought, that's for sure! Others were boasting about "Atom". Well, we're all made of atoms so I didn't think there was much to boast about.

I soon discovered the truth.

I'll keep it simple. So simple even I can understand it. A feed is a way of sending a message to say that your blog has been updated.

Why is this such a good thing? Well, I have an account with Yahoo which I previously used just for email. They had something called My Yahoo, a page where you could have news and weather updates delivered to you. Big deal, I thought. If I want a weather update in real time, I'll just look out the window. But I found out that the My Yahoo page can be used to receive blog feeds. This means that instead of going all around the net to see if my favourite blogs have been updated, I just go to My Yahoo and I can see immediately which blogs have new posts. All on one page! No more wearing out my fingers!

So now, when I go to a blog I like, I see if they have a feed and I subscribe to it. How do you know what to look for? Well, just look for something that says "Atom" or "RSS" -- or a message saying "Subscribe to this blog". You'll notice on my page, for example, an orange icon in the left hand column. If you want to subscribe to my blog, click on that.

Problem: some of my favourite blogs don't have feeds! I think it may be that the old Blogger didn't offer feeds automatically. The new one does--the Atom thing at the bottom of this page. If your blog doesn't have a feed then you should think about getting one. I got my orange icon from www.feedburner.com and I prefer this to the Atom feed because it also allows me to get statistics about the number of subscribers I have. That number is currently 2 -- myself and some mysterious unknown person. Mysterious unknown person: I love you!

Good luck and smart blogging!

PS: RSS -- stands for Rich Site Summary. I think it should stand for Richie's Site Summary that way maybe I could get some money out of it but the stupid people at the patent office don't believe in being flexible...

PPS: I use My Yahoo as my feed reader, but I guess there are loads of different browsers and things you can use.

PPPS: And no, I'm not getting any money from Yahoo for saying nice things about them. I'm a man of principles, and if they so much as hinted about making a donation I would have to put my foot down and accept it.

9 comments:

Scruffyhippo said...

Better make that 3 richie (from the also mysterious Scruffyhippo)
Thanks for that I do the same.

Scruffyhippo said...

It's easy enough to subscribe to RSS feeds, but it's a little trickier to create them for your own site. (Informit.com) shows you how with a chapter excerpt from the book, Secrets of RSS.

Author Steven Holzner walks you through all the important steps, like choosing an RSS format, creating RSS feeds online, uploading the feed and adding an XML button. The guide reads easily and includes numerous illustrations and code examples, though the latter are a bit small. Thankfully, there's a printer-friendly version if you want a hard copy. this is a great tutorial for anyone new to RSS publishing.

Justin said...

Does mine have feeds? Anyways, I posted a comment... but only to complain about Adrian's word verification system... only a red X shows up:(

Richie said...

To create them for your own site just go to www.feedburner.com

The process if quite simple.

Justin: Yes, you do--towards the bottom of your page it says: "subscribe to posts (Atom)" That means I can get a feed from your blog. So, I'm going to add you to the list of feeds I receive!

Richie said...

if=is

Doh!

Mary said...

Richie, I love feedburner.

Thanks for pointing me to it.

But, I'm not getting any e-mails that tell me when a blog changes.

I thought it said I could.

So, have I missed a crucial setting there?

Mary

Richie said...

Mary: I don't receive email updates either--I receive the feed in my browser. What browser are you using?

Andy said...

Ooh, a post on RSS feeds. Thats something i've taken an interest in recently ;)

Feeds i subscribe to i have on my bookmarks toolbar (Below the address bar in Firefox) and can click to see the dropdown of entries.

RSS is definately handy :)

Richie said...

Andy: That sounds like a cool idea--I hadn't thought of combining feeds with the firefox toolbar! I'll give it a go. Yes feeds are great for staying up to date with blogs across the blogosphere.