RSS is a great way to promote your blog. In fact, most blogs will automatically set up an RSS feed to go with the blog unless you specifically tell the software not to. But did you know that you can use RSS for more than just blogs? Everyone has heard of podcasts, but you can also promote other articles, new products or just interesting information with an RSS feed. Some interesting uses of RSS feeds that I've seen include:
- What's new with the company or website
- Lists of just about anything - from gift wishlists to rental queues to quotations and more
- "Blah" of the day - simple lists of daily things like quote of the day, tag of the day, photo of the day, and so on
- Serialized novels or short stories
How to Write Your Own What's New RSS Feed
There are lots of RSS editors out there, most ranging around $30-$40. But you don't need anything more than the text editor (like Notepad or TextEdit) that comes with your computer.
- Create your RSS file.
Open your text editor and type in the following:
Change the bold items to reflect your RSS file's information.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">
<title>What's New on SITE NAME</title>
<link>URL OF THIS FILE</link>
<description>DESCRIPTION OF THIS FILE</description>
<atom:link href="URL OF THIS FILE" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />
- Create your first entry (called an "item" in RSS)
Under the <atom:link> tag, enter the item tag and the new article name:
<item>Use the title and URL you want people to use to access the exact article. They will become a link in your RSS feed.
<title>LATEST ARTICLE TITLE</title>
<link>LATEST ARTICLE URL</link>
- Add in the publication date and time of the entry
The date must be in this format:
Sun, 07 Dec 2008 10:12:10 -0800Enter the date the article was published:
<pubDate>Sun, 07 Dec 2008 10:12:10 -0800</pubDate>You can put future dates if you don't want to promote the article until later.
- Include the article's permanent link
This may be the same as the link URL above, or it may be different.
<guid isPermaLink="true">LATEST ARTICLE URL</guid>This should be the URL that won't disappear - the permalink.
- Describe the article and close the item
Write a description of the article that will display in the RSS feed.
<description>LATEST ARTICLE DESCRIPTION</description>You may use HTML tags in the description, but you must escape them as if you were writing HTML tags to display on a Web page. For example: <b>This is bold</b>
- Validate your feed
- Repeat from step 2 for each new entry. Place newest entries at the top of the file (just below the atom:link tag).
Promote Your Feed
Once you have a working feed, you can promote it to feed aggregators. I recommend that you include links to your "What's New" feed on your home page and in other popular locations on your website. The more you promote the feed, the more readers you'll get.
Subscribe to my What's New feed. You can also view the RSS by viewing the source of that page.