I have to admit in writing this post it could be considered that I am damaging my own blogging statistics. But I think it is an important subject so in balance I am prepared to take the hit. So now I have said that, let’s get on with exploring the world of RSS Feeds.
What are RSS Feeds
I don’t want to assume you know what I am talking about, after all, we know what they say about making assumptions. So, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and in a nutshell, what it does is allow the content from your blog to be exported. The main reason for doing this is Feed Readers. Over the last few years, there has been much talk that feed readers are dying, but I would argue as many of the main “players” in the market are still going strong and new apps are still popping up this seems unlikely.
So what are Feed Readers
A Feed Reader is an application that allows you to receive content from all the blogs you choose to follow. At this time I would say arguably the most well known is Feedly. They have both a free account and a paid version if you want extra functionality. For quite a few years I used the paid version of Feedly and was impressed by it.
However, when I began subscribing to SetApp which I talked about in the post: SetApp for Mac using Spoonies. News Explorer is included and it made no financial sense to keep subscribing to a premium News Feeder as a stand-alone product when I had the same premium features included in an app that is part of my SetApp subscription so I swapped over and have been equally happy with News Explorer since then.
Another popular service that is built around RSS feeds is Bloglovin’. You can also use RSS feed services within your own blogs. For instance, as Instagram only gives you one link I decided that rather than using Link.tree or a similar service that gives you limited control over what appears in your links. I have created a links page on my “Parent” website which has RSS feeds for both of my blogs as well as my new daily newsletter. I did this using the WP RSS Aggregator plugin for WordPress.
The Reader’s Benefit of a Feed Reader
This is the part where I may be damaging my own blog stats in telling you but the simple fact is that a lot of people don’t like to receive the blog posts they follow in their email inbox. I count myself among those people. When I am working through my inbox I am in a productivity mode where fast decisions are made.
Documents are filed away and anything that needs doing is transferred to ClickUp. I have no intention of being caught up reading anything at this point in the day. So receiving blog posts by email is frustration for me.
When you receive a blog post in an email you need to go to the browser to continue reading it (I use a stand-alone email client rather than logging into the web page. My News Explorer has a built-in browser panel so you change from the extract to the complete post with a single click.
I know, as a blogger I encourage people to sign up with an email address and that is where the complication arises, but then you may not feel the same, you may like to receive blog posts in your email. If that is the case I am happy to encourage you to sign up for mine too.
Reading when you want to
By receiving blog posts into News Reader I am able to have a designated reading time when I am happy to be reading blogs (or if there are no new posts a factual book on the Kindle). It is part of my self-education routine when I read articles and if they contain important information I want to remember I forward them to Pocket.
After the reading stage of my self-education comes the writing phase where I go through what is in Pocket and create a Source Note in Obsidian, where I have my digital brain (more about that in this blog post) with a link to the original note like this. Followed by the quotes I want to keep and my own thought section.
Sharing Blog Posts
Another benefit of using the Feed Reader is that I am able to share a blog post if I choose straight to my social media accounts, although I don’t do that as often as I could. For my fellow Fibro Bloggers posts, I import links from the directory each week into my SocialBee account to share in my curated news category. But if I come across a creative post or something that looks interesting I sometimes share it straight to Twitter etc.
I am going to be a little bit controversial here because I know an awful lot of Spoonie bloggers (me included) are not in receipt of any living wage and are trying to do whatever they can to make a living through activities like blogging. I include some affiliate links within my blog posts for this purpose. Unfortunately, though, I am going to be brutally honest and say some blogs contain so many adverts within their content that they disrupt the reading process to the point of making it unbearable. When you use a feed reader often the contents of those adverts are stripped out (especially if the adverts are in the sidebar).
This may make the writer feel like they are losing out on potential income. However, the main aim of most bloggers is to grow. If you are writing good quality content that people enjoy they are more likely to share it. Which is undeniably the easiest way to grow.
The Blogger’s Benefit of Using Feeds
As a blogger, you may be happy to receive the blogs you follow into your email account. However, I would really recommend ensuring your blog is set up for feed reader access so that your readers, who don’t like following blogs by email can access your feed. The simplest way to know if your blog is RSS feeds ready is to go to one of your blog posts and add /feed/ to the end of it. If you see something like this, you know your blog is ready to work with a feed reader.
If you are using one of the main blogging platforms the service should be provided as a built in-feature so if you don’t see something like this and you are using a mainstream blogging platform I would first thoroughly check the dashboard to see if there is a setting to turn RSS on or off then if you get nowhere with this. Go to the forums for the platform and see if there are any posts about RSS and if you can’t find information on how to resolve the issue there I would contact the technical help.
Are you RSS Feeds ready?
I hope this post has been useful. Having visited various blogs recently I have found ones that didn’t seem to have RSS feeds in place. This was the trigger for me to write this article. If you have found it useful I would be grateful for you to share it via the social media platform of your choice so other blog readers and writers can find it.
Do you use a blog reader already and does it improve your blog reading experience? If so I would love to hear which one you are using.