Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blogging 101 ~ Lesson #8: Set Up RSS Feed & Email Options for Readers

When you are steadily publishing on your blog you will want to offer your readers the option of signing up to follow your activity thru an RSS Feed or thru signing up by email.  So getting these set up now will give you the opportunity to offer these services to your readers immediately.  It is my understanding you need to make your blog
public to have the feed available.  There are just a couple of more lessons in the Simply Blogging 101 series and they really are not necessary to complete before you allow others to see your blog.  If you do not feel ready yet, skip this lesson and wait until you are.  I know that I like to have several posts up before I go public so first time visitors can get an idea of what the blog is about.


5 Minutes:  Make Your Blog Public

To make your blog public go to the Settings tab either from your design page or your dashboard and click on Permissions.  Under “Blog Readers” choose “Anybody” can view this blog.  A pop-up will appear for you to confirm your choice.

10 Minutes:  Burn Your Blog’s Feed at FeedBurner 

An easy way to offer email and RSS feed subscriptions to your readers is thru FeedBurner.  To do this you need to go to your settings tab (either thru your dashboard—click on settings—or thru your navbar—click on design, then settings).  Now click on site feed.  The second option on the page is “Post Feed Redirect URL.”  In the description paragraph is a link to FeedBurner—click on this.  You will need to sign in with your Google account.  I already have a FeedBurner account for my Simply CVS blog, so it took me directly to my account giving me the option to burn another feed, I am not sure if you will need to enter any information or not, but I don’t think so because it should be connected to your Google account. If there is something before the page I describe, walk thru the steps it asks until you come to the first place I give instructions for.

There is a place to enter your blog’s URL—copy it from your home page and enter it here.  Click next.  If there is not a feed showing for your blog, it may be because it is so new or you have no posts posted.  They offer a troubleshooting guide—you will have to depend on them for this, as I am not familiar with problems.  I personally would wait a few days after becoming public and try again--and then troubleshout.

If there is an active feed it should show you two feed options, choose the one that says Atom (I can’t tell you why, just that I was told this when I started blogging—like I’ve said, I am not an expert, I can only share what I know with beginners, and it is the goal of Simply Blogging to keep things simple).  Click next.

Copy the address it shows you—including the http:// and the other blogspot part (mine looks like this:   http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/wpgui ).  You need to copy each section separately and paste them together to make a full URL.  Paste them into the Site Feed page in the text box beside the “Post Feed Redirect URL” above where you clicked on the FeedBurner link (be sure there are no spaces between the two sections you copied)—leave the FeedBurner site open in another window.
 
Look back up to the top beside “Allow Blog Feeds.”  Click on the drop down arrow beside the text window and you will see “none, short, full, until page jump.”  This is where you choose how long your posts are to be in the feed.  You can read the description of each in the paragraph under the drop down menu.  Choose which you would like. I chose short so that in emails and RSS feeds it is easy to see parts of several posts at once so you can find what you want to read.  Also, I think it is a good way for subscribers to choose to visit the blog to read the complete post.  This is just a personal preference.  If you choose short, be sure there is enough info in the beginning of each post so the reader will know what it is about. 

Now read thru the “Post Feed Footer” instructions and if you have any interest in this follow the instructions. I personally have left it blank.  Go to the bottom of the page and click “save settings.”

3 Minutes:  Add RSS Feed Widget to Blog

For your readers to be able to subscribe to your feed thru FeedBurner easily it is a good idea to add a widget to your blog.  Under the Publicize tab in the left hand list of options is “Chicklet Chooser.”  Click on this and it will give you the option to add one to your blog.  Choose the one you want.

There are two ways to add the widget.  The traditional way that I taught in Simply Blogging 101 Lesson #6 where you click on “add a gadget” on your design page and choose the HTML widget option and paste the HTML code you copy from FeedBurner into it.  The second option is directly from feed burner.  Under the HTML you can choose the Blogger option from the drop down menu, and click go.  Another window will open that says “add page element.”  Here you can choose to add the gadget and you also have the option of changing, or removing, the default title they offer.  Click “add widget” at the bottom.  This will take you to your design page so you can move it to where ever you choose.  Be sure and click save once you place it where you want it.

8 Minutes:  Set Up Email Subscription Option at Feed Burner

Go back to the FeedBurner site in the window you left open and click next.  Read thru the information and choose next or skip to feed management if you would like to follow detailed stats about your readers.  I suggest for the time being just clicking next—you can always explore FeedBurner stats options in depth later when they are relevant to your blog.  You should finally reach a page where at the top you see “Analyze, Optimize, Publicize, etc” tabs.

Click on Publicize.  On the left is an “Email Subscriptions” link—click on this.  Click to activate the email subscription option at the bottom of the page.  You now are offered two possibilities to add the email subscription option to your readers on your blog thru a Blogger HTML gadget.   One is a box as shown below and one is a text link like this:   Subscribe to Simply Blogging by Email

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

There are two ways to add the widget.  The traditional way that I taught in Simply Blogging 101 Lesson #6 where you click on “add a gadget” on your design page and choose the HTML widget option and paste the HTML code you copy from FeedBurner into it.  The second option is directly from feed burner.  Under the HTML you can choose the Blogger option from the drop down menu, and click go.  Another window will open that says “add page element.”  Here you can choose to add the gadget and you also have the option of changing, or removing, the default title they offer.  Click add widget at the bottom.  This will take you to your design page so you can move it to where ever you choose.  Be sure and click save once you place it where you want it.

4 Minutes:  Check Out FeedBurner

As you can see there is a lot to FeedBurner.  Spend some time looking around.  It will most likely seem overwhelming at first, but there are a lot of options you may be interested in the future.  And if you are really internet/computer savvy you may want to incorporate some of them right away.

2 comments:

Ashley said...

My blogger as updated its ways of design and I haven't found a chicklet setting or anything. Do you know of another way to have a Rss Feed icon?

Cheryl said...

Ashley, I actually googled RSS feed icon to find one. Then you can use it in a picture widget or go to the button generator (link in the resources tab above) and enter the info just like you want to make a button and grab the code and enter it in your side bar and you will have one. I hope that makes sense.