RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is an innovative medium for content distribution. It enables webmasters to distribute their newly added content and news to their subscribers in a less-obstructed and highly focused way. If you are not a RSS user yet, first become a RSS user because you need that understanding for launching your own RSS feed.
RSS Is Less Obstructed
A proven way to distribute news is via an email newsletter. But day by day email spamming goes higher and ISPs are getting strict with spam filters. This may prevent receiving your important notices to your valued subscribers. But RSS is different. Subscribers can directly receive your notices because they have entered your RSS feed into their RSS readers. There are no filters in between.
RSS IS Highly Focused
An RSS item is distributed with a headline and a description (or full story) and the headline being a link to the full story. Usually all items you distribute are displayed according to a chronological order in subscribers’ RSS readers. This enables subscribers to receive content on time and in order.
RSS Facilitates Information Search
By following the link in a RSS item, subscribers can directly land to the relevant web page. They don’t have to land to your home page and search throughout to find out what has been newly added or what has been changed.
How RSS Works
RSS is created using the computer language XML (Extensible Markup Language). All your RSS items are added to a file (Usually with the extension .rss or .xml) and you place it in your web space. This file is called the RSS Feed. Then subscribers can access that file through a RSS reader following the URL (Web address) of it just like they access a web page in your site. Whenever you have to distribute a new item, all you have to do is updating your RSS file and when subscribers check their RSS readers, your newly added item will be displayed to them.
How to Create Your Own RSS Feeds
If you are going to do it manually (not recommended), you will have to be technically rich with XML. Read the article Making an RSS Feed by Danny Sullivan for technical details and lot more background information on creating RSS feeds. Fortunately there are some RSS generating tools which do the technical stuff for you.
- RSS Builder - Free
- FeedSpring - Free
- FeedForAll - (For Both Windows and Mac) Paid but highly used and appreciated.
FeedBurner is a RSS analytics service. Need to know how many subscribers you have? What are the RSS readers they use? What are popular items etc? Except few features, it’s a free service.
Almost all blogging platforms provide an on-the-fly RSS feed. That means you don’t have to create a RSS feed separately. It will be automatically created. And they have one-click features to ping RSS distribution services. So, if you are going to provide a news feed on your products or on a particular subject, consider do it via blog. This way you will create a good web and RSS reader base.
Once you have a RSS feed, you may want to trumpet it. The usual way is to provide a default RSS button (little orange color ones) which links directly to the RSS feed (so users can right-click on it and copy link location) and a range of buttons which lead to different RSS readers facilitating subscribing. Below are some resources to create customized (including your feed) buttons for your feed.
Just like there are article directories, there are directories for RSS where users search for RSS feeds in their interest and some webmasters may find your feed and publish it in their web sites. Below are popular lists of such directories. All may contain same directories. Remember that some of these directories are blog directories which again remind the need of a blogging approach.
Distributing RSS via Email
Some people still feel strange about RSS, but not about email. So, if you can send your feeds via email, you can increase your subscriber base. But it needs a conversion from XML to an email format. Luckily there are free services. FeedBlitz is a highly used such service which also have enhanced paid features. FeedBurner also has an email feature and recommends some others in its control panel.
If you are publishing a full feed (that means publishing full stories rather than just descriptions which is an observed way to increase subscriber base) you will create a separate reader base who don’t usually land to your website which reduces your monetizing potential. As a solution, RSS ads have been introduced which are appended to end of your feeds and appear in RSS readers of your subscribers.
FeedBurner and Text Link Ads are two popular services which provide this feature. Remember that you need to have a considerable subscriber base before getting into this monetizing scheme otherwise it will be useless or you wouldn’t be accepted.
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