A Blogging Tip: What The Heck Is RSS and How Do I Use It?

We’ve all seen the little orange box.

It comes in many designer forms, but it’s still the same thing: RSS Feed.

When I began blogging, the term Technologically Challenged was insufficient for my understanding of computers. Technologically Inept would have been a better term.

I had the computer skills of a monkey.

This was me ๐Ÿ™‚

Now..I was a pro at Internet Surfing. Give me a laptop and loads of time and I can blow your mind. But that’s hardly comparable to building a user-friendly blog.

The sad thing is that even after nearly an entire year of blogging, and boy have I learned a lot, I still didn’t completely understand my RSS Feed.

Less than a month ago I learned that I actually had RSS Feed SUBSCRIBERS.

This blew my mind.

I thought the only people I blogged for everyday were the ones in the little Google Friend Connect box to the left. ==>

I was wrong.

I had more RSS Feed subscribers than I did Google Friend Connect subscribers.

I was so excited I nearly tossed my laptop across the room.

Did I even have an RSS Feed? I remembered attempting to claim my feed via Feedburner, but was never 100% positive that I did it right.

I had a Subscribe To box far down on my side toolbar, but I didn’t think anyone actually ever used it.

So…since I had RSS Feed Subscribers who actually cared what I had to say, I decided to get to know RSS a little better. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I found. If you aren’t on a personal level with your Feed, maybe this will help.

  1. What does RSS even mean? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. No Joke.
  2. What is RSS? It is a stream of updated information that comes from a blog or website. It allows an RSS Reader to know an update has occurred. It also allows you, the blog/website creator, to distribute your content regularly. Like a magazine subscription. A site’s feed can also be received by subscribers via email.
  3. What is an RSS Reader? RSS Readers are programs that house all the feeds you subscribe to. Subscriptions are organized here every time a blog or site you like updates. The time it takes to blog surf is shortened significantly. Free and easy. I use GoogleReader, but there are others out there such as Bloglines. You visit a blog you like, subscribe to their feed, and see their updates every time you check your reader. EASY.
  4. How do I use RSS on my own blog/site? Go to Feedburner to claim your feed. Then…make sure there is easy access to it on your site for your readers. See my post on Follow Buttons. By using these buttons (See top right of my page) you allow readers to find a way to follow your blog either through Facebook, Twitter, RSS, E-mail or Blogger. If you click the link I provide in the post, you will find instructions to install these buttons on your site. The site also provides the option of including a YouTube channel link. You can also add a Subscribe To box to your sidebar through your blog/website design tool. Mine looks like this: 
*Remember: The more ways people have to follow you the better.
           
     6.  How will I know when I have Feed Subscribers? Check back with Feedburner. They provide stats
          on your feed. Again…IT’S EASY.

If you have any other questions or need some help, just post a comment. I’ll counsel with the Computer Gods to help you figure it out. 

Best of Luck!
Now go grab your FEED!

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14 Comments

  1. This is possibly one of the most educational posts on the subject I've read yet. I am such an RSS idiot, but I just registered on Feedburner (and also, Google Analytics. I know, I know, I live in a cave).

    Thank you for this!

  2. I've always been scared of RSS because I didn't have a clue what it meant! Very cool – I'm off to feedburner to check it out – thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I guess I'd better figure out how to turn that little thingy on for my website! Thanks for the great info…I'm even technically savvy, but I didn't think I needed something like an RSS feed. I never use one, why would anyone else? Right? Wrong. I'm getting one today!

  4. Thank you for this post! I'm not tech-savvy at all so I was totally clueless about RSS feeds! Now I'm off to check out Feedburner…

    ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. I love the RSS feed and I read everything in google reader — not sure if you know this, but you can also check how many subscribers you (or others) have by clicking on "show details" above the RSS display box in google… it's interesting to see how many followers each blog has!

  6. @Julia Munroe Martin I had no idea you could do that! I looked into it and the only thing is that it only shows the people that subscribe through Google Reader. If you use Feedburner, it will show a count for all subscribers.

    Thanks much honey…you taught me something!!