Make it Easy for Readers to Follow You with RSS Feeds
Sending email newsletters isn't the only way to keep your readers connected with your blog.
I've talked before about building an email list, which is a great way to make sure your readers can stay up to date with your news and articles. But there are other ways they can 'follow' your blog that don't require them handing over an email address to you (although you ideally want that, it can be a barrier for some people!).
What is an RSS feed?
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (sometimes know as 'Really Simple Syndication'). It is a format used to publish regularly updated information (eg, a blog or news headlines). If you have a blog or news page on your website, this is what your RSS feed may look like:
So as you can see, it's just plain ol' HTML that is hideous to read and make sense of. This is why 'RSS Feed Readers' exist.
An RSS Feed Reader is a website that allows you to enter the URL of a website's RSS feed and 'follow' it, so you are notified when it updates. It also transforms that yucky HTML into something that's actually nice & easy to read too!
Why is it useful?
- Your audience don't have to give away their email address to follow you, which could be a barrier for them
- You can install easy buttons on your site that mean your audience can follow you with just one click
- RSS Feed Readers will automatically update your content and notify your RSS followers for you - you don't have to do anything
- If you have an email list, but don't want to use it to send blog digests, an RSS Feed will do this for you instead
How Do I find my RSS Feed?
If you're on Squarespace, it's very simple - simply add '?feed=rss' to the end of your blog URL, like so:
If your blog URL is something other than '/blog', just replace it!
If you are on WordPress, you should just be able to add '/feed' to your URL, like so:
Again if you have a specific blog URL (eg, http://thecornishlife.co.uk/news or /blog), try that before /feed.
Remember, you're looking for that ugly mess of code pictured above! If you get a 404 page not found error or something else, that's not right.
How to set up on Bloglovin':
Bloglovin' is the most popular feed reader for (predominantly female) lifestyle, fashion, design, photography, travel and beauty blogs. It requires that you create an account and a profile before you get started.
1 // Go to your profile and click 'Edit Profile'
2 // Scroll down to 'Blogs by me', click 'Add blog', then click 'Claim Blog'
3 // Enter the blog URL of your website and search until it comes up, then click it
4 // Copy the code and go to edit a blog post on your website. Insert the code to the top of the blog post (either in the HTML editor of the post, or a 'Markdown block' for Squarespace users).
5 // Save the blog post, go back and click 'Claim blog'. Then check it has updated your Bloglovin' profile (once you can see it's there, you can remove the code from your blog post).
6 // Go to the 'Bloglovin button' tab and choose the button you want to add to your website.
7 // Copy the code and go to edit your blog sidebar (or somewhere prominent on your site) to paste the code. Use the 'Code block' if you're a Squarespace user.
8 // Squarespace users: Ignore the 'Embedded Scripts' thing... it just means you can't see the button in edit mode. But it should now be there on your live site!
How to Set up On Feedly:
Feedly is another of my favourite Feed Readers because it's very intuitive, easy to use and makes blog posts look good while you're reading them! Again, you first need to sign up with your Google or Facebook account to get started.
1 // Press the 'Add Content' button in the left sidebar and enter your blog URL and select 'RSS Feed'
2 // Click 'follow' at the top, then head to the Feedly Button factory and choose which button design you want on your blog
3 // Add your RSS Feed URL (not just your blog URL) and copy the code
4 // Go to edit your blog sidebar (or somewhere prominent on your site) and paste the code. Squarespace users, use the 'Code Block'.