If you listened to my presentation on Tools Of The Blogging Trade at Blogopolis – thank you for your time! If you didn’t attend, below you will find the slides from my presentation with speaking notes.
- Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)
- RSS is a format that is used to deliver frequently updated content such as blogs, news, and podcasts.
- It allows you to keep up to date with your favourite blogs etc by subscribing to their feeds. You then don’t have to visit each blogs individually to see if there is new content
- My Yahoo
- Google Reader
- Most email clients also have an option to add feeds as well.
I use Google Reader and it is probably the most popular of the readers and it is free! Your reader checks your subscribed feeds regularly for new content.
If there is new content it is automatically downloaded and then you use the reader interface to read the feeds, in the case of blogs these are posts.
If you wish to comment on a blog post or read the full content if only a summary is provided, you can always click on the links in that particular document feed and go through to the original source.
Blogs have a feed set up and it would look something like this:
However it is highly recommended to then use a feed service like feedburner which allows you to track and manage your feeds.
Feedburner is a free Google product that you can use with your existing Google Account.
Feedburner feed looks like this:
If you don’t burn a feed with feedburner you have no idea how many people subscribe to your feed, how they interact with your content and when they unsubscribe.
Once your account is set up you then have the following tabs to manage your account:
- First step is to activate your email subscriptions. Then you can grab the code to publicize your feed and get people to sign up to it. It isn’t automatically activated in feedburner. You can also grab the code here to place a subscribe box on your blog.
- Note I have “Send me an email whenever people unsubscribe” this for email subs only and if you have a massive blog you may not want this, but for me I find it useful to see who is unsubscribing when. Melbourne example
You can then alter communication preferences (the messages they receive when they sign up), delivery options and email branding. You can add your logo, change fonts etc to make it more personalised and have greater synergy with your blog.
Optimize is the next stop and you have many options, but if you haven’t played around with this start with feedflare. It places a simple footer at the bottom of each content item giving your subscribers easy ways to email, tag, share, and act on the content you publish.
- A feed (RSS document) contains either the full text of the content or a summary of the content.
- As the publisher of the blog you can choose whether you provide full text or summary content and while there is debate about which is best, I think the consensus is with full text feeds.
- Personally summary feeds drive me crazy and I interact much less with blogs that offer only a summary feed. If I have to click out of my reader to read the full article, it most likely won’t happen.
- I will talk al little bit more about using a Reader towards the end of my session as well.
Blogger can make sure all feed traffic for your blog content goes to your FeedBurner feed. This ensures your FeedBurner stats are comprehensive and accurate; even subscribers to the ‘Original Feed’ are routed through FeedBurner.
To redirect your feed:
- In a new browser window, sign in to your Blogger account.
- From the Blogger Dashboard, click the Settings link for the blog you want to promote.
- The Settings page for your selected blog should appear.
- Click the Site Feed link under the Settings tab.
- Type your complete FeedBurner feed address into the Post Feed Redirect URL text field. Make sure you type in your entire feed address including the “http://” portion.
- Click Save Settings.
FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend
- The Feedburner Feedsmith Extend plugin based on the one originally authored by Steve Smith. It detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed.
- The plugin will detect all ways to access your feed and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.
- If it doesn’t look like it is working wait until you publish another post. BY then your feed/rss xml file has been regenerated. Otherwise, your site uses a cached copy that doesn’t get updated when the plug-in is activated.
Allows you to add extra content to the end of the syndicated post. Useful for two reasons:
- scraping – shows where it was originally posted
- add sponosrs/e-book links/ services etc
- Reach is the total number of people who have taken action — viewed or clicked — on the content in your feed.
- Subscribers is a measure of how many people are subscribed to your feed. At any given time, you can expect that a certain percentage of this subscriber base is actively engaging with your content and this “Reach” measurement provides this additional insight.
- Also for a variety of reasons subscriber numbers fluctuate as well, so reach Reach gives you a more accurate and useful measurement of your true audience. Who is really engaging with your content.
- I love that for the 30 day period of the stats in this shot, the most popular item was Chicken Balls, recipe and my 12 and 9 year olds dared me to call it that.
- You can also intergrate your feedburner stats with Google Analytics. Head to Configure stats to check that you have checked this option. To see what traffic is coming via feedburner, go to Traffic Sources and in the filter section highlighted by the green arrow, type “feedburner” so you can see the traffic coming from Feedburner.
- Newsletters are a direct email marketing service. They differ from your RSS feed in that you craft and design the emails to be sent out, timed at your discretion.
- From those probloggers who have gone before us, they will all tell you that blog traffic doesn’t convert into sales like newsletter subscribers do.
- Email marketing still works and if you are looking to sell a product from your blog now or in the future, you are best to set up a newsletter.
- Dave Navarro and Naomi Dunford cover this point exactly in the brilliant e-book How To Launch The **** out of your Ebook (aff link). If you have been thinking about selling an e-book or like product and not know where to start I can highly recommend this book. At $97 it is more than you might expect to pay, but it excellent.
- One of the first things the e-book gets you to do is to start a newsletter so you can warm your list. It is important to give email newsletter subscribers value before you try and sell to them.
- So if selling products or services is on your radar, it would be worthwhile starting even a monthly newsletter, to build a list and start building a relationship with subscribers.
- My newsletter is monthly and I have promoted one downloadable product and my physical book via my newsletter, both have converted into sales well. However everytime the newsletter goes out I have a spike in traffic on the blog for a couple of days around the time the email goes out.
There are now a number of free (to a point) choices you can use as an email marketing service. I will compare two of the more popular services. Email Marketing Services Review compares 10 services.
Conclusion: As I have only used Mailchimp, I researched to see what the general consensus was. If you are an experienced blogger and selling many products Aweber would be the way to go. New to email marketing and wanting to give it a try, try Mailchimp.
NB: With Mailchimp affiliate marketing appears to be against their terms of service, so check that out if you do this before signing up.
Autoresponders are a function in newsletter services that allow you to send out prewritten emails on the occurrence of a particular event. For example it is coming practice to send an autoresponder email within a few weeks of signing up.
Darren Rowse created a great graphic of the newsletter email cycle he has established on his Digital Photography School Blog, which he has kindly given me permission to share.
The cycle is partly automated with an Auto-responder sequence and partly manual (the weekly updates in particular).
Darren has had this email list going for some time and has built up this email cycle over a number of years. For those of us starting out with newsletters like me, you can take a more basic approach.
Currently I have an autorepsonder set up to welcome subscribers and send them a link so they can download a free planning guide.
I then have a monthly newsletter cycle with occasional ad hoc promotions. My monthly update is themed and have sent out emails on:
Christmas Cooking, Birthday Parties, Cleaning Tips, Slow Cooker Recipes, Quick Fixes around the home etc
There are some great blogger newsletters out there, so if you are thinking about starting one up, sign up to a few and see what they offer subscribers.
Nikki from Styling You has a weekly newsletter which has highlights from the blog, promotes upcoming appearances and the services she offers.
Liss from Frills in The Hills, has a monthly themed approach as well. Highlights posts on the blog that fit her theme and current give aways.
- Only start the newsletter if you can stick to it.
- Before launching it, create a simple but useful download as enticement for readers of the blog to subscribe to your newsletter.
- If you intend to sell to your email list, let then know that before they confirm their subscription. My Opt In confirmation email says
The Planning With Kids Newletter is a monthly email providing updates on popular blog posts, new recipes and a quick tips section that is only seen in the newsletter. Occasionally I may send another email throughout the month relating to special offers or advance notice on give aways. But I know how easy it is for the email inbox to fill up, so these extra emails will be only for something that I think offers exceptional value to you! You can unsubscribe from this newsletter anytime, by clicking on the links at the end of the emails.
- Provide useful content to engage your readers.
- Spend time thinking about your title – what will make them want to open it rather than click delete?
- Always take the time to place a url back to your blog for images that you use in your blog. Readers click on images!
I spoke earlier about Google Reader as way to manage the RSS feeds you subscribe to. Checking your favourite blogs is as easy as checking your email. If you don’t take care of your reader it can waste your time, but I like to use it to bring information to me, instead of having to go out and search for it.
Why Google Reader:
- It is free!
- It has a mobile app, so you can read blogs easily when waiting for appts etc.
- It also allows you to share with those that follow you and has an email action so you can send it off quickly to those you think will like it.
- And for those blogs that fave feedflares installed, you can often share it or tweet it instantly from your reader.
But you aren’t limited to subscribing to blogs. Anywhere you see the RSS icon you can subscribe like those in the next few slides:
iTunes Store RSS Generator – go to the apple website. Choose Australia for the store, choose your media type. I like music, but you can do podcasts, audiobooks etc, feed type and other options then click generate. Copy and paste the url into your browser and you can add the feed to your reader.
Google News Alerts makes it easy to keep up to date on the latest information in your blogging niche.
- Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro Time management technique.
- Uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals
- 5 minute breaks
- Based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
- Toggl is a basic timetracking and reporting is free with no limit to the number of projects. The free plan allows a maximum of five team members.
- It also offer Pro plans with features like: hourly rates, reports with your logo, time rounding, etc
- Not just fro freelancers. It lets you track time for different projects, time spent on social media, etc
- Helps you make sure you are spending time on the right activities.
- It has desktop widgets, an iPhone app, and an iGoogle gadget.