When it comes to blogging the most important people are the ones who take the time to read your RSS feed. They’re your long term readers who are in it for the long haul, much more so than the people who stop by your blog because they found it through a search engine or a social bookmarking site. They’re the ones who promote your articles, and the ones who’ll let you know when you’re falling off your blog game.
It’s important to build a rapport with them, and one of the ways to do that is by giving them special offers that aren’t available to regular readers of the website. This could be an electronic book, information on how to submit reader links, or beta invitations to other websites like Pownce and Joost.
But how do you send these links to your RSS readers without displaying them on your blog?
FeedBurner to the rescue
If you aren’t using Google’s FeedBurner service for your blog then you should be. (It has built-in integration with Blogger, and the rumour mill says that it will be added to WordPress.com at some point.) FeedBurner has these things called FeedFlares that show up at the end of your RSS feed. They can do things like dynamically list the number of comments on that post, or how many times it has been dugg or saved to del.icio.us.
It’s really simple to build your own FeedFlare that links to anything you want. Dosh Dosh has a detailed guide explaining how to do it. I wrote a list a while back explaining why I think FeedBurner is so great.
How to create a Custom FeedBurner FeedFlare
- Login to FeedBurner
- Click on My Feeds
- Click on the feed you want to edit
- Click on the Optimize tab
- Click on FeedFlare from the sidebar
- Under “Personal FeedFlare” cut-and-paste your generic feedflare link and click add to FeedFlare
I’ve created a Password-Protected Post on my blog for my RSS readers at http://internetducttape.com/easter-eggs/reader-appreciation/
So I would use the following custom FeedFlare:
http://www.feedburner.com/fb/variableflareunits/GenericFeedFlare.jspx? text=Thank+you+for+reading+IDT+(click+and+enter+password+-----) &link=http://internetducttape.com/easter-eggs/reader-appreciation/
That will give you something like this:
Thanks to Dosh Dosh for showing me how to do this. I had a previous hack in place where I had a del.icio.us account and I would use the FeedBurner splice with del.icio.us to share things with my RSS readers only. Using a FeedFlare is much more elegant.
Maki left out this question, but I think it’s a valid one. I choose to use FeedBurner for my RSS feeds because of the following things it gives me (for free):
Colour my face red. I’d been wondering about how to subscribe to Feedburner feeds using Sage, the Firefox RSS Reader extension. With the plethora of subscription options I was wondering “How do I get an XML feed I can bookmark!?”.
It turns this Feedburner page is formatted XML that you can bookmark for Sage. Just ignore the “Subscribe Now!” options and add a live bookmark for the page directly.