Monday, February 02, 2009

Creating A Custom Feed

This blog is about blogging, and I suspect that a few of you have subscribed to one or more of the feeds that are provided here. I use a number of feeds, too, in this blog - look in the sidebar. You can, alternatively, subscribe to a topic related feed from this blog.

Maybe my blog, alone, will be authoritative for some readers. Some folks may like to combine my feed with other web sites, for more a more balanced and versatile content. For that, we can use a feed aggregator, like FeedBurner or FeedDigest, and burn a feed of our own.

When we burn a feed, we can (subject to options provided by the aggregator, and what's provided in the content) include such details as:
  • Which web sites or feeds we want to read.
  • Whether to include author, date, title, and / or web site of the original article.
  • What specific subjects to include.


Once the feed is burned, we can then decide what format we wish to use, when including the information on our blog. Depending upon the feed aggregator, again, we may be able to get the feed as Flash, HTML, JavaScript, PHP, or RSS. Each of these formats have their advantages and disadvantages.

If your feed is burned by FeedBurner, the BuzzBoost option under Publicize may be useful, if you need an HTML / JavaScript version of your feed. BuzzBoost has the same options as the Blogger Feed gadget, plus one intriguing new one - "Open links in New Window".

Some feed formats update on an almost real time basis, but aren't supported by all browsers, security programs, or web sites. Other formats are universally supported, but update slower or are harder to format attractively. But know the options available to you.

With FeedBurner, if you create a feed and redirect the blog posts feed to the FeedBurner feed, you can access a number of options that let your feed more specifically serve you and your readers. FeedBurner, which is now a Google subsidiary, offers several menus of options.
  • Statistics ("Analyze"). useful statistics about the readers of the blog, and how the feed is being accessed. The information provided is vaguely similar to (though less detailed than) the information from a visitor meter.
  • Configure Ads ("Monetize"). Activate Google AdSense for feeds and choose options that control how these ads display in your feed.
  • Feed Tuning ("Optimize"). The ability to adjust the content of the feed, to suit the needs of your blog.
  • Feed Blog Displays ("Publicize"). The ability to adjust the way the feed is offered on your blog, to make it more visible to your readers.
  • Diagnose Problems ("Troubleshootize"). General tips and a couple of quick-fixes to try with any malfunctioning feed.
To really describe the range of possibilities, you'll have to explore the FeedBurner menus, for your feed, and see what you can use.

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4 comments:

Chris S. said...

Google Reader can also aggregate feeds. By placing feeds of interest into a folder and publishing the folder publicly, Reader creates a new feed. Labels can also be published publicly, to share with anyone or use as you wish. I use a number of feeds from Google Reader in my site. I have a "relevant topics" section in the sidebar that consists of items labeled "Topics" in Reader. I use another one to share interesting items with my wife, and I use her name as a label. I gave the feed location to her only, so no one else knows it or uses it. I also used Google Reader to combine the Entries and Comment feeds on our site into one feed. Then I burned it with FeedBurner. FeedBurner also provides an option to host your own feeds at a custom sub-domain. For example, our feeds hosted at feeds.kyrachris.com.

Sarah Barker said...

Please help! I want readers to be able to "subscribe" to my blog by simply entering in their email address under a headline that says "Subscribe to my Blog:" and I don't know where to start! I know I can add up to 10 email addresses but I want the people who WANT to read my blog updates to get my email notifications, not necessarily people that I just want to read it to get them, does that make sense? What is this feedburner thing and how do I get it? Is it free, is it easy? I'm not computer-savvy, just a blogger who updates about once a month. Any help??

Chuck said...

I want readers to be able to "subscribe" to my blog by simply entering in their email address under a headline that says "Subscribe to my Blog:" and I don't know where to start!

I use FeedBurner Email Distribution.

J Adhyapak said...

I wish I had read your blog earlier. Thanks.