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Advertising Within Your RSS Feed

Thu, 04 Mar 2010 18:00:00 +0000

Over the past few weeks I've shown you how to set up and use Feedburner for the syndication (RSS) of your blog. This is the final post in this series and today I'll point you to resources for including advertisements within your feed. Last week, in the discussion about whether to use full or partial RSS feeds, one of the arguments for partial RSS feeds was that bloggers wanted to entice their readers to click over to their site so they (the blogger) would have more pageviews and thus more revenue for their traffic-based ads. That conversation leads directly to this week's topic: how can you include ads in your RSS feeds? (The discussion of whether you should include ads within feeds can take place in the comments; I'm just giving you options.) Types of Advertisements for RSS Feeds When you choose to put ads on your blog(s), there are a few options. The two most widely-used types of advertisements are traffic-based ads (e.g., BlogHer Ads) and pay-per-click ads (like Google AdSense). If you are using traffic-based ads, you're paid based on the number of pageviews your blog receives, not how many times readers click the ads. If you're using pay-per-click ads, it doesn't matter how many pageviews you have, you're only paid if a reader clicks on the ad. If you choose to include ads in your RSS feeds, the options currently available are mostly context-based pay-per-click ads resembling the Google AdSense model. This is a list of some of the companies that can help you monetize your RSS feed: Google AdSense for Feeds provides context-based ads. Since Google owns Feedburner, you can easily include Google AdSense inside your feed if you're currently signed up with Feedburner. Just log in to your Feedburner account, click the Monetize tab, and follow the directions. CrispAds offers context-based ads and will let you choose what ads are included with your content. Feedvertising uses text-link ads. You have the option of approving or denying specific ads. Pheedo Inc. allows you to control the keyword filters and specific advertisements being shown in your feed. Here are some examples of Pheedo ads within feeds. You can use Pheedo with your Feedburner feed. What to Consider Before Including Ads in Your RSS Feed It's tempting to include ads within your feed(s) because it's a potential revenue stream. However, I strongly encourage you to consider three things before you make your final decision: Are the ads being served relevant to your blog's content? If you write a blog about organically grown food are your contextually-based ads coming up with sugary breakfast cereal advertisements? If so, your audience may be put off by the ads and unsubscribe to your blog. Or, worse, your credibility is called into question. How many ads will appear within the feed? Readers don't like it when they can't find the content they're looking for because it's buried between ads. When ads take over your RSS feed (or your blog, for that matter), you may be losing the focus of your blog. You're almost certainly ticking off your readers. Are the ads clearly marked so readers don't confuse ads with blog content? Readers don't appreciate being duped (see the bit about credibility above). Beyond that, though, with the new FTC guidelines in place, as a blogger, you have an obligation to make sure your content and ads are clearly separated and aren't confused. What Do You Think? Advertising on blogs is fairly common these days, but, all in all, RSS feed adversing really hasn't taken off. I don't know whether that's from a lack of advertising options within feeds, the fact that most blogs using RSS ads are making very little money the perception that it may be difficult to set up feeds to serve the ads, or bloggers simply don't consider RSS as another revenue stream. As a blogger, I can certainly understand the draw of adding another revenue source to blogging, but as a reader, I'm not sure I'm excited about that possibility. Although I read much of my news from within my feed reader (at least cursorily), I do click over to the actual site to read more th[...]

RSS: Full or Partial Feeds

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 14:37:06 +0000

As you integrate (or continue to integrate) a feed in your blog, one of the questions that arises is Should I post a full or partial feed? Today we'll explore what to consider before you make your decision. When you offer an RSS feed to your readers, you have the option to deliver either a full or partial feed to your readers' feed aggregator. A full feed is exactly what it says: it delivers the entire article (pictures, video, and all) to the readers' aggregator. Your audience can read the entire article in a feed reader without clicking over to your site. A partial feed delivers only a snippet of the content -- usually a sentence or two. If the reader wants to continue reading, she has to click over to your site to finish the article. Depending on your role (as blogger or reader), you may have a different point of view about full and partial feeds. Bloggers who want to encourage traffic or need traffic (perhaps because they are part of a traffic-based ad network -- meaning they get more money if more people visit their site) would prefer readers click over to their physical site so may opt to use partial feeds. On the other hand, many people subscribe to hundreds of feeds, all aggregated to one place: their feed reader. Those readers generally prefer to do all their reading on one page and so prefer to subscribe to full feeds. As you decide whether to use partial or full feeds, here are some things to consider: What's your measure of success? What's more important to you as you measure your success as a blogger: traffic or subscribers? Sure, if you have traffic-based ads, blog visits are important. If you're more interested in reaching a wider audience, though, isn't the number of subscribers more important? I would argue that, although the ads may be a nice income, very few people are getting rich off of them. These days when you discuss someone's online presence it's talked about in terms of influence. Your subscribers are the audience you're influencing. The more people who subscribe to your blog, the more people you can reach with your message. Where are your readers reading you? Two years ago, most people read their feeds sitting at their computer. Now that smart phones are so common, many people are reading feeds on the go. Robert Scoble, who was once a supporter of full feeds, argues that these days you need to post partial feeds because they're easier to use on smart phones. On the other hand, LT at The Heresy disagrees and says she likes to have entire articles to read on her smart phone. She says, "Some [bloggers] argue that they don’t want their content divorced from their blog design, and I understand that. However that extra click is really starting become annoying as I read blogs on devices other than my main computer or when I’m not connected on high speed. I love reading blogs on my smart phone, but if I have to click through to view the whole post in the browser I generally won’t. Over The Air connections are much slower than highspeed, even on 3G networks. Smaller screens make it much more difficult to read in a browser." Which leads me to my next point... What do your readers want? If you don't know who your audience is, ask them! You can put together a quick blog post or survey (I usually use Survey Monkey) and ask readers how they're reading your site (e.g., on a computer screen or on their smart phone), whether they prefer full or partial feeds, and whether they click over to your site from the RSS feed to join the comment conversation. Use their feedback to help you make your final decision about whether to offer full or partial RSS feeds for your blog. More Discussion About Full or Partial Feeds The debate over full or partial feeds has been going on as long as I can remember and it's unlikely to dissipate now. My hope is that you'll find out what your readers want and consider catering to them in this area. Here are more articles that may help you make your decision: Are You Serving Up Full or Partial Feeds to Your Readers? by Virginia DeBolt at Bl[...]

Customizing Your RSS Button

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 14:00:00 +0000

This button has become the standard for finding and subscribing to a blog's RSS feed. When a reader is interested in subscribing to your feed, she is probably looking for that button. She can find it in the address bar of her browser (where the site's URL is) or she may look for it in the blog's sidebar. It's a good idea to have the icon in your sidebar just in case your reader doesn't know it's available in the address bar of her browser. By putting the icon in your sidebar you make it easy for your readers to subscribe to your feed and you can customize the look of the icon. Today I'll walk you through finding an icon you like, downloading it, placing it in your sidebar, and linking it to your feed. Step 1: Find a Customized RSS Icon Before we can start, you'll need to find the icon you want to use. Doing a quick Google search for "free social media icons" will net you some places to start, but for the sake of time, I'll point you to a list of links for those icons: Mega Collection of the Best Free Social Media Icons for Bloggers and Designers via WPBeginner. That list has over 50 links to designs that will surely speak to you on some level or match your blog more closely than the standard orange RSS button. When you find the one you like, click on the link and you'll be taken to the page where you can download the icon set. Once you've downloaded the icons, make a note of where they're saved on your computer so you can find them later. You may find that the images you've downloaded are too large for your needs. If that's the case, you can use an image editing program to re-size the icons. Step 2: Find Your Feed URL Now we need to figure out your feed URL. In a previous article I showed you how to set up a Feedburner account for your blog so you could track your subscribers and offer e-mail RSS feeds. Today's instructions assume you have a Feedburner feed. You're going to use your Feedburner feed address when we link your new icon. Log in to your Feedburner account. Click on the name of the feed you want to work with. Click on Edit Feed Details. Make a note of the Feed Address ( Step 3: Put It All Together Using a Custom RSS Icon with a Blogger Blog Blogger blogs have a footer that says, "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)". This is a link for readers to subscribe to your blog with their feed reader. However, I think you'll agree that having the subscription at the bottom of the page is not optimal. We want it to be easy and obvious for your readers to find your RSS feed and subscribe. It should be placed at the top of a column for easiest access. Log in to Blogger and click Layout. Click Page Elements. Click Add a Gadget in the sidebar. A new page appears with your Blogger Gadget choices. Scroll down and choose Picture. The Configure Image page appears. Type your Feedburner feed URL into the Link text box. (You can leave the Title and Caption boxes blank.) Choose the image you want to use, either from your computer (if you downloaded the image to your hard drive) or from a URL (if you saved the image to a third-party image host like Flickr or Photobucket). Click Save. You return to your blog's Layout page. Click Save again. Using a Custom RSS Icon with a TypePad Blog Log in to your TypePad account. Upload the icon you want to use to your File Manager. Once it's uploaded, find the name of the icon in the list of files and click on it. Make a note of the URL. You'll need it in step 4. Go to Library > TypeList and make a new Notes or Links TypeList (either is fine). In the NOTES field type in the following code: (image) Make sure you change "YOUR_FEED" to your actual feed URL. Also change "IMG URL" to the URL you noted in step 2 above. Click Save. Click the Publish tab. Click to check the box next to the blog(s) where you want to publish this new TypeList. Click Save Changes. You'll most likely need to visit your blog[...]

Enabling E-mail RSS with Feedburner

Thu, 11 Feb 2010 14:00:00 +0000

If you have a blog or web site, you likely have an RSS feed your readers can subscribe to via a feed reader so they know when you've updated your site with new content. Traditionally, RSS feeds are read through a feed reader or news aggregator. Lately, though, more and more people are asking for feeds via e-mail. Answering that request is easier than ever and I'll show you how. Feedburner is the most popular tool for sharing your RSS feed. Feedburner is free, allows you to manage multiple feeds, and it's easy to use. To include an e-mail version of your RSS feed follow these instructions: Log in to your Feedburner account. If you don't have one, you can follow these instructions on creating a Feedburner account. Click on the feed you want to edit. A new page appears with the stats for that feed. This page also has tabs at the top: Analyze, Optimize, Publicize, Monetize, and Troubleshootize. Click the Publicize tab. A new page appears with a list of services in the left sidebar. Click the Email Subscriptions link in the left sidebar. The Email Subscriptions page appears. Click the Activate button. The Subscription Management page appears and gives you a choice of either creating an e-mail subscription form or offering e-mail subscription via a link. You can place either option in your sidebar. Choose either the form or link option. If you use TypePad or Blogger, Feedburner can create an easy-to-install widget for you (just choose your blog platform from the pull-down menu and click the Go button). If you use WordPress, copy the code and create a new sidebar widget for your blog. If you choose the form option, it will look similar to this: Your readers can simply type their e-mail address into the first box, then click the Subscribe button. If you choose the link option, it will look similar to this: Of course, {Blog Name} will reflect your blog's name. When your readers click the link, the Feedburner Email Subscription Request page appears: Your readers will need to supply a valid e-mail address and type the CAPTCHA to complete their e-mail subscription request. Click the Save button. If you ever want to deactivate your e-mail RSS option, just follow the above steps, but at step 4, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Deactivate button. Further reading: How's your feed? Are you serving up full or partial feeds to your readers? by Virginia DeBolt Business Blogs Average 12 Times More Subscribers by E-mail than by RSS by Lily Zhu at HubSpot RMail - Subscribe by E-mail to Any RSS Feed by Annie at BlogU Are you using e-mail RSS subscriptions in addition to traditional RSS subscriptions? How do they compare (in other words, do you have about the same number of subscribers for each?) Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for bloggers at Blogging Basics 101. She also shares technology- and blog-related links on the BB101 Microblog at Tumblr. [...]

Setting Up a Feedburner Account

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 20:00:00 +0000

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and it is a way of letting your readers know when you update your site with new content. Your readers can subscribe to your RSS feed, set up an account with a feed reader (e.g., Google Reader), and then, when you update your site, the feed reader shows that content in your readers' feed readers. This video explains RSS in the simplest way I've seen: Now that you know what RSS is, how it works, and why your readers want it, you need to find out what your RSS feed is and make sure you're providing a clear option for subscribing to your blog. Most blog platforms provide a basic feed for you when you set up your blog. These links will help you find the RSS your platform provides: How to find your TypePad RSS How to find your Blogger RSS How to find your RSS While it's true that you can use the default RSS your blog platform provides, most people opt to burn a feed with Feedburner. Feeburner is free, allows you to manage multiple blog feeds in one place, and provides statistics about your subscribers. Feedburner offers so many features I can't list them all here, but I strongly suggest you take a look through your Feedburner dashboard (after you set up your account) and see what you've been missing. To burn your feed with Feedburner, just follow these instructions: Go to You'll see a welcome page similar to this: Type your blog's URL into the text box under Burn a feed right this instant. If you're a podcaster, check that box as well. Click the Next button. You'll see a page similar to this: You'll see the name of your blog (Feed Title) and your Feed Address. Click the Next button. You'll see a note congratulating you on claiming your feed. You'll also see your feed's RSS link. This is the link you'll use when providing a subscription link for your readers. Click the Next button. You'll see a page similar to this: This is where you can choose additional features for Feedburner to track for your feed. Check the boxes of the features you want to include. I suggest checking them all; if you find you don't need the stats for those items, you can change your preferences later. Click the Next button. You'll see a page that looks like this (it's actually longer and has more info, but my screen capture cut it off): This page lists several blog platforms (click on yours to integrate your Feedburner feed with your site) and provides links for you to get even more out of your feed (Publicize, Optimize, Analyze, Monetize, and Troubleshootize). Choose your blog platform from the list and follow Feedburner's instructions from there. After you integrate your Feedburner feed with your blog, I strongly suggest clicking around under each option (Publicize, Optimize, Analyze, Monetize, and Troubleshootize) to see what "extras" you can find that are a fit with your blog. As your blog grows, you may find that some items are more helpful than others or that some items aren't a fit with your blog. You can turn things on and off as you see fit. Further Reading: How to Use Feedburner to Feed Into Twitter by Alice at Success Network Get Your RSS Mojo Going: Select and Set Up a Blog Reader by Virginia DeBolt No RSS Feed for Your Website? No Problem at Rebecca Leaman at Wild Apricot Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for bloggers at Blogging Basics 101. She also shares technology- and blog-related links on the BB101 Microblog at Tumblr. [...]

Blog Tips: LabPixies, Blog Stats, FeedFlare

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:51:49 +0000

Have fun playing with LabPIxies, also known as gadgets for your website. LabPixies gives away free gadgets for everything from news, games, fun, or tools. One of the most popular gadgets you can get from LabPixies is this calorie counter. Gadget by allowTransparency="true" align="middle" scrolling="no" width="282" height="315" frameborder="0" src=""> I personally love the TechBlogs gadget. You can get a similar gadget for general news. Gadget by allowTransparency="true" align="middle" scrolling="no" width="280" height="270" frameborder="0" src=""> LabPixies has dozens of other gadgets. Check them out. There may be the perfect item for your blog waiting there for you. Not everyone thinks adding gadgets to your blog is a good idea. My Blog Coach by Shonnie Lavender says she thinks it's Time to put your blog on a diet. She argues that gadgets can be distracting, may not work 100% of the time, and lure readers away to the gadget maker's site. Her tips for gadgets include, Ask yourself these questions to determine which widgets/add-ons to keep, which to toss, and which to limit in some manner. If you answer “yes,” this widget is good for your diet. Any “no” answers mean it’s time to wean yourself from the widget or not consume it in the first place. * Does this add value for my readers? * Does this add value for me? * Is this the most simple/pretty/clean way to add the functionality I seek? * Can the look of the add on be made to complement my blog’s theme? * Do I get enough control of the widget to create a professional blog presence? * Is this add-on being used by my readers now? These are the gadgets I use on my Web Teacher blog. I have a job listing gadget that I think is important because people who are interested in teaching web design should know the kinds of skills hiring managers in the real world are looking for. I have an Amazon book recommendation gadget because reviewing and recommending books for teaching web design is a big part of the mission of the blog. And I have a Flickr gadget, just to show off. I think they add something worthwhile. What's your opinion on gadgets for your blog? The Cyclical Nature of Blog Stats at Lorelle on Wordpress contains some good advice for those of you who obsess over your blog stats. Lorelle urges you to remain calm about daily stats and look at the big picture. Many stats watchers freak out when they concentrate on the day-to-day stats. Like watching the stock market too closely, decisions are made without looking at the big picture. I’ve heard panic from many bloggers who scream their stats have suddenly plunged. When you change the view from day-to-day to week-to-week, or even month-to-month, the picture changes. It’s now about the big picture of trends, not the daily fluctuation, some of them normal but noticed for the first time. The Blogger bloggers out there can find help at Blogger Buster where Amanda dispenses helpful ideas, including this recent tool for those who use Feedburner: Author and Permalink FeedFlare (proof of original source for SEO). I have created a FeedFlare unit which can be added to your Feedburner feed. This generates a link to the permanent page for each feed item, using the post author's name and the title of your blog as the link text. Amanda explains why this is a good idea–not just for Blogger blogs, I must add. Scraper sites are blogs which are made for Adsense. Rather than create original content, such splogs prefer to source content from other high ranking sites and present it as their own. Where duplicate content is found in search results, the one which appears to be from the original source will rank most highly, while any sites which appear to be duplicating[...]