In case you haven’t heard, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is still around. In case you’re curious, RSS was originally created back in 1999 to help websites provide content to users more quickly and efficiently. Since then, many companies have adopted RSS feeds to do the same thing — but now it’s possible to use RSS feeds to do some pretty amazing things.
What are RSS feeds?
RSS feeds are simply websites that use a special format to list content. For example, let’s say you have a website that covers video games. With an RSS feed, that video game news website could provide you with a stream of all the latest news stories about video games. Or, if you’re a fashion news website, you could use an RSS feed to provide readers with the most up-to-date fashion stories.
How do I put an RSS feed on my website?
There are several ways to put an RSS feed on your website. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll be using WordPress. If you’re looking to learn how to build a website with WordPress, check out our comprehensive tutorial on how to build a WordPress website from the ground up.
First, you’ll need to install the WordPress plugin RSS Feeds. Once that’s installed, you should see a section on your dashboard labeled “RSS Feeds.” From here, you can click Get feeds to see an example of an RSS feed that can be imported into your WordPress site.
To begin using the RSS Feeds section, simply click Add new feed. Then, from the Choose an existing feed section, click Import. Next, you’ll need to provide your feed’s URL (which can be found in its’ RSS feed).
After you do that, click Choose a permalink. Then, you’ll need to decide how you want your readers to find your content (in case they don’t already know where to look). To make it easier for your readers, you could create custom breadcrumbs or use the built-in links provided by WordPress.
Once you’ve made your selections, click Publish. From here, you can click Go to site to see your content live on your WordPress site (just as you would any other post).
What can I do with an RSS feed on my WordPress site?
Let’s say you’ve created an awesome-looking RSS feed that covers everything from video games to fashion. Now what? Well, you can add a widget to your WordPress site that displays your feed. Here’s an example from our video game news RSS feed (you’ll need to click the blue arrows to see the feed):
As you can see, we’ve added a widget to our WordPress blog. When a user clicks on this widget, they’ll see all the latest video game news from around the web. We’ve also used CSS to give this area of the blog a custom look and feel. (For more information on using CSS to style your WordPress site, check out our guide here).
You can add widgets to your site to display anything from your blog’s latest posts to YouTube videos or Google Maps locations. You could add a subscribe button that’ll allow users to sign up for email notifications whenever new content is added to your site. Or, you could create a widget that displays the latest tweets from your favorite brand or shows you the latest photos from your professional photographer.
The Importance of Content Personalization
One of the most useful things about an RSS feed is the content is already created for you. When a new user subscribes to your feed, they’ll see content that’s customized for them. This, in turn, can increase the likelihood of that user subscribing to your feed (or any other content you create).
Here’s an example of a Facebook group for users of the Hello Fresh food delivery service. In this group, users can find recipes that they can use to create exciting flavors for their own menus. However, every post in the group is personalized for the user who posted it (and only those users). As a result, this content is more valuable to the users who see it. It’s essentially “user-friendly” content that’ll inspire them to try new things or tell their friends and family about the group. (You can learn more about how to create personalized content in our guide).
Boost Your Social Proof
One of the reasons why RSS has remained so popular is because it’s extremely easy to use. Not only can anyone create a feed in minutes, but most RSS readers (like Google Reader) are also really easy to use. As a result, you don’t need to have extensive knowledge of HTML or web design to create an RSS feed — it can literally be anyone.
Here’s where things get interesting. Not only can anyone create a feed in minutes, but anyone can also create compelling content for it. Therefore, if you have a Twitter account, you can use it to create compelling content for your video game RSS feed. Or, if you have a healthy social media account on Pinterest, you can use it to create compelling pins for your fashion RSS feed. (You can learn more about using social media to gain credibility and authority online here).
The key is to create compelling content that’ll encourage other people to subscribe to your feed. When other people see that you’ve taken the time to create a helpful guide or an exciting recipe, they’ll be more inclined to subscribe to get more content like that (or use your existing content to encourage others to subscribe).
Engagement Through Short-Lived Interest
When someone subscribes to your feed, they’ll see content that pertains to something that briefly interested them. For instance, if you have a blog that covers Hollywood gossip, you might want to create an RSS feed for it. If someone is interested in celebrity gossip, they’ll see that content and perhaps subscribe to get more (or maybe even create their own blog around that subject matter).
This type of content isn’t something you’d usually associate with RSS — but maybe that’s because it requires more work to create. To begin with, you’ll need to come up with a list of all the topics you’ll cover on your blog. Then, you’ll need to create an RSS feed for each topic (using a tool like Feedly). Now, you’ll need to ensure that the RSS feed you create for one topic isn’t clogged with too much content from other topics. Otherwise, your subscribers will see content that doesn’t interest them and lose interest in your feed.
By creating short-lived interest, you’re essentially creating content that’ll stick out in the readers’ minds. Because of this, they’ll be more inclined to remember your content and perhaps even share it with their friends. (You can learn more about creating content that sticks out here).
Monetization Through Affiliate Marketing
Last but not least, we have affiliate marketing. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you don’t necessarily need to have a ton of cash to start getting paid. In fact, you can get started with a very small investment — provided you’ve got a blog or website that has a reasonably large audience. (For a full tutorial on how to make money with affiliate marketing, check out this Youtuber guide).
The key to successful affiliate marketing is developing content that’s helpful to your audience. If you can do that and get people to click a link or button that takes them to a retailer’s site where they can make a purchase, you’ll be able to earn a living off your content.
Now, you might be thinking that all these tips on how to optimize your RSS feeds are way too much work. After all, creating an RSS feed isn’t that hard — and everyone knows what they’re doing. But, if you want to truly succeed as a content creator, you need to put in the extra effort to make your content “user-friendly.” You can start by simply finding a tool that allows you to easily curate content from different sources and provide it with a fresh new look. Then, you can move on to creating compelling content that’ll encourage people to subscribe.