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Blogging and RSS
2010-09-15: RSS is probably a great thing to add to your website. If it's not appropriate, it means there's something wrong with your website, not that RSS is wrong for you.
The point of writing a blog isn't just to write a great blog and have people stumble over it, find you fascinating and in a combined New Avengers-style hypnotic trance / fit of gratitude that you actually understand, pop along to your website to buy something. Although it's nice when that happens.
The point about a blog is that you are writing news content. There are people out there who want news content. So you let them publish your news in return for a link to your website.
Links to your website are good, right? They go a long way to getting you a great position in the search results.
How do those sites know when you have news, when you've written something new on your blog? You syndicate it through Really Simple Syndication .. RSS.
Basically RSS is a file on your website in an agreed RSS format. It contains a summary of your latest news along with a link to the full story. When you create some new content, the software you use notifies various search and aggregation services such as technorati or syndic8 (more here) which get the link to your new content from your RSS file, read the content, and publish your story .. along with a link to you .. on their website, email list or whatever they provide.
Other websites, whether to inform or entertain a particular readership or for the ad revenue, pull content together from RSS feeds and other sources to automatically create magazine-style websites. So a gardening site might pull in hot news from various RSS sources. If they like you, you could be a news source for them.
When all that's set up, it means the benefit of your blog is multiplied because not only have you got your own blog website, but you are appearing among other news on other people's websites too, to their targeted readers.
You can have multiple RSS feeds on your site. If you run a gardening site you might run one for news and another for new products, but you could split that and have feeds on all sorts of things: vegetables, flowers, container gardening, whatever.
So, if you've got a blog, that's not **it**, that's just step one of about four. Step two is where you syndicate. And that's not it either. Then your blog competes for attention against everyone else. So you'd better be good (regular, interesting, succinct, different, entertaining or controversial). Above all, you'd better make a difference to your reader. Change their actions. You're an educator. Here to make the world better one reader at a time. So get to it.
Steps 3 & 4 are different modalities and user interaction but those are for another day and another blog.

By John Allsopp
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