An RSS feed is a list of the most recent posts on a blog. It is basically a formatted XML document that gets updated whenever a new post is published. If you are using a blog framework such as WordPress, the software creates an RSS feed for you.You can publish a link to the feed for your readers so they can stay up-to-date on your writings.
There are a variety of ways to gather and read various RSS feeds. One of the most popular is Google Reader. Google provides many free online tools and Google Reader is one that I use nearly everyday. I personally keep up with about 30 blogs. There is no way I could visit every site to check for new content but with an RSS feed, I don’t have to. I can subscribe to the RSS feed in Google Reader and all the new content from each of those blogs are delivered right to my virtual door as soon as it is published.
To go even further, I have my browser home page setup as iGoogle; basically a customized Google home page with the capability to add widgets. One of the widgets available is for, you guessed it, Google Reader. So, when I open my browser to do a search or post a blog, my RSS feed is right there on the home page of my browser. Works great for me.
There are other RSS readers out there as well, but for the convenience, Google Reader is my tool of choice. It is easy to setup and always available if you are logged into your Google account.
Get the RSS feed
To subscribe to an RSS feed, you need to get the link into your reader. Most times, it is as easy as clicking on the RSS icon. A menu pops up asking what reader you would like to use. For me, since I use Google Reader, that is what I click on in the pop-up menu. I am then asked if I want the feed to be delivered to my home page (iGoogle) or to Google Reader. Since I have a number of blogs I enjoy, I choose Google Reader. It gives me more flexibility to read the posts, save the ones I want to read again, and quickly skip the ones that don’t look interesting at the present time.
I hope you have learned a few things about RSS feeds. They are very useful for both the reader and the author, distributing content in a efficient and effective way. In a future post, I will discuss setting up an RSS feed using FeedBurner to help monitor subscriber levels and create a simpler RSS link. Until then, why not subscribe to this RSS feed? It will be good practice and a great start to your reading list.