Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Come Into My Parlor: Blog Lists and RSS (NBI)

I have with a link over to Scarybooster's advice post on the myths of blogging advice. He's right, I say don't worry about hits, but I regularly check my stats on the Blogger Dashboard, on top of which I have a Statcounter.com widget tracking things in more detail.

A lot of other advice from NBI (not Scary's) centers around gaining readers, like it's a good idea to join Twitter or G+ and "advertise" yourself and your posts. While I believe this is of value, you can't simply simply declare you have posts and otherwise ignore whichever social site you post to. You'll get ignored. (Full disclosure: I am guilty of this with G+, which is blocked from my office network.) The point of Twitter, G+, and Facebook is to engage others in a conversation. You'll only gain audience from those venues if you are actively using them to reach out in "normal" conversations. Then when you do advertise a blog post, people will click on your link to see what you have to say. As Tish Tosh Tesh said, "Blogging is a social activity" (Yes, I linked his post twice. It's that important.) Your blog is your own little corner of the Internet, but you want to invite people to your corner.


RSS Symbol
The thing about hits—and what is behind at least my own advice not to worry about them—is that not all of your readers will do so by visiting your blog directly. Many do so through RSS readers, including Google Reader, Bloglines, and various smartphone apps. If you've ever subscribed to a news feed online, you're using RSS. Really Simple Syndication is a way to let others know you have a new blog post. RSS readers pick up these feeds. Blogger provides for RSS feeds on the Dashboard, under Settings>Other
I know Wordpress has a similar setting where you can enable RSS feeds. Whether you allow the full post to be read without hitting your site is up to you, but realize that many people might not be able to get to your blog because of access issues beyond both your and their control. For instance, I can't get to many gaming related blogs from my work computer because the net nanny used by the IT Nazis blocks "Games" sites. (But any professional sports are OK o.O)

In any event, you may have a wider readership than your hit stats indicate. Plus, you may get hits by people searching for pictures and such, but having no real interest in your blog. My greatest hits list in the far right column has a couple examples of this, in addition to being a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. More people click on "popular" links, thereby reinforcing their popularity.

This started out as a simple post about bloglists, and look what happened!

Blog Lists (a.k.a. Blogrolls)

You may want to try to get on the blog lists of others in the blogging community. There are a few ways to do this, but only one legitimate one: Write blog posts worth reading. If you write quality posts (this covers a wide variety of styles) that inform and/or entertain, people will follow you, subscribe, and maybe even put you on their lists. I currently have two lists in the right columns. One is the blogs I regularly follow (no, I don't read every single post) and the other consists of the new blogs posted by Syp in his NBI updates on Biobreak.
One thing I like about Blogger's list gadget (which can be added from the layout screen) is the option to show Latest First (the other option is Alphabetical), then limit the number showing (5, 10, 25 or All). The blogs that don't post fall off after a while, saving me the trouble of pruning my list of inactive blogs. I currently have all the NBI Blogs showing with the latest post from each. But later, I will probably limit it to the 10 (or 25) most recent posts. Notice that, as of this post, The Poison Mushroom does not actually have a feed, showing as broken in my configuration window, and sitting at the bottom of the actual list. Maybe they don't want an RSS feed, but maybe it's just not set up. When I limit my bloglist to the most recent ten, that blog will never show up. I have a few on my Blogging Friends list that I guess I should call out, too: I Am Writezalot, Mattplanet, and The Self-Aware Colony. I love you guys, but your blog never shows up on my list of latest-greatest, because you don't have RSS set up.

Bottom line (TL;DR): Look through your blog settings and set up the RSS (Site) Feed. You may choose not too, but you will be limiting your potential audience.


  1. *chuckle* Thanks! I do feel a little bit of irony settling in, since I'm such a staunch soloist in MMOs themselves. Maybe it underscores my oft-repeated point that one may be social without being grouped, though, hm?

    Incidentally, do RSS readers show links, graphics and comments or just the text of posts?

    1. It may depend on the blog, but I do see pictures in Google Reader

  2. Couldn't agree more on the rss feed, i think there are few people who actually go from blog to blog reading, i don't, unless i want to comment on a post.

    I have many more blogs that i follow through google reader that i don't have in my blogroll.
    And having a full post feed is also important, at least me personally i will hardly go to a site when i only get a snippet of the blogpost in my reader, unless it really grabs my interrest.

    And more often than not i will unsubscribe from blogs that only give a snippet, call me lazy but i like it easy and read blogs in my rss reader :)

    1. Agreed. I did an informal survey on post breaks a while back and the (small) concensus seemed to be that full posts on the front page are better. Unless you're posting many times a day, like a news site. If people are using a reader chances are they are unable or unwilling to go to your site anyway. Why give them only a snippet. Blogger, at least, allows for ads in the feed if you're monetizing, but it requires the full post to be in the RSS.

  3. Great couple of posts! I had never given any thought to what my RSS settings were before reading this.

    I personally use my blogroll as my reader. I like to go directly to the blogs I read just to get the full impact of their design (although in the case of my blog you're not exactly in for a treat on that count if you decide to visit).

    1. Thank you very much. They're a bit prosaic, but I hope they help people.

      I do use my blogroll as a reader when not at work, another reason I like the latest-first organization of it. But many of my favorite blogs are not available to me when I have the most time to read them. So I use Google Reader, and prefer full posts in the feed. It may be a type of myopia, but I doubt I am only one in roughly my situation.

  4. I simply click on people randomly from a wheel I have in my bathroom. :) No really, RSS is very important for mobile reading and having a great app for that helps a lot. I must read 50-100 posts a day.

    About gain hits through all those sources is plain stupid. I might get 1000's of hits a day but none of them mean anything besides the real people reading that day. There are so many spam bots keying in on words and pictures. The longer you blog the more your hits will go up because of search engines. I change my blog every 2 years to purge myself of the junk hits. I like a good steady 50-100 real readers a post. I know then real people follow me not just spam me.

  5. I recently changed from a hosted site at WordPress to the self hosted option. It's also been a few days since I started using feedburner for my rss feeds. When I first started blogging, a few months ago I didn't advertise my rss feed because I wanted my readers to access the posts directly from my blog.

    I've since realised that this is an important aspect of a blog, simply due to the limitations some readers might have otherwise.