Go Start Your Blog and Find a Newsreader

I’ve been using RSS as my primary way to read news, blogs, thoughts, and ideas since 2005 or so (I currently use a mix of Feedly and NewsBlur as my RSS readers, and both are excellent in their own ways).

There’s a growing rumbling going on in the tech-thinkers space I follow (mostly through my RSS readers). Twitter is great for quick fleeting thoughts that you write on the back of a leaf and watch float away down the river. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and updates with those who you are close with in real life. RSS and feed readers serve a much different purpose and I have no doubt they’ll be back in the mainstream soon enough given the current tensions around walled gardens, security, and advertising…

Now fight against the machine and go start your blog. You’ll be glad you did.

The tension between walled gardens (or lock-in, or whatever you want to call it) and a decentralized web will likely never end. But, it feels like we are in for another significant turn of the crank on how all of this works, and that means lots of innovation is coming.

— Read on www.feld.com/archives/2018/08/rss-the-persistent-protocol.html

Bring Back RSS

I’m admittedly from a generation that grew up with a web that didn’t include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Google. I look back fondly on the early 2000’s when we all had our own blogs and shared thoughts and pictures and quotes there.

I was just reminiscing about blogrolls this week with a client as we reminded ourselves about the joy of finding new and interesting people to subscribe to because of a link on a blog that we liked. Of course, there was Blogger and Live Journal and then Flickr and the rise of Google and MySpace and eventually Twitter and Facebook arrived in 2006. But for a while, it was a magical time not ruled over by corporate content silos… in my mind at least.

That’s a major reason why I still blog and share thoughts and links here. I’m not going to convert anyone but maybe I’ll share some of that old time religion. There’s incredible freedom and a sense of adventure to having your “own” site. Try it, rather than just relying on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fun read here:

“For those of you born into the siloed world of the centralised web, RSS is an ancient technology from Web 1.0 (“the naïve Web?”). Like most things back then, it does what it says on the tin: it enables you to easily syndicate the content of your site. People interested in following your posts subscribe to your feed and receive updates using their RSS readers. There is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle to algorithmically censor … ahem … “curate” your posts.”

Via on Aral Balkan’s blog

RSS in 2018

There’s so much wrong with this post, but I’ll point out my biggest gripe here… RSS (like podcasting) doesn’t need the metrics of behavior tracking for it to be a success. It’s distributed. It’s not commercialized. It’s not tracked with clicks based on eCPM’s or eCPC’s or brand quality engagement views.

And that’s ok.

It serves a heck of an important purpose.

Let’s all start using RSS readers again, btw. The internet will be a much better space.

RSS’ true failings though are on the publisher side, with the most obvious issue being analytics. RSS doesn’t allow publishers to track user behavior. It’s nearly impossible to get a sense of how many RSS subscribers there are, due to the way that RSS readers cache feeds. No one knows how much time someone reads an article, or whether they opened an article at all. In this way, RSS shares a similar product design problem with podcasting, in that user behavior is essentially a black box.

Source: RSS is undead | TechCrunch

Dave Winer on how to stimulate the open web

We were talking about this way back in 2006 (and probably before, but that’s when I started taking notice as the social web started accelerating) and it’s good to see that guardians of the web like Dave Winer are still hard at work thinking and talking (and making apps) about this:

Create systems that are ambivalent about the open or closed web. If I create a tool that’s good at posting content to Facebook and Twitter, it should also post to RSS feeds, which exist outside the context of any corporation. Now other generous and innovative people can build systems that work differently from Facebook and Twitter, using these feeds as the basis, and the investors will have another pile of technology they can monetize.

via How to stimulate the open web.

Go read and use RSS.

Blogging Isn’t Dead

I’d have to disagree with this…

Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere – exploreB2B: “While the thought process remains the same today (‘Here is what I think, read my blog’) – the effect is minimal, if anything at all. A viewer may read an article on your blog, maybe even find it interesting, but then never return. Memory of the author, ideas in the post (and certainly the URL), are long forgotten amongst the array of activity online.”

The main reason I would disagree with the sentiment that “blogging is dead” is because it isn’t. Sure, the concept, tools, and way we write our blogs today have changed since the inception of blogging back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but blogging is far from dead.

Even though people aren’t doing the type of hyper-personal blogging which they were doing back in the late 90s and early 2000s anymore, blogging as a medium is still very valid and a great way to carve out your own space on the web. Blogging is a key part of what we consider the open web since it uses “old-school” components like RSS and a blog isn’t a walled garden you have to log into. The type of trade-offs you have with walled gardens such as Facebook are nonexistent when you start your own site given that you run it on your own server, etc. It’s a geeky process and takes a little bit of heavy lifting here and there, but it’s worth it considering that you keep control over what you do.

I started my first blog (and I still write there) on a whim back in July 2011 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done on the web. The magnificent thing about writing your own site is that you can learn so much from others and yourself. You practice and become a better writer and as you devote a little more time to it here and there, you learn about a few other things too (like design, SEO, moving things around on a server, and what you should and shouldn’t put on a site). Looking back at some posts I wrote in 2011 and last year, I have to cringe and scratch my head a great deal, but that’s part of the learning process that comes with anything on the web.

I’ve learned a ton and continue to learn from writing my own site and writing here on MarketingTrends. I’ve blogged elsewhere in the past, but there’s something about writing your own blog that’s so satisfying and in a way, fulfilling to yourself as a writer and user of the internet. While folks who say that blogging is dead have a point because the way we view blogs and publishing in 2013 has changed and adapted a lot over the years, declaring blogging “dead” isn’t justified. Blogging, while old-school (also see email marketing and RSS, neither of which are “dead”), is still one of the best ways to build a solid reputation and name for yourself on the web.

I’d say the feeds that I’m subscribed to in my RSS reader of choice (currently ReadKit) are a solid 50/50 split between bigger sites and smaller blogs written by folks in the industry or just people whose stuff I enjoy reading.

One of the first things I tell anyone looking to go beyond the walled garden principle on the web is for them to go buy a domain name. It’s dead simple and pretty inexpensive. If they want to go beyond that, I’d tell them to go get their hands dirty with a hosted solution first (Tumblr is great for this and I also love Shareist) and eventually move their stuff over to a self-hosted WordPress site (or Movable Type if you’re into that). With all the things we have at hand in 2013 (Squarespace, WordPress, etc), there’s no excuse for why you shouldn’t have your own space on the web.

“And if your words are good, people will read them.”

Thanks for reading our blog.

Devin

RSS is Still Important for Marketers

I love my RSS feeds that I’ve been curating over the last six or so years. I still think that as a delivery medium RSS is part of the future of the web.

However, RSS has always taken a back seat to other ways of capturing and engaging visitors to other tactics such as email. As Scott Jangro wrote in a recent comment here:

All Traffic is Not Good Traffic | Discussion: “But can you do something to capture them as your own?  That should be the primary focus on that traffic. Give them something that will get them to give you their email address, or sign up and get involved in a website.  The latter is harder than the former.

So regardless of the traffic source, who are these users that are coming by, and what can you do to make them *yours*?”

There’s a mighty good reason that RSS takes a back seat to email or some other “capture” mechanism… RSS is insanely nerdy and grows more so every day/month/year. There was a great hope of people like me who saw RSS as a very viable platform that could transform the way the web delivers content and news to most individuals and we’d all be running around reading our feeds on browsers or our devices to our whims (instead of turning to mediated sources like cable news or heavens forbid network news).

That didn’t happen.

For sure, RSS is alive via platforms like the awesome Flipboard app, which is much more “user friendly” than NetNewsWire or Google Reader will ever be (though much less satisfying if you ask me).

RSS is still very much alive as a pure web medium as well. So why should marketers care about RSS subscriptions?

Because all traffic is not good traffic. The traffic you should be concerned about as a marketer is the highly qualified traffic that has the potential to not only convert into some action but become a part of the actual community that will grow and build a site over the long run (if you care about such things, which you should).

Yes, that can be accomplished via email newsletters and lists. However, email lists and RSS subscribers are almost apples and oranges in terms of comparison when considering how they interact with a site and what type of user community can be built with their help and engagement.

RSS subscribers are by nature a nerdy and dedicated bunch… don’t count them out in your efforts. Their numbers may be small (and growing smaller all the time in your Feedburner etc stats) but their power is mighty as I consistently encounter.