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Favorite Features: Blog Feeds

Favorite Features

Welcome to our special series on our favorite Typepad features! Every other week, we'll debut a new article full of valuable tips and tricks for the Typepad team's top feature picks. Each feature is already built-in and available right at your fingertips, ready to help you get the most out of your blogging experience. Miss anything? Check out the other posts in our series here. This week's favorite feature post is from Jen, who has been part of the Typepad team for over 8 years.

RSS Feed IconMy favorite feature of Typepad is the ability to quickly enable Atom and RSS feeds for all blogs. You don't have to understand the nerdy details of RSS, Atom, or web feeds, but you should know your blog's feed gives you seemingly endless ways to share the latest updates to your blog around the interwebs - email, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more! Feeds also make it easy for readers of your blog to be notified of the latest posts in the way they prefer to get their news. (If you want some of the nerdy details on feeds, we recommend the Web Feed article at Wikipedia.org.)

To enable Feeds for your blog, go to Settings > Feeds, check the Blog Posts option under Published Feeds, and click Save Changes. Feeds are enabled by default for new Typepad blogs, so you probably already have RSS and Atom feeds set for your blogs! Now, you can utilize the feed to distribute your posts.

The feed URL for your blog is actually your blog's address followed by /atom.xml or /rss.xml. Most services don't have a preference for Atom or RSS 2.0 - both support attachments for podcasting too.

Don't freak out if you see a bunch of code when you try to view the feed URL in a browser. To give you just some of the nerdy details...The feed is actually a bunch of XML code that makes it easy for feed readers to parse and utilize the data in the feed. A feed isn't meant to be viewed directly in your browser as not all browsers are set up to be feed readers. Chrome and some older browsers will show you scary code when you view a feed directly, but Firefox, Safari, and newer versions of Internet Explorer read the feed and display a pretty webpage with the latest posts.

You want to take your blog's feed URL and feed it into a service that reads feeds, and then you can send your new posts everywhere! Some of my favorite things you can do with your blog's feed:

Offer the option to be notified via email of new posts. Your blog's feed can be used to send out an email to subscribers when you publish a new post. You can use FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, MailChimp, or any other emailing service to give readers the option to be notified of new posts in their inbox. A lot of people not familiar with feeds prefer to receive their news by email, and it's great to make this option available.

Share your latest posts to your favorite social media sites. Every time you publish a new post to your blog, the blog's feed is updated immediately with the new post. You can use your blog's feed URL to share your latest post quickly to your Facebook Page Timeline or use IFTTT.com to share to nearly every other social media site. We have the instructions for using IFTTT.com and your blog's feed to share to LinkedIn in the Knowledge Base, and you can follow the same steps to share to other services, like Flickr and Storify.

Share the latest news from your blog on your website. If you have a blog on Typepad and a separate website (either on Typepad or hosted elsewhere), you don't want to just have a link to your blog on your website - you want to give visitors to your website a peek into the latest news on your blog. Using your blog's feed, you can display the links to the latest posts and excerpts directly on your website. Add your blog's feed URL to a bit of RSS to script code and place it on your website. See the Knowledge Base article for the step-by-step instructions.

Add your blog to a community of similar blogs. The Typepad Showcase, BlogHer, and other community sites share the latest posts from around the internet on a single website by utilizing feeds. Community sites promote posts from blogs on similar topics and are great at attracting new readers to your blog. Want to be a part of the Typepad Showcase? Click here to submit your Typepad blog!

You can also take advantage of the multiple settings available for your Typepad blog feeds. You can display full posts or excerpts in your feed. Excerpts are good if you prefer people visit your website to read your posts. If you don't mind if readers can see the entire post in their email or in their feed reader, offer up full posts in your feed (recommended). At Settings > Feeds in Typepad, you can choose Full Posts or Short Excerpts.

You also have the option to offer a feed for individual categories. This is great if you want to display the latest posts in one category elsewhere. Use the Feeds Module and a category feed to display links to the latest posts in one category in the blog's sidebar, for instance.

Typepad also makes it easy to connect to FeedBlitz which gives you statistics for your feed. Track the number of subscribers to the feed, add a custom logo to the feed, configure podcast feed, and more with FeedBlitz - all included as free FeedBlitz features. See the article on connecting to FeedBlitz for more details.

What else can you do with a feed? What's your preferred feed tool? Are blog feeds your favorite feature of Typepad too? Let us know in the forum or below in the comments.

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