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In my previous post about automating your online blogging activities, I’ve highlighted some of the challenges that any blogger that loves efficiency is faced with, and given a general description of what are some of the tools that can be used to automate some of the repetitive tasks, such as twitter, facebook, feedburner, networkedblogs, google plus, stumbleupon, etc.

Today, I am presenting a few things about feedburner that some of you might have not known about, and what this one of Google’s free services can do for you in automating your blogging tasks, and improve your blog and your visitor’s overall on-site experience, reduce your bounce rate, and simply put, make your blogging life easier.

PART II. Using Feedburner to automate your blogging activities.

If you didn’t know about it… Feedburner is a free service offered by Google, through which you can accomplish some very important tasks, if you’re serious about blogging, such as (but not limited to ) the following:

– give your visitors a choice to read your articles at a later time, by bookmarking not just your site, but your feed

– give your visitors a choice to subscribe to your posts or feeed, through an e-mail

– show off your feed reader count, and encourage new visitors through it, to subscribe to your feed

– show an animated headline rotator banner, of your latest posts, with a small snippet of some of their contents, in any number of shapes, sizes, font combinations, etc.

– republish your feed as either simple text, or full HTML, for re-inserting for instance, in places on your own blog, where after an article there’s a lot of empty space left, and thus, keep the same appearance over the entire site

– give the possibility to other bloggers, who like your blog, and want to republish your latest posts in their own site, or collection, blogroll, by copying one small piece of code that you can offer

automatically publish a tweet with an automatically shortened URL of every post you make, to one or more twitter accounts to which you have access

Now, the beauty of all these possibilities is, that they are all set-and-forget, meaning that once you’ve set these services up, you will never have to worry about it again, and they will all do their job regardless of how and when your site or blog design or content changes, simply put, every time you publish a post on any blog for which you’ve set up one or all of the services offered, they will be “triggered” and executed.

Burn a feed in feedburner
Image 1. Burning a feed in Google Feedburner.

So let’s see, how do we go about creating a feedburner feed, and using the feed’s control panel or dashboard, to accomplish automation.

First of all, you’ll need of course a google account, if you don’t already have one, go ahead and sign up for a google account by going here, or, if you already have one, sign in to your account, and go Feedburner.

In the main screen that appears, tpye yor feed URL in the box that has “burn your feed right this instant”, and click next. (image 1.)

For the moment, don’t worry about all the other options that are presented there, right from the first screen, just go ahead and type your feed URL and press or click on the Next button. If you don’t know your feed address, you should ask your webmaster, or webdesigner, the person who created your site, or in case you are on a free site hosting service such as blogspot.com or worpdress.com, the two most common locations are:

– for blogspot/blogger blogs: http://someblogaddress.blogspot.com/atom.xml – so you just type your blog address , replace “someblogaddress” with your real blog address, followed by /atom.xml

– for wordpress blogs, the most common, and default feed address is http://someblogaddress.com/?feed=atom, so simply type the address of your blog, followed by a forward slash, question mark, and “feed=atom” (without the quotes) and press or click Next.
On the next screen that appears, feedburner will propose a name and a URI location for your feed, like the one that you can see in image no.2.

Naming your feed in feedburner
Naming your feed in feedburner

It’s good to remember at this moment, that the UNIQUE (that’s where the U in URI comes from) location that feedburner has selected/proposed for you, can be altered, provided that there’s noone else using the name or URI you select for your feed, instead of the one proposed. So for instance, if you are burning a feed for a chocolate factory’s blog, and feedburner proposes a feed location/name like, “/sxcVXre”, you’d obviously want to change that to something more appropriate in your case, like “/thechocolatefactory”, and don’t worry, if the name you select, is already taken, you will receive an alert on the next page when you press or click next, but you can return to the screen to select another representative word for your feed, as a URI, and you can try as many times as you need, until you find one that fits.

In case of this blog, (which you are currently reading), the proposed name was something like “feeds.feedburner.com/computershtgq/VzerfE”, which I’ve changed to this, more appropriate URI (in my case)

http://feeds.feedburner.com/windowsandlinuxhowtos

After having found an appropriate word for your feed’s URI, on the last screen with which you are presented with, it’s a good idea to check the checkboxes which will allow feedburner to track your feed usage and downloads, stats will come in handy, along the line.

That’s it ! You’ve set up your new feedburner feed. Anyone who know the feed’s address, can subscribe to your feed in a feed reader – such as feedly, for instance – or directly, in their browser , by bookmarking its address, etc.

Now, obviously, they could have already done that by simply typing the address of your atom feed, or RSS2 feed, BEFORE you burned your feedburner feed, even now, they still can do the same, until you REDIRECT your atom or RSS blog feed to your new, Feedburner feed. Though it may seem, that other then tracking who reads your feed, so far, we have accomplished nothing, don’t be fooled by appearances, the fact that you’ve actually only clicked 2 or 3 times after entering your feed address in a textbox, does not mean, that you have not accomplished A LOT with it.

To keep the article shorter, then it would normally become if I continue explaining everything in one single post, go ahead, burn your feed, and then, come back to read the next article, better yet, if you’re not yet subscribed to my blog, enter your e-mail address into the textbox in the upper corner of the left column, here on the blog, and press OK, and guess what ? FEEDBURNER will take care of the rest. More about that, and how you can redirect your original feed to this new, feedburner feed you’ve just (hopefully) burned, and the numerous benefits of doing so, in the next article.

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