One of the best ways to make sure people regularly read your blog is to offer a way for them to automatically receive your posts.
In this post, you’ll learn how to setup an RSS feed for a Genesis-powered WordPress blog, and manage that feed using Feedburner.
RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds allow readers to automatically receive updates from blogs and other content publishers without having to manually visit websites to check for new posts or articles.
RSS feeds can be read using a feed reader like Google Reader, Feedly, or Flipboard, to name a few. Visitors subscribe to a feed by clicking on the icon, or by entering the feed’s web address into their reader. The feed reader pings (checks for) new content every hour or so, and downloads it if available.
Most web browsers offer a way to subscribe to RSS feeds as well. For example, Safari will let visitors subscribe to a feed by clicking on the RSS icon in the address bar.
WordPress seamlessly integrates RSS into your blog. So even if there’s no explicit RSS button or link on a WordPress site, browsers will still “see” the feed and allow visitors to subscribe to it.
Why use Feedburner?
Managing your feed with Feedburner offers a number of advantages.
- Statistics – Feedburner allows you track the number of readers subscribing to your blog. If your blog has a significant following, posting the number of subscribers gives social proof of your blog’s popularity to new visitors.
- Saves bandwidth – Your subscriber’s RSS readers ping and download content from Google’s servers instead of your blog’s server. If you have a lot of subscribers, Feeburner will help keep your blog fast.
- Permanent feed address – If you ever migrate to a different blog platform or change your blog’s web address, all you need to do is change your Feedburner account’s “feed source” and your readers will continue to get your posts.
- Email subscriptions – Some people prefer to receive blog updates by email. Feedburner lets you offer that option to your readers.
- Advertising – You can make money by placing Google AdSense ads in your feed. This is nice if you already use AdSense on your blog, and you’re concerned about feed subscribers not visiting your site.
And the best part is that it’s all free! Now let’s set everything up.
Create feed links and icons
With the Genesis framework, you can add RSS icons and feed links to your blog’s primary navigation menu.
In the Navigation Settings of the Genesis Theme Settings panel, check the “Enable Extras on Right Side” box. Select “RSS feed links” from the “Display the following” dropdown menu that appears, and save your settings.
Remove Comments RSS link from navigation menu
Since I’m not using my comments feed, I wanted to remove the Comments RSS link and icon from my navigation menu to minimize clutter. This must be a common request because StudioPress has a quick little tutorial on that topic. Here’s a quick summary:
- On your WordPress administration panel, go to Appearance > Editor to get to the “Edit Themes” panel.
- Click on Theme Functions (functions.php) in the Templates section on the right side.
- Go to the end of the document and paste in the code from the Genesis tutorial link above.
Warning: Be careful when editing your theme templates. A simple typo might create unwanted visual changes to your blog. Always make sure you have a back up before modifying your templates.
Changing the RSS link text
To be more self-explanatory to my visitors, I changed the RSS link text from “Posts” to “Follow”. In the block of text you just pasted into the functions.php file, search for this line,
$rss = '<a rel="nofollow" href="'.get_bloginfo('rss_url').'">'.__('Posts', 'genesis').'</a>';
Then click the “Update File” button at the bottom.
I could have changed the link text to “RSS”, but that’s a bit too techy. Not everyone understands what RSS means, but the word “follow” gives the average user a much better idea of what will happen when the link is clicked.
Change color of RSS icon from blue to orange
By default, Genesis uses a blue RSS icon. I prefer the traditional orange icon. So while still in the Edit Themes panel, click on “Stylesheet (style.css)” in the Templates section on the right.
rss.png (it occurs twice) and change it to
enews.png. Then click the “Update File” button at the bottom.
You need a Google Account to use Feedburner. If you already use Gmail, you can use that account for Feedburner, or you can create a separate account just for your blog.
After signing into your Google account, go to feedburner.com. You’ll be able to enter your blog’s address, and Feedburner will then search for your blog’s available feeds.
If Feedburner detects more than one feed, it will ask you to choose one. Choose your main feed. It’s usually the one with
/feed/ at the end of your blog’s URL.
Next, enter a title for your feed so you can identify it on your Feedburner home page. For the feed address, I recommend using your domain name. Capitalizing the first letter of each word helps make it more readable.
Now that your feed is burned, explore the Analyze, Optimize, Publicize, and Monetize options, and customize them to your blog’s needs.
Disclosure note: After this post was published, The Hobby Blogger became an affiliate for StudioPress, the makers of the Genesis Framework. See my Disclosure Policy for more info.