Customize your RSS feed for BlogRush

Custom RSS for BlogRush
So far I like BlogRush a lot and think it has great potential. One of the problems I see with it that can be improved upon then is that you cannot select what posts you would like to promote via BlogRush with your syndication credits.

Why syndicate what you had for breakfast across the network?

Your blog may be an intimate place where you share many things with your readers that may not be appropriate for the network-at-large. Unfortunately, BlogRush offers no way to declare which posts you want to share across the network and which you don’t.

I’ve worked up a better way of doing this for SMO Blog and I think other bloggers that use WordPress might be interested in doing the same. It’s in everybody’s interest to keep posts to BlogRush at a high level of quality so that people don’t begin to tune it out.


Add a Custom RSS Feed for BlogRush

The solution I’ve found is to add a Custom Field like this to each blog post that I want to promote.

Add the key “BlogRushTitle” and then in the value area put whatever you would like to title the post in BlogRush. The reason why I’ve defined the key that way is that BlogRush can only show about 40 characters or so in the widget. After that it gets truncated. Since I don’t really want to constrain my post titles just for BlogRush this provides a great method of providing a shorter title for BlogRush.

When you are done it should look like this:

The next time you write a post, “BlogRushTitle” will be on the dropdown of keys in the custom field area – you will only need to select it and type the title you want to use for a given blog post.

Create a custom RSS feed in WordPress.

WordPress provides a number of RSS templates in the root directory of the install to handle various feed types. I’ve created a new RSS template that uses the RSS 2.0 standard to tailor a feed specifically for BlogRush. I’ve got it set so that it only includes posts that have the custom field for “BlogRushTitle” associated with it and have a title filled in.

You can download this file here: blogrush-rss-wp2.12.zip

Please note – this has been tested in WordPress 2.12. I think it will likely work in 2.20 but I won’t be testing it until later tonight. Also, if you are using .htaccess to perform URL rewriting, you may need to make some adjustments there as the file will be called directly.

To use it you’ll want to drop it into your WordPress root directory. The path to your BlogRush specific RSS feed will then look like this:

http://www.smoblog.com/blogrush-rss.php

Validating the feed

I recommend that you validate the feed to make sure it is working correctly after you have everything setup but before you post it to BlogRush. Try using this RSS validator and make sure you scroll down to the bottom and review the source code of the feed to see that your posts are showing up, etc.

Telling BlogRush about your new feed

Unfortunately, BlogRush lets you edit everything about your blog except for the feed address. This is a little crazy as many blogs change their feeds over time (changing to Feedburner, etc). Hopefully they fix this. Until then, the best you can do is add a second blog and specify your new BlogRush feed as the feed to use. I believe that this will mean that at least one-half of your syndication credits are using your new, optimized feed.

Not a member of BlogRush yet?

If you haven’t signed up yet, you can put this in place first, sign up for BlogRush and then use your optimized feed right from the start.

Once you have everything in place and your feed is working properly, you can get started with the signup process.

Any problems with it?

Please let me know in the comments if you have any problems or suggestions on how it could be improved.

UPDATE: John Chow has a post up about how to add the ability to customize BlogRush headlines as well. His approach is to make a static file in RSS format that you update periodically. That will work too, but I think the approach I took is a little easier to maintain over time as everything is controlled from within WordPress once you have it up and running

Also, Softsled makes a great observation in the comments. You can go back and add older posts to the feed as well. So, you could use it as a sort of “best of” and include things from well before BlogRush was even born.

BONUS TIP: Subscribe to your feed on whatever home page service you use (iGoogle, PageFlakes, etc) so that you can keep an eye on what you have cycling through BlogRush and not forget about it.

Comments

  1. Softsled wrote:

    This is a great tip and very easy to follow. Definitely going in my bookmarks. Thanks.

  2. Softsled wrote:

    Sorry for the double comments, but you might want to mention you can go back to previous posts and edit them so they will be included in the feed as well.

  3. mblair wrote:

    Great point! I’ll add that in as an update.

  4. azzam wrote:

    Fantastic and excellent tool.

  5. Hans Chee wrote:

    One other option is to create a dedicated blog just to feed BlogRush. I’ve one created just to test the concept @ http://blogrush-ads.blogspot.com

    e.g. Just signup a free blog from blogger.

    This has several more advantage like the ability to track your blogrush stats separately (e.g. using google analytics in that dedicated blog)

    It’s also much easier to maintain than John Chow’s method, which is essentially the same.

    I believe at some point, we should be able to aportion the credits earned; to be split among the blogs configured in our account. So having feeds for the main and dedicated blog helps.

    Only caveat is that on the dedicated blog, there’s another hop for visitors to click-through to your main blog since it basically serves as a bait. However, there’s no stopping us from promoting other stuffs not just bring people to read our main blog.

    Btw, your wordpress plugin is nice (or can I call it a plugin?). What I suggest is to also add in a feature such that we can also set a “display flag” on each post – we users can control which post they want to feed blogrush or not.

    In fact to go further, have another feature to see the “duration” or timing of the posts being fed. Those are some of the advantages having a dedicated blogrush blog.

    Cheers,
    Hans

    p.s. I’ve added this post to my squidoo lens under the “uncommon” review and blogrush blog. Thanks for sharing!

  6. mblair wrote:

    Thanks for the detailed comment and the suggestion Hans — one thing I wanted to clarify is that in this approach the “BlogRushTitle” custom field actually does double duty — if it isn’t filled in the post won’t appear. I thought that was a bit easier than having a separate flag that I’d also need to toggle. I can definitely see the benefits of a separate flag for people that don’t care to reword their titles.

    Your idea about adding other parameters that can be adjusted is a good one. This part would need to be done via a plugin to make it easier to maintain. As it stands right now, you’ll need to manually go back and zero out the BlogRushTitle on any post you want to remove from the feed.

  7. Hans Chee wrote:

    Re: “if it isn’t filled in the post won’t appear” – this is a good feature and highlight!

    I’m sort of a script hacker myself, so such things does make me interested. What you have here could very well eliminate the need for what I’m doing with a dedicated blog, that’s why I’m more excited to give comments ;)

    Good thinking!

  8. Caroline Middlebrook wrote:

    That is an excellent idea! I was wondering if BlogRush themselves would come up with come way of allowing us to customise what posts appear. I know they mentioned at some point that they were going to introduce something to allow the most popular posts to be shown more often.

  9. mblair wrote:

    They just announced today that they were adding filters that could be used to block certain posts. I’m hoping to check it out soon but I’m having some issues connecting to it. Everybody must be logging in at once to pick the new color for their widget (another new feature).

  10. Mom of a Lego Kid wrote:

    I’d like to add blogrush to my son’s lego blog, but everytime I sign up on blogrush, I get the error: The RSS Feed you submitted has an invalid format.. (Parse Error: Invalid feed format)

    We’re using blogger (new format), and it says just to add the atom.xml to the end of you blogger url for the feed url. So… I’ve got http://www.lego-legos.blogspot.com/atom.xml

    Is there something I’m doing wrong?

    Open to suggestions.

  11. mblair wrote:

    Try using this as the feed address — this is your son’s blog’s RSS feed as opposed to its default Atom feed:
    http://legos-legos.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

    The one thing I am thinking might be a problem possible is that I noticed you have a BR tag in the blog title, which is part of the feed. You might want to remove that. That might be causing BlogRosh to trigger an error when it analyzes your feed.

  12. Mom of a Lego Kid wrote:

    mblair… you are awesome!!!

    Thanks for the help. That works.

  13. Mom of a Lego Kid wrote:

    mblair- I put the in there, because the blogger format did not allow for 2 lines. My son came up with the tagline ‘a galaxy of design’ (which I thought was very clever- especially from a 7 year old) so I really wanted to show that, yet put it separate from the actual title. I suppose I could have put it the description. I wanted to keep the description for the keywords. So that’s my dilemna.

  14. mblair wrote:

    Glad to hear you got it to work. I think you are right that those are your only alternatives with Blogger. The only other option I can see if you want to avoid the BR is maybe using a colon as a separator and running the title on one line instead of two. It does look nice on two lines though. You should also consider that the BR shows up in your Google listings as well which looks a little funky there.

  15. Kamil wrote:

    Great tip! Thanks

  16. Kamil wrote:

    From BlogRush FAQ:


    How can I change my “Feed URL” for my blog?

    At this time, you cannot manually change your feed URL, but if you would like for us to do so, send an email to support@blogrush.com with “Change Feed URL” in the subject line, and we’ll get it taken care of for you.

    I have sent them an email with my new feed’s url… we’ll see how long it takes them to update it. Thanks again!

  17. sai saravanan wrote:

    i am trying to sign up for blog rush but i am not able to get through
    “The RSS Feed you submitted has an invalid format. (Parse Error: No posts in feed)” this error message during registration,please help me,these are the information i have given

    The RSS Feed you submitted has an invalid format. (Parse Error: No posts in feed)
    Blog Name:earn online easily
    Blog URL:www.justclick2earn.blogspot.com
    Feed URL:http://justclick2earn.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

    and i have also tried http://justclick2earn.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
    but it is also not workking,
    please help me,even i am not getting response for the mail i have sent blog rush,please guide me…

  18. mblair wrote:

    @Sai,
    I’ve checked your feed over at http://feedvalidator.org/ and your Atom feed (the first one) validated fine but it had trouble with the RSS feed.

    One thing that is important is to have at least one post in the feed or it won’t work there. I noticed your website only has one post.

    However, I’d recommend cleaning up your blog a a bit and getting a few more posts. BlogRush has tightened up their admission requirements and you are going to have trouble in the manual review. The only way I think you’ll pass frankly is if someone there is having an off day. I’d add some more posts and make it look like it isn’t a newborn before you try to apply.

    If they do deny you, you can usually reapply a month later if you’ve made changes.

    @Kamil – An update — now you can edit your Feed URL from the BlogRush console.

  19. sai saravanan wrote:

    thank u for your quick response.
    what is a post,how do i do it,please guide me step by step since i have no idea about it,it would be very helpful if u guide me…….thank u

  20. mblair wrote:

    @sai – When I say “post” I am referring to a new “article” on your blog. Right now you have only one. This makes your blog not look like a blog, but a single page website. The problem is, BlogRush won’t allow that. If you want to join BlogRush, you will need to make this look more like a blog.

    When you log into Blogger, there is a link called “New Post” — that is how you make new posts. Then you have to write it. But whatever new post you make will appear on top of the introduction page you have already made, pushing that one down.

    I suggest you go to http://www.trafficjam.com. This is a new website that that showcases popular posts from BlogRush. Browse some of the blogs there and you will see examples of what you need to change your website too if you really want to get into BlogRush.

    But honestly, I think you might be better off looking at other promotional alternatives such as “article marketing” for your website as it doesn’t really seem that you want to use it as a blog. If you are unfamiliar with article marketing, take a look at this review of article marketing by Yaro Starak.

  21. Briongloid wrote:

    They don’t seem to care much for Feedburner feeds for some reason, a veritable parade of parse errors. Supplying the original feed seems to fix the problem though.