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:

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:

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.