RSS feeds. Real Simple?

Real Simple Syndication can be anything but.  While getting a technology boner over discussions with a new friend about enhancing his website, we looked into RSS feeds.  His site, http://www.stevesellsyourstuff.com has a beautiful WordPress layout but sucked up a lot of his time maintaining it.  His main mode of actually selling stuff was on Craigslist, but as sold and listed items were constantly changing, his personal site served as a home base for all the items he has dealt with, showing potential clients what he can do, and the services he is capable of, as well as listing service fees and his biography.

He needed either a way to e-commerce on his actual site or an easier way to link items without having to post in Craigslist, direct people through facebook, and update his personal site for each item listed and again when it sold.  Steve lacked the traffic on his home site to move his items quickly for his customers, yet items flew off Craigslist when people were directed there through his Facebook business site.

My first thought was RSS feed on his WordPress site.  This blog is a very basic beginners guide.

First, a crash course in RSS (Real Simple Syndication) and why you need it.

Say you are a drummer in a band.  (I mean, if I get to pick anything, right?)  You maintain a website for your band, who is getting rave reviews in town.  You’re constantly looking for new talent and meet-ups in your area.  On your WordPress site, you’d like to feature your local area Craigslist “Musicians” community for others to use and enjoy the way you do.

This is one of myriad uses for RSS.  What RSS can do for you, is to take a LIVE feed from one site  and post it as a LIVE feed on your site, for your subscribers and viewers to see.  Want to feature art works by your best friend on your site?  Instead of directing your clients to her site, you can post a live feed that lets people click on something specific that may catch their eye, without re-directing them to something that may or may not be of interest.  In the case of you, the drummer, you want others to see only the four most recent meetups, without redirecting the viewer away from your site completely by posting links.  Posting a link to a meetup will be outdated unless you maintain the link by deleting and posting new, relevant content.  Posting an RSS feed means NO maintenance by you, it puts the work load on another site.  In the case of you, the drummer, anybody who posts a new meetup on Craigslist will be featured instantaneously on your page as well.  

This is an example of RSS feed coding (don’t worry, you don’t need to know the language, just be aware this is what you are looking for):

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This is my RSS feed for Arts & Media on NPR.  I wanted my viewers to see the most relevant “news” content on my site from my favorite source.  I wanted the ease of including this information without having to maintain and update new news stories, or re-blog from their site. Next, I copy the web address from my browser. (You can find RSS feeds of nearly anything by simply searching for them in Google).   I searched for NPR+ART+RSS and found the following site:

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See that orange RSS button? You can also find it at the bottom of your Craigslist page when you, the drummer, click on “Musicians” and scroll to the bottom of the page.  Open the RSS feed by clicking the orange button.  Copy the address in the browser.  Don’t copy the entire code (for WordPress, anyway.  It just needs the actual site address for the feed).

Next, you’ll need to add the RSS widget to your WordPress page.

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Voila!  It’s as Simple as Syndication! Now enjoy your new feed.  And get a burger, because FEED makes you hungry.

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