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Using Images to Make Your RSS Feeds POP!

RssThis is the second post in a series on How to make your RSS Feeds POP

One technique that many successful bloggers use to stand out from the crowd is to use images in their feeds. This means switching your feeds to full feeds, enabling html and putting up with a little more bandwidth but in my experience of surfing through thousands of posts a day in RSS it makes a big difference.

Images draw the eye, they pique interested, they grab attention and they have the potential to make what can otherwise be a dry and text filled environment (news readers) a more visually pleasing and sensual space.

I know when I’m scanning my feeds that it’s often the posts with images in them that I pause to take a second look at.

The images you use might illustrate a point you’re trying to make – or they might simply be the equivalent of an image title for your post (like I’m using in this post).

3 Examples

A few blogs that use images regularly and effectively in posts include:

TechCrunch who uses lots of logos and screenshots of companies that it reviews.

Techcrunch

Copyblogger uses title images effectively – I know when Brian uses one that I’ve got to pay attention because he’s writing original content. It’s a visual cue to his readers to listen up!

Copyblogger

Richard at Read Write Web uses a lot of images in his posts. This is particularly useful for his blog which often features longer and pretty in depth posts that without images could look like large slabs of text.

Readwriteweb

Using Video in RSS

Over the last year Videos have increasingly been appearing on blogs and over the past few months some news aggregators have worked out how to show them in RSS feeds.

The same principles that apply to images in feeds seem to apply with video – they add another dimension!

Perhaps it is the novelty value or perhaps that it’s an ‘active’ thing to press the little play button – but there’s something about seeing video on a blog or in a feed that sucks me in every time. It catches my eye and draws me towards it – I suspect that it does the same for others so smart and relevant use of video in posts can add a new dimension to both them and the feeds that they appear in.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this series in writing for RSS – but in the mean time I’d love to hear your thoughts on images in feeds.

  • Do you use them?
  • Do you like them in other’s posts?
  • Who uses images in posts well?
  • What type of images work best for you?
  • Can bloggers sometimes use too many images and videos in posts?
About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. This is a good tip, though I would argue that pullquotes are equally effective and easier to create.

  2. mark says:

    To your last point: “Using Video in RSS”…

    From what you see, how do people put video in feeds and how do you put a picture for you video in feeds.

    I just started making some video posts at 45n5.com but think video technology is terrible when it comes to rss.

    Sure there is the “enclosure” tag but that was invented before youtube, i don’t want to enclose anything, I want to embed a video player.

    Currently I just create a text link pointing back to the original post on my blog.

    What’s the best way to include video/video pictures in an rss feed that you’ve seen? any examples? Thanks

  3. Peter Cooper says:

    I have used this image technique on one of my blogs since I started it and I think it’s one of the reasons it has become my most successful blog despite being the youngest. I found I liked blogs that had images for each post, so I decided to ‘copy’ it and.. I guess that’s how you learn what works :)

    Videos might be a step too far though. I think they’re good, but many feed readers will not render them properly (whereas images are almost universally supported) and they take a lot of production (compared to images), but we’ll see.. Perhaps sound / embedded speech is also another technique but without getting into the whole podcasting thing.

  4. I am beginning to use more and more video in posts on some of my blogs. I have not worked out all of the links for the best way to do it and to promote the videos.

    We do see people liking them, but can’t tell yet if it is worth the time. We of course will get better at it in the future.

  5. I like using images – a lot. I am a visual person and I think that images help my readers see what I’m talking about, especially on one of my “How-To” posts.

  6. Lorne Fade says:

    Images… i will have to try that concept, I can see the upsides, although with content, sometimes images can take away from it. I guess its all about finding a fine line where the image helps accent the content. I myself have used videos, and with the advent of youtube, videos with unlimited bandwidth is always a good thing :)

  7. Images can help us to ilustrate large or complex concepts faster, and they complement and help uderstandig better what it is written.

  8. Leanne says:

    My blog is all about art – paintings & photography, so my feeds are, too. I think everyone likes a bit of eye candy – it can be a refreshing break when flipping through feeds.

  9. Kane says:

    I’d really like to use images in my feed. But I just dont understand how to get it from my WordPress installation. Questions on the forums ends up with zero answers. A quick pointer anyone?

  10. Many RSS readers can’t display, for instance, an embedded YouTube video. They either display a giant blank space or nothing at all. Worse, it’s not immediately obvious to some people that there was content missing that they could have seen had they clicked through. Video in feeds needs a good treatment, but I suspect it’s a bit early to expect it to be widespread or useful for many people.

  11. Evorgleb says:

    i often use video in my posts and have found that many feed reader do not show my videos (which i provide through various embeded players). So what I usually do is give some indication in my post that there is a video to see so people who do not see the video know that it is missing from the feed and that they can click through to the site to see it. Something as simple as “check out the video below” does the trick

  12. Jon Symons says:

    Favicons are another way to use images to get your feed noticed, as most readers will pick them up display them…they can make your feed stand out from the pack.

  13. Larry Keiler says:

    I often put images in my posts, but I’m not technically proficient, really. Any tech changes I’ve made are more of the copy from somewhere and paste variety. So I’m not exactly following this here. How do images appear in the RSS feed?

  14. Mike Panic says:

    For the blog in my name here, I use royalty free stock images whenever I feel it will help a story and is relative. I do use video clips either as an entire post or, in some cases they finish telling the story that was started by me or one of my other authors.

    As a photographer, I find it really easy to put graphics together with words, however I often see writers who don’t know much about graphic design or photography choosing the wrong images, making them too large or putting them in the wrong place and it often over powers or over-runs the story, sort of getting in the way. Small, simple, to the point articles that stick to the topic. If you use a white background, try to get isolated images, they will “blend” w/ the site better. If you run a different color background, crack open Photoshop (or gimp or whatever) and change the background color or make it a transparent .gif file.

    Likewise, if you can’t find a suitable image, don’t feel the story needs one or can’t get it into the layout well, don’t use it. That simple.

    My general rule of thumb for image size is no larger then 150 pixels on the long side, 175 if it is a very narrow image and needs to be that big. On a rare occation, I’ll use an image as wide as 400 pixels (about as wide as I can go with my current WordPress theme) to show a screenshot or large image that needs to be in the story, and I’ll usually put this at the bottom of the article and / or after the “read more” fold so it doesn’t clutter up the index too much.

    I also see a lot of people not utilizing thumbnail sized images that are clickable to larger images – there are several ways to do this with code, simple HTML all the way through nice smooth java scripts. In any event, if you need to show large images (600 pixels on the long side or bigger), show a small thumb that is clickable. It will not only save on your bandwidth bill, it will make for a happier user.

    A quick word about images – get them legally! There are plenty of free or very lost cost places you can grab them, don’t steal them from others.

  15. Vincent Chow says:

    May I know how are those images, like the red one in this post is created? Is there any template or generator, or it’s just a neat work done from scratch by using Photoshop? Thanks in advance, I’d appreciate any further clue.

  16. Because my site contains both photos and videos (as well as lots of text) of very photogenic places, it was natural to put both into my (non-full-text) feeds – but it took me until a couple of weeks ago to work out how to do this with photos. The result seems to be a jump in my (small) number of Feedburner subscribers, and traffic to the site continues to increase. Just this weekend I figured out how to kludge in YouTube videos so they show up in Google Reader; still waiting to (try to) measure the results of that.

  17. snwop says:

    One of the problems I found with using video in RSS feeds is that not all RSS readers can handle this. I use Mozilla Thunderbird and it does not show any flash contents, so I must go to the Web page. Let’s hope that the Mozilla guys fix this in the near future.

  18. I use images in every single post in my blog. It makes my articles look more attractive.

  19. Ashish Mohta says:

    Images can definetly help. In fact my readers increased because of them.If proper images are used they deliver the correct message in one shot.Images are mightier than pen.

    Images which actually relate to post will work well or which can say yeah this post means that.But there is one problem, how one makes an image which relates to post.Only way could be looking for an image on google search but then you fall into trap if its copyrighted.

    Any suggestions?

  20. Jim says:

    I never realized that this is why my posts never showed the pictures or the video that I embeded in them till now. It is amazing what one little flag being changed on the blogger settings will do for a blog to enable full feeds.

    Thanks

  21. Deepa says:

    Hi..
    I am a bit of beginer here. I have a photblog where each psot post has a picture and a small decription ( english & Tamil)..
    So thiis is what i would like to have..,.

    The feed to display a thumbnail preview of the picture in the post and say 20-25 words from the description.
    Then i would like to display the above feed in my other blogs so that my readers would know when i have a new picture at my photoblog

    would this be possile? ? ?

  22. Ivan says:

    I use images on my blog but I would really like to get videos to show up on my rss feed. Does anyone know how to embed videos on an wordpress rss feed?

  23. Fred says:

    Is there such thing that I can link video RSS feeds to my blog?
    Right now, I’m kinda doing it manually going on youtube. Is there a way that it can automatically updates the video?

  24. Hey Darren, I know this is an older post but I wanted to ask you…When you change your RSS to full page instead of a summary, is there a chance that other sites can scrape your content and cause duplicate content issues in the search engines. Also is there a way to just put maybe the first paragraph with a picture or video at the top of the RSS feed post instead of the whole post?

  25. David Davis says:

    Thanks for helping us out!

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