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Two Important Reasons to Subscribe to Your Own RSS Feeds

Subscribe-FeedsDo You Subscribe to Your Own RSS Feeds?

Some might think that subscribing to yourself is nothing more than an exercise in vanity – but I believe it’s good blogging practice and something that can improve your blog.

This morning I was wading through the thousands of unread items in Google Reader and noticed that one blog that I read regularly hadn’t updated in the week that I’d been away.

I thought this was unusual as it was a blog that usually posted at least a couple of times a day so I decided to visit the blog directly. When I arrived I found that the blog had been posting as normal (13 posts in the last week). It seemed that their RSS feed was not reporting new posts for some reason.

I emailed the blogger to let them know that I was having problems reading their feed and they replied with:

“I was wondering why my visitor stats were down by 60% this week!”

The blogger had been oblivious to their feed having problems and just blogged on as normal.

This is a great argument to subscribing to your own RSS feed.

I wrote a few weeks ago about having a Vanity Folder in your RSS feed but another folder that I would recommend all bloggers having is a ‘My Feeds’ folder.

I have a folder in Google Reader called ‘Mine’ (catchy name isn’t it!) which contains subscription to my own blogs feeds. Every day I quickly scan it to make sure that my posts are coming through. This way I’m immediately alerted to problems with my Feed and don’t have to wait for a week or two to notice that there haven’t been any posts coming through recently.

But Wait There’s More!

If the above reason isn’t good enough for you to subscribe to your own feeds – I’ve got another one for you (and no it’s not so that your feed subscriber numbers are boosted – although I’m sure many subscribe for that too).

The ‘Bonus’ reason to subscribe to your own feeds is that you can actually learn a lot about your own posting by scanning your own posts.

I’ve written a series on how to make your RSS feeds POP which talks about some of the techniques that you can use to make your RSS feed stand out from the crowd.

One of the best ways to hone these skills and make sure you are effectively using them is to subscribe to your own blog and see how your blog looks to your subscribers. I’ve learned so much about designing my posts by doing this.

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. Mark says:

    Great tip Darren! And I can increase my readership by one :)

  2. Sportaphile says:

    I’ve been subscribed to my own feed since day one, mostly because I was initially curious as to how long it took my feed to pop up in google reader.

    It usually doesn’t pop up in reader until at least 20 minutes after I’ve posted it. So I’ve taken that into consideration for when I do Live Blogs of sporting events or something.

  3. >Mark, I have a blog, where I know very well who the one subscriber is. :)

    Funnily enough, a reader emailed me today saying there was a problem with email subscription so it may be worth checking that out as well.

  4. Jimson Lee says:

    Great tip!

    If you have corrupt XML code, usually in the form of apostrophies, or when you copy and past an article, that will break a RSS feed. It would still appear normal on the Blog.

    This is also true if you are using a local Blog software (i.e. MS Live Writer, for example) and post directly to Blog. There’s always a chance you may have corrupt code.

    If you have advertisers on your RSS feed, and rotate them (like a certain Mr. Chow), then it’s good to view those ads as well.

  5. Good tip. A few months back, I made a minor edit to my WordPress theme, that totally broke my feed. I wasn’t even aware of it until one of my kind readers notified me–a few weeks later!

  6. Keith Dsouza says:

    I subscribe to my own feeds to check if everything is ok. In addition to this it is highly recommended to also use Feedburners FeedBulletin feed which actually alerts me any time my feed is having problems.

    I did have some problems recently and was immediately alerted via the FeedBulletin this is a real fool proof way of making sure your feeds are working fine.

  7. Yeah I have been subscribing to my feed for the same reason. I noticed it was broken and was able to fix it pretty quickly because of this.

    I actually subscribe to both of my feeds, my hosted feed and the one coming from feedburner. It seems that Google reader doesn’t pick up my feedburner feed until about an hour after my hosted feed. Which is kind of frustrating. At one point it was taking 5 or more hours to pick up my feedburner feed. Not sure if that is feedburner or Google reader though.

  8. Lulu says:

    I subscribe to my feeds so that I can see how my posts look in feed readers.

    I also did it for the reason of posting and seeing how many people actually see what I post and then I can see when my visits go down it is at a time when my feeds are not going through.

  9. BW says:

    This was one of the first things I did when I set up my RSS feed. I needed a way to check that my feeds were being updated and this was the obvious way to check that.

    And, yes as you mention in your post, it’s a great way to see how your post looks to those subscribed to your feed.

  10. Joe says:

    I subscribe to all of my feeds, but I did notice that one of my feeds is cutting itself off on posts and I can’t figure out why. It’s for the site linked to my name on comments… any help there anyone? I’m not using the tag or anything.

  11. Oh yeah. I’ve been subscribed to my own feed. Whenever something goes down, I know usually find out soon to minimize it’s impact.

    Good news: I’ve grown 900% in the last year. Fastest growing blog in my niche now!

    P.S. Time to check out your RSS Feed POP post…

  12. Keith says:

    Great post. I have a Netvibes page just for my blogs, and I subscribe to the feeds on a my.yahoo page and my Google reader. I do so for the two reasons you mention, to make sure the feed is working, and to check appearance of the feed in those three environments.

    I check the feeds as soon as they post for appearance, and adjust the original post as needed.

    I have only had one of my feedburner feeds die, but I was able to fix it shortly because I was tracking it. Several large blogs I read have had their feeds go out for days, I wonder if they are watching theirs?

  13. Keith says:

    @Joe – head to your WP-admin, and in Options/Reading, make sure you have Full Text selected, and are not using the More feature in your posts.

  14. I don’t currently subscribe to my own feed. I will definetly think about doing so. I can be very worth while it sounds like.

  15. Sue says:

    Subscribing to my own feeds helped me through a server crash and consequent move. The database backup provided by the host was over a month old, so I was able to recreate the newer posts, dates included, when I gave up with them and moved my site to a more stable host.
    Just another reason to subscribe to your feeds. Oh, and a reminder to all: back up your databases and customizations to your theme often.

  16. That was a great post. I never really thought about adding my own feeds before. I actually was not adding them so my numbers weren’t skewed.

  17. Darren,
    Did you notice as you scanned your posts that you miss-spelled “crowd”? You left off the “d”.

    I liked your Post. So many people don’t even bother to re-read their own work before publishing it.

    http://www.notjohnchow.com

  18. Max Powers says:

    I just found out there is something wrong with my feed. Who knows how long it would have gone on before I noticed it. Thanks and keep the tips coming.

  19. Rob Schultz says:

    Sound advice that I already had implemented. It’s such a great way to do several things:
    -see how long it takes for your RSS to update in your reader
    -see how your posts look in your RSS reader
    -notify you of problems with your feeds not being published correctly (feedburner has a nice notifier too….subscribe to that too)
    -and the insignificant +1 to your subscriber numbers.

    Great tip.

  20. Zach says:

    I subscribed to my own feed the other day. The regular feed {in a reader} worked fine, but I noticed that it takes almost a full day for the email delivery to come through.

    Plus, when starting out, every subscriber helps. :-)

  21. Sonia Simone says:

    Great tip and easy to overlook. You can also subscribe to Feedburner’s “your feed is broken” feed, but I just like to see for myself how my feed is looking today.

    @OpinionatedBlogger, wow, that is impressively scrupulous of you. :-)

  22. Rhea says:

    Ever since I started using an RSS reader, I, too, thought it would be a good idea to subscribe to my own blog. For the very reasons you note. I don’t feel vain at all. Ha!

  23. Chris says:

    Great article, Darren. I’ve noticed over the past while there are a few minor differences in the way that blog readers render the html of postings. Watching my posts over several different readers from time to time helps to fix minor issues that improve the appearance of my articles.

  24. Pachecus says:

    Excellent advice Darren.. I check my feeds every day

  25. Moira says:

    I NEVER would have thought to do this. Great suggestion and your’re a blogger guardian angel to email that blogger and let him know something was wrong. Very cool.

  26. jen says:

    I subscribe to my own feed and have written about this myself.

    One thing I have found out about who the post looks in a reader compared to a blog is that if you don’t use inline styles for images they don’t look the same on the feed. I used to use inline styles say for my Flickr photos but now images reference my stylesheet. It doesn’t bother me too much that they don’t look as snazzy.

  27. Marija says:

    There is one more benefit from subscribing to your own RSS feed.

    Some time ago I had a problem with a server (the hosting provider deleted 15 days of my posts, yeah that’s possible!). And, I found all of the texts of my missing posts in my RSS feed, and recovered the data from there (my backup didn’t work, also because of the provider).

    I don’t know, maybe I could have found my lost posts even if I hadn’t been subscribed to my feed, but in this way it was easier.

    BTW, subscribing to your own newsletter is also a good idea.

  28. Md Shaffir says:

    Most of my feed are first been subcribe my own. I will look in the feed rather they are alive or still in abounce situation. Helps alot to see what we have been missing.

    Great tip’s. Thanks

  29. Jake says:

    Also, if you have a crash and loose your last few posts since a back-up (depending on how often you make back-ups), you usually copy the html back into your posts afterwards. You may loose images and such, but sometimes it’s the only way.

  30. Mike says:

    I subscribed to my RSS feeds the day the site was created and I am glad that I did. You get a lot of great information from this. Glad to this posted for people that have not done this.

  31. Mark Riordan says:

    I’m glad I found your blog. I’m just starting out blogging. I have a voice, but not a venue as such.

    There are so many blogs out there offering tips/advice. I think I’ve found one I like.

    Thanks
    Mark.

  32. Leon says:

    Excellent! I do the same. I use it to track comments and stats. Guess I’m closer to being a Problogger than I thought.

  33. 66tx says:

    If you have corrupt XML code, usually in the form of apostrophies, or when you copy and past an article, that will break a RSS feed. It would still appear normal on the Blog.

  34. My subscription to my own feed showed up a mistake I had made – I posted a page as a post Doh!!

  35. Great tip! I just tried it to check if feedburner is doing its job, and it did. However, I still do not know why I keep receiving this from them, “FeedBurner had trouble retrieving your Source Feed:”. Thanks for this anyway, I learned a lot!

  36. Adam says:

    Never thought of subscribing to my own feed but a good idea indeed.

  37. Stephanie says:

    Great tip, and something I’ve always done. So far I’ve never had a feed break, but I’ve seen it happen with other feeds I read, especially when the site has made changes.

  38. Kelvin Kao says:

    I subscribe to my feed to see if my posts are coming through properly. I want to know what my posts look like when they are away from my website’s style sheets. Sometimes I also test other things, such as: Does the embedded video show up correctly? Does the table format come up correctly?

    Facebook is not really a RSS reader, but they do have a feature that let you import your RSS feed into facebook “notes”. What I noticed was that the embedded videos won’t show so you have to include a link to it and also, tables get messed up in it, so that’s something to think about when you post.

  39. bmunch says:

    Thanks for justifying my Vanity Folder. Yes, I have vanity folder like you.

    Now when people ask why am I subscribing to my own feed, I can tell them these “other” reasons.

  40. Bryce says:

    In addition to your own feed, there’s also the FeedBurner announcement feed (FeedMedic) I think, to subscribe to.

  41. netvalar says:

    I not only subscribe to my own RSS but also my blogs E-Mail and use 2 widgets from feedburner myself. This allows me to be on top of any problems and see potential improvements that I never seem to get around to doing.

  42. Darren,

    I completely agree. If I did not subscribe to my own blog I would never notice the multitude of errors that I as a new blogger have been making and had a quick chance to correct them.

    From the expected typos to picture formating errors. It might look good to me at 12:00 a.m. when I submit it only to find out in the morning that I left out some key point.

    Redneck Techy

  43. Gerri says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’m going to go ahead and subscribe to my feeds. One of my blogs does not have too much traffic at the moment but it would still be a good idea to subscribe to its feed. Thanks for the tip.

  44. Rome says:

    Thanks for this, I will now subscribe to my own feed.