Add Value to a Blog by Offering an RSS Feed in Reverse

Scott Fillmer Starred ItemsHow many feeds to you have in your reader? All of them, right. I just hit the 300+ mark this week and counting, so I don't quite have all of them yet, but I am working on it. Have you ever subscribed to what someone else is reading instead of what someone else is writing? Have you ever offered a feed for your own shared or starred items? If not, you might want to consider adding one of these less used features and give some added value to your readers. I am always fascinated with what others are reading, not just with what other bloggers are writing and I subscribe to a few reader's feeds. These are not always easy to find because not to many people post their reader feeds, and I am not sure how well this works in any reader other than Google Reader.

How Shared Items Work

Google Reader SettingsThese feeds come in the way of the shared items in a users readers. When someone reads a feed and clicks on the shared link at the bottom of the feed it sends out its own feed based on that user. It also provides an actual page where those feeds go, but who needs that if there is a feed. It works the same with starred items, but these are usually private feeds. To make it public, you just need to go to manage feeds => tags, then just change sharing from private to public. Once you do that you will be able to view the public page and add a clip (or widget) to your site.

Why Offer This To Your Readers

You may ask why anyone would want to offer this in the first place? It doesn't monetize your blog or site, this feed doesn't even keep the visitors on my site, it takes them somewhere else, and it isn't something you wrote. Well, that is probably why you don't see to many of these feeds anywhere. But, I do think it gives your reader some added value that you don't find on many other blogs.

Your Name Follows the Feed

When you create this feed link, either in feedburner or just the long url provided by Google, you add your name to the feed. For example, the feed for my shared items is http://feeds.feedburner.com/chipseo-shared and when the visitor adds the feed to their reader, the name of the feed, Scott Fillmer's shared items in Google Reader, follows.

Feed Name Follows SubscriptionEvery single time the user looks at the feed, it shows the name of the feed and puts a little reminder in the mind of the reader as to where the feed came from. One of the feeds I subscribe to is called "rksmythe's starred items". He updates his starred items a few times a day so even if he didn't post an article himself that day, I am reminded of his blog, My Blog Utopia.

Updated More Often Than Post Schedule

As you can imagine, these feeds will be updated a little more often than a normal posting schedule, unless you only read one good article a day. This adds to the readers list of "things to read" but it also puts your blogs name in front of the reader much more often than it would if the reader were only reading your once a day (or less) articles.

Offer Something a Little Personal to Your Readers

Some of us try very hard to stay on topic and write serious articles or copywriter material for all our posts. This will give you an opportunity to let go a little bit and show something a little more personal to your readers. I think we all like a little insight into the lives of the blogs we read, and offering something like this will show your readers there is a real person behind the screen.

Find Different Blogs You Have Never Read

One of the advantages from the subscribers perspective is that no one is going to share or star the exact same items, so you often find different blogs and sites you have never seen before. I am amazed at how many high quality blogs I have come across that were found just because someone else starred or shared the article.

Scott Fillmer RSS Feed IconsI do find it very interesting to see what other people read, and I learn quite a bit by looking at a different perspective. So, if you haven't tried offering a feed from your Google Reader give it a try. At least I will be able to add another reader feed to my list and get to see what you read, you already know what I read.

You don't have to do something that takes over your blog or something as overwhelmingly obvious that competes with your normal feed icon. I use two very small rss icons aimed at the more savvy users. I figure those who can see it and understand what it is are the readers I wanted to offer this feed to anyway.

What do you think? Do you subscribe to a reader feed? Did you know this was even an option?

Update: The Google Blog just published an article, Attack of the 20%'ers, that goes show some detail about how to use these features, if you want some further reading on the subject.