I think… I think my blog has a USP

I’ve just been surfing some of the links to the right of my blog, and it occurs to me that I haven’t yet come across another blog that does what I do – namely, that carries its own syndicated feeds and becomes a kind of ‘news centre’ for four specific areas – PR, journalism, copywriting and tech.

That’s just great FG. But how do you do it? Tell us.

Well, readers (all three of you), I do this through Google Reader. I create a tag, and then bundle as many feeds as I can into that tag. So, for example, the PR feed to the right is in fact a tag in my Google Reader, which I have made public, so that it has a public feed that you can subscribe to. In fact, in a way you could say that this blog is subscribed to each of the feeds. And you can too. Just click the title for each feed and Feedburner will tell you exactly what to do.

So where does the magic happen, FG?

When I say ‘bundled feeds’, well the simplest of these is through subscriptions to specific blogs, but there are other techniques you can use. These are:

  • Set up a search in Google News or Yahoo news, then subscribe to that search. If you click here you’ll see that I’ve set up a Google News search for you – for ‘blogging’, as it happens – and all you have to do is then subscribe to the RSS or Atom links you can see to the left of the page. Oh, alright then, I’ve done the same for Yahoo News for you, but on Yahoo the subscriptions are on the right. Go on, take a look, and remember: if you subscribe to them on your reader then effectively what you’ve done is set Google and Yahoo out to search for news for you and send it back to you. This is seriously powerful.
  • You can do the same for Google Blog Search, but this is much more contained within the blogosphere, so it updates when there’s a posting that Google Blog Search picks up rather than a news item. Again, I’ve set up a search for you, so click here and you’ll see the results of a blog search for the term ‘blogging’. As above, all you now need to do is subscribe to that search.
  • WordPress tag searches are also effective. Let’s continue with the blogging theme: click here and you’ll be taken to a WordPress tag search for ‘blogging’. This is a feed generated from all the WordPress posts with that tag. This time, take a look to the right of the page and you’ll see that familiar, welcome, orange RSS icon.  Subscribe to it, and you now have WordPress doing some searching for you too.
  • Digg does the same thing, but here you have the beauty of a set of articles that other people like too. I know there’s an argument that this just magnifies group stupidity but heck, at least you’ll be as stupid as everyone else. Again, click here to find a Digg feed for the ‘blogging’ term, and find the orange RSS icon to the left of the page. Unfortunately the Digg searches don’t seem truly boolean, so for example you can’t search for ‘PR’ because apparently it’s too short, but then you also seem unable to search for +public +relations or “public relations”. Bummer.
  • You can also build some nice feeds through Technorati. I did once try this but I found it to contain quite a lot of spam. This cool article takes you through what you can do, and I might just give it another go – looks like the Favourites feature could be interesting.
  • Finally, MSN newsgroups. I’ve never quite figured what’s going on here. If you click here you’ll find a search for blogging, as with the other resources I’ve mentioned above, but nowhere on the results page can I see something that will allow me to subscribe to any feeds. However, if I click my incredibly useful ‘Subscribe as you surf’ button, Google Reader finds the feed. I’m not convinced this will work properly so I haven’t pursued it. The other techniques work fine for me.

Techniques schmechniques. Tell us everrrrythinnnng. 

I’ve just given you the techniques for bringing together lots of powerful features and if you followed the links above you’ll have seen how easy it is to subscribe to them. If you did subscribe, then on your feed reader they’re probably all separate feeds now, right? Well, if you have Google Reader then I suggest without further ado you create a tag called, for argument’s sake, ‘Blogging’, and place them all in that. I’m sure other readers have a similar feature.

And here comes the really clever bit. In Google Reader, click Settings, then click Tags. Set your new ‘Blogging’ tag to be public. Now click the link to go to the public page. First of all it’s cool enough that you’ve created a public page through these feeds, because that’s great for people who don’t ‘get’ readers. But wait – can you see what I see to the right of that page? Yes, that’s correct: it’s another feed icon. In other words, you’ve gathered together all these feeds under one tag, and now that tag itself is generating a feed. You’ve built your own feed.

Perhaps other online aggregators will let you do that. If so, I suggest you find out because it’s very, very useful.

Wow.

This is great because you can build feeds for people, effectively becoming a news syndication service. I do this regularly at work now: if people want to get updates on stuff and they can’t be bothered to figure it out for themselves, I’ll build it all into one feed, so all they have to do is subscribe that feed. I use all these techniques, bringing together news, blog and tag searches and subscribing to them, then bringing them under one tag, making that tag public, and giving them the feed URL.

Another cool aspect to this is that I can remove, add or change feeds around within that tag, and the feed is unaffected. So long as I don’t delete or rename the tag, everything continues as before. You can be even cooler and use Feedburner so that you can change everything around and the feed will remain intact.

Wow.

That’s exactly what I’ve done on this blog. To the right you’ll see the results of this, with the four feeds using these aggregation techniques, together with quite a lot of sifting to find the right search terms. Feel free to subscribe to them:

Friendly Ghost, you are a god.  

Thank you, nice of you to say readers. All three of you. Just don’t call me a maven or a guru.

As I say, I haven’t come across a blog that does the same thing. Which makes me unique. Although now I’ve told you how to do this, perhaps I won’t be unique anymore…

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