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4 Tips to Keep Your Feeds Safe(r) from Copying

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Earlier today, Sharon posted an article that asks a simple, but profound question, Should you really unlink your feeds?.

The idea comes from Tim Maly who makes the compelling case that combining all of your content into one feed is disruptive to yourself, your friends and your readers. One of the major reasons is that it results in your content being duplicated all over the Web as search engines pick up both your source content and the feeds that you tell to pull from the sources (IE: Friendfeed).

However, there is another kind of RSS feed copying that is getting a great deal of attention and that’s the kind of copying that happens without permission. It’s the kind of RSS use, also known as scraping, that gives rise to spam blogs and other garbage sites, as well as other, more legitimate services.

So how do you prevent your feeds from being copied while still encouraging users to subscribe to your work and allow other legitimate works? There are many different approaches but here are four that you can take advantage of today, literally in the time it takes to read this post.

The Basics

From a content creator standpoint, RSS feeds are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they allow readers to subscribe to your site and get your updates delivered to them, on the downside, since they are essentially raw versions of your content with predictable formatting, it is like handing over your content on a silver platter to those who wish to use it for more nefarious reasons.

In short, whatever you put into an RSS feed, someone can trivially extract the content and place it on another site. Since all RSS feeds are formatted the same way, there’s no need for human involvement as one script can literally parse millions of feeds. This is how spammers fill up thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of spam blogs in a few a hours.

So, if you have an RSS feed for your blog, or anywhere else for that matter, it is worth taking a moment to figure out what you can do to reduce this kind of unwanted copying or at least minimize its negative impact.

With that in mind, here are four tips to help you keep your RSS feeds safe(r).

1. Use a Feed Footer

Feed footers may not prevent others from scraping your feed, but it ensures that your content is always identified wherever it appears and links back to you. A good footer should contain a link back to your copyright information (copyright symbol, year, name, site name, etc.) and a link back to your site. Don’t put warnings in the footer as it may confuse legitimate readers who are viewing the content on Google Reader or elsewhere.

There are many different WordPress plugins that can do this, including Ozh’s Better Feed Plugin, or you can simply edit your RSS files. Blogspot has a setting for feed signature that you can use to add the HTML you want.

2. Use a Digital Fingerprint

While you are working on your feed footer, take the opportunity to add a digital fingerprint to your content.

A digital fingerprint is a short but unique series of letters and numbers that defines your content (EX: “a1b2c3d4”). Ideally, if you search Google for it, no results should come up. That way, all matches for it almost certainly pertain to you scraped copies of your work.

Once you’ve done that, set up a Google Alert for your digital fingerprint and be emailed every time scraped versions of your content appear on the Web. From there, you can easily shut down most infringing sites by contacting their host.

3. Use .htaccess

Though a bit more technical in nature, if you operate your own domain and have access to your .htaccess file, you can use it to block sites that are scraping your feed.

This only works if you are self-hosted and aren’t using a third party service, such as FeedBurner, to handle your feed subscriptions. Also, you have to use a site like Domain Tools, to determine the IP address of the server. Once you do that, you can then block it from accessing your server.

However, be careful with this one, you don’t want to accidentally block legitimate readers from accessing your feed or your site.

4. Limit What is In Your Feed

It is important to remember that anything that is not in your feed can’t be scraped by most spammers. As such, if you don’t put something in your feed, it is much safer than the content that is.

On that front, consider truncating your feed. Though partial feeds are very unpopular with readers, which is why I am loathe to recommend them, it may be a good solution for sites without a lot of RSS subscribers.

Also, you may wish to look at removing images from your RSS feed Typically, spam sites not only pick those up, but hotlink them from your server. This can create a real problem for you as you are paying the bandwidth to host content on their sites. Worse still, traditional tools, such as referrer checking, causes images to break in your RSS feed as people access it via Web-based readers.

In short, if you don’t want something scraped, don’t put it in your feed.

Bottom Line

In the end, RSS feeds do bloggers far more good than they do harm. For every scraper or spammer, there are likely dozens, if not more, legitimate readers. It is much better to deal with the cases of infringement that do come up than it is to shut down an avenue to your content that many legitimate readers likely enjoy.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you should offer your content up on a silver platter with no strings attached. You can easily monitor/track content placed into your RSS feed and then either shut down or block those that choose to misuse your content.

While there’s no “one size fits all” solution to these issues, there is little doubt that there are tools available to you that you can use to protect your content while also giving to those who want it.

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Blogging

Face Newbie Blogger Fears Early to Accelerate Your Success

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Do you genuinely want to hit the ground running with your blog? Face newbie blogger fears early. Do not mess around. Do not play around. Never be anchored down by doubt. Face fears, feel fears and you will feel so good, and free, and ready to succeed through your new blog because fear cannot hold you back if you face it, feel it, release it and proceed.

Life as a solopreneur feels fun, freeing and highly challenging because you do not possess the resources of more established entrepreneurs or people working for a company. The #1 tool in your new blogger arsenal is a willingness to face, feel and release deep fears related to being a newbie. Do this; be golden. Fun, freedom and expansive success awaits you because your generosity, creativity and willingness to connect just accelerates your blogging success…yes…even as a new blogger. How cool, right? No new blogger needs to struggle, fail and quit before giving themselves a chance, because fear is the only thing standing between you and what you need to do, to succeed. For example, I routinely tell new bloggers to buy courses or eBooks for due diligence material. More importantly, I tell them NOT to rely solely on questions and answers through Quora for their due diligence campaign because free platforms pale in comparison to trusted, premium resources from the top bloggers, in terms of research materials.

What can you do to accelerate your new blogger success fast? Nudge into the fear of spending money on training resources, feel the fear, release the fear and buy the course and/or eBook. Doing this, you begin taking the course and/or reading the eBook, putting your new knowledge into action, succeeding more quickly. Meanwhile, most new bloggers who refuse to face their fears keep asking questions on Quora, relying on strangers, possibly skilled but usually unskilled bloggers to supply them with non-vetted answers for critical blogging research. How in the heck can you rely on this most crucial of information if you have no idea who offers the answers? Can you see why this method is totally unreliable, for getting your blogging research? A few skilled bloggers offer some keen insight but step out of the fear-vibe into the abundant, successful vibe by investing money in a top blogging education.

If you can either pay for a Harvard education or ask some stranger on the street for their free advice, what seems to be the more intelligent decision? Invest money in expert advice? Or save money to get advice from some stranger on the street who may or may not know what they are talking about? Can you see why so many new bloggers struggle, fearing to invest money in the best blogging advice, choosing to get free, unreliable blogging advice from the general blogging public?

Pay up to play up. Invest money in your blogging education to move higher in blogging circles. Be a fear-diver; keep nudging into fears to better understand how to succeed, feeling and releasing these confining, restricting forms of bondage. Face newbie blogger fears early and often to remove the shackles that hold you down. Doesn’t it feel better to dive into fears routinely so you can accelerate your blogging success, even as a newbie?

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How to Promote Yourself without Bragging and Repelling Readers

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You do know promoting yourself freely constitutes one pillar of blogging success, right guys? Bloggers need to be clear, confident and relaxed enough with self to appeal to us. Who wants to follow someone with low self-esteem? We seek out bright lights, not bloggers slumming around in the blogging sewer, eh? But self-promoting is a fine art for the discerning blogger to master; go too far, bragging your butt off, and your arrogance repels readers. People despise someone who speaks about self all day long because these over-compensating buffoons, deep-down, fear they are not enough. Bad trait in a leader. I figured it’d be easiest to self promote by simply…..self promoting like the dickens.

Example; buy our new course. Yep, Sue-Ann and I plan to make you happy as a blogging pig in slop with our new course. Do you see how I got right to the point? No beating around the bush. I promoted me, and, Sue-Ann, clearly explaining why you need to buy our blogging course….by saying….buy it, and you will be a happy blogger. Promoting yourself through virtually all content you create is the easiest, simplest way to find the happy medium between being a shy guy or shy gal and being an arrogant, boastful, bragging clown. The real secret is to keep promoting self through all the self-conscious, anxious, money-related, appearance-related fears most of us cling to, before we become clear, confident self-promoters.

Put Attention on Your Readers

Do you feel disgusted with wasting time online? Do you want to drink up sweet blogging freedom, using your time online effectively, powerfully and efficiently? Buy my eBook:

How to NOT Waste Time Online

Let us rewind for a moment, shall we? Time to review how I promoted myself by putting attention on you, you rocking readers of Blogging Tips Dot Com. I promoted self because I promoted my eBook. I make money every time you buy the eBook. Cool. Feels good to me. But did you notice I asked if YOU felt disgusted, and if YOU wanted to drink up sweet blogging freedom, before I promoted ME? This is one secret to promoting your products and services without looking like a dingbat. I helped you by putting the attention on you, making my self-promotion about you and me. We both win. You access a freeing, fun, valued resources and I access an energy we call “money”. Fair exchange, methinks. I never come off as bragging, being boastful or outright being a cocky jerk because I make it about US. See how thinking about everybody, and bringing folks together, benefits everyone? Cultivate your sense of compassion guys; developing this skill helps you go far in blogging, and, in life.

Be Subtle in Sharing Your Accomplishments

Feel free to share your accomplishments if you feel doing so boosts your credibility. But never be a flat out braggart by speaking about yourself in boastful, self-centered, self-serving tones. Why? Doing so turns off folks because braggarts secretly do NOT believe in themselves, and need that facade of boastfulness to even dream of trying to succeed online. Every braggart is broken. Point blank. Even if you achieved immense worldly success and appear to be happy, the appearance is an illusion, as you do not believe in yourself, and people who do not believe in themselves cannot succeed in leading others. Be subtle in sharing your wins. Be delicate in sharing your feats. Humble yourself. Allow other folks to do the bragging so you promote yourself from a relaxed, chill, attractive energy.

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Tap those Twitter and Facebook buttons to spread the word on this important topic of self-promoting. Let’s empower bloggers to taste sweet success by teaching them how to promote themselves the right way, shall we?

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Blogging

Why Is a Blog Better than a Static Website?

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First off guys; everybody requires different needs online. Some folks love static sites because a static website checks all boxes for you. Experience sweet success without blogging one bit. Can, and does, happen, quite a bit online for entrepreneurs. But since we blog on a blogging tips blog, you arrived to learn more about blogging tips, eh? Good. In most cases, blogs are better options than static websites for a whole host of reasons. I believe reason #1 is the dynamic, easy to update, nature of a self-hosted, WordPress dot org blog. Imagine wanting to share help via online content. Updating static sites is a slow, blocky, inorganic, pain in the butt process. Nobody wants to struggle just to share helpful content. Do you? Of course not.

Blogging gives you the platform for publishing helpful online content quickly, easily, seamlessly, thru a properly formatted, easy to digest medium. Yep guys; it is called a “blog post”. Think how easy it is for me to write and publish this post in 20 minutes and think how easy it is for you to read, process and use this blog post in a few minutes. We both win. But imagine if I tried to share this information through a static site? Not only would it require well over 20 minutes of my time, the content would be formatted in ugly, not easy to digest, fashion, and neither you or I would benefit as quickly and easily. We both lose.

Blogs offer unlimited branding and monetizing potential due to the rich library of blog themes, robust plugins and monetizing options available via a WordPress dot org blog. In essence, these blogs seemed to be designed solely for the purposes of standing out, offering service and yep, making a sweet online income, too. Not so with static sites. Updating a static site may seem like a pain but trying to customize the site to be a one of a kind web portal, seems highly difficult to virtually all entrepreneurs. Static sites do not boast the same massive library of themes for choosing, to maximize your branding potential. Plug ins? Pulllleese….non-existent. Monetizing potential takes a hit because some affiliate programs turn you down if you do not offer a rich library of trusted content on your static site, and as we already reviewed, updating your static website with fresh, helpful content proves to be a Yeoman’s task. Like, trying to walk this 140 pound dog, around NYC, as I am doing now.

How about the fun factor? Blogging – to my biased eyes hehehe… – feels much more fun because of the skills you learn, the energy spent practicing and the overall sense of fulfillment learning how to blog effectively on a WordPress dot org blog. I have oodles of fun and a genuine feeling of accomplishment learning all the in’s and out’s of blogging, and, I feel so good helping folks through this rich, robust medium. Again; biased eyes here. But for most entrepreneurs, blogging proves to be a richer, more enjoyable experience. Of course you face more challenges and you need to put in significant time and energy to learn and master multiple skills with blogging, but most of us want to enjoy the work, and, we want to work, to render useful service.

eBook

Do you want to taste sweet freelance writing success? I wrote an eBook to help you rock out your freelance writing business. Buy it here:

How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

Smash those Twitter and Facebook share buttons to help more budding freelance writers, OK guys? Let’s spread the word to empower a new generation of freelancers.

 

 

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