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.
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.
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.
3 Tips for Bonding with Blogging Influencers
Forget traditional influencer marketing. We want to go deeper.
Bloggers teach influencer marketing from a less genuine space sometimes. Imagine learning how to try to get someone to do something for you. Manipulation marketing. Fear-based marketing. Problems arise; spam folders become your landing spot. I observe a decent percentage of influencer marketing emails in my spam folder because fear-pitches get labeled as spam and become spam, 100% of the time.
What is the solution? Learn how to bond with blogging influencers.
I remember people who befriend me. I admire people who endorse me or promote me. I appreciate people who buy my course or eBooks. I love people who generously help me for months. Guess what? Bonding with established bloggers influences the influencers. I do stuff for dear blogging friends I do not do for anybody else. If a friend sends me a guest post and their writing is tight, I place it. Even if said post spans 1000 words or more – my minimum count is 600 – I place it without hesitating. Friends found my heart. Friends influenced me through kindness and generosity. I am largely putty in their blogging hands.
Instead of trying to manipulate a successful stranger, bond with a friend. Change your approach to influencer marketing. Make friends. Help without asking. In time, blogging bonds form organically. If you practice writing, the world becomes your oyster because influencers take you to new levels of success, without you even asking.
Follow these tips to bond with influencers.
1: Buy a Resource
The best way to bond with an influencer is to get inside their heads.
Influential bloggers had to influence influential bloggers on the way up to become influential. Invest in a resource like my influential blogger eBook to learn how influencers do it. Speak their language. Connect. Take their viewpoint. Learn how to be influential yourself.
When you discover how to be influential through my resource you in essence, learn how to influence, influencers, by bonding with these pros.
2: Spend a Few Months Giving Not Asking
Bloggers I remember, then befriend, spend at least a few months giving and not asking. Someone buys my course, publishes 10 comments on my blog, and retweets my posts 10 or 20 times during a 3 month period. These people pop up on my radar screen because they gave and asked for nothing. Bonds form. Friendships develop.
Retweet fellow bloggers. Help them. Feature fellow bloggers. Open your blog to guest posting. Guest post on other blogs. Comment genuinely on blogs. Buy products.
Ask for nothing, for at least 3-4 months. Allow friendships to form organically. Blogging friends help each other because blogging friends trust each other. Influential bloggers fall into this helping lot too, as you generously serve them, ask for nothing and polish your writing skills. I gained more endorsements from pros by being generous than through any other method. Help influential bloggers. Ask for nothing. Influential bloggers help you without you asking for a darn thing.
3: Never Rush the Process
Some blogger friend requested me on Facebook a few moments ago. I scanned my messages to see his business pitch in the “other” folder. He simply rushed the process of pitching an established blogger. I appreciate the friend request but pitching your business before generously helping me ensures I ignore all future messages. He rushed the process so I let him go.
Perhaps he smartens up and begins helping me generously without asking for anything. After a few months of helping me and asking for nothing, we bond. We become friends. From there, the opportunities are limitless. Even if I do not use his service, if he has skills and a reputable business model I can share his services with my readers.
Good things take some time. Never rush the bonding process.
Allow bonds to form organically to do influencer marketing right.
How Do Blogging and Fitness Relate?
I spend 3 hours daily honing my mental and physical fitness.
In truth, you can and will succeed online following simple fundamentals from a generous, detached energy. No need to be fit to go full time blogging. But if you feel bad because your body feels bad and your mind fears losing it all, have you succeeded? I do not believe so.
I wrote an eBook sharing my daily regimen to explain what many of you readers want to know: how do I do it all? I am no blogging god. I am just human. But I write and connect quite a bit. People wish to know how I wrote 100 plus eBooks in addition to all the other stuff I do while circling the globe. Well, blogging and fitness are 2 peas in a pod for me. Both play a big role if you desiring leveling up and feeling good predominantly as you enjoy the ride.
Blogging and Fitness
Let’s say you wake up on a Monday morning as a full time employee who blogs part time. Feeling terrible and dreading work, why write and publish a post? Too busy. Do it later. Put off the post until tonight. But you feel too tired that night. Repeat this cycle for 3 months. 90 days passed. Still no blog post. Why? You filled your mind with fear and pain. Manifesting as blogging loss, backburnering the post for 3 months indicates fear in mind. Why fear? 100% of the time, fear dominates minds of people who spend zero time on mental fitness, never meditating or doing deep yin yoga or observing their thoughts and feelings. Most of the time, these same folks dominated by their own fears never commit seriously to being physically fit through exercising.
Feel good by caring for your mind and body. Vibe higher than fears crippling most bloggers. Imagine the above scenario with one difference: you devote 1-2 hours daily exercising and raising your energy via mindset training. Devote 30 minutes to power walking and 30 minutes to deep yin yoga. On waking that Monday morning, either a blog post idea finds you and you write the post, or after a few uncomfortable moments and feelings, the idea flows to you and you write the post.
I cannot explain this process logically because it flows 100% emotionally, feelings-wise. Visualize yourself in moments you feel really good. All seems possible. Ideas flow to you. Opportunities flow to you. Why? Feeling good magnetizes you to freeing, success-promoting ideas. Being fit mentally and physically is the easiest way to feel good most of the time. Plus in those moments you feel bad mentally and physically, you face, feel and release the bad feelings, quickly, because you feel mentally and physically fit, predominantly.
Being fit naturally alerts you to the success-promoting idea of gratitude. Gratitude builds blogging success because seeing every penny of income, every blog comment and all interest in your blogging courses feels awesome to you. Feeling awesome inspires you to blog for years generously. Blogging generously for years makes you successful.
Corey at the Good Oil Marketing retweeted my blogging course recently. I feel grateful he spread the word for me considering he is a successful, high level marketer. I feel these feelings and build on my success because I feel grateful. I feel grateful because I trained my mind and body to feel good, through being fit daily, in order to tune into appreciation easily.
Be a successful blogger by being mentally and physically fit.
Why Doing this Works Better than Asking for Business Referrals
After I released my flagship eBook – How to Retire to a Life of Island Hopping through Smart Blogging – I noticed something neat. My sales increased 12 fold the day I published a guest post for a highly successful blogger.
Seeing this spike clued me in to the quickest, easiest way to increase business: help people for free. Being generous improves skills, increases exposure and expands your business. Greater traffic and profits follow generous bloggers because helping people for free helps you be skilled and see, two qualities in every prospering blogger who reaps sweet blogging profits.
A large set of bloggers goes in another direction. Some ask for business referrals from trusted blogging buddies to drum up business. Feel free to take this route but know referral fishing is an ineffective way to drive profits because of two clear reasons:
- referral-seeking seems to be time-wasting
- referral-seeking rarely inspires trusted bloggers to take clear, business-building action, for you
I know 20 plus web developers. A few trusted blogging web developer buddies have reached out to me, seeking referrals. Two issues arise:
- the referral seeker has no idea if I know bloggers needing web development; non-targeted campaign
- I already know 20 plus developers, trusted buddies all, so I could never choose one to refer to someone if 20 seem qualified
Top Bloggers Become Ruthlessly Effective with their Time
Versus seeking referral business by asking blogging buddies if they know someone requiring your service, spend 20 minutes to write and publish a quality guest post for a blogger in your business niche. Instead of pitching 1 human, show off your web development skills for free, via a guest post, for 1,000 people. Do you see what I mean? Leverage. Do not ask for business. Serve for business. Although time needs pass and generosity needs inclusion in blogging business-building, helping for free is the quickest, simplest way to increase blogging business because you reach large, targeted audiences of clients with your attention and energy versus asking 1 person for business in non-targeted, ineffective fashion.
12 Times Daily Sales
I recall the day vividly, 5 years ago. I created and launched Blogging From Paradise. Before writing 100 plus eBooks, I wrote one. I did drive some sales through my blog but guest posting woke me up; why not leverage my presence and grow business by helping people for free, via different platforms? Eye-opener for me. Instead of asking, I gave. How easy? Giving freely is the easiest way to get freely. I observed a 12 times daily sales eBook increase for good reason that day: helping people generously through sites other than your blog is a simple way to grow your blogging business.
The simplest, direct, effective way to grow your business is to help people for free. Asking for referrals leads to a client or customer here and there, but full time bloggers are not in the “here and there” business as far as growing your venture. Pro bloggers drive steady profits through their blog by being generous on their blog and on other platforms.
Be helpful for free. Publish posts. Submit guest posts. Run a podcast. Broadcast live on Facebook. Help people for free to help people for pay. Versus untargeted referral-seeking, this is the effective way to grow your blogging business from a generous, genuine energy.
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