How do I set up RSS Feeds on my WordPress website?

Q. How do I set up RSS Feeds and enable email subscription to feeds on my self-hosted WordPress website? Also, how do I promote that feed elsewhere (like on my LinkedIn account)?

By default, WordPress comes with various feeds (http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Feeds). These different feeds are invoked via template tags in the WordPress theme header.php file. You can customize the feed a variety of ways, to include comments, for example, or feed just one category of your blog.

As long as your theme has a feed link on it, you can use the default WordPress feed. However, the default feed doesn’t give you statistical information about the number of subscribers to your feed without using a third-party plugin.

For RSS Feed subscriptions and tracking, many people redirect (aka “burn”) their default WordPress feeds using Google’s Feedburner (http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=78483). Google Feedburner can track every possible subscriber. It will forward for your main posts feed and optionally, your main comments feed as well.

1) To get started, you’ll first need to “burn” your feed with Feedburner:

  1. Visit http://feedburner.com and log in to your Google account. (If you don’t have one, create one.)
  2. You’ll be prompted to “burn a feed right this instant.” Simply type the URL of your self-hosted WordPress site. Feedburner will automatically detect any feeds coming from the site based on your theme set up.
  3. Choose the feed you want to burn (usually the Posts feed).
  4. You’ll be given an option to give the feed a title and a name (see screenshot to above).
  5. Click the Next button.
  6. The URL for your feed displays. Be sure to make a note of this! We will use this address below to redirect the feeds to Feedburner using a WordPress plugin. (In my example to the right, my feed address is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/WPClass). This URL can be used other places as well, such as promoting your Feed on your LinkedIn account.
  7. You can then choose various stat options.
  8. If you want to allow people to subscribe to your feed via email, click the Optmize tab on the next Feedburner page and click Email Subscriptions and activate email subscriptions. You’ll be given some code that you can optionally use on your website if you want to have form field for people to enter their email addresses. Otherwise, the RSS link on your website will give them that option after they click the link.

2) Next, you need to tell WordPress to redirect your default feed to Feedburner:

Install a Feedburner plugin.

There are two to choose from that I like:

  • Feedburner smith: Feedburner plugin from Google. Has various options for burning your feed.
  • FD Feedburner: I prefer this simple feedburner plugin by Flagrant Disregard.

Enter your Feedburner address (step 6 above) in the plugin’s Settings (if you’re using the FD Feedburner plugin – see screenshot below).

3) Finally, you’ll want to use a cool RSS chicklet in your sidebar or header that links to your feed.

Most WordPress themes have an RSS icon built in. If yours doesn’t, you can add chicklet as follows:

  1. From your Feedburner.com account, click Publicize and click Chicklet Chooser. Some nice code will display that you can copy and paste into your template or a sidebar Text Widget. This is your run of the mill RSS chicklet.
  2. Alternately, you can design your own or download one of these: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/really-cool-rss-feed-icons/
  3. If you decide to use your own chicklet, you can still use the code from Feedburner. You’ll simply change the link to the Feedburner image (<img src=”http://www.feedburner.com/fb/images/pub/feed-icon32x32.png” alt=”” style=”border:0″/>) to the location of your chicklet on your FTP server (such as http://mysite.com/images/my-cool-feed-icon.png).

Angela Bowman

Front-end WordPress developer since 2007 building highly custom websites for nonprofits and small businesses. Experienced in nonprofit administration, grant writing, and technical writing. Love high altitude hiking and backyard chickens.

19 comments on “How do I set up RSS Feeds on my WordPress website?

  1. The post is good. But more could be covered to complete this article there are thousands of blog on these topics which cover every aspect of RSS feed. To some of the references the articles which i read where from TemplateToaster blog. It was also good and one can search blog of Neil Patil.

    • Hi Ruby,

      That is a great question! Feedburner has HTML code you can paste into a popup plugin that accepts HTML code, such as Icegram.

      Login to Feedburner and go to Publicize > Email Subscriptions > Subscription Management.

      Copy the form code into the popup plugin area that accepts HTML code. If you use Icegram plugin, this is pretty easy to do.

      Let me know how that works out for you!

      Lately, I’ve been using Mail Chimp for all my RSS Feed subscriptions.

      Angela

  2. Hi Angela,

    I have a question and like your advise.

    I would like to achieve the following, not sure what is needed.

    1. RSS feeds to Post (I will subscribed to a few rss feeds and the feeds will be converted into WP posts)
    2. When user click on my post, it will display an ad for 10 seconds before it will be redirect to the original url in the rss feeds.

    • Hi Samuel,

      1 – This is called content scraping and is illegal for copyright reasons. You would want to perhaps just a get a link to the post, but for SEO that might not do much for you.

      2 – This would also be kind of spammy and not do much for SEO as Google wouldn’t necessarily be able to crawl the content with an ad blocker in the way.

      So, perhaps contacting a black hat SEO person might be best for this question.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your article was the FIRST I found that told me HOW to set up my feed. (All the others just explained what it was.) Now, I’m all set up and feeding away… cheers!

    • I desperately need to update this article. I would recommend the following these days:

      1 – Jetpack Subscribe — Jetpack is a free plugin from the makers of WordPress. It has a feature that allows you to place a Subscribe widget in your sidebar. Each time you write a post, the people who have subscribed will get the post via email. Easy, simple.

      2 – Mail Chimp — Similar to what I’ve described in my post, you can send either your Feedburner Feed OR your default WP feed to Mail Chimp and have Mail Chimp automatically email people when you write a new post. The benefits of Mail Chimp is that you can brand your email and have more settings options for how often you want it to feed:

      http://mailchimp.com/features/rss-to-email/

      http://kb.mailchimp.com/campaigns/rss-in-campaigns/create-an-rss-driven-campaign

      3 – There are other services like FeedBlitz which give you email subscription options as well as non-email feed useage stats. This I would recommend for high performance blogs to track your stats in more detail especially if you think you want to sell advertising and need to prove how many followers you have, etc.

      Good luck, Laura.

  4. Thanks Angela. That was very helpful. You always have really good, clear blog posts. What would I ever do without you?

  5. Hi,
    Thanks so much for this post. You were the only one who I found that was able to explain this in a simple and concise manner with the use of visuals. I bookmarked your site for future references. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers

    • Thanks for the comment, Ingrid. I’ll be building similar type of content over time. I noticed many WordPress help sites would show too many plugins and too many solutions rather than the simple solution that works. Please stay in touch!

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