(For more resources on WordPress see here.)
By Steve Smith & Feedburner (http://feedburner.com/)
- Why it's awesome: Never having to worry about nefarious uses of your RSS feeds
- Why it was picked: Built by the Google crew at Feedburner
- Manual Install URL: http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=78483
- Automatic Install search term: Not available
- Geek level: Webmaster
- Configuration location: Settings | Feedburner
- Used in: Feeds
Many times, hosting your own RSS feed can wreak havoc on your server without you ever knowing it. Due to RSS's out-of-sight-out-of-mind style, you often forget about it completely. Using Google's Feedburner is one way to ensure that a swarm of subscribers won't bring your server to a crawl. Feedburner acts like a conduit to your RSS feed by delivering the feeds from Google's servers instead of your own.
Not only does Feedburner offload your server traffic, it also gives you an amazing view of what people are doing with your feed. The stats alone are worth signing up.
Burning your feed
Submitting your feed to Google will take only a few minutes, but the rewards are long lasting.
Create a Google account
You will need to have a Google account to leverage Feedburner. If you do not already have an account with Google, you can sign up at https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount
Verify your blog's feed URL
Each WordPress blog comes with RSS feeds enabled. To access your feed, go to http://yourdomain.com/feed/
Burn your feed
Now we must set up a new feed to burn by visiting http://feedburner.google.com and adding our feed to the Burn a feed right this instant input box.
Name your feed
Once you have added your feed, you will need to name the feed and create a URL to use it. Your feed title should be something descriptive about your blog, as this is what all of your RSS subscribers will see as the title of your blog.
Now that you have your feed hosted on Google, we can finish the process of setting up WP-Feedburner. WP-Feedburner's configuration is located in Settings | WP Feedburner.
Your feed should now be officially set up to redirect to your Feedburner feed. To make sure everything is working properly, visit http://yourdomain.com/feed/ and check that the URL gets redirected automatically to the Feedburner URL that you set up earlier.
By Giuseppe Surace (http://www.giuseppesurace.com/)
- Why it's awesome: Send e-mail campaigns for free
- Why it was picked: Easy to set up and free
- Manual Install URL: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sendit/
- Automatic Install search term: SendIt
- Geek level: WP Ninja
- Configuration location: Top Navigation Newsletter|
- Used in: Newsletters
WARNING: This plugin is still in the beta stage, but the majority of the functionality works great.
SendIt has more potential to change the way you communicate with your readers than any other plugin mentioned in this book. SendIt was originally written in Italian, and every once in a while, you will stumble on to a few words that are yet to be translated. However, besides the occasional Italian noun, SendIt is very straightforward and makes running multiple newsletters as easy as managing your blog.
Unlike other plugins, SendIt is a fairly large plugin with multiple configuration pages and areas to set up, tweak, and perfect.
- Newsletter: Compose and send your newsletters from the Newsletter section
- Manage subscribers: Add and remove e-mail addresses from a given newsletter
- SMTP settings: If you are planning on using SendIt to send to more than 600 subscribers, you might want to consider setting up an external SMTP server for sending your mail. Otherwise, you can leave this section alone
- Newsletter settings: Find, delete, and edit newsletters
- Import emails from comments: Quickly build e-mail lists from everyone who has commented on different blog posts
- Import emails from WP Users: Quickly build e-mail lists from other writers, users, and administrators on your blog
Creating your first newsletter
For the purpose of this example, we will create a Geek Newsletter for our blog readers to subscribe to.
- Start by visiting Newsletter | Newsletter Settings.
- Click Create New List.
- A new list will automatically be added to your Available Lists grid.
- Select Edit from the newly created list.
- Define the From e-mail address, newsletter name, and the header and footer for this newsletter template. The header and footer will automatically be applied for each e-mail you send from this mailing list.
- Click Save.
(For more resources on WordPress see here.)
A mailing list is only as valuable as the readers who follow them. SendIt offers a few different ways to add subscribers to your newsletters.
SendIt allows you to automatically import the e-mail address of everyone who has commented on your blog or has signed up for your blog. These one-click importers can be found at Newsletter | Import Emails from Comments and Newsletter | Import Emails from WP Users.
Auto importing e-mail addresses might not be CAN-SPAM compliant. It's suggested to only use the Subscription Widget and fight the temptation to auto-subscribe these people. You can learn more about the CAN-SPAM laws at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm
Along with the cool newsletter features, SendIt has a widget to let users subscribe quickly to a given newsletter. You will find the SendIt Widget in Appearance | Widgets.
You will need to know the Mailing List ID for this widget for it to function properly. To locate the Mailing List ID, visit Newsletter | Newsletter Settings.
It's important to remember that this software is still in the beta stage. There are obvious parts that are still missing. However, I have no doubt the next version Giuseppe releases will meet virtually all of those requirements.
Specifically, you currently do not have a way to edit the title of the widget. However, you can customize the look and feel if you know CSS, as Guiseppe did a wonderful job labeling his markup.
Sending a mail
Sending a newsletter is very similar to writing a blog post using the same WYSIWYG editor. Additionally, you can load a newsletter's content from any existing blog post. To start writing a newsletter campaign, click on the Newsletter | Newsletter link in your navigation.
- Select a Post: This field is optional, even though it's the first input field and feels deceptively important. However, if you want to send your mailing list something quickly, there's nothing better than pulling from something you have already written.
- Please Select Mailing List: This drop-down box contains each of the mailing lists you have created. Each time, you will need to select which mailing list to send a particular mail to.
- Subject: The subject of a newsletter should be something catchy, short, and obvious.
READ BEFORE SENDING:
As of Version 1.4.6, when you click Send, it sends—for real, no preview nor pre-warning, it just starts sending. We can accept that these features will be added later on, but just be aware that when you send, IT SENDS!
By Trevor Fitzgerald (http://trevorfitzgerald.com/)
- Why it's awesome: Helps increase readership
- Why it was picked: No configuration, promotes subscriptions
- Manual Install URL: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-remind/
- Automatic Install search term: Subscribe-Remind
- Geek level: Newbie
- Configuration location: No Configuration
- Used in: Posts
RSS subscribers are wonderful customers; they continually allow us to feed our content directly into their desktop, mobile phone, and maybe even their website. Why not try to get as many of them to sign up as possible? Subscribe-Remind is a gentle plugin that gives the reader the opportunity to subscribe to your RSS feed.
This plugin is perfect for those new to blogging and WordPress. However, if you are looking for more choices and features, our next plugin is just what you're looking for.
Once installed, your readers will be presented with a little dialog box towards the top of your blog inviting readers to Subscribe to my RSS feed!.
By Blogplay (http://blogplay.com/)
- Manual Install URL: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/
- Automatic Install search term: Sociable
- Geek level: Webmaster
- Configuration location: Settings | Sociable
- Used in: Posts
Sociable, like many other social bookmarking plugins, gives your readers the ability to share, post, or e-mail your webpage to a handful of sources.
Sociable is different in so many options they provide, both in social media outlets and plugins configuration. Also, Sociable is lightweight both in file-size and render–time, as compared to some of the fancier looking Share Me tools.
Visit the settings page at Settings | Sociable to enable which sites you want to present on your blog as a sharing option. You are also able to drag-and-drop to reorder the list to your hearts content.
Understanding social options
Part of Sociable's appeal is its customizability; its options are aplenty, giving you control that other plugins can only dream about. To start customizing Sociable, visit Settings | Sociable.
Disabling sprite usage for images
A sprite is a single image that contains every possible icon Sociable offers; if you are only showing one or two services, it is recommended to avoid the 45KB file size of the sprite and just go with the individual images.
Disabling alpha mask on the share toolbar
By default, the icons are shown at 50 percent opacity and this turns to 100 percent once the user rolls over the service icon. This option allows you to turn this feature on and off.
Customize the little message that incentivizes your readers to share your wonderful blog post. By default, the message is Share and Enjoy.
By default, the Sociable toolbar appears under each of your blog posts. Sociable gives you the option to place the toolbar on:
- Front page of the blog.
- Individual blog posts.
- Individual pages.
- In category archives.
- Tag listings.
- Date-based archives.
- Author archives.
- Search results.
- RSS feed items.
Use Text Links
If you would rather just display the text of the service's name instead of the icon, make sure this option is checked.
Sociable is awesome for designers who blog, in that they give you the ability to replace the default icons with your own icons. This is done by simply changing the image directory path to a new one that contains your own icons.
Use Thisbox/iFrame on links
This option will create a lightbox effect with an embed iframe on your webpage, instead of sending the reader to a new webpage.
Open in New Window
Another way to keep readers on the site is to open these links in a new window, instead of the current window the reader is on.
Sociable can automatically shrink your URLs to fit within the often-limited space provided by tools like Twitter and Facebook. You will need an Awe.sm account that can be obtained from: http://awe.sm
In the above article we have covered:
- Feedburner Feedsmith
- Sharing Content in WordPress Top Plugins [Article]
- Social Bookmarking with WordPress Plugin [Article]
- WordPress Theme Design [Book]
- Developing Post Types Plugin with WordPress [Article]