Feed Consolidation for Niche Blogs

Feed Consolidation for Niche Blogs

One of the first things you want to do when starting a new blog is find the neighborhoods that you will hang out in when you are working on your blog. These will be the blogs you comment on, get news from and reference when writing the posts on your own blog.

Google Reader

I am a Google Reader junkie. I use it in the browser, in the sidebar, in iGoogle, and on the phone when I am bored in waiting rooms. It is fast and a very useful tool. And I found it a necessity to use someone else's processing power after the feeds in my OPML file grew to the size of over 700 individual feeds. Live bookmarks just isn't going to do the job. And this was just my reading list for this blog and Digital Products Review.

Both of these blogs are pretty closely related. While this is mainly about the machine behind the money making, my other blog is about the actual techniques of making money online. I can browse this list of feeds for either.

New Blogs

But how would I go about adding the feeds that will be the reading list for a blog that is not as closely related. I could use the folder system of Google Reader, but that seemed sloppy to me. The feeds in the reader currently are those I would read whether or not I had a blog on the subject or not. I would rather keep those feeds by themselves, completely separate.

Another reason not to use Google reader is this: if I want to run a related news widget, I couldn't put that information from Google Reader. I would have to find a more open place to store my feeds.

Many Feeds into One

The way you read your feeds depends upon the purpose. I like the river format so that the newest stories from all my feeds float to the top. This gives me a jump on commenting on new stories in the niche I am currently dealing with.

Another method would be to search the feeds to find very closely related posts to comment on. But I find this has it's ups and downs. You might find the perfect post but it may also be over a year old. I find a quick browse of a river will sometimes work just as well and put your comment on a more current post.

RSS Mixing Services

FeedHub - After a lot of looking, I came up with this one. You can create unlimited custom feeds by either adding feeds manually or using an OPML file. You simply add your feeds and then subscribe to the resulting feed. Not only that. Feedhub tracks meme's in your feed as pictured below:

And you can customize the meme's it tracks by dragging and drop each one to each section. Click on one of the meme's and it brings up the posts from that day, week, or month that match the meme. So Feedhub gives you a river format and a meme format. You can take your feeds and create your own personal Techmeme or Megite for each of your niche blogs.

You can also customize just how much content you get from your mixed feed. You can set it based on percentage and popularity. A great function if you only want the top stories out of your feeds.

FeedRinse - Between the time I was searching for a RSS mixer and the time I wrote this post it seems that FeedRinse made their premium service free. This was my first choice until I found out the free account limited the feeds you mix to 500. It seems that this is not the case any more. You can add unlimited feeds and filter them by author, tag and keyword.

I still like FeedHub' filtering system better. It involves putting a bit more trust in an algorithm, but that is better than coming up with a list of tags and keywords to filter.

Yahoo Pipes - Yahoo Pipes is sweet. You can do just about anything you want with a feed except through a huge OPML file at it and expect it to give you a RSS output. I tried. Small ones work. Forget the big ones.

FeedBlendr - I put my OPML of 700 feeds into FeedBlendr and watched it load for about an hour. Then I gave up and forgot about it. Not sure if my feed is still there somewhere or what. I didn't create a login. So who knows where it is. So, try it for small feeds and tell me what's up.

xFruits - As far as out of the box mixing and mashing, xFruits probably has the most features. This one has also been around for a while. I remember checking it out in the past. Their service features an RSS aggregator, RSS to web, RSS to mobile, post to RSS (I guess for creating a blog that only has a feed?), RSS to mail, RSS to OPML, OPML  to mobile, mail to RSS, RSS to voice and finally RSS to your blog.

feed.informer - Another feed consolidator I have yet to check out. There seems to be a focus on republishing the content.

Google Mashup Editor - Haven't used it yet. I am guessing something along the lines of Yahoo Pipes.

What Do You Use?

I never say something is the best of the best on the internet, because I know it is only a matter of time. I pick the best for the moment, but if something that does it's job better comes along, I am all about jumping ship. So if any of you have found a great RSS mixer that missed my list, be sure to leave a comment. Or if you have found a whole new method of dealing with a mass of feeds, let me know. I am always on the lookout.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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