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Publish Once

Posted on June 18, 2007

Feed IconPublish once. That has been my mantra for a while now but I find myself saying it to publishers more and more lately. What does it mean? It means that publishers should publish their content once and then let feeds carry it to many different places.

From what I see publishers still seem to be spending a lot of time on things that feeds could take care of automatically. That’s a shame not to mention it’s inefficient and a waste of time and money.

E-mail is a good example of a place where feeds can do the heavy lifting but a lot of publishers have yet to take advantage of that fact. If a publisher already produces feeds of their content then there is no need to spend a lot of time on creating e-mails. The publisher can simply allow the feed to produce and send e-mails with FeedBurner E-mail Subscriptions or another feed-to-e-mail service. FeedBurner will then add the e-mail stats to the other stats so that the publisher can analyze their audience in a more complete manner.

Widgets are another great example of a place where feeds can be the content delivery mechanism. Take my resyndicate page for example - any of those widgets can be used to resyndicate my content and they are all powered by the feed. I publish once (to my blog) and my feed carries my content to subscribers both via newsreaders and via e-mail, to widgets that appear on different sites across the web and to a host of services that list my blog.

What’s also great about allowing the feed to do the work is that the statistics start to become a lot more complete. If the feed powers everything (but the site) then metrics can be provided that will encompass the feed consumption via feed reader, via e-mail, via widget, etc. Combine that with site analytics and the total content picture, a.k.a audience engagement, starts to become a lot clearer.

I am sure there will be many more places the feed can take content as time goes on so I hope publishers will continue to realize the power of feeds and use them as the content delivery mechanism more often. In the end of the day feeds will allow publishers to save time and money and they’ll also lead to more complete analytics that will get publishers closer to an overall view of audience engagement.

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