Colette Snow Media - Blog

RSS – Why Use It, Benefits and How?

RSS and Atom have kind of fallen out of favour in the day of Facebook and Twitter feeds, and that’s a shame.

A screenshot of an RSS feed in its raw code format.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way to allow your readers to stay up to date with your content.

Atom is a similar technology that does much the same thing.

They are both XML based formats. That is they make use of <tags> to markup your content.

Benefits of RSS

RSS has several benefits over social media as a method of keeping your readers informed.


Firstly, it can be consumed out of your website and in many handy feed readers. These are like email clients but for all the web content you read.

I use and recommend Feedly, which is a great web based feed reader and also has great mobile apps for iOS and Android. But other options include Reeder for Mac OS, Nextgen Reader for Windows and FeedReader for Linux.

Technology News in Feedly You can also consume feeds in your email client – Thunderbird has a pretty good built-in feed reader.


RSS and Atom are both free and open standards.

This ensures that they will be supported for years to come and anyone can easily build products that both output and make use of the feeds.


Since your website is in charge of creating your RSS feed, you are in complete control of the content that goes into it.

You can choose whether your feed contains a excerpt or your complete article, whether author information is included or even to include images and/or ads in your feed.

FeedBurner is a great service to take your feed to the next level if you are not sure how to customise your feed using your blogging solution or if the options provided are limited. It can also be used to track the number of subscribers your feed has.

The Social Media Problem

Of course, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have gone on to fulfil much of the premise of RSS. That is providing our readers with updates of content and directing them back to our website to read said content. Furthermore, they facilitate discoverability of our content for people who may not yet be familiar with it.

However, using our social media profiles for this has the same problem as using one or more of these profiles for our sole web presence. That is of ownership and control.

Of course, most social networks will have in their Terms of Service that you retain ownership of your content but grant them a non-exclusive non-revocable license to use your content in any way they deem fit. This offers some protection but you’re still in the hands of a corporation that exists to make money from you and your content.

And that is not to mention control of your content. You are at the complete mercy of the social networks. If they decide to make changes to their service, your content updates may be affected – that is may be less visible (or more) than before, or they may use your content in a way that you disagree with.

Now, I am not saying not to post your content to your social networks. They remain and will continue to be a major source and destination for marketing of content, and it would be missing out on a major source of visitors and potentially revenue to disregard them.

How do I use RSS?

Luckily, to make use of RSS and Atom, you don’t need to do anything. It is already built into your blogging software.

You can usually find your feed by appending /feed/ or /rss/ to your URL. Otherwise, there is usually a great option in your browser’s extension store or check the documentation of your blogging software.

Just link to your feed and provide your readers the option, and more importantly keep your options open.

Gutenberg, What Is It and What Now?

Gutenberg Screenshot

Gutenberg is just around the corner and will make its debut in the upcoming WordPress v5.0. This post discusses the basics of what Gutenberg is and your options if your not ready to make the switch.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the next generation editor for WordPress and will be the default in version 5.0.

Rather than just having paragraphs and headings, and the occasional shortcode, Gutenberg works on the concept of blocks. Each paragraph, heading, image is its own block but blocks can also be used to do so much more such as including a list of the latest posts, embedding a Twitter message or YouTube video, or an opt in for your email list.

Essentially, they bring the widget experience much loved to manage our blog sidebars to that of our posts and pages.

Won’t this just work?

For the most part, yes.

Gutenberg should work in its most basic form with your existing theme, even without modification. Gutenberg includes a set of generic styles that should be integrate decently with your theme.

However, to get the best experience and make use of advanced features, themes need to be updated to better integrate the new options. Your theme provider should update your theme if it is actively being sold or you may need to contact your designer or developer to have changes made.

What about my existing posts?

They should continue to work as normal. Gutenberg does not change how WordPress internally provides the post content to your theme.

What if I am not ready?

Classic Editor is available to install from the WordPress Plugin directory.

Alternatively, you can make use of Classic Editor Gutenberg block to access the classic editor from within Gutenberg. Simply click the + icon to add a new block and select Classic Editor from the block selection popup that appears.

If you use a more advanced theme that comes with its own custom editor such as WP Bakery, you may wish to wait until your theme developer gives the OK to update to WordPress 5.0.

Can I try Gutenberg now (pre release of WordPress v5.0)?

Sure. You just need to install the Gutenberg plugin from the plugin directory.

Plugin Release: Bulk User Management

Today, I am excited to announce our first WordPress plugin release. This plugin is called Bulk User Management, and as the name suggests, it allows you to create, edit or delete many users at once. It can also export a copy of your users which you can use to edit and re-upload. or store as a backup.


The plugin currently works with CSV – Comma Separated Value files. These files can be created or edited in your favourite text editor, or opened with or exported from popular spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc or Google Sheets.

The plugin has many possible use cases such as:

  • Import your mailing list and create WordPress accounts
  • Export your WordPress users to your mailing list
  • Move users between WordPress installations
  • Edit your users in Microsoft Excel
  • Backup your users

The plugin is free and it can be downloaded from our Products > Bulk User Management page.