The first week of featured posts on leaderswest.com has been phenomenal. Every day I write between 60-75% of the content on the site, and without fail the most traffic goes to the featured author – a true testament to the caliber of writers that have agreed to contribute. Even with all of the ramp up to becoming a multi-author site, technical issues have come up and I was able to solve a big one with Feedburner.
The impetus for this problem started with a great article by Dan Hebert, “How thoughtful social media strategy can influence people to buy.” It was picked up as a feature on Social Media Today, yet it attributed the article to me and had no attribution to him at all (we were subsequently able to add a line at the beginning). It became clear that in able to properly attribute content to their authors that I would have to create an author-specific RSS feed.
I Googled it and came up with a lot of answers. Wordpress is supposed to have this function but I couldn’t get that to work, a lot of custom CSS exists that I could reverse engineer (which I absolutely did not want to do). Before delving into the depths of CSS purgatory I tried Feedburner, and found it to be a very simple and effective solution. (Feedburner is an RSS feed creator and analytics tool acquired by Google).
All that I had to do was click on the author’s name in the byline which brought up a page with only Dan’s contributions. I put the link to the author-specific page into Feedburner and it gave me an option to create a feed for the entire site or one for the page. I clicked on the page and it created a feed specific for Dan’s content on the site. Of course the caveat to that is a boatload of work to do the downstream stuff like update six IFTTT channels for each contributor and submit individual feeds to syndicators is time-consuming, but totally worth it.
I experimented with a few other sites with mixed results. You can create a feed like this on Mashable and Time, but not HuffPo or CNN – so it’s a useful tool for some sites but not all. (I should mention that this site is a self-hosted WordPress site.)