Lovin’ my feeds – except …

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No, not a new "Star Trek" alien. Nor a new Muppet character/Photo from iStockphoto by Leicashot

Come with me, behind the scenes at The Horsey Set Net.  😉

This past weekend, I realized that I need to step up my process of setting up a newsletter.

Well. maybe not a full-blown newsletter that comes on a regular schedule. But a way to contact you loyal RSS subscribers in a more timely fashion and with things that RSS misses. Along some fun special goodies, too.

What made me suddenly start thinking, “Newsletter – soon!” is that I had some news that you might have found handy to have, except I found it too late to put it up on the blog and have it get to my RSS subscribers in time.

What is RSS anyway?

That little orange square to the right with the wavy white lines, like sound waves leaving and expanding. Maybe you’ve wondered? Or maybe all you care about is what it does. And that’s fine, too.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. What it does is send you the latest posts to this blog. It’s like a subscription in which you determine your preferred medium of distribution.

For example, you can receive updates to all your blogs in a reader, as with Google Reader.  Or you can set things up to feed into a bookmark. (This one may not do that. Fooey on me that I don’t know.)  Or you can have the updates sent straight to your email Inbox, my own preference.

As you read the following, please keep in mind that my intent is not to bash RSS. I love RSS. I love the convenience of it all. My only quibble is that it misses stuff. And I’ve noticed that problem with the blogs I read, too.

RSS is a night owl

As with a  subscriptions to print periodicals, RSS is tied to a distribution schedule. I don’t know about you, but I receive the RSS feeds from my blog subscriptions at night.

I try to keep the schedule at in mind when I write posts.  But sometimes breaking news, as they did with the US times for the video stream from the Dubai World Cup, comes up fast.

A disadvantage to that delivery schedule is that a lot of bloggers who make daily updates often don’t pay attention to comments if they arrive the next day, even though those posts can be accessed and read for years to come.

I don’t operate that way. I try to write what my old bosses in print journalism used to call “evergreens,” stories you can find interesting anytime.

If you go through my archives and find a post that moves you to comment or, as my comment box says “Leave a Reply,” then I’m happy to see what you have to say. I probably will respond.  I won’t tell you “today’s topic is (Something Else.)”

RSS isn’t one-stop-shopping

I have sort of an RSS function under my “Leave a Reply” box down below. It’s called “Manage Subscriptions.” (Note to plug-in designers – show us what will appear on the screen for readers, will ya?) You’ve probably wondered about that link, too.

What the “Manage Subscriptions” button under the “Leave a Reply” box  does is keep you up-to-date on the latest comments. Sometimes, I meet the coolest people through my comments.

But my usual RSS subscribers won’t get to see them because the feed doesn’t include updates to the comments, which often add to the story.

When I finally get a newsletter/mailing list going, I’ll be able to share the breaking news I find and to show you the interesting people who stop by to comment on the articles. Plus, I have a few other goodies in mind for it, too.

Progress on the newsletter front

Wow. This could get expensive. I’ve been looking at aut0-responders because I will need one that will allow me to use one account to access newsletters on other sites. The day is coming when I’ll have to set up an author blog for people who – hard to believe – might not want to read so much about horses.

The king of the auto-responders email list distributors is Aweber, but its rates start at $19 a month. My blogging mentors have nicely implied that I should just stiffen my spine and spend the dough.

Because I have so many child readers – at least, I hope I still do, despite my recent reference to a certain saucy historical drama on TV — I don’t intend to charge money for content here.

Plus, I don’t see myself sending out lots of regular newsletters, nor do I need a lot of marketing bells-and-whistles in them. I also plan to send things in plain text, despite how pretty the auto-responder templates might be, because plain text emails take less time to download.

Yet, since I’m still sort of a techno knuckle-dragger, I need an auto-responder that’s easy to use. I’d rather use what brain power I have for writing the articles instead of learning how to do the wiring behind the scenes. Points for AWeber.

FWIW, I’m looking at other auto-responders, like Vertical Response. Constant Contact. And I had forgotten about MailChimp, so I need to look into that one. too.

So, if you have a newsletter and know of any email auto-responders that allow you to have one account for multiple websites and are easy to use for both sender and recipient (and costs at least half of what Aweber does), please feel free to Leave a Reply in the square below.

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