Apologies for the length of time it took to get this done, I had a WSO starting that I had to look after first, as I'm sure you will understand.
I left off Part 1 where we had set up Google Reader to provide us with some nice, semi-automated feeds for our niche blogs.
If you haven't read Part 1 yet please take the time to go and read it now otherwise some of the things I talk about here will not make sense.
In Part 2 I want to go over a few techniques to:
- look at adding our own links in, but leaving the original item intact
- see how we can gather other information from around the web, snippets, complete articles and even videos and easily insert them into out niche blog feeds
- look at a quick and easy way to add our own articles and content into the feeds
Anyway, back to Google Reader as our semi-automated blogging machine.
This post involves a bit more visualizing as we're not just doing things simply in GR, but of course I can't post screenshots etc. as I would in a PDF tutorial, so bear with me and hopefully my explanations will be enough. It will be in a slightly different format from the step 1 do this, step 2 do that from Part 1, mainly because some of these things are optional.
First of all, let's go back to the 'Share with notes' feature that I mentioned as a good way to add some unique content to the posts when they are created on your niche blog.
Now I use WP-O-Matic to automatically get my feed items turned into a post on my niche blogs so I will do a bit of explaining for the relevant bit on there as well.
As you may know, I do not add my own links into the feed items as I find that quite often that could go against the feed ToS. But it is a great idea to get a link automatically placed in the post somehow and I use the 'Share with notes' feature together with WP-O-Matic (I'll call it WPOM from now on) to acheive this.
Here's how - First of all decide what your 'trigger' word or phrase is going to be. This is the word(s) that WPOM will automatically insert a link on when it creates the post.
By the way, if you're wondering how to keep track of all this (i.e. what feed goes where, what trigger words you're using etc. etc.) then a simple spreadsheet will suffice. I use a piece of software that I created for myself to keep track of everything, but a spreadsheet is quite adequate. I encourage you keep meticulous records, it will make things much easier for you in the long run.
Now, when you create the note in Google Reader make sure (if you want to have a link created) to include that word and surround it with a couple of seldom used characters. E.g. going back to my domain site example, I may decide the word 'domaining' is my trigger word for this particular category and so I would write my note like this:
'This is a great item about how to get into the world of ¬¬domaining¬¬. I personally like the way the author etc. etc.'
Now I'm assuming you have a WordPress blog set up and that you are familiar with WPOM at this point. Go into your campaign within WPOM that picks up the feed from the tag of the item we have just been editing.
On the 'Rewrite' tab type in your trigger word (with the special characters) in the 'Origin' box - so I would type '¬¬domaining¬¬' in there.
Then tick the box for 'Rewrite to:' and type your trigger word (without the special characters) in the box - so I would type 'domaining'.
Then tick the box for 'Relink to:' and type in the link of the page you want it to link to in the box.
Then click on 'Submit' to make sure it saves it and you're done.
Now when you include that special trigger keyword (or phrase of course) in your notes, it will appear as a link to the page you specified in the post, but it leaves the original item intact and doesn't mess with any of the original hyperlinks in the item (if you are trying to link words in the original feed item you will know what I mean!).
I don't really want to get too much into the blog setup side of things here, that needs a bit more explaining so I'll leave that for another day.
Next we will look at another powerful feature of Google Reader that is more or less overlooked by many people.
In Google Reader, in the top left hand menu, click on 'Notes'
Now, on the right hand side you will have a window that is displaying all the feed items that you have added notes to (which is useful in itself) but the really interesting item is the button called 'Note in Reader' that at the time of writing has a little up arrow and the word 'Drag' next to it.
This is what's called a 'bookmarklet' and the idea is that you drag this to your browsers bookmarks toolbar (for FireFox users). If you're using Internet Explorer, you will need to right click on it and add it to your favourites.
So, what's it for and how do we use it?
In the simplest terms, this little beauty allows you grab any piece of content you find on the web and add it into your feeds.
Yep, you read that right.
Of course it becomes immediately apparent that this could easily allow you to steal other peoples content and post it on your own site, so you have to be careful how you use this powerful little function.
The way I am using it is to grab a piece of content that we're allowed to use, making sure proper attribution is included and then posting it through our Google Reader system to appear on one of our blogs (with a suitable note added to make it a little bit unique).
One such place that you can legally use their content is of course our old friend EzineArticles so let's go there and try this out.
I'm assuming that:
- you're using FireFox and
- that you've added the 'Note in reader' bookmarklet to your browser toolbar.
Head over to EZA and find an article that would fit into your niche.
There are several ways to do this, but the most obvious way to start off with is to just select the whole article on the page where you are reading (just the article text, not the surrounding adverts etc.). Make sure you capture the resource box at the bottom of the article as well.
Then with all the text highlighted, just click on the 'Note in reader' button on your toolbar (in IE you will do the same thing but you will need to select 'Note in reader' from the Favourites menu).
A little box will pop up that you will recognise with the selected article in it's entirety (including HTML) in the bigger box and the comment box below it to add your own comments as we have done before. You will notice it has also pulled the title from the page as well.
You will also be able to (and need to) tag the article with your relevant tag, the same as if you were tagging an item from a feed within Google Reader.
You can also leave the box 'Add to shared items' ticked, although it doesn't make much difference either way in this system.
It's worth noting here that you can in fact edit everything in these boxes, so you could change the title or add text to the article or change/add links whatever you want. Obviously if we're pulling an article from EZA for republishing we will not want to change anything, but if we have just grabbed a small snippet of info from a web page and we want to add some comments around and republish it linking back to the source then you can do that.
The title of the item in the feed will link back to the original source of the snippet or article, just like it would do if it was an item in a standard RSS feed that you had subscribed to.
So, in my example, I searched for an article on domaining, selected the article and loaded it into my 'Note in Reader' bookmarklet. Then I type a short comment with my special trigger word in it. Last of all I tagged it with 'Domain News'.
Now you just click on 'Post Item' and that item will get captured in your Google Reader with the tag you gave it. Pretty cool eh?
If you go and click on the 'View public page' link for that tag as we did in Part 1, you will now see that the entire article has been added to your feed with your comment added at the top (and in my case with the trigger word included). So when this gets fed to my niche blog and the post created, I will have nice piece of content with my link right at the top.
Yes I know all about duplicate content etc. etc. , but for the purpose of these niche blogs I am not too concerned about that. I still know it's an article I selected with some good content that I feel would be of value to my blog readers. That to me is what it's all about.
So have a play around and grab some pieces of content such as articles etc. from places you're allowed to use them.
Now you can actually even grab videos from YouTube using this method. Just find a video you would like to use, press the 'Note in reader' button (no need to try and select anything), add some notes and the tag and you're done.
If you now look at the feed page for the tag in Google Reader you will see that it has embedded the video in the feed.
If you're using WPOM you will need to do some hacks to get it to automatically embed the video into the new blog post, but it does work very nicely once you have it running. I believe FeedWordPress embeds the videos in a new post 'out of the box', but I haven't tested that yet.
Finally, I just want to quickly go through how you can add your own article using this method.
I was going to go through setting up your own private source of articles to feed into Google Reader, but I've rambled on too long with this post already, so I'll just look at the quick and dirty method.
All you need to do is go to the page you want the item to link back to, select a small piece of text on the page and press our 'Note in reader' button.
Now you just need to change the title to whatever you want and copy/ paste in the text from your article. Add the correct tag and you're done.
This will now appear in the feed for the tag and the title of the item will link back to the original page you were on when you clicked on the 'Note in reader' button.
So there you have it, your own content posted to your blog and linked back to a source of your choosing in about 10 seconds!
Well, I think I've rambled on for long enough now so that's the end of Part 2.
Will there be a Part 3? Maybe Part 3 should be a video series of the whole thing.....I don't really know at this point.
As I mentioned earlier, I also wanted to cover how I set up my niche blogs to take the input from our Google Reader feeds but that is really a whole new subject.
Hopefully you will now have all the information you need to turn Google Reader into a true semi-automated blogging machine, the thought of being able to gather, organise and re-purpose content which I can then publish to any of my blogs automatically, and all from one central place is mind-boggling really.
And once you have your niche blogs set up, you can probably count the number of times you need to log into them in a year on one hand - all the more reason by the way to make sure you keep a record of all your blogs and settings, otherwise you will never remember those login details!!
The end - hope you enjoyed it.