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Using FeedBurner Networks to build "The One Feed To Rule Them All".... all Dan York... all the time... :-

If you have multiple blogs, how do you easily create a single RSS feed that aggregates all of your blogs?  I have faced this issue directly with my migration from a single weblog into a network of blogs.  Some of my readers may, for whatever reason, still want to read all my writing (and to my amazement something like 15 people have subscribed to this feed I'm talking about below).

As I first wrote about over on my personal blog, there is a way now to do this. By using FeedBurner's relatively new "Networks" feature (FAQ here), I have now created the "Dan York - All Feeds" network. There is now a webpage with recent posts and links to the blogs and then an aggregated RSS feed that combines posts in all blogs.

Now, if you look at FeedBurner's list of Networks, you'll see a wide range of uses.  Dave Jones put together one that may be of interest to readers (if you are not already aware) called the Public Relations feed.  It provides a nice list of PR-related feeds and, like mine above, gives you a webpage with sample posts and an aggregated feed.  Each blog included can use a "badge" to promote their inclusion in the network.  For instance, you can look at Dave Jones' blog to see the PR network badge in the top of his right sidebar.  Note that you can click a link to advertise in the network or you can explore network members.

Which gets to the larger point -  FeedBurner is really targeting its "Networks" as a way to enable advertisers to advertise across a series of feeds, i.e. a bunch of feed publishers can band together and then, if they want, get advertising that goes across all their feeds.  Presumably they will have far greater numbers together and thus be able to attract bigger advertisers.

So obviously by building my own private network, I'm twisting the intent a bit.  And the advertisting focus did impact my efforts a bit because in order to create a FeedBurner Network, you have to have a blog that is a member of the FeedBurner Ad Network (FAN).  With a FAN-activated feed, you can then create a Network.  NOTE: None of the other feeds HAVE to be FAN members, but at least one must.  Once you have created a Network, you can invite other people to add feeds via email, or you can add one of your other FAN-activated feeds.

Given this, my steps to create the network were basically:

1. Login to FeedBurner, go to "My Networks" and click "Create a network"
2. Choose one of my FAN-activated feeds to "anchor" the network.
3. Fill out the form and, under "Privacy", switch it from the default of "Public" to "Private".
4. Submit the form and proceed to the page to invite members.
5. Add any of your other FAN-activated feeds to the network using the easy form.
6. Send yourself an email invitation for each of the other feeds to invite them in.
7. For each invitation, accept it on behalf of each different feed.
8. Sit back and enjoy your aggregated feed and site.

Now, if you think about step #6 for a moment... I have 8 feeds I wanted to aggregate, yet only 3 of those are FAN members.  So, yes, indeed, I sent 5 separate invites to my own inbox. I then clicked the link in each separate email and entered FeedBurner to accept membership in my new network for each of the different feeds.  In the end, I did wind up with my "one giant Dan York feed", but the separate email invites was a bit tedious.

Of course, I do understand perhaps why FeedBurner doesn't make this overly easy for non-FAN feeds.  FeedBurner is a business and they are experimenting with the whole FAN idea and the concept of getting advertisers to insert ads in feeds.  So it's in their interest to encourage feeds to be in the FAN so that they have more feeds for advertisers to join into.  So it makes sense in that way.  It may also very well be that the folks at FeedBurner didn't really think people would do what I did here. 

In any event, I thought I'd post this for those of you who: a) use FeedBurner; and b) have multiple blogs/podcasts/feeds/etc.

Let me know what you think... and if for some reason you really want to see all my writing across all my blogs, the feed is now there (well, actually, that's the web page... the feed is down in the lower right marked "Network Feed").

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