Why you need to get disciplined with RSS – a case study

I discovered RSS about 3 years ago. 2 years ago I started to get disciplined with it.

For most people it’s a hidden part of the Internet. Pretty much all of my friends’ eyes glaze over when I mention the word. Maybe there should be a sexier acronym for it, maybe we should collectively think of a new name. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t – because if everyone used it, where would your competitive advantage be? Because that’s exactly what it gives you if you use it correctly.

If you don’t know what it is, my definition is

RSS is where information is pushed to you in a simple, convenient format, rather than you having to go and seek it out.

I now rarely read my RSS feeds during the day – it’s too distracting and time consuming. Instead, I tend to go to bed earlier these days and prop myself up with my iPad to go through the day’s feeds. I then do a couple of things:

  • I read the stuff I’m immediately interested in.
  • I ‘star’ the stuff I’m interested in that’s too indepth to read and that I think might be interesting to others.

The next day, the ‘starred’ stuff, I Tweet over the course of the day and shock, horror I tend to use timed Tweets using Tweetdeck, so that my followers aren’t bombarded all at once – dripfed makes sense in my book.

This disciplined approach means you’re constantly feeding (and hopefully impressing) your audience plus you’re staying uptodate with the things you need to know, whether that be Linkedin connections, Google alerts on key words or news from the sites I follow, including local news.

Which brings me on to my main point.

One of the RSS channels I follow is my local newspaper. 95% of articles are not of interest to me – a cat being stuck on a garage roof doesn’t rock my world so much, however it takes seconds to skim past those. The 5% which are interesting however can lead to great things. A couple of weeks ago (on the same day the article came out – hence the discipline point) I was reading this local newspaper feed, and spotted this headline:

The Waterside Inn celebrates its 25 anniversary with 1985 prices

[quote]The Waterside Inn is one of three 3 star Michelin restaurants in the UK and it’s about 100m from our house. I got on the phone immediately to friends and booked a table around 10pm that night. It was the last table. We eat there today. Can’t wait.[/quote]

Since then, I must have had a dozen friends say to me – “how did you find out? I’d have loved to have gone…”

I then talked to them all about RSS until their eyes glazed over…

If you need more explanation on what RSS is and how to use it, take a look at this great explanation.

Branson’s most important lesson?

Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the last 20 years, you’ll have read a few things about Richard Branson. Some of them you may not have agreed with. Chances are though, you’ll have some respect for what he’s achieved.

I’ve read all of his books and my eyes are always drawn to interviews with him.

I spotted this yesterday and was inspired. Again.

The first company I attempted was a Christmas tree company. My friend and I planted 400 seeds. We planned to sell trees for two pounds a tree and make 800 pounds; unfortunately, rabbits got to the seedlings before they had grown even an inch. We were wiped out!

So surely you thew the towel in then Richard?

After that I tried a budgerigar farm. To be honest, my plan to sell the small Australian parrots didn’t make any money either. But the two failed attempts gave me experience and a hunger to carry on and try to succeed in business. Afterward my friend and I began the student magazine, believing, at 15, that we could change the world!

So let’s get this right, his first two businesses were complete failures.

My first two years online haven’t been a failure – far from it, but I’m not a multi-squillionaire as yet – so as long as I keep doing the right thing, following a process and having a vision, then with a bit of luck things will go well for me. It’s too easy to throw your hands in the air and give up. That’s going to get you precisely nowhere.

Wise words from Richard.