Helicopter Videos (and other Content) by Subscription

Making it easier to get the content you want.

One of the problems with this blog — at least as far as blogging experts are concerned — is that it covers too many topics. Blogging “experts” agree that to have a “successful” blog, it should concentrate on just one topic. That will attract people interested in that topic and keep them coming back for more, since it’s just what they want. A while back, I tried this by spinning off all the book support blog posts to a separate blog — Maria’s Guides — and leaving the rest behind here. I changed the name of this blog to An Eclectic Mind to help communicate the fact that there’s a lot of topics covered here. I refuse to spin off each major topic to its own blog — at least right now — because there’s so much overlap in the topics and because I simply can’t be bothered managing more than the 5 or so blogs I’m already dealing with. So this blog covers all kinds of things, from flying to photography to life in a tiny desert town to travel to politics to…well, you get the idea.

Finding Content with Categories and Tags

I’ve made content easier to find by embracing WordPress’s category and tag features. Categories are broad topics, tags are narrower ones. For example, you’ll find Flying as a category, but you’ll find helicopters, airplanes, airports, aviation, helicopter video, etc. as tags. The idea is that if you’re interested in flying but don’t give a hoot about helicopters, you can click the airplanes tag and zip right in to content that discusses airplanes. (Don’t expect much; I’m a helicopter pilot.) You can find all categories listed in the sidebar’s category list and all categories assigned to a post in the post’s footer. You can find the most popular 75 tags in the sidebar’s tag cloud and all tags assigned to a post in the post’s footer. All posts have at least one category; all recent posts have at least one tag.

(You can also use the Search box in the header to find content on the site, but even I don’t have very good luck with that. Too many results. This blog has nearly 2,000 posts and unless you’re looking for a topic with a very unusual word — for example, “cauliflower” — you’ll likely come up with more results than you’ll want to wade through.)

Which brings me to the real topic of this post — getting the content you want delivered right to you.

Using RSS to Subscribe to Categories or Tags

A friend of mine who is always sharing aviation photos and videos by e-mail recently discovered my “nosecam” helicopter videos. I create these by fixing a POV.1 video camera to the nose of my helicopter when I go flying. The resulting video can be tediously boring or extremely interesting or somewhere in between. I take the best videos, process them a bit, and put them on Viddler, a video sharing site. (And no, I really can’t explain why I don’t use YouTube. I should probably rethink this a bit if I want the videos to be seen by more people.) Once online, I usually create a blog post with the video embedded. Those are categorized Flying and tagged helicopter video.

Now WordPress has the incredible ability to generate an RSS feed based on any category or tag. The formula for creating the feed URL is very simple:

  • For a category on this site, http://www.aneclecticmind.com/category/category-name/feed/rss where category-name is the abbreviated name of the category. You can get the exact category name by looking in the address bar after clicking the category’s link in the sidebar. So the RSS feed for the Flying category would be: http://www.aneclecticmind.com/category/flying/feed/rss
  • For a tag on this site, http://www.aneclecticmind.com/tag/tag-name/feed/rss where tag-name is the abbreviated name of the tag. You can get the exact tag name by looking in the address bar after clicking the tag’s link in the sidebar. So the RSS feed for the helicopter video category would be: http://www.aneclecticmind.com/tag/helicopter-video/feed/rss

Of course, knowing in RSS feed URL is one thing, but using it is another. You’ll want to put this URL in your feed reader. If you don’t have one — or don’t even have a clue what I’m talking about — check out Google Reader. It’s a pretty popular feed reader that starts you off with a complete explanation, with video, about RSS feeds and how it works. Perhaps some of the more knowledgeable folks reading this post will share their favorite readers; I’m not big on feed readers and do all my feed reading from within Apple Mail.

Getting Helicopter Videos by E-Mail

Now back to my aviation video friend.

After looking at a bunch of my videos on Viddler, he e-mailed me and asked me to include him on my mailing list to be notified when new helicopter videos come out. Well, I don’t have a mailing list. I’m not one of those people who sees something cool on the Internet and e-mails it to half the people in my address book. In general, I don’t like to receive e-mails like that, so I certainly don’t like to send them.

But I realized that there were probably a few people who were interested in the videos, had no patience for RSS, and couldn’t be bothered manually checking this site periodically. So I whipped up a Feedburner subscription feed specifically for the helicopter video tag. Folks who want notification of the latest helicopter videos published on this site delivered directly to their e-mail in boxes can subscribe using one of the following methods:

Either way, you’ll be sending your e-mail address to Feedburner. Feedburner will send you a confirmation e-mail to assure that you really want to subscribe and this isn’t an attempt by someone else to add you to the list. You will get that e-mail message almost immediately. You MUST follow the instructions in the confirmation e-mail message to complete the subscription process. If you don’t, the subscription will not start. If you can’t find that e-mail message in your in-box, check your spam filter.

Once the subscription is activated, you’ll get an e-mail message only when there’s a new helicopter video on the site. That could be once a month or it could be three times in a week. I tend to release them in batches.

I use the Feedburner service because it’s good. It does not generate any spam. Your e-mail address is not shared with others. I know this because I also subscribe to several of my own feeds, just to make sure spam isn’t going out with the feed content. It’s also really easy to unsubscribe from; just click the link in the bottom of the e-mail message you get.

Getting All Content by E-Mail

You may have noticed an E-Mail Feed link at the top of the sidebar on this site. That’s for all site content. If you subscribe to site content using that link, you’ll get everything, including the helicopter videos. If you’re only interested in the helicopter videos, unsubscribe from that feed and subscribe to this one instead.

I hope this long story (as usual) gives you the information you need to subscribe to the content that interests you most here.

What do you think?