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Debugging MailChimp rss-to-email from WordPress custom feed

I spent nearly 2 solid days trying to figure out why the latest posts on one of my clients’ sites were not showing up in the “popup preview” provided by email marketing site MailChimp. I love http://MailChimp.com, but this had me stumped and my eyes were beginning to cross. I had already spent countless hours learning how to create a custom RSS feed, template and query in WordPress (future, much bigger article). The answer had to be in either the RSS feed itself – which validated perfectly and showed up as planned in my Feedly page – or there was some WordPress or MailChimp quirk. After reading, studying, trying and tweaking (see resources below), I finally found that it most likely had to do with the way WordPress writes the publish date (lastBuildDate in XML) to the database. Just changing the date or unpublishing/republishing didn’t fix the problem, but copying the content and creating a brand new post (and chucking the old one) did. Luckily, I only had to do this for a few posts. Whew!

This all came about because I needed to reset the original publish date on a monthly RSS-to-email campaign to a different day and MailChimp was apparently not able to see some of the original posts as “new” when I paused and restarted my campaign a few times. Now it remains to be seen if this really fixes the problem for next month, too, but I have my fingers and toes crossed!

Custom RSS feed resources that I found helpful :

http://www.frank-verhoeven.com/create-an-rss-feed-with-wordpress/
http://yoast.com/custom-rss-feeds-wordpress/
http://www.pearsonified.com/2007/06/how-to-format-images-for-feed-readers.php
http://dailycupoftech.com/2007/07/25/creating-custom-wordpress-feeds/
http://digwp.com/2009/09/easy-custom-feeds-in-wordpress/
http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification

(Cool Feed Me t-shirt available from http://www.bytelove.com/bytelove-clothes/geek/rss-feed-me/prod_34.html)