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I've looked into it and it seems like the solution, but I'm getting very confused about where to start.
I guess my question is...
#1 - is RSS the solution?
#2 - how do I even get started applying it to her site?
If you could direct me in the right place or talk me through it, I'd be very appreciative!
RSS is a pull technology. Your site's users would have to subscribe to your feed from their end. There's nothing you can do from your end other than put the feed out there.
Collecting e-mail addresses wouldn't do anything for an RSS feed. You could send out e-mail notifications to those addresses, but that wouldn't involve RSS.
Setting up RSS on your site could be as simple as adding one XML file. How that file gets updated would depend on your site's back end.
Its a pity because the overhead in keeping up a mailing list is far higher and there is always the risk that people will use the "report as spam" button in their email as an alternative to unsubscribing.
My personal project for the coming quarter is to look into publishing a feed to Twitter although I suspect that it won't be worth the effort given the demographic that uses my site.