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11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of February 2007 RSS 119

RssThis past two weeks I’ve been talking about how to make your RSS feed ‘Pop’ – to stand out from the crowd a little – however covering this topic has caused a few readers to ask RSS related questions that don’t necessarily relate to improving your feed but which are worth covering.

One of the questions I’ve been asked numerous times this week is:

How do I get People to Subscribe to my RSS feed?

It’s a good question and one that I have a few ideas on (but which it’d be great to get some discussion going on in comments). Of course the first question I ask people saying they want more subscribers is ‘do you have content worth subscribing to?’ Without something worthwhile on your blog the rest of this post will be meaningless. But once you are pumping out quality content here are a few tips on how to get more subscribers for it.

1. Promote Your Feed Prominently

Copyblogger-RssOne mistake that some blogs make is have their RSS feed link appearing too far down in the footer of the design.

As with anything you want to promote (ads, key posts, contact form, about posts etc) the higher on the page you have it the more attention it will have.

Check out how Copyblogger does it for a great example. He has he two buttons pictured to the left right at the top of his sidebar. As a result his feed counter has steadily grown over the past year.

2. Promote Your Feed with an Image

Similarly promoting your feed with something a little more eye catching than a text link tends to get it more noticed.


The little testing that I’ve done shows that the feedburner counter/button can work well, as can the orange RSS button that many bloggers use. You have just a few seconds when a reader first hits your blog to convince them to come back again – RSS is an ideal way to get them coming back – so you’ll want to do everything you can to get their eyes on a way of subscribing.

There are many buttons that can be used (check out a few at this button maker). While there’s nothing wrong with using more than one (see below) I’d recommend not going too crazy with all the buttons out there as one well placed image link can be just as effective (if not more so) than multiple buttons cluttering your sidebar.

3. Use Multiple Methods to Promote Your Feed

There is no rule on how many times you can link to your feed on a page. If converting readers to RSS readers is a priority for you consider a variety of subscription points.

For example here at ProBlogger I have my Feedburner counter (which has a little animation and draws the eye), I have a bloglines subscriber button (as I know bloglines readers make up the majority of those following this blog) and I also have a subscribe page link which I know many readers use. Different readers will be attracted to different subscription methods – so experiment a little (without overwhelming them).


Another good is TechCrunch (with 178,000 subscribers as of today) who have the three options pictured (above).

4. Educate Your Readers

EducateIt is difficult to have a high RSS subscriber count if the majority of your readers don’t understand what RSS is or how to use it.

If your blog is on a non techie topic with a readership who doesn’t have much awareness of RSS write a post that explains what RSS is and how it can help them follow your site. Then add a link to that post under your RSS button to help educate them.

5. Offer RSS to Email Services

Rss To Email
Some of your readers won’t get (or will refuse to use) RSS no matter how much you educate them. Don’t ignore them – but offer them a service that will convert your RSS feed into email for them. In this way you effectively still have RSS readers and they will get your content in a way that is familiar to them.

I offer this on my subscribe pages here at ProBlogger and at DPS and get a good response. The number of people using it will vary a lot (for example at DPS it’s a much higher take up in proportion to RSS subscribers than here at ProBlogger where I have a more RSS savvy readership). Feedburner offers this service as does FeedBlitz (and others).

6. Promote Your Feed in Off-Blog Communications

I’m seeing more and more bloggers promote their RSS feeds along side their blog’s homepage URLs in forum and email signatures as well as on other sites. Maybe it’s time we started putting our feeds on business cards also!

For example in a recent guest post here at ProBlogger Glen Stansberry asked for his feed URL to be included in his byline.

Get into the habit of not only giving out your blog’s URL but also include your RSS feed and you might just pick up some new readers. As RSS continues to grow we’ll see more and more of this – so get in early.

7. Make sure Your Feed is discoverable

Discoverable-RssI learnt this the hard way a few months back when I did a redesign at one of my blogs and didn’t think to check whether the feed was discoverable (it wasn’t). As a consequence I lost at least a couple of months of new subscribers.

More and more people use auto discovery via their browsers – make sure yours can be found and that it’s working to make this a more seamless subscription experience for potential readers.

8. Full Feeds

Full-FeedsThe debate over full versus partial feeds rages on but my own findings having made the switch to full feeds here at ProBlogger is that my subscriber numbers went up significantly in the weeks after giving my readers my full posts.

While there are a small number of readers who do prefer partial feeds – I find that the majority of readers prefer a full feed and that as a result most who provide them notice an upswing in subscriber numbers. Of course there are downsides in full feeds (for one they become more attractive to scraper sites) so make your decision carefully – but if it’s subscriber numbers that you’re after full feeds will be something to consider.

9. Give Your Feed Readers a Bonus

Something I’ve seen more bloggers doing of late is giving their readers an incentive to read. For example Chris Garrett offered a free ebook to any subscribers. From what I hear it’s worked well for him.

I’ve seen others talk about putting exclusive information for subscribers into their feeds (how they did this I’m unsure) and putting subscribers into a prize draw for a giveaway.

Of course keeping people subscribed is another matter and a certain percentage would no doubt subscribe and then unsubscribe after the incentive disappears – that’s where having quality content and an engaging feed comes into play (see the rest of this series for this).

10. Promote your Feed at Key Entry Points

Welcome Mat
Where do people enter your blog? Are there some pages that bring in more traffic than others via search engines, referral links, social bookmarking sites etc? If so – consider these pages as key points to give your RSS feed a special plug.

For example if you’re fortunate enough to get some mainstream media attention or one of your posts gets on the popular page of Digg or Delicious – why not add a quick link on the page everyone’s arriving on to promote your feed?

Put out the welcome mat at key points and help your readers find a way to make themselves at home.

11. Run an Ad Campaign

One blogger that I worked with last year ran an AdWords campaign to promote his feed (with some success).

He created a landing page for his blog that had the one goal of converting those who landed on it into loyal readers via RSS and his newsletter. The results were really encouraging and a great way to launch his new blog. In fact it was so worthwhile that he continues to put a few dollars a day into a simple AdWords campaign to promote his blog.

Similarly – other bloggers have done the same thing using other ad systems like Blogads.

These are some of the ways that I’ve used to get readers to subscribe to my RSS feed – how do you do it?

PS – One last thing

Are you subscribed to ProBlogger’s RSS feed? If not – You know what to do!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. This is actually a list of 12 ways…

    12. Write compelling content so people will want to subscribe. This article is interesting and compelling, so he finishes it off with a pitch to subscribe. You shouldn’t do this every time or else it will get old, but an occasional reminder like this is quite effective, particularly if the post has the potential of doing well on digg etc.

  2. Number 6 was a really good one, haven´t thought about that. Thanks for the tip. When do you think you should add the Feedcounter to the page to have some positive social proof? At a 100 subscribers or perhaps at 500?

  3. re: give a bonus.

    Feedburner allows you to create a welcome message for when someone joins a feed, so that would be one way to do it.

    Please Help Me

    Anyone have links to a 32×32 email icon that goes well with a 32×32 orange RSS icon? I’m having trouble trying to find a good icon to promote the email version of my feed….

    (and the feedblitz chiclet is so very ugly compared to the feedburner one)

  4. When redesigning my site recently, I ensured that my feed was more recognisable than the text link I had before. I think the use of the feed icon (whether in orange or not) really helps as first Firefox and now IE7 both use it. Familiarity of the icon in a different environment (on a site rather than on the browser) will spark an inexperienced users curiosity and a well known icon makes it easy and quick for an experienced user to get your feed.

    Don’t you think there are too many individual feed reader subscribe buttons available now though? How many do you offer? Where do you stop? Another reason to stick with the standard feed icon if you ask me.

    I’ve also started number 5, some people still like emails I’m sure, though I’d be interested to see how it goes! I like the idea of 6 too, I’ll definitely have a go at that.

  5. Before I didn’t really bother much about where and how to get more people reading my feed. But I think it is one of the better way for a blogger to interact with their readers. thank

  6. Regarding #8 Full Feeds: I am a firm believer in full feeds and in the random sampling I’ve done of my subscribers, they feel the same. I personally find it annoying as hell to get a small abstract and have to click back to the site to read the entire post. RSS is there to bring the content to me, not to make me go after additional content based on a summary.

    Along those lines.. WordPress 2.0.7 (which ProBlogger uses) outputs a full feed regardless of whether you use the ‘more’ tag to truncate what appears on the homepage. The latest WordPress upgrade ‘Ella’ doesn’t appear to do so… if the post is truncated on the homepage it is truncated in the feed with a (more) link.

    Anyone know a fix for this?

    All the best!

    P.S. Darren… love your site. I am a Melbournian myself, just moved from the states 6 months ago.

  7. I always have a big self-debate over offering feedburner exclusively over offering other options to your visitors.

    Any suggestions / inputs?

  8. Hey Darren, I noticed you screen grabbed our RSS button tool but there’s no link, so here ya go:


  9. I should have done some homework first. Here is a plugin to fix the RSS truncation in the Ella release of wordpress.


  10. Hi Lee – my apologies for that – I included the text for the link but didn’t end up inserting it (from memory that was the moment that my baby threw up on my keyboard).

    have fixed it up now! Thanks for letting me know and sorry again.

  11. This is a great article… but I feel it’s mostly headed towards tech savvy blogs.
    What about blogs were if you’re lucky 1% knows what rss is? Where when they click on the link they see a whole bunch of lines that make no sense to them?

  12. MTO – yeah that’s a challenge for many.

    I think the best way is to do some education but not expect too much too quickly and encourage your readers to do the rss to email thing.

  13. @MTO: that’s the #1 reason to provide email feeds :)

  14. Agreed with Darren, write posts regarding RSS, benefits, explanation, etc. Also, like mentioned in the article, place in a few posts at first the idea for your readers to subscribe to your feed. Go slow and eventually readers will should go for it.

    This is what I am faced with here in Brazil…

  15. I think one of the biggest gathering rounds for potential RSS subscribers are the readers of similar blogs in your niche.

    Writing insightful comments and linking them to your feed can be very helpful in getting new subscribers from relevant blogs. If anyone is interested, I wrote a short article on how you can increase your RSS subscriptions through comments alone.

  16. Hmmmm, ok Darren..what about a big animated RSS feed icon?!
    Check out my blog and tell me ;)

  17. […] C’est le sujet du post de problogger dans lequel il suggère plusieurs astuces afin d’attirer plus de souscrivants à vos flux RSS. […]

  18. 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog…

    11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog posted at…

  19. No worries and thanks for mentioning the tool. It was made by Thomas McMahon and has been very popular.

    BTW, I’ll be down your way in March but unfortunately, it won’t be Melbourne. Am doing a conference in Sydney. Cheers!

  20. I’ve been VERY disappointed with FeedBlitz email delivery of my feed. My daily posts get delivered an average of 1 week late. Sometimes it will dump several to me at once, other times: well let’s just say I got my New Year’s post a few days ago…

  21. Make sure too that the feed URL being autodiscovered is the one you are tracking numbers for. Though there are WP plug-ins to do it too – just make sure you replace the URL in your header tag with your FeedBurner URL.

  22. In the top of my right gutter I have: Subscription options which lists 3 options; RSS, Technorati and Feedburner(email). Then I have a link to a “Learn how to subscribe” page to ‘Educate’ readers on all 3 options:

    Now all I need is consistently interesting content and people should roll right in. (notice I don’t do any ads, so I don’t really care how many folks show up, if for nothing else than my ego and sharing nature ;))

  23. I stopped looking at feed buttons and links when firefox starting showing up the feed icon. And those huge rss icons just look ridiculous, I mean, how big can they be? Are we all blind?

  24. […] 11 Tipps für mehr RSS-Leser 14. Februar 2007 Hm, tja, schade, die Tipps komme nicht von mir, sondern vom Problogger. Und um seinen RSS-Feed anständig zu promoten verwendet man am besten die hübschen und obendrein kostenlosen Free Glass Style RSS/Feed Icons. […]

  25. Thank you thank you thank you

    use feedburner because it was really helpful when i moved my blog i didnt lose single one of my reader

  26. I’ll add a #13 — get people to read your blog in the first place!

    But love the hints and ideas, I especially like #6 and #7 as plugins like Sage become more popular.

  27. a very useful list, thanks for it!
    Anyway I’ve got a little problem with point 8.In the blog I’m taking part we have problems respects to full feeds, we can’t activate them, they just are available to be read partially. If someone knows a solution I’d be glad to recive the tip. :)

  28. In a “the stars must be aligned” moment, I wrote up a post yesterday called How to Increase Subscribers by 50% in 30 Days. In it, I describe the relatively simple changes I made to the design of our site that truly led to an increase in over 50% in under a month.

    I touch on many of the points you did above Darren, but also one or two other things that have proven to be very effective.

  29. I’ve never understood why offering a full feed will increase subscribers. Given that readers won’t know whether it’s a full feed or not until AFTER they’ve subscribed, then are we saying that people will seriously unsubscribe because of this?

  30. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog It’s amazing how many people don’t know about feeds. (tags: rss blog) […]

  31. Not only was this all useful information, but your chicklet creator really saved me a lot of time. In 2 minutes, I updated my sidebar, adding a handful of RSS feed chicklet buttons near the top. According to feedburner, I only have ONE subscriber at the moment. Check my site next week and let’s see if that improves.

  32. […] advice from Darren Rowse over at Pro Blogger. Posted in Uncategorized | Trackback | | Top OfPage […]

  33. […] Darren Rowse: 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog – “f your blog is on a non techie topic with a readership who doesn’t have much awareness of RSS write a post that explains what RSS is and how it can help them follow your site. Then add a link to that post under your RSS button to help educate them.“ […]

  34. Everton: You are correct that it wont suppress subscribers but I know from my own data that summary feeds will increase unsubscribes. Based on my personal reading habits… I can tell you it takes one heck of a compelling headline and summary to make me do anything more than gloss over the summary feeds I subscribe to.

    The world is a busy place… make your feed easy to read by giving your subscriber everything. All they have to do is press the down arrow.

  35. I offer subscriber-only posts. What I do is periodically post only to my RSS and RSS to Email subscribers – tips, how-to, advance notices, etc. Non-subscribers don’t get these special posts.

    Here’s how I do it…I use Joomla.

    I created an RSS feed for my blog tied to a specific category and section. When I create a subscriber only post, I publish the post, but don’t publish it to the front page. This means the post doesn’t appear when you visit my site. But the RSS feed picks it up and delivers it to subscribers.

    This allows me to talk only to subscribers wherever I want…which is infrequent, but enough to make it something special…a bonus for having subscribed.

  36. […] Giving subscribers access to exclusive posts not available to the general blog readership [Thanks Jim] […]

  37. […] Darren posted a great article on how to increase your blog’s RSS subscribers. In a nutshell (you should read the entire post over at Darren’s blog) they are: […]

  38. Wow thanks problogger now i know how can help my blog cheers.

  39. engtech:
    Get editable, assorted size icons here,

  40. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog again, nothing overwhelmingly new but nice writeup… good guide to follow step by step (tags: SEO RSS blogging) […]

  41. Attract more subscribers to your blog…

    The bloggers at blogging blog ProBlogger (sorry, couldn’t resist) serve up 11 tasty ways to encourage blog readers to become blog subscribers. These include the obvious, like putting your RSS feed link near the top of your page where……

  42. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog [ProBlogger] […]

  43. I appreciate the article and am reading a couple posted in the comments. I do have a question though – I have started a health/fitness/weight-loss type blog at, and am finding it difficult to find ways to promote the site. If it were centered on a topic like tech or podcasting, it would be easy to find promotional outlets. However, I’m finding it difficult to find forums, other blogs etc that have a substantial readership themselves. It seems the community interested in this kind of information seems largely to either not seek information on the Internet or lurk. How have others promoted their blogs whose topics don’t seem to attract a large online readership?

  44. How to get More Feed Subscribers…

    Aside from providing awesome content, how the bloody hell does one become an A-list blogger? Problogger lists 11 ways to gain more feed readers. Why would someone rather have readers subscribe to a feed rather than pull up the homepage?……

  45. Few months ago, I redesigned my tech blog. I forgot to put the email subscription box. I lost almost 3 months of readers!! :(

    I would like to add one more point:
    * Never let your blog or feeds get into trouble, if you feed has troubles updating.. then readers tend to unsubscribe faster. I learn’t it recently when my host put me down for about three days :)

  46. Great post!

    Similar to no. 3…I find it very helpful to have a “send this post to” link to make it easy for users to tell their friends! I know I use this feature a lot and often pass over a post when I can’t do it. (I also use it as a reminder to read longer posts I don’t have time to read right then.

  47. [Flagged] Inaugural Edition…

    An oft-updated list of links to interesting stories I find in my RSS feeds that I couldn’t really add to, and I think you’ll find interesting, as well. Advice 10 Blogging Mistakes To Avoid Er, so…#2…ahem…er…why do I do……

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