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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.

Rss-Buttons

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).

Techcrunch

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

Promote-Rss-Feed
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

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.
Comments
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  11. good tips, especially make sure to check your feed works

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  26. There should also be a way for the subscribers to easily email an interesting post to others who maybe interested. That’s a way of bringing in more subscribers.

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  28. Thanks for sharing such a helpfull information. I am runing a few blogs on my own and always looking for ways to promote and impruve readership to my blogs. One way I use is RSS feed and I have been getting good results. I resently have added to my arcenal to promote not only my blog but some other projects, an article directory. I am inviting article writers to post their original articles to my directory, and they will get a great oportunity to present their expertices to a wide range of audience, and by adding an info box to the articles they can draw traffic to their own blogs and webpages.

    I’m sure this technic will help those collige blogers like me, out there.

    Thanks,
    Roy from RoysArticlesDirectory.ez-2.net

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  35. this is an excellent post, two of the concepts really stood out for me here, #1 and #5,
    my used to be little rss button is now a whole lot bigger and prettified, it would be hard to miss it. And it seems that i completely forgot that some people just don’t use rss, ill soon be adding my own subscribe by email button to my site,
    thanks, alex

  36. Fantastic post!

    I’ve been doing 1, 2, 7, 8, and 10 for a while now, but I’ve just implemented 4. The ironic part was, I was already in the process of writing an entry about RSS, but your post helped me realize that the entry could be a tool I could use to educate people on how to use RSS in the first place. I suppose I was too assuming of my audience.

    Thanks!

  37. I guess it’s about time to show that big RSS logo on my site.

  38. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog […]

  39. Subscriber numbers truly are relative. I have just launched a Feedburner competition on Sciencetext.com. Double your count before Labor Day and you could win a free text link on the site.

    Visit the site for for tips on how to boost your feed readers

  40. Hope you don’t mind my posting twice in a row on the same post. I’ve just taken the grandiose step of launching Click an Orange Day to promote RSS to feed the world.

    db

  41. Thanks Darren,

    As always you are very good at your arguments. I learned lots and lots of things from your blog. I have incorporated Feedburner Chicklet after reading your articles and i have seen considerable increase in the number of people who have subscribed to my blog. My blog is a very new one 2 month old baby with around 400 hits a day. Let me see how many people will subscribe to my Feeds.

    http://analogstuff.blogspot.com

  42. thanks for the advice. I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of these ideas in the last week since my site has gone live. i hope i can attract an audience..its slow starting but i guess thats the way it usually is…

    -maddie

  43. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog […]

  44. I found another simple way to boost “readers” – install Odiogo. My Sciencebase.com site has about 2600 RSS readers according to Feedburner, that doesn’t include the 1000 email subscribers via Yahoo nor subscribers to individual site categories, but I thought…I want more!!! So, I installed the auto-podcasting plugin Odiogo. Just got stats for the summer from them and discover that through September the site had 1000+ listeners. Can’t be bad. That’s an almost 40% increase on FB subscriber numbers.

    db

  45. I am going to try these tips. Right now I have two subscribers…:)

  46. great tips for a newbie blogger like myself. will try them out!

  47. Great article and i particularly like the tip about educating your RSS audience. Worth a shot

  48. […] 11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog […]

  49. thanks, we try to use this tips.

  50. Thanks for sharing such a helpfull information. We’ll trying to reniew our rss policy.

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