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11 Ways to Find New RSS Subscribers for Your Blog

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.

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Comments

  1. Tuan Nguyen says:

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

  2. turtie says:

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

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

  4. Peter says:

    thanks, we try to use this tips.

  5. Florian says:

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

  6. I definitely recommend #5 the email thing, which Feedburner can do for you. I didn’t believe there would be any take up on it at all, but it seems to have increased subscription around 10%.

  7. I personally use stumbleupon advertising to promote my blog. Of course word of mouth, social media etc are all good, but i have found that the StumbleUpon advertising service is very cheap, and converts very well indeed!

    Great post Darren.

  8. Erdeszbiz says:

    I don’t post frequently so I prefer the newsletter way to provide substantial articles. But I promote to put my rss feed on another blogs and I do it as well with other rss-feeds.

  9. adelle says:

    good tips, I just started out- maybe 2 months now…but I am currently implimenting all of these except the subscriber only post, not sure how to do that. Good tips!

  10. lifstyle says:

    good idea for a blogger who is new like me – it was good to find your article for me.

  11. Ross says:

    Thanks for the tips. I already have some of these ideas up and running, but I realise I never post links to my feed, nor do I advertise on the most popular pages of my website.

    Thanks again Darren.

  12. Dali Burgado says:

    Wow, Darren. Incredible list here. I wouldn’t have thought about promoting my feed on Digg. Awesome stuff.

    I appreciate you!
    Dali Burgado

  13. Nichelle says:

    Do you have any further info about how to put extras into a feed (#9)? I’ve heard of this but haven’t been able to find a way to do it. I use feedburner. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  14. Doug C. says:

    I redesigned my Feedburner subscription box to be more eye-catching and inviting for people who visit my blog. It has worked quite well.

  15. Shally says:

    Your post here quite interesting. I would like to ask is there any way letting people subscribe to the Feedburner news letter then after they verify we send them the link to the free gift?

  16. I got a question…you said that most of your readers come through bloglines. However, the only RSS link/image I see is your feedburner link. Am I missing something?

  17. Dot Com Dud says:

    I think I need to make my RSS options more eye catching on my site and probably add an email subscription box, I know a lot of people (myself included) prefer getting emails. I’ve used feed reader software and Google Reader in the past but I just don’t find them a very appealing way of reading.

    Anway, great post, I’ll make a copy of this list and tick them off as I go!

  18. horoskop says:

    Thanks for sharing such a helpfull information. I ll try all of this.

  19. Fuzz One says:

    I switched from partial to full feeds on one of my sites and the feed subcribers doubled. I did however, add the RSS footer plugin when I switched to full feeds to get back links from scrapper sites.

  20. Shaan says:

    E-mail subscription is the best option for the people who dont know about RSS. . On my music blog, nearly 80% are having the email subscriptions.
    Regards,

    Shaan Haider

  21. seslichat says:

    Anway, great post, I’ll make a copy of this list and tick them off as I go

  22. Seslichat says:

    thanks

  23. hey nice list you have going there. I use a good bit of these currently, but some other ones I haven’t that are good ideas to do to include people to go to your feed.

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