RSS subscribers = repeat readers.
Whether they visit your actual blog every day, or just read your posts in their feed reader, RSS subscribers are an invaluable asset. They’re likely to be frequent commentors, and they’re most certainly loyal readers who will come back frequently. How do you make the numbers on your subscriber count go up?
- Use full feeds. A lot of RSS-users prefer them, so they can read your posts quicker and not have to wait for your pages to load. I used to use summary feeds, but I recently switched and have seen an increase in subscribers (partly due to a StumbleUpon traffic spike, but I imagine they don’t mind the full feeds). You should be aware that WordPress 2.1 and above cuts-off your feed content anywhere you place a <!–more–> tag. You can stop that “feature” by using the Full Text Feed plugin. If you don’t want to decide whether you should use full content feeds or not (there are plenty of arguements either way), then you could try out the DualFeeds plugin, which allows you to offer both full and summary feeds.
- Place your RSS link prominently. You want your feed to be noticed. Put it above the fold if you can, and make sure it’s pretty visible, as you can see on this blog’s sidebar, as well as ProBlogger‘s and Smashing Magazine‘s.
- Offer email subscriptions. Not everyone uses RSS. Luckily, FeedBurner has a service that allows you to offer email subscriptions to your feed. Subscribers to email updates will receive one email per day, but only on days that you post. It works well.
- Put a subscription link at the bottoms of your posts. You have your RSS link above the fold, but don’t forget this useful trick! Okay, people are coming in from Digg, StumbleUpon, Google, and other traffic sources. They read down through your article. When they get to the bottom, they should optimally be offered a chance to subscribe to your feed. You’d be surprised how much your subscriber count can increase by doing this. Examples (scroll to bottoms of posts): Webmaster-Source, ProBlogger, Pro Blog Design.
- Don’t forget AutoDiscovery! Make sure that you have a <link> tag (pointing to your feed) in your blog’s <head>. Some people prefer to use their browser’s AutoDiscovery feature to subscribe to feeds.
- Have a “Subscribe” page. Add a page to your blog that offers subscription buttons, and explains what RSS is. Can’t explain RSS? Copyblogger.com lets you copy their “What the Heck is RSS?” page onto your blog. Then there’s a great video tutorial I found on ProBlogger.