Most bloggers love their RSS readers. Not only that, but they also love to gain new RSS readers. It is such a joy when you wake up one day and see that your Feedburner count jumped by 200 or 300, right? Those days are quite rare though, and most people seem to have a hard time gaining even a small number of new RSS subscribers consistently. Is there anything you can do about it? Any way to efficiently attract more RSS subscribers? Sure there is. Many people wrote about this topic in the past, but I wanted to give my take on the issue too. I wrote those 50 ideas as they were coming to my head, as briefly as possible. Enjoy.
1. Have a big RSS icon. People are lazy. You need to keep that fact always in mind. If you use a little RSS icon, visitors might have a problem finding it. Most of those will just give up after a couple of seconds, so make sure the RSS icon is big and easily recognizable.
2. Display the RSS icon above the fold. Apart from using a big RSS icon, you must make sure that you display it above the fold. That is where most blogs have one, and that is where people are used to look for when they want to subscribe, so go with the flow.
3. Display the RSS icon on every page of your blog. When I started blogging I did this mistake. Only my homepage used to have an RSS icon…. As soon as I added it to every single page on the blog, the number of subscribers jumped.
4. Use words. Depending on your audience, just using an RSS icon might not be effective. If they aren’t tech-savvy, they might not know what that little orange thing is. In those cases, you can write a small message explaining that subscribing will allow them to keep updated with your posts and so on.
5. Write a post asking for people to subscribe. Ever heard the saying “Ask and thou shalt receive”? This principle works on most areas of our lives. Blogging is no exception. If you want people to subscribe to your feed, ask them to! Write a post about it, give them some reasons and you will see how they respond.
6. Use the FeedSmith plugin. Unless you hand code a lot of redirects on your blog, readers will still be able to subscribe to different RSS feeds provided by WordPress. This plugin will make sure that all your subscribers will be forwarded to the Feedburner feed, so that you can track them and control how your feed is formatted.
7. Offer email subscriptions. Like it or not, only a small percentage of the Internet users know about or use RSS feeds. Studies confirm that this number is below 10% around the world. Why would you want to miss the other 90% of the pie? If you use Feedburner, you just need to go on the “Publicize” tab to activate your email subscriptions.
8. Use an email subscription form. For most bloggers, an email subscription form will convert better than a simple “Subscribe via email” link. That is because Internet users are used to seeing those forms around, and typing their email address there is quite intuitive. The top of your sidebar is a good spot to place one.
9. Encourage readers to subscribe at the bottom of every post. Apart from having an RSS icon and email subscription form above the fold, it is also important to place them below each single post. Why? Because right after people finish reading your articles, they will look for something to do next, and subscribing to your blog is a good option. Additionally, if the article they just read was really good, they will be on the right mindset to subscribe and receive more of your articles in the future.
10. As few steps as possible. People are lazy (I know I mentioned it before, but it is worth re-emphasizing). The fewer the steps required for them to subscribe to your blog, the better. If you can reduce the number of clicks required, therefore, do it!
11. Use icons to offer subscription on the most popular RSS readers. One practical thing that you can do to reduce the number of steps required to subscribe to your feed is to use RSS reader specific icons (e.g., “Add to Google Reader” or “Subscribe on Bloglines”). Just analyze the most common RSS readers among your subscribers and add those icons to the sidebar.
12. Have a clear focus on your blog. If you write about 10 different topics, it will be hard to convince people to subscribe to your blog. They might like your articles about technology, but they would hate to receive the house cleaning ones…. Having a clear focus is one of the most efficient ways to attract subscribers.
13. Publish new posts frequently and consistently. By frequently I mean publishing many posts per week or even per day, and by consistently I mean sticking with that frequency religiously. Those two factors will communicate to the visitors that your blog is active, and that subscribing to the RSS feed might be the best way to stay updated with it indeed.
14. Don’t exaggerate. While writing many posts per week or per day is usually a good thing, there is a limit to it. Many people mention that if a certain blog starts overwhelming them with dozens of new posts a day, they will just unsubscribe. The exceptions to this rule are the blogs on fast paced niches like gadget news.
15. Write valuable content. People will only subscribe to your RSS feed if there is some value that they can derive from it. This value might come from different factors depending on your audience: it may come from the breaking news that you offer, from the deep analysis that you write, or from the funny things you say and so on, but it must be there.