One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your blog is not allowing your readers to sign up for your RSS feed—and giving them a way to choose either the option of getting your posts in their reader or by email delivery.
You may think you know what it is. You have seen that orange icon with the speaker on it. And the box for email delivery sign-up.
But what exactly is RSS?
Let’s start with the commonly accepted definition:
RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.
Did I lose you there? It’s okay if i did.
Because what is way more important than understanding the technical part—how it works—is that you have it, and that it’s working on your site. So those of us who live and die by RSS feeds can subscribe to your blog.
It’s about taking care of your readers and the different ways they want to receive and consume your content.
You don’t even really need to know much about these options. And if you are interested in learning more about subscribing to blogs, well, you can always Google it.
As an accomplished SEO consultant said to me once, Your RSS subscribers are your goldmine readers.
Simply put, those readers are so damn interested in your blog, love your writing so much, that they want to be notified every time you publish a new blog post.
Here are some simple steps to make sure your readers who prefer RSS are happy:
1. If you are still using the RSS feed that came with your blog, you may want to consider switching to Feedburner.
Burning your feed there not only makes it more stable for the different browsers, but it gives you some good stats on your subscribers. You can watch a video on my site that will walk you through the Feedburner set-up process.
2. Make your sign in box bold and up front.
Create a custom graphic that gets your readers’ attention. And let them know exactly what they are signing up for—not a newsletter, not some annoying daily quote, but blog posts with top-notch, helpful content delivered to their inbox or reader.
People are reluctant to part with their email addresses for yet “one more thing,” so be clear. And, it may seem obvious but put that word free in there somewhere. You would be surprised at how many people still think of a subscription as something you pay for.
If you look on the sidebar of this blog you will see at the very top the email signup and then below, the RSS subscribe button for a reader, as well as a signup for “posts” and “comments’ in the navigation bar, which leads me to:
3. Make sure your readers can subscribe by both email and a reader.
Some people would rather be notified by email when you publish a new post, others prefer to use a reader to follow their favorite blogs. Typically 80% of your subscribers will choose email, but that can differ from blog to blog and also depends on your readers’ interests and their comfort level with technology.
People are reluctant to subscribe, so just be clear. In this video on my site I show you how to create this kind of signup.
Do you offer both reader and email subscription options?
Have you had any challenges with setting up your RSS feed or getting subscribers?