Blogging 101: How to Get Feed Subscribers

The following post is from Jo-Lynne of Musings of a Housewife and DCR Design:

rss syndication
source: Gideon Burton

Last month I discussed feed readers and how to subscribe to blogs you want to follow. Now let’s talk about burning your feed to Feedburner and getting your readers to subscribe to your feed.

Why do I want to want to burn my feed to Feedburner?

Burning your feed to Feedburner allows you to consolidate and keep track of all of your feed subscribers, and it also gives you the ability to set up an email subscription and display your feed count.

Okay, great! So how do I burn my feed?

Feedburner can be a bit daunting at first glance, so for those who are unfamiliar, here’s a quick walk through the process.

1. Go to https://feedburner.google.com. It should say this: Burn a feed right this instant. Type in your blog’s URL in the text box below and click Next.

2. You will be given a few choices; choose the one with /feed after your blog title and click Next.

3. The next screen will allow you to give your feed a title and an address. It should be filled in for you, but you can change it if you desire. It’s best to keep it simple, though. When you’re satisfied with the title and address, click Next.

4. If all went well, your Feedburner feed is live, and you will be greeted with a congratulatory message. Click Next.

5. The next screen gives you a few more options; skip those for now, and click Next.

6. The next page explains some of the features available with a Feedburner account. You will want to override or redirect your blog’s feed to Feedburner. I also recommend publishing a chicklet (an rss graphic) to display your Feedburner feed on your blog, and you’ll probably want to offer your readers updates via email. You can click on these options for your specific blog’s platform on this page and follow the directions, or you can go back to your Feedburner account at any time and click on the Publicize tab and select from the menu.

From the Publicize tab, select Chicklet Chooser to get the HTML code to set up a rss graphic on your blog to encourage your readers to subscribe to your feed. Select Email Subscriptions to get the HTML code to place an email subscription form on your site. And if you’re proud of your subscription numbers, choose FeedCount to get the proper HTML code. If you’re a newer blogger, you may want to wait on this one. You probably want to have at least 100 subscribers before displaying your feed count for the world to see.

Great, but how do I get people to subscribe to my feed?

There is much debate on the effectiveness of encouraging readers to subscribe to your blog. Some feel that you lose comments by allowing your blog posts to be read in a feed because it requires extra work to click over. But others argue, and I agree, that it’s always better to have more readers, no matter how they are reading. This undoubtedly helps increase your influence and keeps you in the front of their minds.

Here are a few ways to encourage subscribers:

1) Prominently place an RSS button that links to your Feedbuner feed. (See #6 above for instructions on using the Chicklet Chooser.)

2) Add a call to action at the beginning or end of some or all of your posts, reminding your readers to stay up to date by subscribing to your feed.

If you’re on a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are plugins for this. I recommend the Add Signature Plugin for WordPress for use at the end of your posts. And the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin is popular for adding a call to action at the top of your blog.

By default, new visitors to your blog will see a small box above each post containing the words “If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!” After 5 visits the message disappears. You can customize this message, its lifespan, and its location. The message can be excluded from Pages if desired.

You can also specify a message for return visitors.

3) Some bloggers use blog giveaways to encourage feed subscriptions.

If you’re holding a giveaway or contest, you can make subscribing to your feed an optional (or required, but I don’t recommend that) entry for a contest.

There is a myriad of ways to encourage subscribers, but ultimately, the key is to it make easy for your readers to find and then create consistent and high-quality content that makes people want to come back for more.

How do you encourage readers to subscribe to your feed?

Jo-Lynne Shane is a happily married mom to three lively school-aged children. When she’s not buried under piles of laundry or a kneading a mound of bread dough, she writes at Musings of a Housewife about faith, family, food and fashion, as well as blogging and design tips. As if that’s not enough, you can also find her beautifying the blogosphere at DCR Design.
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