One the most common questions I’m asked is how I built-up so many RSS subscribers to my blogs.
Most bloggers report back numbers of around 10-50% of their overall traffic. So if they get 100 visitors to their blog each day they often only have about 10-50 who subscribe with RSS.
In my case I have nearly as many RSS subscribers as I have daily readers. In fact I’d say I convert about 90% of my visitors into RSS readers.
WHY IS RSS IMPORTANT?
Before I tell you how I do it, let’s look at why you should care.
RSS syndication is a relatively new technology to subscribe to content. People generally use email as a means to maintain a subscription. RSS isn’t a replacement for email, and you should offer both an email and an RSS subscription option on your blog, but RSS definitely has some clear advantages.
1. RSS is “pull” technology. This means that people who subscribe with RSS explicitly ask for it because they pull the content down into their RSS feed-reading service.
Email on the other hand is “push” technology because it’s pushed out to people. While you may choose to sign-up to an email newsletter you don’t determine when you receive the emails and most people have to place filters so they don’t get overrun with junk mail. You don’t want your messages to be filtered away and this can’t happen with RSS.
With RSS the reader is in complete control and can unsubscribe any time with ease. As a publisher (a blogger) this is a good thing because it means you can be certain that your RSS readers are really reading your content because they are requesting it, there is no risk of spam blockers killing it.
2. Your RSS readers are usually a very targeted audience since they choose to read your feed. You would have already read my previous article about selecting a target audience so you understand why this is important.
3. RSS distributes every blog post you make. While some bloggers complain that people reading their blogs through RSS is not a good thing I completely disagree. People reading what you write, regardless of whether it’s on your actual blog or through an RSS feedreader, is the important thing. RSS gives your audience another way to become a fan of YOU, and the more fans you have the better.
4. RSS is efficient. The simple fact is RSS is used because it makes Internet users lives easier. It’s a tool for bringing together content for quick consumption and if you want to make sure your content is read you have to make this option available.
RSS is only going to become more and more popular and you don’t want to be left behind.
HOW TO GET MORE RSS SUBSCRIBERS
It’s great to have RSS readers, but how can you boost your RSS readership?
It’s not easy and in fact I’d be lying if I guaranteed you the same results I have had. The problem is largely a knowledge gap. I’d wager that the majority of people reading this article don’t have a good grasp of RSS. That’s okay, you can learn, and it’s important you do because then you will be well equipped to teach your readers.
I didn’t understand RSS 12 months ago. I tried it out and learned how it worked. Then I wrote an article to teach my readers how to use it. Then I made some clear links available on my blog that pointed people to RSS subscription options. Now whenever I write an article or email about RSS I make sure I provide links to teach people how to use RSS. All of this helps to increase my RSS readership.
Depending on your target audience you will face different levels of resistance to the technology. In my case I’ve had traffic coming to my blog from a technically savvy demographic. If they don’t know how to use RSS upon arriving at my blog it’s usually not long until they do.
In your case your blog may have a less savvy audience so it’s your responsibility to bring them up to speed. Write an introductory article on RSS designed for your audience written in a language they will understand. Make sure RSS links are prominent on your blog and talk about RSS whenever you can.