(This post is part of Blogging Tips – Group Writing Project)
When I first began blogging, I didn’t give much priority to RSS readership (partly because I didn’t know what it was ) but now, increasing RSS readership is one of the main goals for my different blogs. These are some methods that have worked for me; I’ve placed them in a rough order of usefulness. None of them are quick and easy; for them to be effective it is also essential to be able to write good content. If you would like to suggest other methods please add in comments.
Probably the most effective way to increase RSS readership is to write guest posts for well established blogs. Recently, I wrote an article for Pick the Brain – 6 characteristics of happiness. With 11,000 subscribers you do get a good return in terms of traffic and boost to RSS subscribers. It is hard work because the articles need to be of a high quality. Also don’t just write 1 guest blog, if you keep guest blogging it creates a cumulative effect and you will become better known within the blogosphere. This personal branding is quite important. – If you keep appearing on top blogs people will want to subscribe to your own. Another benefit of guest blogging is that the article will often rank highly in google, I now get a steady stream of traffic from old guest posts. Therefore, there is a cumulative effect from guest blogging, the more you do it the more powerful it becomes. Zen Habits is an example of a blog which made extraordinary growth in RSS readership through guest blogging.
Commenting on blogs
Commenting on blogs is a slow but steady way to increase your readership. When leaving a comment I try to say something worthwhile because this will make people want to find out more about the commentor. If you just leave ‘nice post’ it is hardly suggests enticing content on your own blog. A good question is whether to leave your URL on a comment. I’m often in two minds about this. For blogs where I regularly comment I don’t put a signature as it might start to irritate people. However, for new blogs, I do often leave a signature or even link to relevant blog post -it helps to create a higher click through rate. Traffic from comments may be low, but the traffic is highly targeted and these are the most likely people to subscribe.
Tips for Commenting
- Choose Popular and / or relevant blogs and try and get in early.
- Use Google Blog Search for your keywords, this helps find new blogs. (I often search ‘Economics’ on google blog search for my economic blog.)
- Say something useful
Make It easy to Subscribe.
Make sure it is easy to subscribe. For example, don’t forget to offer email subscriptions. For example on one blog, Poem of the Day, 90% subscribe through email. (Although you need to make it easy to subscribe, don’t feel obliged to have an RSS button which takes up 25% of the screen though.
I always feel reluctant to say ‘good content is important’. – It is oft repeated advice and rather obvious. Nevertheless, without engaging content, people will not want to subscribe. Don’t just focus on getting traffic and leaving comments. Get a good balance between the different aspect of blogging. Give people a real reason to have to subscribe. For example, one reason I always check Daily Blog Tips RSS feed is that I don’t want to miss out on any group writing projects.
On most blogs I am always eager to maximise traffic through search engines. This involves choosing good keywords in the title of pages. I feel search engine traffic has only a relatively small chance of subscribing, but if you get enough traffic, the sheer numbers will generate RSS readers over time.
Quantity over Quality.
If you only post once a week I find you do not lose RSS subscribers (unless your blog is all about getting latest news). To increase RSS subscribers why not concentrate on writing 2 or 3 really good posts per week. – the kind of posts that will get stumbled and make people want to subscribe. Don’t worry about posting high quantity.
A good point is that this point may well conflict with the previous point about generating traffic. One thing I do, is to have a flagship blog, but also add pages to other parts of the site. This means you can have the best of both worlds – one blog for generating RSS readers (the best of your site) and another blog for perhaps shorter pieces. At economics help I have 2 blogs – 1 blog for long essays, 1 blog for posting 3-4 times a day – Econ Blog.
- Tip: Work out how you can differentiate your blog and how you can you create a unique selling point.
Communicate With Bloggers.
If you develop relationships with other bloggers and your readers they will want to subscribe to your blog. If you develop networks of like minded bloggers you will be able to help each other with things like the odd stumble e.t.c.
Almost so obvious, that I nearly left it out. First impressions count, and if you use an ordinary blog template it doesn’t say much about your content (rightly or wrongly) You can still succeed with a weak design, but, don’t make life difficult for yourself, get a good design.