11 Ways to Get More RSS Subscribers

by Brett Borders on November 16, 2009

One year ago, I started this blog with the goal of improving my writing skills and also my connections in the social media world. I also wanted to practice creating viral content. Out of 48 posts, 12 of them (25%) went viral and got over 200 retweets. Near the end of my first year I had about 2000 RSS subscribers – a modest number. There were an average of 9900 monthly unique visitors, with a peak in April of 16,894 unique visitors. While some people have figured out how to get blog subscribers much more quickly, I was more successful than with my other blog – which only got around 200 subscribers in the first year.

Here are some tips to get more RSS subscribers:

1. Spend Ample Time On Your Headlines

sperm
Killer headlines are what make Cosmopolitan and National Enquirer fly off the newstand and onto the checkout line scanner belt. And killer headlines separate the big dog blogs like Copyblogger, DoshDosh, Problogger from the amateurs. Check out Alltop’s social media section to improve your headline skills. Which blogs have the most arresting headlines? Which ones totally suck? Study how to write headlines and give them ample time; don’t just slap one on as an afterthought.

2. Include Alluring Images with Every Post

bird

If you read book reviews on Amazon, you’ll discover people hate cookbooks with no pictures. They hate Keynote slide presentations with lots of words and with no pictures. And, guess what? They usually hate blog posts with too many words and no pictures, too. Adding images is relatively trivial and has a huge boost to the overall “look and feel” of your blog content, but many bloggers just don’t bother. And people just don’t bother subscribing. I find most of my images on Flickr Creative Commons, but there’s also hundreds of other places to find free images and stock photos.

3. Add Unique Insight and Value. Avoid “Me Too” Posts

There is a lot of echo on the web. Same tweets, same topics, same links. If you want subscribers and attention, it’s best to offer up a unique perspective and a “brand” of information that people can’t find anywhere else on the Web. Don’t waste time with just commenting on what others have done or said (“Today I read this cool post that said…”), invest in your own original ideas that will provoke others to share and others comment on them.

4. Prominently Display RSS and E-mail Subscription Buttons

subscribe
A lot of people just can’t figure out RSS (“really simple syndication”) and prefer to get your content in e-mail. Give them that option. Make the buttons to subscribe eye-poppingly obvious and place them in a prominent position on your blog.

5. Personally Respond to All Blog Comments (Worth Responding To)

People are secretly craving warm digital fuzzies and personal feedback – so give it to them when they make the effort to comment on your blog. The first year, I spent anywhere from 2 to 20 hours a week responding to blog comments. People will begin to see your blog as a conversation, a friendly destination where they can get a little burst of personal attention and they’ll keep coming back. You don’t have to do this forever, but it sure helps kick things off. (Don’t worry about responding to “Great post” comments.)

6. Subscribe and Regularly Comment on Other People’s Blogs

The Golden Rule of blogging is “subscribe unto others, so that they may subscribe onto you.” Tune into others’ blog channels, and let them know it by making your name and icon a regular part of their comments section.

7. Make Other People Look Cool. Feature and Link to Them

feature
Feature other people. Interview them. Talk about them. Link to them. Then those people will probably talk and tweet about your blog. Be strategic about who you feature — find people who have a lot of followers. You’ll help them, and they’ll be able to help you.

8. Remind People to Subscribe at the End of Each Post

remind
People forget to subscribe. Personally remind them at the end of each post.

9. Install Social Media Sharing Links or Buttons

SHARING

Install buttons or links that encourage people to share the post on Twitter or Facebook. You can use a WordPress plugin or just put the customized links in HTML like I do.

10. Focus Equally on Both SEO and Viral Marketing

To get your blog in front of more eyeballs, it pays to focus on both viral marketing (good headlines, amazing pictures, solid resources people will naturally want to share) and on SEO (keyword research, competition analysis, building links). I focused almost exclusively on writing hot headlines and marketing the blog on Twitter. In the next year — if I decide to continue blogging here — I’m going to try and get more search engine traffic by writing more pragmatic, utilitarian posts I think Google searchers will find and appreciate.

11. Stick to a Posting Schedule

Don’t miss content updates if you’re serious about growing subscribers. As soon as you’re not posting, you’re not growing. If you can’t post yourself, get someone to guest post – or expect your subscribe numbers to stagnate or drop.

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Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.

  • http://twitter.com/maayanroman maayanroman

    glad to see some fresh content – you’re absolutely right that people look for when they get used to regular posts, but if you’ve got really loyal readers they’ll come back after a hiatus (case in point). Point #7 is one of my fav features on your blog, just because it’s so useful.

    what plugin(s) do you use to facilitate your recommendations on this blog? I’m especially interested in the “if you enjoyed this article…” reminder.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Maayan,

    I write little snippets of code for that I want, rather than fight with a plugin to get it right. All of those are blocks of straight HTML. If you ‘view source’ you’ll see em!

  • http://twistereli.com/ Eli Prenten

    I love this kind of articles, it are things you could manage to find out yourself. But people like me are just too lazy to think about it (except when writing the article myself). And here everything is already “chewed” for us. :D

    It’s always funny to see people new to blogging and trying to grow are spamming everywhere which has a more opposite effect.

  • http://www.freedomstudios.co.za/ Graham

    Fantastic!

    Thanks for sharing these insights.
    At times I think we get so caught up in slapping new content on our blogs without actually taking that extra effort to make it outstanding.

    Thanks again for the pointers.

  • http://www.johnpaulaguiar.com John Paul

    Nice list. All very simple to do, problem is doing all of them daily. To build that momentum.

  • http://starkmedia.com/ Natalie

    Thanks for the to do list. Although I practice most of the recommendations, number 1 still resonates. At times I feel my headline is lacking, so thanks for the advice!

  • http://zeninspiration.blogspot.com/ kalyan

    Fresh!Fresh!fresh! after so many days i have seen some genuine content on this topic it is good to see such a nice genuine post and u have a new subscriber too!

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Brett: GREAT post. Love it. I recently heard that it is was better to get more “email subscribers to your blog” vs. “RSS subscribers” because many people do not check readers daily and also getting emails is paramount to building your list. (Although of course you cannot now use that new email and add them to your newsletter! I hate when people do that!)

    What are your thoughts on this slight shift from encouraging RSS sign ups vs. “Sign Up for Updates” and posting an opt-in to get an email address? I know you can always do both, but I am talking about highlighting one CTA over the other.

    Would love to hear your insight.

    Amy

  • http://virtualbluebird.blogspot.com/ catherine

    A nice list!
    Perrsonally liked #5 about arranging a kind of conversation. New readers will spot that their comments are viewed and questions are answered (at least I do) and will get more interested for sure.
    Great job, Brett

  • http://www.Liedschatten.com/ Chillout

    Thanks for the advice. I just started to bring people to my Facebook Fanpage which is another great tool to let people know what happens in your business.

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  • http://bestbuyreviews.org.uk/ Dave Best

    One of the things that I’ve noticed is that many bloggers are too me-centric. Sahre some love by linking to and commenting others blogs.

  • Joan Burge

    Great advice. Thanks so much. I can’t wait to try some of your ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant set of tips! This is so handy… Thanks for sharing.

  • http://designi1.com/ designi1

    very nice tips :D thanks… i´ll saved this for future use in my web site!!!

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  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Cheryl,

    glad you liked this post, I am personally switching gears and working
    on some new projects… expect less frequent updates. Sorry!

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  • http://themollybuckley.com THE Molly Buckley

    Great tips! Thank you so much. I really appreciate the insight – I just moved my blog and have been looking to gain more subscribers – so I will definitely take your points to heart. :)

  • Brett Borders

    Molly,

    Best of luck with your new blog. You an do it!

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  • http://blog.roguestar.tv Tommy_of_RogueStar

    Thanks for posting this Brett.

    After a major crash on my blog earlier in the year, it’s always good to have a resource handy for getting things together again.

    Bookmarked!

  • http://www.punintended.com/ Bamboo Forest – PunIntended

    Really solid advice. A bit surprised, though, that you didn’t include doing lots of guest posting.

    I’ve kinda lost interest in doing lots of commenting on other blogs. And my niche is kinda funky, mostly humor — but inspiration too.

    Currently, I’m trying to do lots of quality guest posts for other blogs.

  • http://twitter.com/thomasrtownsend Thomas Townsend

    Yep, right on the money. I need to heed this advice on my own blog. Been spending so much time on other dev issues and content for others I have negleted my own. Thks

  • http://kylewebs.tumblr.com/ Kyle Webs

    hahah, yeah, I agree.

  • http://www.e-swastya.com sudeep

    Loved the idea of posting regularly to increase RSS subscribers. Thanks for sharing all this ideas

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Cliff,

    I just wrote my “Please subscribe to SocialMediaRockstar in HTML/CSS using the “Alert” class in the Thesis theme for WordPress.

    None of the plugins worked well enough for my taste, so I did a custom and styled the beackground color yellow.. and tweaked the typography.

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  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    thanks for your comments, I appreciate it

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  • http://www.RegScheepers.com Reg Scheepers

    Why is it so important to stick to a posting schedule? I mean if you write good content that people want to read, who cares if you release it at regular or at random times. I find that when I try to force a blog post I end up with crap. I’m open to being convinced, these are my initial thoughts.

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  • http://bloggeritus.com Chris Kahler

    Great advice! A lot of these tactics I employ, but I’m sure I can improve on how I use them. One thing I need to do more of is network myself with other bloggers… I’m kind of slow getting to the blogging world. I shouldn’t have stayed in ‘ghost mode’ for as long as I did, but it’s ok at least I can write a ton of content easily, just no one knows who the heck I am haha

  • http://bloggeritus.com Chris Kahler

    I think it’s better if you make it a habit out of regular writing rather than trying to force yourself. Get in the habit of writing a on a regular schedule but only publish the ones you like, and eventually the writing habit will increase the quality from craptastic to fantastic. People have high expectations, and if you aren’t there to supply the information they want to read they will find it else where!

    The more you write the better you’ll get. You can always have a posting schedule that’s a bit more spacious than others but still write in between. It’s better to increase your posting schedule and get more content than to start of on a great pace and slow things down later. It’s also better to have more high quality posts than fewer high quality posts. So the goal is to get as many high quality posts as possible and to keep them coming as regularly as possible!

    Hope that helps :)

  • Maria Wendt

    How do you ask for subscribers without sounding tacky or desperate? On a side note, one word of totally unsolicited advice; the text size of the comments is microscopic and makes things very hard to read. I would suggest bumping it up two pixels or so, if possible. Thanks.