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
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
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
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 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
People forget to subscribe. Personally remind them at the end of each post.
9. Install Social Media Sharing Links or Buttons
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.