January 12, 2010

6 actions to optimize your blog’s subscriptions

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Welcome to the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Today guest contributor Grant Griffiths offers tips on how to optimize your blog’s RSS and email subscriptions.

Guest post by Grant Griffiths
Blog For Profit

The people who subscribe to our blogs are, more likely than not, regular readers who visit us whenever we post new content. Our subscribers feel we are trustworthy enough that they feel we have built a relationship with them. And they come to trust us to the point they may actually buy something from us. Either our products or services.

A lot of what we are going to talk about here will also apply across different areas we should focus on when we are building our blog. One of the key considerations to think about when you are trying to build up subscribers on your blog is the relationship you should be building. And you need to remember you want your readers to come to trust you as a valuable and reliable source of information. A source of information that is fed to them in a form and fashion they can use and understand. And a source of information that is up-to-date and relevant.

Here are six actions you can take to optimize subscriptions to your blog:

1Design – You have seen them, the default template provided by WordPress or Typepad. Or those Blogger blogs that all look alike too. If you are serious about building an audience of regular readers on your blog, you have to have more than a default template. Spend some time looking into some of the great free or premium WordPress frameworks and themes available.

Design does matter. People tend to be shallow and want things to look nice. And this same factor even applies to whether they may or may not subscribe to your blog. Consider: When we are standing at the magazine rack at our favorite book store, we always look at the cover design of the magazine. Admit it: If the magazine doesn’t look nice, we tend to not pick it up to read. The same applies to blogs. If the blog is not attractive to look at or easy on the eyes, we tend to not come back. And we darn sure don’t subscribe.

I know the argument against this premise. “Don’t most blogs get read in an RSS reader or email?” Not all of them do and even so, our design still needs to be appealing to the eye. Getting people to come back time and time again certainly does depend on how are blog looks and feels to them. And those people who come back will someday become our regular readers and subscribers.

subscribe2Make it easy – Make it simple for your readers to subscribe to your blog. In other words, provide a clear and very visible way for your visitors to subscribe to your blog.

You want your visitors to turn into readers. Accomplishing this is quite easy. If your blogging platform does not have this built in, go to Feedburner and burn your feed and get the buttons and email sign-ups. Put them in the top right hand corner of your blog, as close to the top as you can. Subscribing is one of those call to actions we want our visitors and readers to do. And it is recommended by experts in Internet marketing — calls to action should be top right.

3Take it one step further – Don’t just throw up the subscription options for your readers. Do a post or two or three explaining what RSS is and why it is important. Give your readers a tutorial on how to use it too. One of the reasons RSS has not caught on in the general public is simply because we as bloggers have failed to convince them or educate them about RSS.

The other question many have been asking lately is whether those reading our blogs are subscribing with RSS to a reader or via email. If I had my preference, I would want all of my readers to subscribe via email. Why? They are added to our newsletter list and they get our updates that way. too. For the most part, people who don’t blog themselves are subscribing via email as they understand what it is and know how to use it. Make sure you give them both options as a means to subscribe to your blog. That way you optimize the chances of them subscribing.

4Give them content – But don’t just give them any old content. If you want readers and even better, repeat readers who subscribe, give them regular content. Content that is up-to-date and relevant to your blog’s audience. And just as important, post to your blog on a regular and consistent basis.

If you subscribed to a newspaper that promised to publish two times a week and started out that way, but failed to continue this practice, would you maintain your subscription, most likely not. Blog subscribers are the same. People tend to subscribe to blogs that post on a regular, consistent basis. You need to do the same. I am not saying you need to post daily. It would be best if we all could. What you need to do is pick a regular schedule and stick to it. Being consistent in your postings is important to continued success and building your audience.

5Go out and bring readers in – You have to be a proactive blogger, too. In other words, go out and find readers. Go to where the readers of your blog might be and promote your blog.

One of the best places I have found to bring readers into my own blog is social media. Consider tools like Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn. There are tools and ways to send out all your new blog post to each of the social media tools I just mentioned.

Every time I write a new blog post, it is sent to Twitter and Facebook. In return, I get visitors to my blog who in turn may or may not subscribe to my blog. However, the key to doing this is it gives you a chance of gaining a new reader and maybe new subscribers you may have not had before. You have to promote, promote and promote some more.

Here are some other ways you can promote your blog to bring in readers and subscribers:

  • Email
  • Newsletter
  • Guest postings
  • Linking to other blogs in your own post
  • Call in favors
  • Commenting on other blogs

6Offer them something for subscribing – Providing an incentive for our readers to subscribe to our blogs is neither shady nor deceptive at all. If you will consider for a moment how many times we are offered inducements to either sign up for something or buy something, you will see it is not new and it is accepted by the public in general. In fact, it has become so common, many people come to expect it and almost demand it before they are willing to sign up for anything. This is where you can use a white paper report you have written or a short ebook as an offer for people to subscribe to your blog. And you can give it to them for either subscribing via RSS feed or email.

As you can see, most if not all of the actions we are suggesting will help you with more than just optimizing your RSS and email subscriptions. If you will make the actions above a regular part of your blogging, you will not only increase your subscribers, you will grow a loyal readership.

Grant Griffiths publishes Blog For Profit and is co-founder of Headway, a premium WordPress Theme/Framework. You can follow Grant on twitter at @grantgriffiths.

If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up.

Cross-posted from JohnHaydon.com.

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