July 19, 2012

Should nonprofits bother with FeedBurner?

Short answer: Yes for RSS feeds, no for email

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaI‘ve been bloging since May 2001. I don’t remember when I set up my first FeedBurner account, but it was probably not long after it opened in February 2004 — and well before Google bought it. FeedBurner provides custom RSS feeds and management tools to bloggers, podcasters and other web-based content publishers.

Back in the day, FeedBurner was the heaven-sent answer to setting up RSS feeds. Today, creating an RSS feed is still important, but every blogging platform worth its salt has RSS feeds baked in. Continue reading

April 24, 2012

On-demand magazine publishing, simple & cheap


A one-off magazine produced by the American Red Cross International showcasing earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

DIY publishing for your nonprofit: How to make it happen

This is the second of a two-part series. Also see:

• Part 1: 6 business reasons for nonprofits to publish a magazine

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, educators, Web publishers.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstYesterday we invited you to think about whether a print magazine might make sense for your nonprofit or social enterprise — and we use a broad definition of magazines here to include a print newsletter, whitepaper, special report, annual report, event keepsake or a catalog of fundraising merchandise and so on.

Now that you’re sold on the idea, or are at least considering it, how do you make it happen?

The first thing you need to consider is how much time, money and effort you have available to take on the project. Do you already have people who can write, design, produce and perform other required tasks? Or do you want to offload some of the work to a contractor or publishing firm?

On Nature, from Ontario Nature, is produced as both a print and digital magazine.

In the past, only large organizations with large audiences and budgets could produce a quality publication. But print-on-demand technology gives organizations of any size the ability to produce print publications in whatever numbers they need in a cost-effective way. Whether it’s a regular magazine, a one-time publication or any other printed product, the possibilities are only beginning to be explored in the social good sector.

To get the work done, you’ll likely want to consider on-demand technologies using a combination of staffers, freelancers or agencies (yep, like Socialbrite). And that’s what we’ll cover for the bulk of this article.

Another way to go is to find a custom publishing company to take care of everything for you, for a price. Custom publishing companies handle everything — even billing, if your magazine charges a subscription. A good place to look for these companies is the website of the Custom Content Council, a group of companies offering publishing services to commercial and nonprofit organizations. You can also do an online search for custom publishing companies and compare offerings. Many companies offer nonprofit discounts, such as Dazzle Printing, which offers a 10 percent discount and free proofreading to all nonprofits.

Choosing to self publish: The DIY option

Self publishing allows anyone to have a magazine without an established third-party publisher. (And by the way, there may be occasions when you want to self-publish a short book.) It’s become easy to publish a magazine using vendors, including MagCloud, FeedBrewer, Issuu, Calameo, Mstand and Scribd. Let’s summarize what they have to offer.

MagCloud

Magcloud publish

MagCloud handles the printing, distribution and shipping of your content. They enable you to publish a beautiful magazine-format publication in print or as a digital version. For print, they can produce runs as small as one and as large as 3,000. Continue reading

January 12, 2010

6 actions to optimize your blog’s subscriptions

3D render of a mail box with letters

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. Continue reading

October 10, 2009

7 tips for measuring your blog’s success

measuring

Photo by the TruthAbout

Beth KanterThe success of your blog, or any social media effort, depends on your willingness to solicit feedback and take corrective action when necessary. If you want to have a successful blog that supports your organization’s goals and adds value, improvement should be continuous. You need to pick the right hard data points, or metrics, that will help you harvest insights and improve your blog.

Analyzing your blog content
First, you need to set overall goals for your blog and understand your audience. Next, you need to know the right metrics to use, and employ the proper tools to collect the data. Most important, you need a strategy—either for yourself or for a team—to gather insights from your metrics. Remember, it isn’t about the numbers alone.

Avoid Analytophilia
Alexandra Samuel coined that phrase in a post on social media analytics and metrics about the greatest peril of social media: analytophilia. It’s about obsessing on raw numbers and constantly checking the number of Twitter followers or retweets or Facebook insight clicks. She recommends that you don’t go into your analytics or stats program without composing a specific question first. I’ve been advocating this approach for a long time and offer you a set of data points and questions.

Here are seven tips to help you start measuring social media efforts.

Readership growth

1This means content consumption. There are two different kinds of web viewers: subscribers and visitors. Subscribers have made a commitment to regularly receive (and hopefully read or at least scan) your blog. Visitors are people who occasionally visit your blog. You should pay attention to monthly trends of content consumption over time. This will tell you a lot about your readers’ satisfaction with your content.

  • Hard data points: Look at the feed subscribers trends from Feedburner and unique visitor trends from Google Analytics. Understand how Google Analytics calculates unique visitors and how Feedburner calculates subscribers, but please don’t get so hung up on the geeky part of measurement that you don’t have enough time to gather insights and apply them.
  • Gathering insights: Is the number of visitors and subscribers increasing? If not, why? If yes, why? Think about your publishing frequency, the length of posts and the mix of topics.

I get a notice when someone unsubscribes to my blog. I send them a personal follow-up e-mail asking why. I’ve received excellent feedback from my inquiries about how to improve the blog’s publishing schedule, topics and more. Continue reading