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How To Get RSS Readers To Visit Your Blog

written by John Chow on January 14, 2007

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Most readers read John Chow dot Com by visiting the blog. However, an average of 1,261 read the blog via the full feed RSS. This can create a problem when it comes to monetization because there are far fewer ways to monetize a RSS feed than a blog.

If you look at the blog of Guy Kawasaki, you’ll find that over 22,000 of this 30,000 daily readers read his blog from RSS only. It is any wonder why Guy cannot make money from Google AdSense? Another example is Tech Crunch. They have 30,000+ blog readers and 130,000+ RSS readers. Fortunately for them, their ad sales team takes the RSS readership into account when selling ad space – that’s why a 125×125 button cost $10,000 a month.

Having a large RSS readership is great and it is something every blogmaster should try to build. Your RSS represents a loyal reader base and seeing that number increase is a good representation of real growth. However, because many RSS reader won’t visit your blog, making money off them is very limited. FeedBurner Ad Network and Text Link Ads Feedvertising (aff) are two ways to monetize a RSS feed, but the best way to make money off RSS readers is to encourage them to visit the blog. Here are some ways to do that.

Turn On FeedBurner FeedFlare

I run my RSS feeds through FeedBurner. Their FeedFlare feature allows me to add a comment count to the end of each posts. This lets the RSS readers know how many comments the posts have generated.

Unless a reader subscribes to the comment RSS, comments cannot be read from the post RSS. This mean a RSS reader must visit the blog in order to read the comments. If a RSS reader is interested in the post, the chances are good that he or she will click on the comment link to see what other readers have to say.

Encourage Comments

Having the FeedBurner FeedFlare showing zero comments on all your posts doesn’t help you much. This is why I try to encourage comments as much as possible. A blog is a communication tool between its author and readers, and should be taken advantage of.

The easiest way to encourage comments is to ask for feedback on your posts. A RSS reader has to go to your blog in order to comment so this is a great way to get them to visit. You can also install the two WordPress Plugins I use to increase blog comments.

In the beginning, you may even try to “seed” your blog with comments to get the ball rolling. Make up a few names and enter some comments in your posts. It’s sneaky, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. Many forums are built this way.

Embed Some Videos

Embedded video cannot be played with a RSS feed. If a RSS reader wishes to view the video, he or she must visit the blog. For example, RSS readers who wanted to see the bathroom of the MGM Skylofts had to visit the blog because I did the post with a video instead of pictures.

Having a good description on what the video is about will encourage more RSS readers to visit. Don’t post a video without a description. Your RSS readers will just see a blank post if you do that.

Link To Old Posts

This is a great way to get RSS readers (and blog readers) to check out the blog. Whenever possible, I try to find old posts that are related to my current post and link to it. This type of linking has several benefits – it helps search engines find your older articles, it helps your blog readers discover articles they may have missed, and it encourages RSS readers to click on the links and visit your blog.

Remind Readers That RSS Is Not Real Time

A new blog post won’t show up in the RSS feed until the feed updates. This updating can take as long as 6 hours (sometimes longer). Therefore, readers who want to read the latest posts will still click through to the blog to see if the post on the RSS feed is the current top post.

A way to remind readers of this is by using the Text Link Ads Feedversting feature. You can place a notice in your feed stating something like, “This may not be the latest post! Check out John Chow dot Com to see if you’re missing anything.”

Note – this only works if your blog is updated multiple times per day.

Turn Off the Full Feed

I don’t really recommend doing this but it is an option. If you don’t run a full feed, RSS readers have to click through to the blog to read the rest of the post. The problem with this is many RSS readers will unsubscribe from your feed if it is not full. You want your RSS number to go up, not down.

Since turning on full feed RSS, my RSS readership has steadily increased. Luckily, this has not resulted in any drop to blog traffic. I think one of the reasons for this is because many RSS readers do visit the blog. If you’re one of the few who read this blog from RSS only, I would love to find out how often (if ever) you visit the blog? Please let me know in the comments.

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