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How To Increase RSS Subscriptions

written by John Chow on March 30, 2007

Secure Affiliate Marketing

I’ve received a few requests to write a blog post on how to increase the number of RSS subscribers. Here are some tips on how to rocket that FeedBurner RSS counter.

Why Do You Want A Big RSS Subscription?

Before you try to increase the number of subscribers to your blog, you need to decide if this is what you want to do. A RSS feed is much harder to monetize than a blog. Income from RSS accounted for only $99.80 of the blog’s $7011.05 February income. That’s really bad when you consider over 3,000 people read this blog from RSS everyday.

Despite the low income, there are many valid reasons to increase RSS subscriptions. The main one being RSS represents a loyal reader base and as such, anything you can do to increase it helps your blog in the long run. Another reason to increase RSS is because some ad networks, like ReviewMe, take RSS subscribers into account when determining your price – the higher the RSS number, the more stars you get.

Offer A Full Feed

If you really want to increase your RSS base, then you must offer a full feed. Many RSS users won’t subscribe to your feed if it’s not full. I have over 30 feeds in my Google reader. Everyone single one of them is a full feed. If you don’t have a full feed, I’m not subscribing.

I use my RSS feed to give my readers a mostly ad free version of this blog. Do not use RSS as a teaser in the hopes that the reader will click to the blog in order to read the full post. Unless your blog is updated 20+ times per day, reader won’t sign up to the RSS in the first place.

Don’t Show Your RSS Count When It’s Small

FeedBurner offers a nice chicklet that displays the number of RSS readers on your blog. Right now, it shows 3,812 for this blog. The number represents the amount of people who access the blog via RSS yesterday. I don’t recommend a blog shows this chicklet until the subscriber counted reaches at least 50.

This is human psychology at work. People in general are like sheeps. They’re scare to step outside their comfort zone and won’t do it until they see others do it. When they see a blog with a chicklet showing six readers, their tendency is not to subscribe. It’s best to hide your RSS number until you have enough subscribers to display a decent number. Big RSS numbers makes people subscribe. Small RSS numbers turns them away. It’s not fair, but that’s how it work.

If you want to be evil, you can fake a RSS feed count by displaying someone else’s Chicklet number. Net Business Blog wrote about how to do that in How I Got 283k Feed Subscribers in 1 Day.

Make Sure Your RSS Button Is visible

Your RSS button should be placed near the top of the blog and be visible without scrolling. You want to let the readers know right away that you have a RSS feed and you can’t do that if your button is out of site. I label my button with “Full Feed RSS” to let the readers know they can read all my content from RSS. If you really want to get the readers attention, you can try integrating the world’s biggest RSS button into your blog.

Worlds biggest RSS button

Ask Readers To Subscribe

If you want readers to sign up for your RSS, then ask them. The best way to ask is at the end of the post. Add a line that says, “If you like this post, then consider subscribing to my full feed RSS.”

Instead of adding that line on every single post, an easier way would be to edit your template files. In WordPress, you would edit the single.php or page.php file. You can also edit the index.php if you want the request to show on the blog home page.

Monetizing The RSS Feed

The best way to make money off a full feed RSS is to encourage readers to visit your blog. I wrote about that in how to get RSS readers to visit your blog.

My RSS feed is monetized with FeedBurner Ad Network and Text Links Ads Feedvertising. FeedBurner Ad Network ads are CPM based display ads that appear below a post. The CPM rates can get very high (up to $8) but the fill rate is very low.

Text Link Ads Feedvertising ads are just like text links for a blog. Instead of buying a link on a blog, the advertiser buys a link in the RSS feed. Like TLA links on a blog, pricing is flat rate so you don’t have to worry about variable CPM rates or click fraud. When you sign up for Text Link Ads, you are given a choice to add Feedvertising in your RSS. If you are already a TLA publisher and would like to add Feedvertising, you can do so by editing your listing in the TLA control panel. Feedvertising requires WordPress 2.0 or higher.

A Feedvertising link on this blog cost $550 per month. However, new advertisers can use this $100 coupon to bring the price down a bit.

If you like this post, then consider subscribing to my full feed RSS. :mrgreen:

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