Let me start out by being honest - Increasing your RSS subscriber count can sometimes be horrendous. It seems like no matter what you do, when you really want them, and you pour your heart out into providing helpful information on a daily basis, they still aren't subscribing!
In all seriousness, boosting your RSS subscriber count is quite the task, and you need to put in a little legwork to kick it off. As you'll read in one of the tips below, once you've done the work, and get the count up to a respectable three digit number, as long as you keep the content coming, it seems to take over on its own at that point. Working to get that first 100 subscribers can be a pain for many new bloggers, especially if they don't take their blog serious enough to get the job done.
Below are 21 different ways that you can start building your RSS subscriber count, and the more of these suggestions you follow, the more success you should theoretically have. I need to work on a few of these myself, and writing this post was just the motivation I needed to get going. Enjoy!
1. If You Don't Have It, Don't Show It! I'm talking about your feed count widget. If you're a new blogger, and you just landed your 4th subscriber, we're all proud of you, but seriously, don't put that little feed count widget on the front of your blog showing the world that 4 people read your RSS feed. I'm not trying to be mean, but the reason being is that if someone lands on your blog that doesn't know you from Adam, they have no clue that it's a new blog, and when they see that feed count widget displaying 4 readers, it's a huge turnoff. It almost appears that no one cares to read your posts. It's totally psychological. If they see you when you have 100+ subscribers, then it's something to show off, and they just might subscribe for themselves - but until then, lose it. Blog readers are a lot like sheep (I mean that kindly), and they'll use only follow the popular Shepard's.
2. Display Your Subscribe Button Proudly These days, when your average blogger is browsing through different blogs, and they see one that they like, the first thing they usually look for is that famous orange RSS subscribe button. Blog readers, for the most part, have short attention spans, so if they can't find it right away, you may lose them. Make sure you have your subscribe button and/or links prominently displayed and easy to find.
3. Email Subscription Option Believe it or not, there are still plenty of visitors out there that aren't quite familiar with RSS feed readers, so giving them the option to stay updated by email is very important. Feeburner, FeedBlitz, and all the others give you an option for feed deliveries via email, and it's also a great way to build a list! Always present the option of subscribing by email if you can.
4. Be Ad Free In Your Feeds Chances are, if you're a blogger, you're running a decent amount of ads or some form of advertising on your blog. The last thing people want is to receive a feed that's also full of ads. I've subscribed to feeds before on some blogs I like just to avoid going to the actual site and seeing all those ads. So somewhere next to your subscribe button, proudly emphasize that they can read your feeds "ad free". It just may be the tipping point to get them to subscribe.
5. Focus Your Writing This is more of a long term strategy, but if you're known for writing a variety of posts that differ from topic to topic, the chances of me subscribing after reading one post is slim. The last thing I want to see in my feed reader is what you had for dinner last night. I don't care. I subscribed to learn what you have to teach, not what you have to eat.
6. Contest Entries Here's a cool one that may give you a boost, but you have to play it carefully. Come up with a killer contest, and make it so the primary and best way to enter the contest is to subscribe to your RSS feed. If your prize is large enough, and you promote your contest on other blogs, this could mean a huge boost in your feed count. Here's the trick - you must be absolute sure to keep delivering top notch content, because when the contest is over, you can count on about half of those subscribers unsubscribing. But if you keep feeding them good material, you may have a chance at maintaining them.
7. Guest Blog Do you think you have what it takes to write for one of the big dogs? If so, try your hand at writing up some killer guest posts and submitting them to a-list blogs. Even if you land just one guest blogging gig, you can definitely count on an increase in RSS subs. I've done this before with other blogs, and have sometimes seen massive jumps in my RSS count. These new subscribers are more likely to stick around if I keep writing the content that they seek. Guest blogging is also a great way to make a name for yourself.
8. Help Out In Your Favorite Forum Do you have a forum or two that you regularly post in? I know I do, and I receive quite a bit of traffic just from the signature link in my posts that I make there. The more helpful you can be, and the more quality posts you make at your forum of choice, the more likely people are to click through to your site to see what you are all about. You could try linking to a special landing page in your forum signature that subtlety asks them to subscribe to your RSS.
9. Don't Be Afraid To Ask! Often times, visitors who regularly read your articles are just used to coming to your blog in their daily routine, reading the material, and leaving. While they're there, why not ask for the subscription? At the end of each post, politely say something like "If you enjoyed this post, would you mind subscribing to my RSS feed?" or whatever... bottom line, no salesman ever closed a deal without asking. Also, there are plugins that will do this for you, and when I find the name of it, I'll add it here.
10. Network With Your Peers Getting to know your regular readers and other bloggers in your niche can often be very beneficial, not only in your efforts to boost your RSS count, but also in forming important relationships, business ventures, and all sorts of other things. Take the time to shoot a few emails to other bloggers, and in no time at all you'll probably be subscribing to each others feeds, which brings me to my next point....
11. Don't Be Selfish! What I mean is, don't expect 7000 people to sign up for your feed, if you don't subscribe to a few yourself. Here's what you do - go subscribe to 20 blogs within your niche, and when you do, drop a comment on each blog letting them know that you subscribed, and that you would appreciate them coming over and having a look at your blog. Chances are (and because people are generally good natured) they'll subscribe to your feed, making it a win-win situation.
12. Tell Your Readers What An RSS Subscription Is To be honest, a fair portion of your readers, depending on the niche your in, may have absolutely no idea what the heck RSS is. Write a post explaining to them the benefits of reading your articles via and RSS readers (it will save them time, easier, etc...), and that just may be all the coaxing they need to be comfortable enough to click your subscribe button.
13. The Free Ebook Or Report Bribe This is a powerful and awesome way to gain additional subscribers. Here's what you do - take your time and write up a nice report or ebook about the subject you blog about, and offer it to your readers free. Make it so that they only way they can have access to the download is that they subscribe to your feed via email. Obviously, when they subscribe, they get an email with the download link. Point being - if your ebook takes off and gets some good publicity, it could mean hundreds or even thousands of new subscribers in a very short amount of time. People love free stuff, especially free quality information - so give it to them!
14. Lead Your Readers To Great Information Make sure that when you link out to articles on other blogs, that they're valuable ones. When you recommend to a reader that they follow a link to another blog post with helpful content, they will often subscribe to you because they count on you to provide them with a path of good, valuable information. Even if it means them leaving your blog through a link to another one, they'll definitely be back if you keep their best interests in mind.
15. PodCast Your Way To RSS Stardom Podcasting is still a highly sought after way of getting information. Your readers will almost always listen to a podcast if you give them the chance, and nothing is easier than asking your readers during your podcast to subscribe to your blog. Submit your podcast to podcast sites and directories, build a following, mention your RSS feed in your podcasts, and it will definitely boost your subscriber count.
16. Offer A Full Feed This one is more important than you think. Offering partial feeds is the easiest way to kill your subscriber count, because the whole point of someone subscribing to your feed, is so they can read the whole post in their favorite feed reader without having to visit 50 blogs to get all their daily articles read. Always offer a full feed - there really are no good reasons why you shouldn't. It only makes people mad when they get half a feed in their inbox or feedreader.
17. Write Outstanding Articles Writing good content is perhaps the most common and popular piece of advice given by any blogger, but you know why? It's true. Why in the world would I want to subscribe to your blog if you don't provide me with topical, valuable, and helpful information? Take your time, and write quality stuff, and it will definitely help your chances of boosting that subscriber count. Also, make sure you continuously provide good content, or they'll drop your feed faster than you can click "publish".
18. Posting Frequency Counts This is one aspect of increasing your RSS subscriber count that you seriously need to be aware of. Here's the deal, if I know you only post 2-3 new articles a week, no matter how good they are, chances are I'm not going to miss anything, and I can visit your blog at my convenience to catch up without much hassle. On the other hand, if I know you post at least once per day (if not more), then I would seriously conclude that the best way to stay on top of all the information you offer is to subscribe to your blog. That way, I can read your posts in my feedreader at my leisure, and not worry about missing anything.
19. Feedvertising Plugin This plugin is a cool one that allows you to offer specific content exclusively to your subscribers. Make it known that one of the benefits of subscribing to your feed is the fact that subscribers often have access to bonus and extra content. This is a great way to keep people subscribed, because you can offer periodic smaller contests for your subscribers only.
20. Try The "What Would Seth Godin Do" Plugin This plugin is a handy one that displays a message towards the top of your blog that asks new readers to subscribe to your feed. It only shows the message to new visitors 3 times, so that way they don't have to see it every time they land on your blog (assuming they have cookies enabled). This makes number 9 a lot easier, as you have an automatic way of asking for the subscription without being too intrusive.
21. Social Bookmarking Traffic Does Convert! Last but not least, makes sure you're following the routine I mentioned in my "Simple Ways to Improve Traffic to Your Blog" post. Although social bookmarking traffic can be shaky, it's all a numbers game. Any time I get 1000 hits from StumbleUpon or whichever site, chances are I'm going to end up with a few extra subscribers. It never fails. Even if it only means a few extra subscribers per day, that really adds up when the month is over, and combined with the other methods, it's a good supplemental way of driving up your RSS subscriber count.
I hope you're able to use some or all of the above methods to help with your subscriber situation. It takes time to build up a respectable number, but using the above ways definitely won't hurt. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to drop by ClubBlogger sometime!
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