Before going through the steps to increase subscribers to your Blog’s RSS Feed, let us first figure out why one needs to spend time increasing the subscriber base. Here are my reasons:

  • Personal happiness on seeing a bigger number of RSS feed subscribers
  • Improved standing amongst fellow bloggers…and with solid proof because it is numbers you can’t fudge
  • RSS feed users are the ‘Influencers on Internet’ – and the more influencers eating out of your hand, the better
  • RSS Feeds can be monetized – the more the subscriber base the better the returns
  • Now, don’t you dare turn around and ask me “Jammy, if you know so much about how to increase RSS Feed subscribers…why do you only have 2000+ readers subscribed to your feed?”

    For then, so many similar questions can be asked. For example: “Why the guy in Kota, Rajasthan who is helping 100s of aspirants clear IIT-JEE year after year didn’t make it to IIT himself?” or “Why the lone guy sitting in a computer center in Saharanpur manages to send ‘Java’ developers to ‘phoren’ countries batch after batch and yet doesn’t have a passport of his own?”

    Anyway, let us get down to business now. Step by step.

    Readers subscribe to your RSS feed in two ways – by clicking on the RSS icon / Chicklet you have displayed on your blog or by using the auto-discovering icon the browsers show.

    Ensure auto-discovery of your RSS feed

    You definitely have no control over where the browser will show the auto-discovery icon but you can ensure that your RSS Feed is auto-discoverable for the browser. For this you will need to add this code on your entry pages:

    <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS 2.0" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/ouchmytoe/funny" />

    The code that’s given above is known as the “Link tag” and needs to be added inside the Head tag of your page HTML. Obviously, you will be giving your RSS feed url and not mine. If your feed is an ATOM feed, you will need to change the type to “application/atom+xml”.

    If like me, you have multiple feeds (I have one for comments, though nobody subscribes!) just add multiple link tags.

    Once you have added this code, when you open your blog on Firefox you will see this icon on the address bar. (See Pic Below)

    The above icon on Firefox means, your RSS feeds are auto-discoverable.

    In Internet Explorer, your discoverable RSS feeds will be shown as in the pic below.

    Position your RSS feed icon / chicklet at the TOP

    Wouldn’t it be criminal if your reader is not able to find the RSS Feed icon where he/she has to click and subscribe?

    Most blog design templates place the RSS links at the Footer or sometimes at the bottom of the sidebar. You should invest time and ensure the RSS Feed link/icon is right at the top. If need be, even go for a design template change – it is worth it.

    It is even better if you create an account for yourself on Feedburner and use a Feed Chicklet which besides prompting the reader to click on it and subscribe to your RSS Feed also tells him/her many other readers have subscribed for your blog’s RSS Feed.

    If your blog’s RSS Feed already has a lot of subscribers, it will trigger into motion an effect known as ‘Leader Feeder Effect.’ This means, many will subscribe to your feed and push the count higher, just because it has already been subscribed by many others.

    On Ouchmytoe.com, the RSS Feed Chicklet is at the top – on par with the Blog’s title (see pic below).

    If you have been promoting your non-Feedburner Blog feed all these days and have only recently converted (or are going to convert) to Feedburner and thus are worried about the implications, here is a nice WordPress Press plugin called FeedSmith which will help you in two things:

  • Makes your feed auto-discoverable
  • Converts existing subscribers of your old blog feed to the new Feedburner feed. And your old blog feed subscribers won’t even know you moved to Feedburner.
  • Educate your readers about RSS

    This is something ProBlogger had suggested long time back. Visitors to different blogs have different profiles. Blogs like http://labnol.blogspot.com attract techies, blogs like http://rupya.com attract Finance guys (some of whom could be techies too) and blogs like http://ouchmytoe.com attract everybody – from housewives to techies to finance guys to giggling girls from colleges.

    If your site doesn’t attract techies, you should try and educate your readers about RSS and its benefits. ProBlogger does it elegantly on his sidebar (see accompanying pic), though I think visitors to his blog don’t need to be educated about RSS Feeds.

    Cater to those that don’t believe in RSS Feeds

    However hard you educate, some just want life simple and easy. And why not?

    For such users, you need to create an account in Feedblitz or user Feedburner’s RSS in an e-mail service so that people can just enter their email ID and subscribe to your blog’s feed. Any update of yours will reach them in their email, and your RSS Feed count subscribers will continue to grow.

    On Ouchmytoe.com, for example…you can choose your options from the Subscription page. If you are only interested in a mail alert, just enter your mail ID and be done with it (see pic below).

    Persuade the new visitor to subscribe to your Blog’s RSS Feed

    If you are a well SEO-ed site, 70% of your traffic will be from the search engines …which means every new visit from the search engine is a new person seeing your site. With so many potential regular readers at hand, you should try and capitalize on them first. If your blog is on WordPress, you should straight away install a WordPress plugin called “What Would Seth Godin Do”. This plugin is cookie based and if anybody new visits your blog (or Ouchmytoe.com for that matter), it displays him/her the message shown below. If the first time visitor likes your content, he/she will subscribe to it right away.

    If your blog isn’t on WordPress, but still gets up to 70% of its traffic from the search engines…just go ahead and ensure you have a similar message (as shown in pic below) at the end of every post. Your regular readers will develop a blind spot…but who cares as long as at least 1% of the new readers are converting?

    Set up traps in your traffic heavy pages

    If you have Google Analytics installed (the importance of Google Analytics is detailed here) you probably know which are your traffic heavy pages.

    For example on Ouchmytoe.com, the top page is:
    Funny wallpaper for download (Image search for ‘Funny Wallpaper’ throws up this post)

    Since, I get a considerable amount of traffic on this page I have set up traps for the unsuspecting visitor. Visit the page and see them for yourself.

    Identify your top five traffic heavy pages and place these three links at the bottom of the blog post:

  • Option to subscribe to your blog’s RSS Feed
  • Option to submit an email ID for blog updates in email
  • Option to Click and browse your Blog Archives & check out your ‘About Me’ page (in the ‘About Me’, you should again place the first two items)
  • If you do all of these, you can definitely more than double your subscribers in the first month itself. No guarantees though. They say internet is a bitch!