One of the beauties of a business blog (or any website with a 'feed') is that each time fresh content is published, subscribers to the 'feed' get that content delivered straight to their desktop via a 'feed reader'. In these days of full-to-bursting Inboxes and mad sp'am, the benefits of subscribing to a blog are clear:
- no need to keep checking a site for updates, or bookmark
- no need to divulge your email address and encourage even more email, and
- for publishers - no need to worry whether emails are getting through, or opened
Feeds come in 2 flavours - Atom and RSS but actually, unless you want to become a 'feed expert' that is fairly irrelevant, as is understanding what .rdf, .xml, .rss and .atom mean - they are simply feed 'file extensions'. You see, just as you can turn on a light without needing to understand how electricity works, you can subscribe to and/or set up a feed without needing to know any of the technical stuff...
Watch this RSS video tutorial from C|Net to find out how.
If you are a blogger and you want people to subscribe to your feed, then you really should be using a feed reader. And you want to make subscribing to yours as simple and easy as possible. So here's 5 things to do to encourage subscribers to your feed:
1 - Get yourself a Feed Reader of some kind. Since Bloxor died its sudden death, I've been using Newsgator Online which is free and, yup... online. I like an online (web-based) reader as I can get to my feeds from any machine, but you might choose one that you download and install or you might just use one of the options that are built into some of the web browsers, portals and toolbars.
2 - Sign up for a FeedBurner account and let them manage your feed for you. The basic service is free and they offer options to make your feed universally readable by the majority of feed readers.
3 - Prominently display the 'industry standard' orange icon you see at the top of this post in your blog's margin. Or feel free to copy the one I've created (displayed top right of my blog).
4 - Add a text 'call-to-action' next to the icon - eg. 'click here to subscribe to this feed.' and activate the Feedburner Feedflare which adds a 'subscribe to this feed' link at the bottom of each post.
5 - Link to this post! This will ensure your blog visitors understand the benefits of subscribing and how to do it.
Of course, some people may still prefer to receive your blog updates via email. In which case, give them that option too. Again Feedburner offer a 'daily digest' service. Other options are Squeet and Feedblitz. Or you could create your own 'digest newsletter' using an ezine delivery system and a sign up box.
Any questions? I'm here to help... just use the 'comments' link below (no need to give your email address.)