Increase your Blog Subscribers
You’ve been diligent. You’ve been committed. For weeks, months or even years you’ve been posting great fresh content to your company blog. And even though your posts get decent traffic from time to time, you still can’t seem to get very many subscribers. It’s so frustrating that you are beginning to wonder why you’ve even bothered. I’ve definitely been there.
But before you hang up your keyboard, consider that your problem may not be the content, it may be how you expect your readers to subscribe to it.
For years I’ve watched bloggers promote subscriptions with the big obligatory RSS icon, which everyone who works on the web knows is how you subscribe to a website’s latest posts and articles. And over the years the icon itself has seen some very creative designs to promote that standard of subscriptions and syndication .
But what if your target demographic isn’t on the web 24/7 like you are?
I like to give everything the “My Mom” test. If my Mom (who is relatively computer savvy) doesn’t understand it in a reasonable amount of time, then I have to assume other people can’t either. And she finds RSS feeds confusing and cumbersome as a subscription option.
We can assume that most people with computers can perform basic web functions to do what they need to do. But for the average Joe ( or Josephine), where exactly does knowing what an RSS feed is, and how to use it , play into that? It actually doesn’t. Where would they have learned it?
For years I used to get frustrated that my clients couldn’t grasp the simple concept of using an RSS feed to subscribe to not only my posts, but didn’t understand how their readers could use it to subscribe to theirs. I used to tell always tell them , “Don’t worry, people on the web know what it is”, and I apologize to anyone who I’ve ever said that to. It literally took a slap across the head for me to realize that there was a problem here that needed to be solved. Instead of banging my head against the wall trying to teach them how to use something that they aren’t familiar with, why not provide an easy way for them to subscribe that they are familiar with?
There’s a reason that marketers still build lists of subscribers and send out newsletters. It still works! Everyone with a computer knows how to use email. While for some, the idea of giving up their email address may invoke paranoia of getting spammed relentlessly by unscrupulous marketers, you can overcome some of that doubt by letting users know why they should subscribe via email, what they can expect from you, and how frequently.
Feedburner Email Subscriptions have been a constant across the web for years. Adding your RSS feed to Feedburner ( owned by Google) manages your feed so that you can track subscription stats, and it also gives you a handy little snippet of HTML code (under “Publicize”) so that you can add an email subscription box to your website.
Newsletters are also a great way deliver your content to your subscribers. Where Feedburner gets high marks for convenience and standards, it gets points off for style. Any one of the many DIY newsletter services such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, My Emma, or Aweber is a great way to send a stylish, professional, “big boy pants”, publication to your subscribers that can feature any content that you want.
If you aren’t an everyday blogger or only have new information to share every now and then, an opt in email list is the way to go.
I suggest reading a few tutorials and rules about permission based marketing before just diving in. There are laws that need to be respected and mistakes to avoid for beginners. You can’t just send to anyone you wish without permission. That’s called spamming and it’s illegal.
Again, no mystery here. 100’s of millions of computer and mobile device owners are on Social Networks daily. It’s likely that you are already posting your articles to your own profiles such as on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as well as industry specific and professional networks such as Linked In. If your content is visual, you may even want to build a profile on Pinterest.
Why not make it clear that this is an easy way to keep up on the latest information from you? Don’t assume that they already know that this is why they should follow or join you. On the web, don’t assume that people know anything.
Take the time to complete and customize your profiles, or have a professional do it for you. There is nothing like a good presentation to enhance your credibility.
With 800 million users, I’m still a Facebook fan, and it’s likely that much of your demographic is already there. There are a ton of tutorials for creating engaging brand pages on Facebook and using them to tell your company’s story and engage fans. Don’t half ass it.
If you have a strong profile on Social Bookmarking sites like Reddit or Digg, and you think your audience is there, then give them the option of keeping up with you where you spend the most time and are most likely to keep things current.
No need to go crazy with 50 Social Networks and confuse your readers with too many choices. Choose a FEW (more like 2 or 3) that your demographic is likely to be already using. Don’t try to get them to sign up for a network or community that they may have never heard of, just to follow you. The plan is to give them a choice of the most likely platforms that they are already using. NOT to show off how many profiles you have scattered around the web.
Unless you’ve been underground for the last few months, you know that tablet and smart phone use is not only on the rise, but is on the way to overshadowing desktop and laptop use by the end of the year. And with the onslaught of affordable tablets on the market such as Amazon’s Kindle, Google’s Nexus, this trend is only going to get bigger.
It’s safe to assume that if you have a tablet or smart phone, that you know how to download and install an app. For all of the things that you can do with your tablet, one function reins supreme…people use them to read.
I’m not about to suggest that you invest in an expensive app just to get blog subscribers. That’s just silly. What I am suggesting is that you publish your blog to an app that already exists, and is already installed on millions of devices.
Google Currents is the free periodicals app that is available for Android and iOS devices, with which users subscribe to their favorite publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, INC, PC World and many others including this one. And now, you can publish your blog there too.
Google makes it easy for publishers to add their content to the Google Currents App.
Gather your RSS and media feeds, YouTube channel, social stream, and more into a mobile magazine edition beautifully presented on tablets and smartphones. No coding required.
Brand your edition with logos, colors, and fonts. Choose templates that self-adapt to phones / tablets. Add slide shows, videos, and maps, or dive deeper with our mobile template language. – source: https://www.google.com/producer
However, it’s not as easy as just signing up and your blog is listed along side the big kids. Google requires that you have at least 200 subscribers before they’ll list your logo and description in the publications guide, which means you have to do some serious promoting, using a raw link to your publication to get your initial numbers up.
You can also publish your blog to Kindle: https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com/
Caveat: If you don’t write daily or at least frequently, then you will have a hard time keeping subscribers once you get them. If you are only a “sometime” blogger, then refer back to the newsletter section.
Get ready for prime time
None of these methods will do you any good, if your blog is not ready to put it’s best foot forward. Insure that you ready to make a good impression no matter how big or small your numbers. Make sure your design is clean and free of an overwhelming amount of ads. Make sure that you are using decent images. Double check your copy writing. And so on.
The days of just plopping something together and hoping for the best are pretty much over. If you want to wear your grown up pants out in public, and truly build a targeted list of readers and potential clients, you will have to go the extra mile and insure that you are delivering not just good content, but a pleasant experience that makes people want to come back., and understand that, absent of spending money for advertising, that it probably won’t happen overnight.