As a blogger or freelancer, you can have different goals and ways to measure your success. My goal as a freelancer has always been to have dedicated clients, not to change all the time. As a blogger, I value feed subscribers more than visitors or page views. Following are some tips to make people subscribe to your feed more.
1. Give something unique to your subscribers
This could be an e-book, Photoshop brushes or whatever (on Designer Daily it’s free animal vectors). To make this available only to your subscribers, install the great RSS footer plugin and put the link to the goodie in the RSS footer.
2. Advertise that freebie
If the freebie you’re offering is really valuable (and it should be if you want more subscribers), advertise directly to its landing page. You can try a Google Adwords or BuySellAds campaign, I wouldn’t recommend using StumbleUpon ads for that.
3. Use Feedburner to track your subscriber count
This one probably sounds obvious for all seasoned bloggers, but Feedburner is a very useful service. It lets you count your subscribers, which is important if you want to track your progress. If you don’t want a third-party service hosting your feed, take a look at the Feed Statistics plugins for WordPress.
4. Install the Feedsmith plugin for WordPress
Now that you have a Feedburner feed, you should definitly use the Feedsmith plugin to redirect all your feeds to it.
5. Enable email subscription
This is another thing made easy by Feedburner, in your admin just go to Publicize > Email subscriptions, activate it and customize the messages. Again, if you’re not using Feedburner, you can try the Subscribe2 WordPress plugin.
6. Point the auto-discovery feature to your Feedburner feed
The auto-discovery feature of your browser is the little RSS icon in your adress bar. WordPress themes have it included by default, to replace it you should look for the following code in your header:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS 2.0" href="<?php bloginfo('rss2_url'); ?>" />
<link rel="alternate" type="text/xml" title="RSS .92" href="<?php bloginfo('rss_url'); ?>" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="Atom 1.0" href="<?php bloginfo('atom_url'); ?>" />
And replace it by this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="<?php bloginfo('name'); ?> RSS Feed" href="Replace this by your feed's adress" />
7. Track your subscribers with Google Analytics
If you’re going to improve your blog’s subscribers count, you should definitly check what sources are bringing you the most subscribers. For example, I learned that getting links from authority design blogs is the best way to gain subscribers (2% to 10% conversion on Designer Daily), right after offering freebies (15% to 20% conversion on Designer Daily). To learn how to track RSS subscribers, read this article.
8. Offer full feeds
I’ve been reading this advice very often, and I must admit that I tend to subscribe more often to blogs that offer full feeds. I’ve noticed that I unsubscribe quicker if the blog doesn’t provide full feed. Getting subscribers is good, keeping them is even better!
9. Optimize your subscription options display
First, your subscription options should be displayed above the fold and made unmissable either by having a big RSS button or by having enough space around it. Another strategic place to include your RSS subscription options is at the end of every post, the spot where your reader finished the article and looks for what to do next.
10. Submit your feed to directories
Blog directories will often give you the opportunity to also submit your feed, just make sure that they won’t scrape all your content. Of course, to save yourself some time you can ask some SEO company to do it for you (I would recommend Submit Comfort).
11. Run a contest
This is a pretty good way to make people subscribing happily, obviously some people will unsubscribe right after the contest, but you’ll get some new subscribers for sure. The number of new readers is likely to be related to the attractiveness of the gift. If you’re interested by this technique, learn how to track RSS subscribers in a blog contest.