How To Make it Easy For People to Subscribe to Your Blog

I suspect that the reason you have a blog is to get people reading what you write. Whether your blog is personal or for a company or organisation doesn’t matter, you want people reading your stuff. But the question is:

How easy to do you make it for people to read your writing?

Like it or not, most people out there don’t know what RSS is or how to subscribe to it. The term “Real Simple Syndication” is a bit of a misnomer for anyone other than web-savvy folks. I know that my family certainly wouldn’t find that there is anything simple about it, and would probably not be able to figure out how to subscribe to it in it’s raw form either.

As content creators though RSS allows us to make it easy for people to get our contact how they want it, when they want it and where they want it.

Here are some ways that RSS allows us to deliver our blog content:

RSS Readers

In it’s raw form your RSS feed can be delivered to RSS Readers like Google Reader. For geeks people who are web-savvy this can be a great way to follow many different blogs in a very well organised way. Put simply though, most people have no idea what RSS is, so the best thing for us to do is to use RSS to deliver our stories to as many different mediums as possible.

E-Mail

We can send our stories automatically straight to e-mail using many different programs. I’ve tried a half dozen or so and my favourite two are MailChimp and FeedBurner. Both have free options and have different features.

feedburner_logoFeedburner covers most of what you might want to do with your RSS feed. From there you can set it up so that people can sign up to receive you updates by e-mail. You can put a subscription form on your web-site, like what you can see on the right hand side of The DIY Blog, or you can also link to a sign up form hosted at Feedburner.

Feedburner will also allow you to brand the outgoing emails with your own logo and make some simple changes to the formatting of the email. It will also allow you to choose your preferred delivery time based on your time zone.

mailchimp_text_badge1Mailchimp is an all round email service that offers RSS to e-mail as one of many email campaign options. Mailchimp’s email offering is a lot more substantial than Feedburner’s, but where as Feedburner is free for unlimited subscribers and unlimited e-mails, Mailchimp is only free for up to 2000 subscribers and / or 12,000 e-mail sends.

After you add your RSS feed to Mailchimp you can select how often you want your emails delivered, with options for daily, weekly or monthly. This is a very useful feature as it allows you to set up weekly emails to be sent on a specific day and time. Mailchimp also let you segment your e-mail list based on location, age, gender, social network and more.

While Feedburner allows you to customise your e-mail by adding a logo, Mailchimp has many more options for customising your email. The WYSIWYG editor has been reviewed as being pretty good at allowing full customisation of the look and feel of your email.

Like with Feedburner you have multiple options for people to use to sign up for your e-mail updates including forms that can be added to your blog or web-site.

Another extremely useful feature is the ability to add multiple RSS feeds to a single email campaign, something that I know I could make good use of for my work with Youth With A Mission.

In choosing between these two services I would lean towards using MailChimp for automatic e-mails because of the customisation option, tracking and statistics, and their ability to import and export your contacts from the service when and if you need to.

Twitter

Both MailChimp and Feedburner allow you to link your articles automatically from Twitter, but they both do it very different ways.

Feedburner allows you to post your content title, link directly to your article, add automatic hash tags from categories, add additional text before or after your Tweet and filter posts by keywords or categories.

Mailchimp will automatically send a tweet with your subject line and link to the online version of the email that Mailchimp sent our from your blog.

For Twitter my hands down winner is Feedburner because it allows more customisation of your Tweet, and links directly to your actual posted article, where as MailChimp links instead to the email they created from your story,

Facebook

RSS GraffitiRSS Graffiti is actually the application that I recommend and use for all of my automatic posting of articles to Facebook. RSS Graffiti will pull in the title, the first photo from your article along with the starting text in the body of your article and post it as a link on your personal profile or on any Facebook page that you are an administrator for.

You can set up the update frequency for RSS Graffiti and select how many posts it updates per update, and what to do with extra articles if you are a prolific writer. You also have a few different options for creating the status for the linked article, which can be useful.

Feeburner offers no may to automatically post your article to Facebook.

Mailchimp allows you to automatically share a link to the online version of their e-mail to your Facebook profile, or to your company / organisations page. It also allows the integration of a Facebook “Like” button in the email, which is a nice feature, although it likes the online version of your e-mail, not the original article.

For Facebook I would highly recommend using RSS Graffiti out of the many options that I have tried over the years.

Conclusion

After looking at all the options available I found that there isn’t one single option that I like, but rather by using these three tools together; MailChimp, FeedBurner and RSS Graffiti, you can do a pretty good job at increasing the reach of your news stories.

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