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    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingWe’ve seen how beneficial RSS can be to both publishers and readers alike earlier in this series so, with that in mind, it’s going to be important to encourage as many people as possible to subscribe to your feed so that they receive your latest posts automatically.

    To help start this process, here are 14 ways which will give the best chance of encouraging subscribers and help you to promote all of the information that you’re providing at the same time:

    1. Promote your feed prominently on your blog

    It’s important to make sure that the RSS icon / feed link is displayed in a prominent position at the top of your blog – as with anything, the placement on the page is very important and, in general, the higher up the page you place it, the more attention and clicks it will attract. What some blogs do is have the feed link appearing down in the footer of the page – don’t make that mistake yourselves!

    2. Offer an email option to receive RSS

    While we can talk about how useful RSS is (and it is!), that will not overcome the fact that a lot of people remain much more comfortable with email and slightly hesitant in the face of technology they’re not totally familiar with. So give them what they want. Offer the option to receive your blog updates automatically via email (ssshh – it’s still using RSS really) – Feedburner, Feedblitz and Aweber all have systems to help you to do this.

    3. Remind them after each post

    They’ve read your post – they’ve loved what you’ve written – so what better time to remind them that they can get all your articles delivered to them automatically than by adding a link to your feed at the bottom of each post together with a (Attention: marketing term!) call to action. They need never miss a thing you write again.

    4. Sign up reminder in your email

    Most of us have a “signature” at the bottom of every email we send – usually it contains our contact details and perhaps a short tagline for the business. Well, what better place to get your RSS feed information out to people you’re in contact with. You can do this either as a link or, if you use Feedburner, then you can use their “headline animator” and have the titles of your last 5 posts appear to help encourage people along.

    5. Tell people about it offline

    In business, we are in contact with potential customers on a constant basis, whether that’s when we give presentations, run seminars, participate in exhibitions etc. Here’s a great opportunity to help them get all your latest news and really get to know what you’re all about by making sure they are clear where to find your feed and what to do with it.

    6. Make people aware what RSS is and how useful it can be

    As I mentioned above, there are still many people who remain unclear of what RSS is and the benefits that it can offer them. Help them to find out. Put together a page which gives details of what RSS is and how they can use it to keep up with all the information they look at on a daily basis. To make it easy, if you’d like to use the introduction to RSS page I put together then please do – and if you could mention where you found it then that would be even better.

    7. Full Feeds or Partial Feeds

    Not all feeds are created equal. You can send out the complete post (full feed) or just an excerpt of it (partial feed) in your RSS - the general consensus seems to indicate that you are more likely to keep the subscribers if you offer them a full feed. The downside is that it does make it easier for scrapers to reproduce your content. I still say, “Go for full feed!”.

    8. Give them an incentive to subscribe

    You can always give an incentive (reward, giveaway, thank you … call it what you want) for people to sign up – something like an ebook focusing on a subject of particular relevance to your readers would probably work well. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a special link within your RSS feed which appears at the bottom of each post and takes subscribers through to a page where the download can be accessed.

    9. Use other online marketing methods

    Don’t forget to use the other online marketing methods to promote your feed as well – email marketing, online PR, SEO, social networks even Pay Per Click all have their place to encourage new subscribers to follow you, should you decide that they are relevant.

    10. Feeds to feed directories

    Alongside general web directories and the blog directories, there are also RSS directories where you can submit your feed. Make the most of them and submit your feed to all the relevant ones you can find – making it visible to as many people as possible through them is only going to be of benefit and may encourage further syndication of your content.

    11. Network elsewhere? Promote the feed there too

    The likelihood is that you network on certain sites and also participate in forums where there are people who would be interested in the information your feed contains. Make sure that if your profile offers the chance to promote your feed that you use it and, perhaps more importantly, include it in your signature on posts or comments you make.

    12. Encourage people to recommend your feed

    This might be done simply through basic referral marketing by asking current subscribers to pass on details of your feed to colleagues and friends – if you want to help them to do this, then include an email a friend option or encourage social bookmarking if you feel that would be appropriate.

    13. Include on key documents you distribute

    Mention your feed as part of the information that you send out with ebooks, white papers etc. In my own case, there is a pdf which forms part of each section of my Business Blogging eCourse. This includes a link through to this blog’s RSS feed so that people taking the course can also keep up on new posts at the same time.

    14. In your Newsletters

    Newsletters and blogs work really well together – very complementary! So make sure that you promote your RSS feed in your own newsletter and readers will be able to follow your blog inbetween the newsletters. You can then return the compliment and promote your newsletter via blog posts, distributed automatically by your feed.

    What about you – do you have any ways that you recommend to increase your RSS subscribers that you’d like to share?

    ......................................

    RSS Series:
    1. RSS - An Introduction: So, what is RSS all about then?
    2. RSS Benefits for businesses, bloggers and publishers
    3. Business benefits of RSS to subscribers & readers
    4. Ways to increase your RSS subscribers

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Not so much blogging tools, but rather tools I use in the course of blogging, if you see what I mean! Anyway, here are 12 tools that I find massively useful in and around my blog.

    1. Feedburner

    One of the blogging tools I would recommend unreservedly. While I may not visit the site every day, I run all of my RSS feeds and my clients feeds through Feedburner which allows me to use them so much more effectively than I could otherwise. It isnt just so I can see how many people are following my blog through my feed or that they can automatically receive updates via email if they are not familiar with RSS. I can also use it to brand the RSS feed, create a signature using the feed to promote my blog on my email or on forum postings, add messages about my services to the feed and much more. Oh and its free.

    2. Aweber

    Although I use a bespoke email marketing system for the larger client campaigns that I run, I also run a number of mailing lists including my own free Business Blogging eCourse (over 2500 takers now, BTW!) via Aweber. This started life as an autoresponder system as well as a bulk email system which seems to have gradually expanded so you can do tracking and all sorts now. In addition, they launched Blog Broadcast which will automatically create an email newsletter from your blog posts that you can schedule according to your needs.

    3. Google Webmaster Tools

    Now at the end of the day, a business blog is still essentially a website and as such can benefit from the tools that Google makes available to webmasters everywhere. Lets face it, businesses may run blogs as an interactive mouthpiece with their clients and the good ones benefit from all of the intangibles in terms of trust, relationships etc they can create; however, this doesn’t stop businesses also tapping into the fact that they are inherently attractive to search engines and so ideal to help develop your online marketing. So check in with Google Webmaster Tools over at Google Webmaster Central.

    4. Statcounter

    Its essential to keep track of whats going on your blog, which posts are attracting most attention, where readers are coming from and what keywords they are using to find you. These are all things we need to know to improve and get the most out of our business blogs. For this, I use two tools – Google Analytics, which is comprehensive but the 24 hour delay in getting the stats can sometimes be frustrating if I need immediate feedback on posts or when I get a surge of visitors from sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. For this reason I also use Statcounter free up to a certain limit but not too pricey on the upgrade if you want some additional bandwidth.

    5. RSS Reader

    To keep up with what is going on in my industry or those of my clients, I rely on two tools. Essential tool no.1 – my RSS reader, which provides me with the news and views of selected sites delivered straight to me. Personally I have gone with an offline reader called FeedReader and I like it. However, I would be remiss if I didnt also point you in the direction of the two most popular readers when it comes to people who follow me: Google Reader and Bloglines. My only advice is to check them out and see which ones appeals to you most. Actually Im wrong my real only advice would simply be – get one!

    6. Google Alerts

    Essential Tool no.2 – Google Alerts. A great little tool which keeps me up to date by sending me emails with any blogs, sites and news articles which mention any of the topics or companies that I am monitoring. Daily updates on some keywords but for others I prefer to get immediate notification so that I can follow up if necessary, perhaps leave a comment or be the first to share the information with my own readers.

    7. WordPress

    Im a WordPress fan, I cant deny it. All the blogs I run for myself and those I set up for clients are based on the WordPress platform powerful, flexible and, in my opinion, the best tool to future proof your investment in blogging. (Oh dear, that sounded a bit like marketing speak!) However, there are often things that I want to do with a blog to achieve a business aim that I need to research from a technical standpoint. Enter the WordPress site. Not only an invaluable source of information on themes and plugins but also the support of other developers and users in the forums. Fab!

    8. Yahoo Site explorer / SEO plugin of Firefox

    Linking is such an important element of the development of a blog that it’s great to keep a close eye on who is linking to you. Specific sites like Technorati are really good but I also like to use another tool (or rather tools) to give a view across all areas of the internet – firstly you’ve got Yahoo’s Site Explorer which allows focus on inbound and internal links and secondly there is the SEO plugin for Firefox (from Aaron Wall of SEO Book fame). Both excellent.

    9. Core FTP

    While I could use WordPress to load images and pdfs etc onto my blog, I guess my years on the business development and marketing side of things havent totally suppressed the techie within (I blame my years at Psion for that) and I like to use an FTP program to load stuff onto my blog. Of course it also comes in very handy for setting up WordPress in the first place together with the plugins I use as part of creating fully optimised blogs for clients. Many recommend Filezilla but I still love the rather bare simplicity of Core FTP bless!

    10. SnagIt

    After trying a number of other products to capture images on screen, I finally forked out for SnagIt and dont regret it for an instant not that that makes me a big spender either at $50. Whether it is for putting together my training courses on blog promotion, creating manuals so clients can really use their blog properly or just to liven up posts or forum comments, its easy and very flexible. Well worth the money.

    11. Dreamstime

    Having looked at a number of different graphics sites, Dreamstime is the one that I use the most when I am looking for images and graphics to use in my posts. There are a number of others such as iStockphoto or Big Stock Photo which are widely used but I found that Dreamstime has an excellent range of images and a reasonable price structure so have stuck with that.

    12. Technorati

    Still the daddy of Blog Search Engines and Blog Directories all rolled into one. If you want to find a blog in your chosen area of expertise then Technorati is where to start and then just follow the links that you find there. Since its important to check out blogs that already exist as part of your own setup process, then this is definitely a site to be familiar with.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    5. Feedburner: using your RSS Feed more effectively

    Blog Broadcast from AweberThe RSS Feed is one of those key underlying technologies in a blog that can do a huge number of things for us and yet most of us, myself included, are still only scratching the surface with it.

    Its main use is of course to give your readers a secure and immediate way of receiving your latest posts by subscribing to your RSS feed through an RSS Reader. Nevertheless, with so many internet users still unfamiliar with RSS in spite of its many benefits, I always recommend also offering the option of subscribing to the RSS feed via email as well.

    The easiest way to offer this is by using a third party supplier. Feedburner, for example, provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz and Zookoda.

    Normally, you receive these on a daily basis as posts are published. However, there is another provider, Aweber, which gives you the option to take that one step further and effectively create a newsletter with your posts.

    Aweber is probably best known as an autoresponder and email service provider along the lines of Constant Contact and Vertical Response. However, last year, they also launched a service called Blog Broadcast which essentially delivers your blog posts via email but also offers other features in as well. As you would expect from a company which specialises in email and newsletter delivery, this is includes a range of templates to control the look of the emails sent out, personalisation of aspects of the message and title, and tracking of links or ads.

    In addition, as of this week, they have added a scheduling feature to the service. This means that you can now use the service to send out your posts on a schedule which suits you and your readers rather than one decided by the software. For example, you can now automatically send your readers a newsletter every week or every month by email with all of your posts. A great way to use emails to help support your blog.

    Granted this is not a free service but the additional benefits that this gives you are certainly worthwhile and particularly if you also use the other services it offers. For example, I use the autoresponder to deliver my Business Blogging eCourse and you can also use the email broadcast system to send other ezines or general communication to your readers.

    So, if you want to do more than simply send out each post as you make it or you’re looking for an automated way to publish a newsletter to your list of readers, then this might well be worth looking at.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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