FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    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!

    11 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Who’s visiting your Blog? Browsers, Searchers and Subscribers
    2. Business benefits of RSS to subscribers and readers
    3. 52 of the Best Ways to Promote your Blog and your Business
    4. RSS, Blogs and Newsletters
    5. Business Blog Design: RSS Feeds & Subscriptions

    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!

    4 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: complementary marketing tools
    2. 14 ways to help increase your RSS subscribers
    3. Blogs and Newsletters: reprise
    4. Feedburner: using your RSS Feed more effectively
    5. RSS Benefits for Businesses, Bloggers and Publishers

    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    RSS is a key element of blogs and for their successful use in business it is also one of the 5 Rs that I consider to be key to business blogging. This is primarily because of the enormous benefits of what is effectively an instant and very efficient method of distributing information, as well as a great marketing tool.

    For publishers, RSS should really have a similar importance as an newsletter sign up box because it gives you the same opportunity to communicate with people who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer. The added benefit is of course that you have an assured method of delivery which is not hampered by email filters and the like.

    If gaining loyal readers (and hence subscribers) to your blog is important – and let’s face it, it is to 95% of business bloggers – then it’s important to consider where it appears on your blog design. Higher up the screen and certainly above the fold is clearly going to be better, though this needs to be balanced with the other elements that you wish to promote – however, if RSS subscriptions is a key aim, then get that up at the top, big and bold.

    Remember that there is also no need to restrict yourself to a single feed – if you are writing material which is has very distinct areas, then use the capability to set up an RSS feed for each category and promote them individually. Let your readers decide which parts they want to receive, they’ll appreciate that more than having to filter out the elements they want, particularly if you are a prolific writer.

    Other things that you should consider to encourage signups from your blog are:

    • Use Feedburner to optimise your RSS usage: I’m a great fan of Feedburner because they offer a number of services which allow you to increase the usability and marketing potential of your RSS Feed – I outline some of those in this post about Feedburner.Give yourself the best chance of using RSS - sign up to Feedburner.

    • Use a Giveaway to encourage Subscriptions: Taking a leaf out of email subscription good practice, use a giveaway to encourage sign ups to your RSS feed. Its sensible and it works! How to do it though? Well, using Feedburner, you can create a custom FeedFlare which links back to a download page on your site. Still unsure? contact me here!
    • Email subscription to RSS: even for readers who are not familiar with RSS, you can make sure that they can still benefit from the instant access that RSS offers by offering them a subscription via email. There are 3rd party services which allow you to do this such as Feedblitz or the email subscription service from Feedburner.
    • Link from each post: to cater for readers who arrive at your posts directly, encourage readers at the bottom of each post to sign up for the RSS feed. This can be done directly, or if you are a WordPress user, this can be done through a plugin such as Subscribe Remind.
    • Highlight Feed Readers: you may like to consider using the little chicklets highlighting the different Feed readers that people could be using to receive your feed. Don’t go overboard (there are more important things you can have in your sidebar) but you could benefit from using some.

    One final thing to reiterate is that promoting your RSS in your blog design is no good without the content behind it – it is easy to unsubscribe so that puts the onus on you, the writer, to make sure you give content that they’ll want to come back to read. The inimitable Hugh McLeod summed this up beautifully in one of his cartoons, which is what I leave you with.

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

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Business Blog Design
    2. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
    3. Business Blog Design: Follow up Posts
    4. Business Blog Design: Generic Blog Templates
    5. Business Blog Design: Comments

    On the face of it, blogs and newsletters (here, Im thinking of online newsletters or ezines) seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to communicating with customers. The type of information they provide and the way they deliver it seem to be very different, but they can work well together and really complement each other.

    If we strip away everything else, newsletters and blogs both have the same aim. They are there to communicate information from the author to the reader. However, the type of information that they contain and the way in which they distribute that content varies considerably.

    So what are the main differences?

    • newsletters are generally created and distributed at regular intervals monthly or weekly newsletters are the most common – while blogs have content added on an ongoing basis;

    • normally, newsletters will be more crafted and formatted, while blogs will tend to be less formal in style and generally more chatty;

    • blogs are ideal for announcing up to the minute information (immediate publishing), while newsletters will tend to feature less time sensitive articles;

    • blogs continually grow to contain any number of posts while individual newsletters will tend to have a small number of longer articles;
    • Newsletters have tended to be considered as primarily “push” marketing (you send it out via email) while blogs were “pull” marketing (encouraging visitors to come to the blog).

    However, this last point has been changing of late and there has been a gradual blurring of the previously well defined lines of how we get the content and information to our readers.

    Traditionally, a blog uses RSS as its method of distributing its information while newsletters are sent out via email. This no longer has to be the case though email and RSS are in fact simply distribution methods which can be used for either. So, as Ive outlined below, I believe that content (with certain modifications) and these two methods of distribution can be for both and should be.

    For example, using a service such as FeedBlitz, readers of this blog have the opotion to receive updates on new posts by email – ideal if they are still unfamiliar with RSS readers. Likewise, rather than just send your newsletter out via email and have spam filters do their worst to it, you can add a copy of it to your website or blog, and then ask people to subscribe to a dedicated newsletter RSS feed. You publish a new newsletter and automatically all your readers are informed that it is ready and available.

    You are simply offering your readers the choice of how they want to receive the information!

    So, if there are are a number of elements which are interchangeable, how can newsletters and blogs benefit from each other. Well, some of the key ways are:

    • a newsletter offers an additional incentive to visit your blog in the same way that a “Series” of posts on a certain subject will encourage people back to the blog to read the next instalment, so newsletters can achieve the same effect;

    • you can highlight particular posts from your blog in the newsletter which acts as an additional avenue to promote the information these key posts contain and your blog as a whole;

    • newsletters can help to add a sense of community to the blog while commenting is the best way to get involved, subscribing to a newsletter seems to help people feel part of it as well;

    • you can publicise your Newsletter on your Blog and host an electronic copy of it there, as well as include a sign up form to subscribe to it;

    • you can set up an RSS feed for your Newsletter on your blog so that people know when your latest issue has been published;

    • despite spam, email remains the medium that most people are comfortable with, whereas blogs still feel foreign to some. Make sure your readers feel at ease and mix the two media.

    In conclusion, try to use your Blog and newsletter in conjunction with each other. They are both excellent ways of communicating with your readers and each is ideal for delivering differing information and initiating interaction in different ways. At the end of the day, using both will allow them to complement each other and will provide your readers with the choice of what information they receive and how they want to receive it.

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

    4 Comments 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: reprise
    2. RSS, Blogs and Newsletters
    3. Promoting and Marketing your Business Blog (Intro)
    4. 12 Tools I use for Blogging (and for business)
    5. The 5′R’s of Better Business Blogging – RSS

    This post is the 5th part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    Let’s turn our attention to the fifth and final ‘R, which is:

    Communication and dissemination of information is key to achieving a successful blog and the RSS functionality is the way to achieve that. So as the 5th R, Im including is RSS.

    When someone subscribes to your RSS Feed, it means that they have shown a commitment to continuing the interaction they are interested in receiving more information from you and you are now able to provide them with immediate and unobtrusive updates from your blog.

    RSS is definitely “Opt-in”
    Being completely “opt-in”, it is also a totally safe method for readers to receive information, after all it is anonymous and they can opt out whenever they wish. This may sound unappealing from a writer’s perspective but all this in fact means is that the onus is on us to create content that people are going to want to read. RSS is the perfect way to deliver it safely.

    Make the RSS Feeds easy to find
    You want to make sure that the RSS feeds are prominent on your blog to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find. The generic orange logo is now becoming more and more commonplace although even more sites still retain the orange box with RSS or XML in it. You can also add a series of small logos which are set up with the names of the main RSS Readers to help make the process easier and more visible – this is great as it can help people feel more comfortable about subscribing.

    Offer RSS by email too
    To cover all options, you should also make use of the 3rd party services such as Feedblitzwhich give people the ability to subscribe to the RSS feed by email not quite the way that RSS was intended to be delivered but the main point is delivering the content it contains to those who want to receive it. In any case, the take up of RSS, which has been steady but still relatively slow, is likely to increase dramatically as it is incorporated directly into the main browsers this year.

    Explain RSS and how great it is to use
    To help the take up levels, create a page which explains what RSS is and what RSS Readers are available this may not seem necessary, but if it helps to break down the barriers to its use then it is worthwhile and both you and your readers will benefit from this additional effort because they will receive your content as and when you post it.

    Customise your RSS Feed
    You should look to customise your feed where possible to include branding elements such as your logo and have the feed appear as you would like it to. Differentiate yourself in your feed. However, if you are not proficient in XML, then don’t worry. If you use the tools available from a company such as Feedburner then you can easily do this at the click of a button – you may also find my post Feedburner: using your RSS feed more effectively useful in this context.

    Wider syndication
    Although RSS Feeds are generally read in individual’s browsers, the syndication of this information doesn’t need to stop there. RSS Feeds can also be taken and displayed on websites elsewhere using software which turns the feed into text which is visible in a browser – this allows you to syndicate and spread the information from your Blog even more widely.

    Target more with multiple RSS Feeds
    As your blog develops, you should consider creating a separate RSS Feed for individual topics, probably divided according to the categories you have set up. This will allow your readers even greater choice in terms of the information they receive from you and in terms of giving your readers what they want, more choice is going to be better.

    But whether you work from a single RSS feed or develop multiple feeds, it is important that you make RSS a central part of your blog promotion and reader retention program. It is something which underpins the other elements and allows the Business Blog to reach its full potential by making the information we produce as widely available as possible.

    Key elements: explain benefits of RSS, make RSS easy to subscribe to, customise your RSS feed, push the use of RSS, use multiple RSS Feeds where appropriate, syndication of information

    So remember, we are looking to cover these 5 elements:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    If we can achieve each of these 5Rs successfully in our Business Blogging, then we are well on the way to creating a Business Blog which will achieve the goals that we set for it, whether they are focused on creating a network, improving our reputation or positioning, developing a solid base of subscribers, increasing our Search Engine Rankings or simply generating new business.

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

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. The 5 Rs of Better Business Blogging – Reply
    2. The 5 Rs of Better Business Blogging – Read
    3. The 5 ‘R’s of Better Business Blogging – Recommend
    4. The 5 Rs of Better Business Blogging – Return
    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary