Blog Homework: Day 3

I’m away from technology for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging. So for 14 days, I’m issuing you some homework. That’s right — you get to work while I get to relax. You can follow all of the assignments here. If you have questions, feel free to post in the comments…It may take me a while to respond, but I’ll be reading everything when I return!

Over the 14 days, I’m going to assign you some tasks that I think will help you streamline, organize, market and ENJOY your blog a little more. For the first five assignments, you’ll be asked to review your blog itself. You’ll get the weekend off, then five more assignments that are focused on helping you build your readership and social media community.

Subscription Options

Not only do you want people to come to your blog — you want people to keep coming to your blog. Over and over. Every day. Multiple times a week.

But you can’t count on them bookmarking your site and refreshing it once or twice a day. And if you post at different times, or sporadically, asking people to look for your posts on Facebook and Twitter just isn’t reasonable.

Enter: subscriptions!

Subscriptions allow your fans and readers to get notified, or pinged, every time you publish new content. But in order to build up a solid subscription base, you need to make sure that the links are easy to find.

There are three types of subscriptions that are particularly relevant for bloggers:

RSS

RSS stands for “real simple syndication,” and you probably recognize it best by its icon.

Allowing people to subscribe to your feed via RSS means that they can get the latest posts in a feed reader (most commonly Google Reader). They can also assign you to to categories, give you tags, share your posts with their networks and more.

I strongly recommend that instead of the default feed that comes with your blog, you burn it through Feedburner — but whatever you do, make sure that your icon and link are easy to find on your homepage and all other pages.

(One quick reminder: there is one drawback to RSS feeds. You don’t get credit for pageviews that happen in Google Reader — you have to actually have the reader click through to the post: seeĀ http://katywidrick.com/2011/02/01/analytics-part-iii-why-subscriptions-dont-really-count/.”

Email

Another way of notifying people about your new posts is through email subscription. People that subscribe by email get your posts sent to their inbox, with graphics and all.

There are a few resources that will help with this — again, I find Feedburner to be an easy way to offer feeds (that’s what I use), but you can also try Feedblitz (paid service) or a plugin for WordPress.

Newsletter

I’m a big believer in email marketing (we use it a lot for work, and I use it for #Fitblog Chats on Twitter), and if you have the patience, you can get a lot of results from asking people to opt in to a newsletter subscription list. Then, you can not only send your latest posts out (many sites, including MailChimp, have RSS options — MailChimp is free for under 2,000 subscribers), you can send out special announcements, create and send surveys and more.

No matter what options you offer, make sure that they work (test them yourself; subscribe to your own posts) and that they’re super simple to find. Make them big, prominent and clear.

OK — homework is assigned. See you tomorrow for your next task!

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Comments

  1. says

    I thought about a newsletter…mainly because I’m a giant geek and it sounds like fun to write one. Unfortunately, it seems that writing a newsletter requires putting a full name and physical address. I’m not comfortable with this at all…so I ditched the idea altogether. Is there any way to get around the address requirement for newsletters?

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