The following is a guest post from Robert Wall at Untitled Minimalism.

Congratulations! You’ve got a blog, and you’ve got content. You’re probably at least halfways decent at writing, and even if you’re not, writing a bunch of blog posts will solve that in a hurry. Now you just need readers.

But wait just a second here. Let’s say you get some people clicking through to your blog. You don’t just want one-timers; ideally you’d like loyal followers. Followers aren’t super-difficult to get, but there’s one thing you absolutely need…..

You need a way for followers to actually follow you.

I know this sounds silly, but I’ve been on dozens of blogs that I had an interest in following. Of these, a large handful had no clear, obvious, easy way for me to do that. From a marketing perspective, they wanted my attention, I wanted to give them my attention, but I was prevented from doing so by bad setup on their part. This is broken, and the user isn’t the one that can fix it.

Don’t let this happen to you! Here are six easy things you can do to help turn readers into followers:

Offer RSS Feeds

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, RSS feeds are sort of like a “super bookmark” for blog readers. A couple button clicks, and the visitor doesn’t have to keep checking your blog to see if you have a new post – every new post automatically shows up in their RSS reader, which they can check at their convenience. RSS is one of two fantastic ways to maximize your readership, and it’s built into most every blogging platform out there. Use them!

Offer E-Mail Subscriptions

The second way to notify visitors of new posts automatically is via e-mail. They click a button, type in their e-mail address, and presto — your blog sends them new posts automatically as soon as they’re published. Slick, huh?

I know, it’s tempting to say “but I offer RSS, do I really need e-mail?” YES! My blog had been up and running for a couple of months before a user finally contacted me and asked me how to subscribe via e-mail. Once I added the option, I had half a dozen subscriptions within a day – it was obviously something my readers wanted, and I don’t want to think about how many potential subscribers I lost due to not having it. For a good perspective on e-mail vs. RSS, check out Subscribing to Blogs by Email Instead of RSS Simplifies Your Life on Gip’s blog.

Make your RSS & E-Mail Links Easy To Find

Time is valuable. If I land on your blog via a link, I’ll probably at least skim the first article, but I’m not likely to spend an hour at that point digging through your archives. If I find your blog interesting, make it easy for me to find the RSS feed link so that I can quickly add your blog to my RSS reader. “Easy”, in this case, means “near the top of the page, possibly with a graphic to distinguish it from other links.” That way I’ll get your feed (usually with the last ten or so posts), and I can browse it at my convenience.

Use FeedBurner

Remember how I said RSS was built into most every blogging platform? Well e-mail subscriptions aren’t. And some web browsers make RSS feeds more difficult than necessary to subscribe to. Enter FeedBurner! Go to FeedBurner, create an account (or use your existing Google account), and put in your blog’s RSS feed address. FeedBurner will give you links that your visitors can use to subscribe via RSS or e-mail — just incorporate those into your blog’s theme.

Oh, and if you’re a WordPress user, installing the FeedSmith plugin will catch any RSS feed links you may have missed and direct them over to your FeedBurner account.

Test In Multiple Browsers

Don’t just test with Internet Explorer (or Safari, for Mac users). Get a copy of Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Test your blog layout, RSS subscription option, and e-mail subscription option in all three. There’s no sense losing subscribers because Google Chrome can’t process your RSS feed for some reason.

Test At A Reasonable Screen Resolution

I’ve seen blogs that are designed at fixed-widths that are larger than my screen. 1024×768 is still a common screen resolution out there on the Internet – if your monitor is set higher than that, the sides of your blog may get clipped or require side-scrolling. And if the part that gets clipped is the part that contains the super-sweet CSS DHTML minimal sidebar that has the RSS subscribe link….yeah, I think you get my point. Set your screen resolution down to 1024×768 for a minute, hit “refresh” in your three browsers, and make sure everything looks good.

Wrapping Up

If you’re like me, you sometimes spend hours writing a given post. You spend substantial time debating word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph layout. Why post that beautiful masterpiece on a blog that’s only half-functional?

The above six things are simple to check; checking them and fixing them (assuming you don’t have to dismantle a WordPress theme or something crazy) can usually be accomplished in under an hour.

Take some time this next week and make sure everything is working properly – you’ll be glad you did!

Questions? Comments? Let me know below!

The above is a guest post from Robert Wall. Robert Wall is the guy behind Untitled Minimalism, a blog dedicated to more conscious living through the application of the principles of minimalism, simplicity and frugality.

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22 Responses


  1. Good post, Robert. And thanks for the mention of my post about subscribing by email.

    I also use Feedburner. I know some bloggers use other services, but I really can’t imagine why.

    I have a wide monitor, and you’re right: It’s important to test all blog functions at a veriety of screen sizes and in a variety of browsers…
    Gip

    • Robert Wall on 15 Feb 2011

      Gip, no problem on the mention – it was a useful and informative post, so it deserves a link. :D

      I can’t imagine why anybody would use anything other than FeedBurner either. I don’t think I’ve ever had a glitch with them, their subscribe features work smoothly, and they have nice stats.

      • Jo@simplybeingmum on 08 Mar 2011

        Feedburner? Hmmm No idea? It shocks me how green I am at all of this sometimes….just muddling through…. Will investigate

        • Jo@simplybeingmum on 08 Mar 2011

          Also how do I get my gravatar on comments?
          Help me somebody!
          :-)
          Also wanted commentluv on my blog – that went wrong!
          I’m too old for all of this….

          • marianney on 08 Mar 2011

            Jo, you might not need to use Feedburner. I know that wordpress.come (what your site is on) allows people to subscribe to your site. However, if you ever change sites, you may lose your subscribers. Does anyone know about that?

            As for your gravatar, go to Gravatar.com and sign up for a free account, upload a photo and whenever you post comments, be sure to use the same email address you use for your gravatar account.

            You probably can’t use commentluv on your blog because I don’t believe you can install plugins onto a wordpress.com site.

  2. I love how small the world really is. Marianney, I just got turned on to your fab blog a few days ago and today I popped in and saw a guest post from Robert who I discovered about a month ago!

    Great post Robert. I’ve been technically challenged but have had rss from the start of my blog. JUST added in the subscribe by email form last week.

    A quick question. What do you think about the subscribe to get followup comments plugins like Marianney has? Do you think they’re worthwhile for readers? I’ve been trying to put one in and have run into a few hiccups so far.

    Anyways, you all have a fantabulous day!
    -Tanja

    • Robert Wall on 15 Feb 2011

      I like the plugins that allow people to subscribe to comments. I’m thinking of installing one on my blog.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve subscribed to comments on a given post and found my way back to comment again or read more interesting info – info that would’ve been unseen if I hadn’t subscribed to the comments.

      Marianne, I’ll check out that plugin – looks good!

  3. marianney on 15 Feb 2011

    Gip, I have wider monitors also and sometimes forget to check things at different resolutions myself. Great reminders from Robert!

    Tanja! Really small world isn’t it?? I can’t remember how I found your blog now… maybe through Gena at http://www.Hanuiloa.com?
    I just noticed that you added the email subscription the other day bc i tried to subscribe last week and i could only do so via RSS and i don’t have a reader. I am subscribed now :)

    FYI, the plugin in use for subscribe to comments is Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. It’s worked pretty well so far.

  4. jenny smythe on 16 Feb 2011

    These are some great tips I can use on my blog. Thanks for laying down specifics and giving us step by step instructions. That will really help out a lot!

  5. Jenny @ exconsumer on 16 Feb 2011

    These are smart suggestions Robert. I still need to test my blog on different screen resolutions and in different browsers. You would think since I’m a Web Designer by day — I would have done that already. Nope. Thanks for the reminder.

    I have a sign-up form on my blog (I’m also a FeedBurner user), but I haven’t quite found a way to incorporate the RSS icon in a way that it blends in. But I will!

    • marianney on 17 Feb 2011

      You’re a web designer too? Awesome, me too!

      As for the rss icon, you can try adding it to your subscription box? like “OR you can subscribe via RSS” – something to that effect.

  6. Patrick Ray on 17 Feb 2011

    Excellent post, Robert. Respect.

    I’m doing a lot of research about this subject matter right now and your post is exactly the kind of info that provides solid information.

    The blogging community is such a powerful benefit. Thriving by helping others to thrive. Awesome concept.
    I am deeply grateful to all of you for being so generous with your knowledge, imagination, & artistry.

    Dream well.

  7. [...] Robert also provided A Life Set Free’s FIRST guest post this week. Check it out here: 6 Simple Steps to Maximize Your Subscriber Counts. [...]

  8. Marnie - The UnBlogger on 18 Feb 2011

    Never thought of testing in different browsers. Thanks!

  9. Jo@simplybeingmum on 08 Mar 2011

    Thanks Marianne! That explains the Gravatar me thinks. I have recently started using a gmail one for my blog stuff… Will need to go back in and update. Feedburner…hmmm will investigate further. I am looking to move my blog to a self hosted one, I had considered Thesis. Just concerned I will lose info, subscribers etc… Jo

  10. Thanks so much for this post. I found you from Nomadtopia. I have WordPress.com. Can I have RSS feed with that? I am only a couple months old and haven’t known any of these tips except the subscriber by email so you know how helpful you’ve been. I really need to find out if and how to get feedburner (what is that) and RSS feed (what is that) to my wordpress.com blog or do I need to change to WordPress.org? And how do I get commentluv on my blog? Thank you for answering my questions. You’re great! :)

    • marianney on 10 Mar 2011

      Clar,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      RSS is a basically a way for people to subscribe to your new posts via their own RSS reader. You can get a free reader from many places, such as Google and Yahoo and when they check their feeds, they can see all the new posts for all the blogs they subscribe to in one place.

      Most people however prefer to subscribe via email. I know that WordPress.com offers this automatically. It is probably in your settings. I have not had a WordPress.com site, so I am not exactly sure of where, but you can do a google search and easily find that.

      I would recommend using Feedburner so that you can always have your subscribers with you whether you switch blog platforms or not. You can sign up for a free account at http://feedburner.google.com. This will allow people to subscribe to your blog via both RSS and email.

      As for adding commentluv to your blog, you can’t with WordPress.com. It won’t allow you to add any plugins, which is what commentluv is. You will need to switch to a self-hosted WP.org site in order to use this. I highly recommend switching as your blog is much more customizable that way. You can also add as many plugins as you like.

      If you are unsure of how to do this, I offer services to help new bloggers get set up on WordPress.org. Let me know if you would like to know more about this.

  11. Wow! Marianney, that is so helpful! I do belong to Alist Blogging Club and think that over time I will learn more about how to set up on WordPress.org now that I know I have to do that. I just didn’t know any of those answers and you have helped me a lot. As soon as I get time I will do what you suggested. There is so much more to having a blog than just posting articles isn’t there? :)

  12. [...] readers who remember my guest post about maximizing subscriber counts over at A Life Set Free, some of the information below will be repetitive – but it bears [...]


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