RSS Value: Are Subscribers Still Worth Anything?

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I think every blogger grapples with the issue of whether it’s worthwhile to work to increase RSS subscriptions. I know I did in the beginning, and still do occasionally, and I’ve seen it discussed time and time again. And it’s not about whether you should or shouldn’t encourage subscriptions. The real issue is: Are RSS subscribers worthwhile if they don’t visit your blog?

What happens when someone subscribes to your RSS feed?

When a readers subscribes to your RSS feed he receives an update every time you post, either in his preferred feed reader or his email inbox.

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Your RSS feed is a convenience for the reader who may follow dozens, or even hundreds of blogs. Instead of clicking on each blog individually to see if they’ve posted something new, all he has to do is scan is inbox or feed reader.

The problem is: If you’re publishing full posts on your feed, the reader never has to visit your blog.

Partial Feeds vs. Full Feeds

Bloggers have been arguing about partial feeds vs. full feeds for as long as I can remember. On one side the opinion is that you should only publish excerpts of your posts on your feed, just enough to intrigue your subscriber, and if he wants to read the full post he can come to your blog.

On the other side there are bloggers who think this just irritates the subscriber. If he wanted to have to click through to your blog every day he never would have subscribed to your feed. And there’s always the possibility, too, that he might not find your excerpts intriguing and he’ll just unsubscribe.

So, we’re back to the original question. Assuming you’re publishing full posts on your feed, are RSS subscribers worthwhile if they don’t visit your blog?

The answer is: Absolutely!

They’re still reading your content: As long as they’re still reading your posts then they’re still finding value. That’s always a good thing. Your name and/or the name of your blog is right there at the top of the feed. They know who you are and…

They can visit your blog anytime they need to: Trust me, periodically everyone who subscribes to RSS feeds cleans out their reader or inbox and deletes the feeds they’re no longer interested in. If they’re still receiving your feed then they’re still engaged with your blog. Those subscribers know all they have to do is click on a link and they can visit your blog any time they need to.

As long as they’re subscribers you can always invite them to your blog: You can have your cake and eat it, too. Instead of running the risk of annoying your subscribers with an excerpt, send your full posts and give your subscribers a reason to visit your blog.

  • Link to relevant content in your archives using text links inside posts
  • Use a related posts plug-in to link to other articles at the end of each post
  • Password protect exclusive content on your blog for RSS subscribers only and give them the password when they subscribe

Remember, your RSS feed is a convenience for your subscribers. It makes it easier for them to keep up with your blog. So instead of complaining that they’re doing all their reading in their feed reader, give them a reason to visit your blog.

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