I just finished teaching a class on blogging, and one really important thing you want to do after you’ve started your blog is to get some subscribers.
Because of the nature of your blog, meaning that it’s a website, open to the internets and google search, you will, of course, get organic traffic. But ideally, you also want to have a core audience of bigtime fans that can’t wait to read your next post. And you also want to try to convert new readers to site into subscribers.
Get familiar with RSS: your RSS (stands for Really Simple Syndication) feed is how people subscribe to your blog. Chances are, it will look like: yourblogname.com/feed. Depending on which browser you’re using, you should see a little orange symbol that looks like radio waves in your blog’s URL bar, on the far right. If you click it, it will take you to your feed. Record your blog’s RSS feed URL, you’ll need it in the future.
Understand how RSS works: it can work in two ways. People can sign up using a feed reader (like Feedly or Bloglovin‘) or they can sign up via an email subscription. Every time you publish a blog post, your post gets delivered to anyone who subscribes, based on their choice. Many people don’t know what RSS is, or understand that there are feed readers available, so make sure you have email subscriptions as an option for those people that are not so techie.
‘Old Fashioned’ ways of marketing: send an email out to your family and friends, letting them know you’ve started a blog, and hyperlink in your RSS feed into it. Ask them to subscribe (again, via feed reader or via email). Put it in your outgoing signature link (I love Wisestamp for this), and print up business cards with your blog’s URL on it. Use social media to encourage people to visit and subscribe.
Once they’re on your site:
These next two options both place subscription sign-ups in the sidebar. This is important, because no matter how people find your site, the sidebar will be on every page on your site.
If you are running a WordPress-hosted blog, there’s a widget (dashboard–>appearance–>widgets) called “Follow Blog.” Simply drag and drop it into your sidebar. WordPress also has a second one you can use called “Follow Button,” but it requires the user to already have a WordPress account, so I don’t think it’s the best option.
If you are running a self-hosted blog, you can use Jetpack. Here’s how. Note that both of these options (the self-hosted plugin and the WordPress-hosted widget) are both for email subscriptions. One other bonus thing that Jetpack does is it adds a checkbox to all your comment boxes, so that anyone leaving a comment can tick the box and get subscribed to your blog.
On the blog post
I have a plugin (self-hosted only) that reminds people to subscribe to my blog while they are reading my posts. It’s called Subscribe Remind, and it goes on the end of every single post asking the reader to subscribe. You can customize the message.
I don’t have any popups on my site, but many people do, and find it to be a very successful way to get people to subscribe. Here’s an article from Social Media Examiner that outlines a few different popup plugins, and how to use them.
Do you have a favourite WordPress subscription plugin or method of getting people to subscribe? Please share in the comments section below.