No matter which blogging platform you are using, experts agree that it’s a valuable way to connect with both your existing and future customers. So you might be asking yourself:
“What’s the best way to get readers to follow my blog?”
You need to make it as easy as possible for your readers to follow your blog; fortunately most blogging platforms come with built in tools and plugins to do so. The two most common ways to stay connected to your readers are:
- RSS feeds
RSS feeds are simple to use (both as a blogger and as a reader), but some people don’t like them. I personally subscribe to most blogs I follow using RSS and have them fed straight into my iGoogle page (organized by tabs for different topics). The default for most blogging platforms is already set with RSS feeds turned on.
If you’d like to track your subscribers, I recommend using Feedburner (a Google product) to process your feeds.
With plugins and services like Feedburner, distributing your blog posts via email is really simple. You’ll need to consider whether to distribute whole posts or just excerpts. If you distribute whole posts you will find that your traffic drops off; people don’t need to come to your site anymore. Excerpts then, in my opinion, are the better choice. Your readers get a teaser via email and can click the link to read your complete posts and they get the full benefit of your site (comments, sharing options, related posts, etc.) while doing so.
I’ve tested several plugins for WordPress to add email functionality. From an ease-of-use standpoint, Feedburner wins out, followed closely by a plugin called “Subscribe2” by Matthew Robinson. Finally, for a full-featured, completely customizable solution, MailPress is hard to beat. Not only can it process your post subscriptions, it handles your forms, and has an auto-responder function in addition to many other features. It’s much more complicated to set up (especially when creating a custom template), but the functionality and controls are outstanding.
In addition to automatically alerting your subscribers when you make a new post, it’s a good idea to install a plugin or script that will automatically post a link to the new content on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. There are many choices for plugins that offer this function. I prefer two of them: Status Updater (By Francesco Castaldo) and Su.pr, which is a StumbleUpon product. Each has their pros and cons, but the biggest benefit of Status Updater over Su.pr is that it can post a link to a fan page, and not just a Facebook profile. Huge difference! Su.pr offers more ways to promote your site and your posts, as well as tracking information about those links. The Su.pr advantage, to me, is using it for custom tiny URLs — much nicer to have a shorter URL with your domain name than http://tinyurl.com/yktexsf. These two plugins each have a lot going for them. Tough decision! I’ve not had much success getting them to play well together, but with the latest updates to these popular plugins, it may now be possible. (I’ll post an update if I can work out the logistics.)