A must to know about RSS

November 29th, 2007

A must to know about RSS
Photo by Charles Nou˙rit

As you can see my FeedCount shows that today I have 107 subscribers. Maybe this number didn’t looks great for you, but for me, it’s a big number, I’m very happy today because of this so I’ve decided to share with you some stuff I’ve learned about RSS FeedBurner and other stuff. If you want to increase your RSS subscribers than you will find this article interesting.

1. The best way to setup your RSS Feed

You probably know that the main feed for your blog usually looks like this: http://www.134u.com/feed (I use my RSS example for better understanding). But when you make an account on FeedBurner, you get a new address for your RSS, which looks like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/134ucom (what follows after http://feeds.feedburner.com/ – in my case 134ucom, is a string chooses by you when you’ve make your account). What you maybe don’t know is that the FeedCount chicklet displays only those subscribers who follow their link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/134ucom. But what can you do if you have subscribers who used your main feed to subscribe: http://www.134u.com/feed, and you want feedburner to count them? Well, you can use a great plugin, called FeedBurner FeedSmith.

The plugin will detect all ways to access your feed (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com/feed/ or http://www.yoursite.com/wp-rss2.php, etc.), and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber. It will forward for your main posts feed, and optionally your main comments feed as well.

I’ll tell you that: for about 4 weeks, I’ve used my main feed and the FeedCount displays 0 subscribers, even if I knew that there are more. After that, I use the link from feedburner, but my FeedCount still displays 0-1 subscribers. After I’ve installed FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin, the next day my FeedCount displays 35 subscribers :shock: I was happy that day, but this didn’t last. The next day it shows 25, the next day 40, than again 27… Hmmm! So I began to start some information about that feedburner, to find some explanation. And I found some in the John Chow’s articles, How I Gain 4,691 RSS Reader In 1 Month. He said that:

FeedBurner’s subscriber count is based on an approximation of how many times your feed has been requested in a 24-hour period. If a reader doesn’t access his feed reader for a few days, he is no longer counted even though he is still a subscriber. So the object was to get everyone to check their feed everyday.

So that was the reason why FeedCount displays such different numbers. But I’ve found also some explanation in the Darren Rowse’s article: Why does my Feedburner Subscriber Count Fluctuate? – you should read this article, too.

Then, John Chow said that is better to attract more Email subscribers, because:

FeedBurner counts an email subscriber for as long as they can send them emails. Unlike a RSS reader, if the RSS by Email subscriber doesn’t read his email for several days, he is still counted. The only time his count stops is if he unsubscribe to the service.

After I’ve read John Chow’s article, I gave my readers the possibility to subscribe through email to my RSS feed. And also it gave me the idea to organize a contest, where the email subscriptions counts 2 points.

If you decide to deliver your RSS through email using FeedBurner, you can make some improvements:
1. You must activate your Communication Preferences service: you can do that under the tab Publicize, Email Subscription -> Communication Preferences. You can personalize the subject and the body of the email your subscribers will receive.

RSS Communication Preferences

2. You can choose how your email will look like: you can do that under the tab Publicize, Email Subscription -> Email Branding. You can choose your own title, you can add your Logo to email, and you can change the style of your email content.
RSS Email Branding

3. You can choose when your email will be delivered to subscribers: under the tab Publicize, Email Subscription -> Delivery Options:
RSS Delivery Options

4. You also can choose to receive an email whenever people unsubscribe from your email subscription: just go under the tab Publicize -> Email Subscriptions -> Subscription Management and check “Send me an email whenever people unsubscribe (will be sent to your “from” address).”
Under the same tab you can see the number of email subscribers and if they activate their subscription. But you can see the unconfirmed subscribers directly on your dashboard, using a great plugin: Notify Unconfirmed Subscribers. Using this plugin, you also can send to your unconfirmed subscribers an email to remind them to activate their subscriptions.

How to increase your RSS subscribers

I’ve read too many articles which explain how you can increase the number of RSS subscribers. There are many way to do this, but I want to point just some of them (and for some of these I link to those articles where you can find more information):

Why readers unsubscribe from your blog?

Darren Rowse from ProBlogger wrote a very interesting article: 34 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe from Your Blog, based on his reader’s answers. On the top of reasons stays:

  • Too many posts
  • Infrequent Posting (or the blog is effectively dead)
  • Partial Excerpts Feeds
  • Blog Changes Focus (too much off topic posting)
  • Too many posts that I see elsewhere (Redundant, Repeated or Recycled News)

How to subscribe to a single section of a blog

If you find a blog like My lucky number 13, with many subjects, you may want to subscribe only to those sections who interested you. So, if you want to subscribe only to the Blogging section, for example, you can use the link: www.134u.com/blogging/feed. Of course, blogs with many sections will not display the RSS links to all these (though this is something to think about), only the full RSS. But keep this in mind for further subscriptions.


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36 Comments »

2007-11-29 18:29:34

This was a great article! Very well written, and I learned a few things I didn’t know before. Keep it up!

A Blog about Nothing’s last blog post..The $50.00 blog challenge

 
Comment by Simonne
2007-11-29 21:32:12

This is very useful. My email feed was almost impossible to read because I did not know that I can setup so many details, to make it look nice and readable.

Simonne’s last blog post..My Best Blogging Achievement – Group Writing Project

 
Comment by kellypea
2007-11-30 01:56:14

Wow. This was a lot of work. I have 3, maybe 4 whole people on my feedburner widget. It’s kind of funny. I guess I should take a look at it one of these days. Thanks for all the information.

kellypea’s last blog post..I Don?t Like Party Dresses

 
Comment by Jason P.
2007-11-30 02:56:40

I have like 3 on my feedburner…course content is a driver for me, i suppose. Thanks for the add.
Come by anytime. :grin:

Jason P.’s last blog post..George Carlin: Message I read at Quiet Symphony

 
Comment by Prince John
2007-11-30 03:57:13

This post really answers several questions for bloggers. Making RSS subscribers is lot of work, but I never thought of many of these ideas.

Thank you for sharing.

PS: Your blog welcomed me, saying:

Thanks for visiting
My lucky number 13
from Trivandrum, India.
I wish you a great day!

Did you IP tracking floored me? :oops:

Prince John’s last blog post..A Link from Top 100 Blogger

 
Comment by melissa
2007-11-30 17:26:33

that is some really useful information! i still don’t understand it but, i’m going to have to try to figure it out!
thanks for adding me as a friend on blogcatalog, by the way!
take care…now, i’m going to go figure out this whole rss thing!

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-11-30 17:51:35

@A Blog About Nothing: I’m glad this article helps. Thanks for your kind words.

@Simonne: In fact, you gave me the idea to write this post. Because you told me about your email problem and I’ve figured out that there are many readers who don’t know to setup their RSS right. Thanks :wink:

@kellypea: The hard work is to figured out how this feedburner works. I’m glad I can to share with you what I’ve learned.

@Jason: I’ll wait for you :wink:

@Prince John: Welcome! Please tell me where are you from, so that I can tell the geobytes team to fix this.

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-11-30 17:53:47

melissa, if you have any question, please feel free to ask me. If I know the answer, I’ll be glad to help you.

 
Comment by nimrodjo
2007-11-30 18:53:48

Wow Diana, your blog grow so fast…Congrats for you…I know the feeling of overwhelm by numbers that you see…u feel so proud of your self…btw, my nimrodjo.com blog is up and running again…I’m hoping to make a recovery of my blog…c you there… :mrgreen:

nimrodjo’s last blog post..Are You Grateful For Who You Are?

 
Comment by Moonbeam McQueen
2007-11-30 19:17:59

Great post, Diana. Thank you for all of this information. I subscribe to Feedburner, but I’ve never understood how it works, and I’ll probably never understand RSS feeds. I’ll have to look into how to put the RSS link on each post. It’s all confusing to me, but I think you’ve simplified more than anyone who’s tried to explain it.

Moonbeam McQueen’s last blog post..The Chicken and Rice Man

 
Comment by Prince John
2007-12-01 03:50:45

@Prince John: Welcome! Please tell me where are you from, so that I can tell the geobytes team to fix this.

Your geobytes is right. But, I just wonder if some other website/blog tells me ‘MY HOME ADDRESS’ as I reach that site for the first time. :)

Prince John’s last blog post..A Link from Top 100 Blogger

 
Comment by AntiBarbie
2007-12-01 05:32:43

*very* well written article and informative article on RSS feeds Diane. That reminds me, I haven’t checked my own RSS subscriptions in a while. Wonder if I’m up to three yet! :lol:

AntiBarbie’s last blog post..Why I am an Atheist.

 
Comment by Kukuh
2007-12-01 18:17:59

Hello Diana,
this article is great resource for a newbie like me..I want to know if it is something annoying if I activate delicious links feed while I also have full post feed? Since I post two articles at once sometime…I thought offering my recent delicious links before you read the full post would bring reader’s couriousity to follow them..
Thank you for sharing this wonderful article :)

Kukuh’s last blog post..Links for 2007-11-30 [del.icio.us]

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-01 21:32:50

@nimrodjo: Thanks! I try to visit your blog but it’s redirecting me to your dashboard :sad:

@Moonbeam McQueen: Thanks for your appreciation! You can edit single.php and add your RSS link after < ?php the_content();?>

@Prince John: I thought it’s a nice welcome for my visitors :smile:

@AntiBarbie: Thanks! Hmmm, I check my subscriptions every day. What can I say? I’m a very curious woman :lol:

@Kukuh: Wellcome! I don’t know about others, but I don’t follow delicious links. Maybe you should start a poll about this and ask your readers :wink:

 
Comment by Steven Snell
2007-12-01 22:29:16

Thanks for the link!

Steven Snell’s last blog post..Weekly Links – November 30th

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-01 22:53:51

Welcome!

 
Comment by BlueSheep
2007-12-02 03:47:06

great article :) really hepls ! I do use rss subscribe on my blog, but i did not realy fully understed the thing. thank u and once again great article :grin:

BlueSheep’s last blog post..Lista invingatorului

 
2007-12-02 04:47:06

Wow, this is a great article and will be very helpful and informative for beginners – I’m definitely subscribing. :)

Tay – Super Blogging’s last blog post..Get iPod Accessories and Protection!

 
Comment by nimrodjo
2007-12-02 06:14:26

Hi Diana, I just notice it when my fellow bloggers told me last nite…I in the middle of sorting this problem out… :sad:

 
Comment by Chip
2007-12-03 12:38:46

I’m using the FeedSmith and I am very happy with it. In fact, the last 3 weeks brought me some new subscribers. What I have to do now is place some more incentives on my blog with “Subscribe to my feed” AND explain it, because there are some people who still don’t know what a RSS feed is about. Just like me in my early blogging days :)

Chip’s last blog post..A Brief History Of Google

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-03 15:55:17

@BlueSheep: I’m glad it helps you! This was its purpose, to make your life a little easier :razz:

@Tay: Well, coming from you, it really a compliment :grin:

@nimrodjo: I’m glad to see that you have finally fixed you blog. You have to fix just 2-3 things and your blog will be perfect :smile:

@Chip: At first, I wanted to say to you that I didn’t saw at all the “Subscribe to my feed” on your blog, but finally, I’ve found it. You must to place it in a more visible place.

 
Comment by Lana
2007-12-04 00:44:49

Thank you for the article. I’ve learned everything I wanted to know without pestering anybody. Hope, can make it work, too. I am very new in blogging. Thanks again.

 
Comment by Moonbeam McQueen
2007-12-04 10:19:59

I went to FeedSmith and it looks as though for WordPress users, it’ll only work if you have a self-hosted blog. I think I’m out of luck :(

Moonbeam McQueen’s last blog post..I Can Has Feedburner?

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-04 11:58:03

@Lana: Welcome and good luck with your blog. I like it :razz:

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-04 12:16:19

@Moonbeam McQueen:

I’ve created a blog on WordPress just to understand what do you want to say. And indeed, I saw that you cannot add a plugin on a WordPress hosted blog.

Now, I have a question for you. Why your link for RSS subscribers looks like that:
http :// feeds.feedburner.com /~r/MoonbeamMcQueen/~6/2

instead of that:
http :// feeds.feedburner.com /MoonbeamMcQueen

I know that it seems to be the same thing, but I also know that the second link is the good one.

 
Comment by Moonbeam McQueen
2007-12-04 19:20:51

Diana– Thank you! Actually, my last post was about feeds, Feedburner, and all of the difficulties I have with this stuff, since I’m technically illiterate.

Sigh….now I have to go figure out how to change the feed link. I’m not even sure where to begin. I’m so glad you’ve pointed it out.

Moonbeam McQueen’s last blog post..I Can Has Feedburner?

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-04 19:26:25

Go to Dashboard -> Presentation -> Widgets and you can find a list of what you have in your sidebar. I suppose your first entry in sidebar is a text widget. Click on the rectangle with a blue line above and you can change there the RSS link.

 
Comment by Moonbeam McQueen
2007-12-04 19:34:52

Thanks— I think I’ve changed it correctly. You’re a life saver!

Moonbeam McQueen’s last blog post..I Can Has Feedburner?

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-04 19:39:32

You must remove the spaces from the link in order to work.

 
Comment by Moonbeam McQueen
2007-12-04 22:31:33

Grrrr…a three year old could get this more easily than I do. Thank you so much. I tried again.

Moonbeam McQueen’s last blog post..The Writing Life: An Update

 
Comment by Lana
2007-12-15 01:35:26

Diana,
I thought I understood the process, but I have a question: Which E-mail address you provide to Feedburner when register? Your private one or your site’s?
“E-Mail from address” on the form, where you’ve whited it out led me to the question. Or you enter a different one on different screens?

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-15 01:45:01

“This is the address that delivered emails will appear to be from. ”

So I’ve entered the blog’s address. When my subscribers received RSS via email, they receive an email from (address you have entered). You can enter whatever email you want, but for an RSS, I’ve choose the blog’s email. Please tell me if I make myself clear :smile: I’m not very good as teacher :razz:

 
Comment by Lana
2007-12-15 01:51:47

Diana,
So, when you register to Feedburner, you enter your private E-Mail, but on the form you change it to Yourname@yoursite, correct?

 
Comment by Diana Bajenaru
2007-12-15 01:56:40

Yes, you can do so.

 
Comment by Lana
2007-12-15 02:02:57

Thank you.

 
Comment by Lana
2007-12-15 03:35:17

Here is what I found on the Forum:
How to check your Feedburner Stats without login in to the account:

http://www.techlifeweb.com/2006/08/how-to-create-your-own-feedburner-feed.html

 

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