Over the past five years or so, RSS feeds have become very popular- especially amongst blog owners. At first, the new technology seemed so great that everyone did their absolute best to promote subscriptions to their RSS feed.
While web enthusiasts will continue to use RSS feeds as a helpful tool, there are a variety of reasons why I believe pushing so hard for RSS subscriptions may not be wise.
RSS (really simple syndication) feeds provide end users with an automatic updating method of keeping track of what’s new on their favorite websites. RSS feeds have become commonplace for many websites, forums and blogs. Many blog owners give constant reminders to their visitors to subscribe to their RSS feed, which at first thought seems like a good idea, but let’s look into this a little deeper:
Of the United States Internet users, only about 12% use RSS feeds with only 9% actually having an understanding of what it is and how to use it. Many Internet users may be utilizing RSS feeds without even knowing it.
While the options to monetize RSS feeds are expanding, most blog owners only see a small fraction of their Internet revenue coming from their RSS feed. The bulk of income obtained by blog owners is from affiliate sales, PPC ad networks and onsite ad sales. These income streams are negatively affected when many of your readers are obtaining your content via an RSS subscription.
Another essential aspect of owning a blog is user feedback through the use of comments. A reader is much less likely to visit your blog to leave their comment if accessing your content through an RSS reader.
Moreover, RSS readers do not increase your website stats such as unique visitors and total page views. These statistics mean a great deal to potential advertisers who are interested in purchasing advertising space on your blog- much more so than the total amount of your RSS subscribers.
On the same note, if there ever comes a time that you would like to sell your blog, potential buyers will focus much more on the amount of actual visitors coming to your site on a regular basis than how many RSS subscribers you have.
There’s nothing wrong with providing RSS feeds to your readers- as I previously mentioned, RSS feeds are a wonderful tool. It is only in your best interest to understand the effect that promoting your RSS feed so heavily can do to you down the road. If, however, you choose to push your readers to subscribe to your RSS feed, you first need to carefully plan how to monetize your feed and how to convert that reader to an active member on your blog.