This post is part of the blog improvement series, which is designed to help you as well as your readers get the most out of your blog.
Sometimes giving someone more choices can make one’s life a little more difficult since, by nature, people can become overwhelmed with too many options. However, one area where you want to offer more choices is with how people can receive the content from your blog.
The most common option available to bloggers is the main RSS feed. It allows someone to subscribe to all of the blog’s content via an RSS reader. Great option, but sometimes people don’t want to subscribe to all the blog’s content and would only like to get updates when a specific section is updated.
Using WordPress, it’s simple to give readers an option of subscribing only to a specific category, or even a specific tag by appending the URL with a feed indicator. The indicator will depend on whether you have set up permalinks or not. If you’ve set up permalinks, then all someone needs to add is add /feed/ to the end of the category or tag URL to get its feed. If you haven’t set up permalinks, then someone needs to add &feed=rss2 to the category or tag URL. See the following examples:
In fact, just about anything on WordPress can be turned into a feed by appending the feed indicator to the URL. If you were to append it to your search results, you’d get the search results feed. If you were to add it to an entry’s permalink, you’d get the comments feed for that specific entry.
Which brings me to the subscription option for comments. Again, WordPress allows for a couple feed options: all comments or specific entry comments. For those who leave comments regularly on your blog, subscribing to all comments might be the wisest option; that way they don’t have a ton of comment feeds cluttering up their readers. However, for the occasional comment or for someone who just wants to follow the heated debate, subscribing to the individual threat is better.
Finally, there is one subscription option that many bloggers don’t think about it and its email. Yes, folks, email is still alive and kicking and some readers prefer receiving their blog updates via email. This is especially true if the reader already has an overcrowded feed reader because you definitely don’t want your blog to be lost in the noise. So, in addition to feed subscription options, give your readers the option of receiving once daily or weekly blog updates via email.
Rather than cluttering up your blog with a bunch of feed buttons everywhere, take a moment to create a subscription page. On this page, explain that your readers can subscribe to the specific areas of your blog and provide instructions for doing so. In some instances (assuming you don’t have many categories/tags), you can provide a list of the individual links. Also, mention there is a newsletter option and make sure the subscription box is provided. For comments, you can install a plugin called subscribe to comments which will allow readers to receive an email each time a reply to a blog entry is made. Explain this on the subscription page as well.
Now that you have the subscription page set up, make sure to update your feed buttons and links to mention that there are more subscription options than just the main feed for those who’d like to take advantage.