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RSS Feeds Hurting Bloggers?

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I have been watching the number of RSS subscribers here at Blogging Pro that are subscribing though FeedBurner. The number goes up and down, and it does not seem to corelate with the amount of traffic we get here, but I do wonder sometimes if we would have more visitors to the actual website if we did not have an RSS feed.

I know that I read many websites every single day without ever seeing their graphics or normal advertisements thanks to Bloglines and FeedDemon, but isn’t that hurting the person publishing the content? Some go to so much money, time and or trouble to get their site looking great, and implimenting ads in such a way that they are not annoying, intrusive or silly, and here I am reading their content without tipping my hat to them.

Many people have said to me that those that are reading RSS feeds, are most likely the type of people that won’t click on Adsense ads and whatnot, but as RSS feed reading becomes more prevalent, and even easier for people to use, will there come a day where massive amounts of users only ever read your site through sites like Bloglines? Then will we see a shift where most RSS feed readers allow advertisements in feeds to try to recoup some of the money that they were making from visitors actually coming to their site? I have seen some websites are already doing this, but so far, I have not heard them to be a resounding success.

Do you think RSS Feeds help or hurt bloggers and their sites or do they help spread the word about your site?

I am really hoping to get to the 2,000 mark for RSS subscribers on Blogging Pro as I still think while it might hurt ad revenue or whatever else, it is really interesting to know that people are so interested in what is going on with this site that they have taken the next step by subscribing.

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Comments

  1. Stephen VanDyke says: 7/20/2006

    Interesting conundrum. I actually embrace my feed subscribers and don’t send them ads simply because I think those readers are more savvy and less likely to click them anyways, even if they came to the site daily.

    I predict that RSS will evolve to where publishers can just send their adsense or other program id in the description headers and the more popular readers will split up the ads on a 60/40 basis or something. Or at least that’s what I’d like to see.

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  2. harmfulguy says: 7/20/2006

    If you want to pull readers into your site, just post teasers/excerpts on your feed. That way, subscribers can see when you update, see if you’re writing about a topic that interests them, and click through to your full site if they want more.

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  3. David ) says: 7/20/2006

    harmfulguy, that brings up a whole other bag of worms. Many people don’t like except feeds…they’d rather have the full text. Darren Rowse, problogger.net, has gone back and forth on the issue.

    It sounds like a good idea, but how would that effect those subscribing. They may not see a point in subscribing for partial feeds…

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  4. John says: 7/20/2006

    I’ve been following the advice that you spend as much time as you can making your title as good as possible. That way, people will be drawn into your post. I was all for full-content feeds for posts, until I turned it off one day out of frustration, and watched as my site hits (where all the ads were) tripled.

    I second the excerpt idea, as people will be able to make the conscious decision wether they want to read the whole post. I’m always amazed, stunned really, when there’s a site with over a thousand readers, and there are generally 3 or 4 comments per thread. I’ve never been able to figure that out. I was running a blog with 300 uniques a day and I’d get frustrated if that was the grand total for a post.

    And, something else, I saw how there was a study that said that out of a hundred readers, 10 were going interact, and only maybe one would do so on a regular basis. So, adding all that together, if your aim is to have 30-comment long blog posts, then you have to optimize for that. Same thing for if you want the mad blog hits, or if you want mad blog money.

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  5. Brett says: 7/20/2006

    I have used excerpts and full text posts on my site, I would really love to find some way to make some money doing this as the hosting expenses, time, etc are starting to reach a point where its not worth it for me to continue other than it has become something that I enjoy doing. I have some ads on my site, I have pondered toying with placing them into my RSS feeds but presently I do not qualify for that adsense option and feedburner and yahoo do not presently have options for that that. Does anyone have any ideas for monetizing their blog? :)

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  6. Blog Bloke says: 7/20/2006

    Hey David! When are you going to fix the right sidebar so it stops knocking your content to the bottom of the page? Unless of course it is an intentional design for reasons that escape me for the moment. Just wondering. ;-)

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and it is a topic that I have struggled with myself. I have some thoughts on the matter but it became a little long in the tooth and not practical to put here.

    So I have posted it on my blog, and I hope you will drop by and have a gander and let me know what you think.

    BTW, I would have trackbacked but I can’t seem to find the link (now where did I put those glasses).

    Cheers!

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  7. Greg Kiernan says: 7/20/2006

    Its an interesting problem that i have given some thought to myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that RSS feeds help and hurt at the same time.

    They help in that by people subscribing you have an easy method of getting people to keep track of what your writing and you can generate return traffic that way.

    They hurt in that if you publish a full feed then there is often not the need for people to actually visit. There is the alternative of publishing an extract feed but from personal experience i find they annoy rather than generate proportionally more traffic.

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  8. Grant says: 7/21/2006

    I think of it this way – lets say a reader using an aggregator follows 100 weblogs – that would mean 100 visits to web pages to check updates etc. Would your blog be one of the 10-odd weblogs that would get looked at if we had to go to each and every page in our blog aggregator? Or that someone would choose to give up personal information in order to get email notifications about updates?

    RSS creates less friction for the reader to get a number of news sources to read with a minimum of fuss. If they like what you’ve written, they’re likely to post it to their own weblog or to del.icio.us – which in turn drive traffic to your actual site.

    Most of the sites I see are the ones someone in a weblog has pointed to. So you see the site “chrome” – with ads for some.

    Net-net I think the increased readership has a huge upside – more readers, more people exposed to your ideas, more link-flow through weblogs, social bookmarking sites and increased google-juice.

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  9. bd says: 7/21/2006

    I like rss feeds because by using a web based agregator I can read news from wherever I am without wondering “have I read this already?”.

    I don’t like excerpts, because they inhibit offline reading.

    I do like feeds because they allow me to focus on content and content alone. As you said people put a lot of time and effort in making their site look good but I sometimes feel distracted by all those bells and whistles. By providing a feed I have a choice, which IMVHO is a very good thing.

    And last but not least with a feed the news is brought to me, I do not have to go looking for it. I do not have to check tons of pages, I simply start my feed reader and have access to all sites at once.

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  10. harmfulguy says: 7/21/2006

    I guess it comes down to how the user wants to use RSS. I find it at least as useful for knowing when to read someone’s site as for reading their own content in a newsreader.

    Reply

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