Case Study: Blogtrepreneur’s Feedburner RSS Stats

It’s been a while since I was tagged by Ray in response to a new Feedburner and RSS Stats Meme created by Maki at DoshDosh. I’ve just been laying off sitting down and writing a nice, long, juicy post – mainly again because of the pile loads of homework and extra-curricular activities. But now I’ve got the night free, I wanted to really do a study of my RSS Stats and see growth, trends and any other interesting happenings that have cropped up over the past year and a bit.

First and foremost, a graph is necessary to set the scene. The following shows the growth I have made in the past year and a bit (ie. since February 2006). As you can see, there is consistent growth since the beginning and this has been due to a number of factors which I have labelled (click graph to enlarge):

Feedburner Meme Graph

1) In June of 2006 after 4 months of blogging and getting the feel for creating a community and earning a few cents from Adsense, I decided to go solo and buy my own domain name (from Namecheap.com) and my brand spanking new own hosting (from FrozenWebhost.com). After launching with WordPress with the help of Matt, I immediately noticed a spike in my subscription numbers – maybe this was to do with the newly found recognition and respect that comes with having your own .com name instead of a dodgy Blogger account.

2) In February of 2007 – the month of my 1 year anniversary – some exciting news came out that Feedburner was now recognising Google feed stats. This saw my feedcount jump quite a lot, and today I find myself with 96 Google Feed readers.

In general, the main blog meme that I’m mainly writing this post for, asks a few questions – focusing on the use of the feed counter button/chicklet that Feedburner provides. From the day I found the chicklet section on the Feedburner site, I’ve always displayed the number of people that have subscribed to my feed. There are a few reasons for doing this and I will probably answer a few questions that Maki laid out:

  • It’s easier for me to track. Sounds a bit silly, but it’s easier for me to quickly check out my site in the mornings, rather than have to login to my Feedburner account and then check the stats (which sometimes are a day behind). I don’t normally delve into the real statistics either, I’m only after a quick number count.
  • It currently gives my subscribers confidence in my site. If a newbie to Blogtrepreneur is a bit hesitant over what they’re letting themselves in for, they have confidence in knowing that 200 other people have let me into their lives as well – safety in numbers! This leads me onto my next point…
  • Instant respect. The blogosphere after all is built on respect, creating your profile and flirting to the masses in terms of wealth and sites. Displaying a chicklet which has a large number of subscribers can place you instantly in the internet hierarchy of entrepreneurial bloggers.
  • Loyal readers can check out my growth. I think it only fair that current readers should be given the chance to view my progress with Blogtrepreneur and to find out when my site goes over 1000 RSS subs when I’ve just been dugg, or when the count plummets below triple figures in times of article drought.

There are obvious downsides to displaying your feed count. The first: if you own a low trafficked blog which has a low number of subscribers (say 20 or so), it can really put off first time glancers. I know when my count showed 56 subs, I must have caused some to instantly click away from Blogtrepreneur to a different site without even checking out my writing. The chicklet can also make your site appear naff and cheap – even though most of the big names display there’s – the design could be a little wackier (or maybe a selection of chicklets to choose from?).

Maki also asks 2 more questions:

“Apart from displaying subscription buttons, what other ways (if any) do you use to encourage your readers to subscribe to your blog feed?
In your opinion, what is the most effective way to increase your feed subscription?”

To answer the first – yes. I have an email list available thanks to Feedblitz. Users can enter their email address to receive the latest posts in their inbox. This currently is not very popular with 16 people subscribing to the service. I for one wouldn’t like to be bombarded regularly with notification of a new post, but then, each to their own. I also display a Google Reader button so that readers can quickly add me to their Reader homepages – although the icon in the Firefox address bar works like a charm for me.

For the second question, I think the most effective way to increase feed subscription is constant posting. I’ve often found that if I post every day for a short period of time (3 days), my feed count number rises rapidly. If though on the 4th day I do not post, the count decreases and I go back to square one. Writing pillar articles which are extremely relevant, social or bookmarkable can also help your site to be picked up by a big dawg. This can cause an unsustained “RSS rush”.

I would tend to conclude that there is a tipping point with which to display your chicklet. This normally occurs at the 100 subs mark so that visitors know you have a fairly large crowd of followers. Below this figure, I would tend to recommend that you don’t show your chicklet so that first-timers go on to read your content and make up their own minds over your stature, position in the blogging hierarchy. Once you’ve reached the 100 RSS tipping point, then the world truly is your oyster and the next 100 becomes even easier than the first.

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