Types of Subscription: Four Questions for the Performancing Community

Most of you know that I’m lazy and that I don’t adopt new web apps and technology unless I’m convinced that it will be around 12 months from now. I usually just go with a minimalist approach to everything and it seems to work well (otherwise I’d be bogged down trying every new thing under the sun and wouldn’t accomplish any real work).

I figure that there are lots out there like me. You take your time before adopting new methods and new technologies. That’s why I created the weekly “Four Questions for the Performancing Community” series of posts. I figure that together we can probably come to a consensus about important issues more easily than on our own.

This week’s 4 questions surround reader subscription models.

1. What forms of subscription do you offer on your blog (RSS, Email Digest, Newsletter, etc) and how do you encourage subscription signups?

2. Do you, or do you plan, to monetize your subscription base?

3. If you offer multiple forms of subscription (RSS, Email Digest, Newsletter, etc.) do you worry about spreading your subscription base too thin for monetization?

4. Do you worry that RSS subscribers avoid your website and are thus less monetizable? How do you plan to rectify the situation?

6 thoughts on “Types of Subscription: Four Questions for the Performancing Community

  1. 1. RSS. It’s more efficient for me.
    2. Not yet. Maybe in the future.
    3. Not really. On the contrary, I think it offers wider opportunities.
    4. No. At least for now.

  2. 1. My website ( http://www.everydayfiction.com ) uses mainly email subscriptions provided by feedburner. at the end of every post we ask the users to sign up for the email news letter. in every news post we suggest that people sign up for the newsletter. on out about page we tell people that the news letter is one of the key features for the site and that they should subscribe.

    2. Not for a while, not until we find something that does not hider the user experiences.

    3. Nope, all our ads are placed as strait text at the bottom of posts, they will be visible on both the email news letter and the rss feed.

    4. Yes, but making money from this site is a nice side effect, as long as people are reading our content I’m happy.

  3. 1. Both RSS and email subscription.

    2. I’m working on it. I did have something with Pheedo but it didn’t work out. I’m looking into Feedburner now.

    3. I do worry about it, but I’m also trying to do things to bring readers in from the feeds. I tried a shortened feed but most don’t appreciate that. I offer a topic for community discussion each day plus I have a contest going for the top commenters.

    4. See above. Do what you can to drag readers away from their Bloglines. Mostly I think you have to give them a reason to comment.

  4. Reading through DarkUFO’s reply, I would add one thing:

    Some people will not have the RSS subscription base to warrant bothering with Feedburner FAN & Pheedo. In that case you might want to switch to a newsletter-based model because it’s a direct, active revenue model as opposed to something passive such as RSS-based advertising.

    If you have 2k+ RSS readers, I’d recommend putting ads in your feeds ASAP.

  5. Talking about Soccerlens.com:

    1) RSS + RSS via email (Feedburner) and Forum members. There’s an RSS subscription panel top of the sidebar and a reminder at the end of each article. For the Forum, I promote it from time to time as well as have a graphic banner in the sidebar plus the latest threads showing in the sidebar (I love bbPress).

    2) Yes, I plan to, but I doubt that RSS-related advertising will be immediately monetizable, especially at this level (I don’t have 100k subscribers, otherwise I’d be thinking differently). Perhaps by offering forum members special discounts / offers, etc in the future.

    A forum is an excellent way to get subscribers but whenever possible converting it to a mailing list and setting up a newsletter is the way to go if you want to monetize your subscription base.

    3) Nope, not worried about spreading thin – people sign up to the mode of contact (RSS / Email / Newsletter) that they feel most comfortable with, and with multiple offerings you can get more of your userbase on board (a lot of people still shun RSS but will gladly go for email updates).

    4) Get your RSS subscribers to either be active commenters, or members of your forum (if you have one), and gradually direct them to a newsletter which is currently the most effective monetization method available to us (short of ads on the site).

    Overall, I’d recommend starting a newsletter if you don’t have one – if you’re capturing email addresses from your forum members and blog contributors, then you’re just one step away from contacting them regularly. Once that relationship is built and you can provide real value in your mailouts, it’s time to monetize.

  6. Hi Ryan,

    1) I use RSS and Email Subscriptions (over 5000 RSS and 3000 email)
    2) Already do this via Feedburner FAN and Pheedo. Am waiting for Text-Link Ads to provide support for blogger.
    3) As above all are integrated via Feedburner FAN so I don’t find this an issue
    4) I provide full feeds with FAN adverts in the feed. I don’t worry about people not visiting my site via the RSS. I have several 100 blogs on my Google Reader and I make a point of NOT visiting a site if they just provide a summary. If people want to access my content via RSS then they should be allowed to.

    Last year I had 25 Million page hits across my site and I the increase matched my increase in RSS Subscribers, ie looking at a graph over time they were very similar so I conclude that fully syndicated RSS feeds to NOT affect my overall figures.

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