Do you know what RSS is? Some people say it stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” Others argue that it stands for “RDF Site Summary,” and still others say that it means “Rich Site Summary.” The most widely accepted notion, though, is that RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” That is what I mean when I say RSS.
So, if it is Really Simple Syndication, what does that mean? Well, simply put, it means that if you offer RSS on your site, people can subscribe to it and have it delivered to their desktop. When you publish an article on a site with RSS, that article will be pushed to your reader’s desktop in a matter of moments. If people choose to subscribe to your site, the text (and photos) of your articles will be available in the reader’s “Feed Reader.” Feed Reader is a piece of software that collects all of these RSS subscriptions and the reader uses this software to read the articles. Most current software, especially blog software (WordPress, Typepad and others) and other Content Management software (Joomla, Mambo and others) include RSS as part of the package. I would say that probably about 75% of current websites offer RSS of some form.
So, there are also special programs that a user can have on his PC for gathering his RSS subscriptions. There are dozens of Feed Readers out there. Bloglines, Google Reader and many many others. Personally, I like to read blogs from within my browser, and I use Firefox to gather RSS headlines, then I go to the site to do the reading.
The number of RSS subscriptions that you have has kind of become a way of measuring the success of a blogger. Personally, though, I feel that this is not a good metric for measuring success. You see, in my case, I don’t really push RSS or encourage people to subscribe.
Why don’t I encourage people to subscribe?
Well, if somebody is reading your site through an RSS reader, they generally don’t see the ads on your site. Let’s face it, I primarily blog to make money. I do it for other reasons too, but if I could not make money doing it, I would at lease have a lot fewer blogs than I do. If somebody reads through a feed reader, they don’t see my ads, and thus can’t partake in my advertiser’s products. Yes, you can also place ads in your RSS feed, but from everything I have read, those ads are not nearly as successful as ads on the website. Thus, I actually prefer it is people come to my site, rather than read me through their feed reader.
Now, I am not an expert on every topic, and I readily admit that I might be missing something here. So, if you are better educated on this topic, let me know where I am straying. For a writer who wants to make money from what he writes, how can he successfully convert readers to profits when they are using a feed reader to subscribe? Honestly, I hope that somebody can point me to something that I don’t know about this, because I might be missing some opportunities.
One quick final note here. When it comes to reading, I love RSS. It’s just that I am looking for input on the writer’s side.