Why You Should Add E-mail Subscription Service to Your Blog

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If you have a blog, you should offer visitors a way to subscribe to new posts via e-mail. This means they can receive new posts via e-mail without having to visit your blog.

You should offer this whether your blog is frequently updated or rarely updated—but especially if it’s rarely updated. Why?

  • It’s a good and valuable service to provide for readers who don’t want to miss your posts.
  • It’s a free service you can provide.
  • The services are automated and hands-off; you don’t have to manually subscribe or unsubscribe readers. It happens all by itself. (Each e-mail comes with instructions in the footer on how to unsubscribe.)
  • You’re keeping ahold of readers in a more personal way. A high number of e-mail subscribers can be just as important and impressive as your monthly visits—plus it shows a dedicated and involved readership.

Implementing an e-mail subscription form or widget is easy if you use a popular blogging service. It’s a little more complicated if you host your own site, but still easy. Here’s how to do it.

WordPress.com

Wordpress e-mail subscription

Go to the “widgets” area of your WordPress.com dashboard and look for the “Follow Blog Via Email” widget (shown above). Customize it and add the widget to your sidebars, footers, or wherever else you think it makes sense to display it on your site. I recommend you display it alongside every individual blog post.

Blogger

Blogger e-mail subscription

Go the “Design” tab, where you can add and arrange your page elements. You want to “add a gadget,” and look for the “Follow by email” option. Blogger will automatically set up a Feedburner account for you to handle the e-mail subscription service (which is awesome).

Self-hosted WordPress sites (and others)

To get started, set up a Feedburner account. This is a free Google service, and you needn’t know anything technical to get started. (Feedburner also covers you on RSS feeds if needed, but that’s a different post.)

If you’re running a self-hosted WordPress site, your WordPress theme may have a specific place for you to input Feedburner information as part of the design and setup. If not, and you’re unsure how to integrate Feedburner, read these helpful instructions.

After that point, it’s mostly an issue of making people aware, on your site, that an e-mail subscription is available. Here’s how to grab the code you can place on your site (from your Feedburner dashboard):

Feedburner e-mail code

Go to your Publicize tab, click on “E-mail Subscriptions,” then look for Subscription Form Code and Subscription Link Code. For my site, I use only a subscription link (look to my righthand sidebar, on the right).

Once you’ve publicized the form or link to subscribe via e-mail, you’re done.

Then you get to watch people sign up! Feedburner offers analytics on how things are going.

Feedburner stats

One final suggestion for your e-mail delivery:

  • If using Feedburner, customize the subject line. I recommend each e-mail show your new blog post title, not just your site name. This option is under Publicize > E-mail Subscriptions > E-mail Branding.

Customize e-mail subject line

Here’s the code you can copy and paste. Just use your site name, not my name!

Jane Friedman | ${latestItemTitle}

There are many other ways you can customize the e-mails sent from Feedburner. Unfortunately, the Feedburner system isn’t the most intuitive or easy to use. The persistent, however, are rewarded. For more step-by-step information on setting up Feedburner and customizing it, here’s a helpful series from Eli Rose.

Do you have tips for using Feedburner? Or overall tips for e-mail subscriptions? I hope you’ll share in the comments.

 

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Posted in Digital Media and tagged , , .

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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