Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

The little post that could…

On the weekend, I posted a little tiny post about the new theme I just adopted. I was absolutely blown away when I logged in on Sunday to find that it was about #6 in the top WordPress.com posts at that time.

I sat there scratching my head trying to work out why? It didn’t have a sensationalized headline. It didn’t have any insightful commentary. It didn’t get linked by anyone. Then as I read the comments it struck me that the only thing it did do was convert my RSS audience into web traffic. As it was about something that you had to actually see on the site, rather than just being able to glean from your RSS reader, a whole bunch of people actually bothered to click on the link to visit the actual blog, rather than the virtual version.

Since I went through blog burn-out a little while ago, I’ve taken the advice of people like Matthew Ingram and Paul Montgomery and I’ve been paying far less attention to traffic. If I needed a reminder that blog traffic is relatively meaningless than this was it. Fact is, as much as Feedburner and so forth can tell you how many RSS subscribers you’ve got, the reality is if you’ve got full feeds you’re never going to know how many people read each post.

It also made me realise just how much traffic RSS feeds steal from websites!

Now, I don’t care. I blog because I’m trying to get my ideas out there so its of little concern to me if people read in RSS or on the blog (my dislike of RSS for that reason is purely philosophical not functional). But try telling a publisher that they can publish full feeds and not only cannibalise their web traffic but also lose control of knowing which of their readers are reading what.

They’re just gonna love that.

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Filed under: Blogs

23 Responses

  1. Caitlin says:

    I know I’m probably in a minority here but I don’t mind partial feeds at all. I want to be able to read the headline and the first paragraph on my RSS reader but I’m happy enough to either click through or stop reading after that point. I need that first paragraph though – I really dislike it when it’s headlines only.

    Lots of the more professional (ie money-making sites) have partial feeds, which probably works well because you get the audience by providing the RSS service and if your content is compelling enough you’ll also get the web traffic and potential advertising.

    I don’t know why you’re so concerned about it since you’re not an advertising-driven site. If it’s just the psychological thrill of the web traffic, don’t worry about it – you can probably add 25-50% on top of that to account for RSS feeds. If you ever do want to become an advertising-driven site then you could consider partial feeds.

    You say you don’t care, but I think you do!! ;-)

  2. Phil Sim says:

    Hey Caitlin, not even the slightest interest in having advertising! I “care” (which I assume you mean why write about it) because Squash is my test-bed for working out all this ‘newest’ media stuff so if I bleat about, it’s because I’m still trying to work out what it all means!

  3. Why, oh why do people make the incorrect assumption that publishing full feeds renders one unable to track readership?

    Just mine your RSS logs! This isn’t rocket science, surely you know better?

    You can even put Adsense ads into full feeds.

    Please, no more misinformation about full feeds!

  4. Caitlin says:

    Maybe you’re not interested but if you want to figure out how it all works, surely having some Adsense ads would be a good experiment? You could donate the money to charity (or the freelance journos drinking fund) if it makes you feel better.

  5. Caitlin says:

    Oh and I didn’t know you could put Adsense ads into full RSS feeds – that’s interesting.

  6. [...] I’ll leave it to Phil: On the weekend, I posted a little tiny post about the new theme I just adopted. I was absolutely blown away when I logged in on Sunday to find that it was about #6 in the top WordPress.com posts at that time. [...]

  7. Rob Irwin says:

    It’s a nice theme, too, Phil. Wish I’d found it first :)

  8. Phil, it just shows that your blog’s really getting damn popular, if a personal post like that can come on top!

    Cheers and give us the real Web 2.0!

  9. RSS is one of the benefits of blog technology but it comes at a cost. And while RSS feeds allow you to push your story out, I often find myself skimming the feed and then launching into the site to get a better sense of articles that I am interested in.

  10. Steve says:

    I don’t think you can mine your RSS logs on WordPress. I’ve been using Feedburner for my RSS subscriptions as it has some tracking on it: there’s a paid version that does a lot more. It also allows me to have e-mail subscriptions through Feedblitz. There are probably better tools …

    Interactivity is the key.  It’s a pity that wordpress.com doesn’t support trackbacks.  You still have to visit a site if you want to comment, so it’s going to force media outfits to make their content more involving. Hopefully that won’t lead to a tryanny of the masses!

  11. I know self-promotion is borderline taboo, but since you mentioned FeedBurner… :-)

    We offer item view stats (shows how many times your feed items were actually viewed in a feed reader) with TotalStats, our PRO stats service. You can even “zoom in” to a specific item and see the history of when it was read by your subscribers and where it showed up on the web.

    Maybe that helps alleviate some of your concerns about losing track of your feed subscribers. Hope so. Let me know if you have questions.

  12. Mark Wilson says:

    Hiya. I read your blog and loved the dual-sidebars. I immediately adopted it. The colors are awful though. But the functionality of dual-sidebars is so overdue I had to ignore the colors. heheheh.

    On the topic of blogs and RSS feeds I’ve blogged a bit about that:

    http://reblogger.wordpress.com/2006/02/08/blog-content-ownership-and-control/

    and

    http://reblogger.wordpress.com/2006/02/01/content-theft-or-revenue-generation/

    and

    https://reblogger.wordpress.com/2006/03/01/feedflare-building-longevity-into-blog-posts/

    Enjoy!
    Mark.

  13. Walter says:

    Hello, you have great site!

  14. Excellent site, added to favorites!!

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