Why your blog still needs RSS

Back in the early days of blogging, the tech press bashed RSS out of existence as it was supposedly too complex for ordinary users. To the point new bloggers don't even know what RSS is, some recent blogging platforms don't support RSS, and new personal and corporate blogs sometimes don't provide RSS feeds.

But if your blog doesn't have RSS or Atom, you shoot yourself in the foot.

You completely give up control of your traffic to search engines and social platforms. Along with email newsletters, RSS is among the few options remaining to bloggers for establishing a direct communication channel and relationship with readers. With no gatekeepers.

The readers who subscribe to your RSS feed always see all of your posts. No matter what Google, Facebook, or Twitter decide.

What if only a minority of readers subscribe to your RSS feed? Is it still worth it?

They are the readers you want. The superfans who share your work. They may be bloggers themselves and link to your posts from theirs, or enable other opportunities such as guest blogging or podcast interviews.

Those few RSS subscribers are much more engaged and valuable than the many social media users who don't read or click links.

I've seen two primary objections to RSS feeds.

The first is, if readers get the content in a feed without visiting the website, blogs can’t be monetized with ads. Aside from the growing use of ad blockers, bloggers can provide partial RSS feeds that contain only snippets of the posts. This way the readers have to visit the blogs to access the full text.

Another objection is RSS feeds make web scraping and content stealing easier. This is a legitimate concern. But, if a blog is valuable enough, the lack of an RSS feed is only a minor inconvenience for determined scrapers.

#blogging

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