Question 5: Is there an alternative to Feedburner?
Lots of people expressed their frustration with FeedBurner — subscriber counts fluctuate wildly and subscribers are dropped randomly, etc.
FeedBlitz was mentioned as a good alternative, although it's not totally free. Aweber is a good alternative for managing email lists (again, it's not free either). Mail Chimp is another option (free up to 500 subscribers).
My take: Don't get hung up on your numbers! @5dollardinners made a good point when she said, "Here's the deal with Feedburner: STOP LOOKING!"
First, determine whether or not a paid-for service is worth the cost to you. If so, go for it…and take full advantage of the support and any other perks you get as a paying customer.
If, however, you don't like to spend money, go the free route with Feedburner and make sure to optimize your feed! Then look at trends in your stats and resist the urge to check your subscriber numbers every day. You won't die, I promise.
Question 6: What works best for keeping people on your site?
There were various answers for this one. Here are some:
- Don't use a partial feed (many people are annoyed by this & unsubscribe).
- Write great content.
- Be yourself.
- Offer a unique perspective.
- End posts with a question to encourage commenting.
- Make sure readers have the ability to search.
- Interact with readers via comments, email, Twitter (check out these tips), Facebook, etc. (but don't go overboard).
- Link internally. I know I say it all the time, but it's a hugely effective tool.
- Get rid of clutter. Make it easy to stay on your site, not frustrating.
- Make navigation simple and clear. Complicated, unorganized or hidden navigation is sure to make people click away prematurely.
- Be helpful. Offer information your readers can use.
Question 7: Do photos keep readers coming back to your site?
Most people say a resounding yes.
My take: It depends. There are some sites made for photos (like recipe & craft blogs for example); there are other sites made for quick information and photos are not necessarily an asset.
Don't just add photos because someone said you should. If you like photos, by all means, use them, but remember, life is about tradeoffs. There are drawbacks to using photos (usually small) — they make your site load slower (be sure to resize!), they make people scroll more to get to your content and adding them to a post eats up more of your precious time. You have to decide if the benefits outweigh the costs. Experiment to see how your readers respond and what works best for your blog.
Question 8: Is it better to go with a stock photo or no photo at all?
Most said a stock photo.
My take: If you're going to use photos, I think stock photos are fine. Just make sure you use high-quality photos. I would not recommend using your own mediocre photo just because it's yours. In that case, I'd definitely recommend a stock photo or no photo at all.
Question 9: What are your best photo tips?
There were tips about turning your flash off, using a white poster board behind your subjects and taking photos in natural daylight.
My take: My biggest photo tip? Make sure you resize your images before you upload them to your blog! Whatever you do, don't upload photos directly from your camera — they're too big! Resize them so they load faster (somewhere around 300-800 pixels wide depending on your layout).
To be continued…
Anyone else want to add anything? What'd I miss?