Asking someone to “subscribe” to your blog used to mean signing them up on an email list. On a regular basis you would send out an email from that list with news about your site or blog encouraging them to return for a visit.
Today’s notion of subscribing to a blog goes way beyond an email newsletter.
When you ask someone to subscribe to your blog, you need to be specific. Blog subscriptions now consist of:
- Email announcements
- Email alerts of new posts or activity
- Email monitoring of comments on the blog
- Email monitoring of comments on a specific post
- Email newsletter subscriptions
- Submission to social bookmarking site submission services
- Full site feed
- Site comments feed
- Category feeds
- Author feeds
With so many ways to “subscribe” to a blog, I’ll do my best to cover some of the most popular subscription methods for each of these types of communication. For information on social bookmarking site submission WordPress Plugins, see Social Bookmarking Submit Links on WordPress Blogs.
If you have a favorite WordPress Plugin for handling your various subscriptions, please let us know in the comments below.
Email Mailing Lists
Email mailing lists allow you to contact your subscribers and users with information about your blog, updates, recommendations, or a form of mini-newsletter. These WordPress Plugins work with your blog’s Users list or an email mailing list management program or service integrated into the WordPress Administration Panels.
Mailing List pour WordPress (French) (English translation) is one of the more popular mailing list management Plugins. It allows the blog administrator to send messages with attached files, if desired, to members of the list or other recipients. It allows includes automatic notification of blog updates.
Viewfinder offers various WordPress Plugins to help you stay in touch with your readers including the The Viewfinder Mailing List, an easy-to-use email mailing list manager which sends out plain text emails to subscribers. It allows automatic subscription and unsubscription, with an optional validation email. You can contact fans of your blog with updates, special events, and recent activities.
Naatan NotifyMe WordPress Plugin offers mailing list functions to make and manage unlimited mailing lists in WordPress. You can design the form and customize the mailing parameters in many different ways. It also includes a “new blog post” notification and alert when you publish a new post.
Instinct’s WordPress Campaign Monitor is an email newsletter Plugin for email campaigns. It includes tracking of results and managing subscribers.
Subscribe MaxGal WordPress (English) allows you to email information to registered users on your blog. Supports different charset and HTML tags for your email letters.
Email Users WordPress Plugin allows you to email registered blog users, based upon their role and permissions. It adds a submenu under the Write Post panel for easy emailing. It does have some restrictions. Currently, emails are text only and the blog administrator needs to take care to not email everyone at one time, working within the email restrictions of the blog’s server. For those with multiple bloggers, this is a great way of staying in touch and sending out announcements.
MailList WordPress Plugin calls itself a “mailing list, mass mailing, and mailer plugin”. Unfortunately, support for the Plugin has stopped due to a variety of bugs. If you are interested in supporting this innovative WordPress Plugin, contact the author.
Email alerts are often confused with email mailing lists. An Email Alert works automatically with little interaction from the blog owner after setup and configuration. Each time there is an updated post released or activity on the blog, an email is sent out to those on the subscription list advising them of the updated posts.
A word of caution for email alerts WordPress Plugins. These Plugins send out one email for every new post you publish on your blog. If you post more than a few times a week, and definitely if you post more than once a day, don’t use these Plugins. Choose an email mailing list or newsletter WordPress Plugin to send out a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly announcement of updates and new blog posts. Otherwise, you can quickly flood a reader with too many emails.
Subscribe2 WordPress Plugin is one of the most popular blog update notification Plugins. Originally developed by Skippy, it has found new life and compassionate folks to keep it going. The Plugin is very simple. A visitor subscribes and after confirming their subscription, they get an email whenever the blog is updated.
Advanced Mailer Using AJAX WordPress Plugin expands upon Scott Merrill’s Subscribe2 Plugin to create an advanced subscription management system for WordPress bloggers. Subscribe and unsubscribe events are handled automatically. Management of their subscriptions is easy, allowing them to add or delete specific categories to receive updated information and new post notifications from. It offers variable limits on the number of emails to be sent out at one time to avoid conflict with host server limits, and designed to accommodate translation and localization.
WordPress Email Notification Plugin and Yellow Swordfish Page Update Notification WordPress Plugin work the same way, creating automatic notification of subscribers when you update your blog.
Email Monitoring of Comments
Email monitoring of comments is the line of text with a checkbox you see on many WordPress blogs in the comments form. It invites the visitor to subscribe to the comments from this blog post. When a new comment is made on the post, an email is automatically sent out, reminding them of their participation and interest in the blog post.
While many people use this feature because they think it will encourage return visitors and increase traffic, the best use of the subscribe-to-comments WordPress Plugins is on sites hosting customer support and services. If a user is asking for help, support, or information, they will want to be notified of an answer if one is provided. It’s good customer service.
WARNING: When adding subscribe-to-comments WordPress Plugins, make sure the subscription checkbox is unchecked by default. This will prevent irritation for those who miss the box and then get an email from you, and have to figure out how to get off the list. To encourage use of this feature, make sure it is placed above the Submit button, preferably near the email form box.
Subscribe to Comments 2.1 adds a checkbox to your comment form for users to click and add their email to a list for email notification of further comments on that blog post. It features a simple security check and the ability for subscribed users to manage their subscriptions, and other customization, including “themeing” the manage subscriptions panel. For WordPress 2.1 users, there is a fix for the Subscribe To Comments Plugin, until an updated version is released.
WordPress Plugin: Subscribe to Comments Report and Stats works with Subscribe to Comments WordPress Plugin to display subscribers, the posts they are subscribed to, and other basic stats on the WordPress Administration Panels.
Filosofo Enroll Comments WordPress Plugin enables visitors to receive an email when someone comments on a post and manage their subscriptions with an Admin Panel. It includes AJAX for fast and easy application, and subscribers are listed in your WordPress Administration Panel Users list.
Newsletter Subscription WordPress Plugins
The popularity of emailed newsletters comes and goes. Currently, it’s popular again to email information about your blog’s activities, events, and “subscriber only” information.
A Newsletter Subscription Management Plugin sends out a newsletter, not just an email. The Plugins often provide customization for the look and design, as well as easy inclusion of blog information and content into the newsletter. Some of these Plugins manage their own subscription lists from the WordPress Administration Panels. Others require a separate mailing list management program or service.
PHPList Form Integration WordPress Plugin works with the PHPList open source newsletter management program integrated into your WordPress blog. It allows easy management of your newsletter subscriptions. PHPList Helper WordPress Plugin is another PHPList integrator Plugin.
Semiologic Newsletter Manager WordPress Plugin allows registration with a mailing list management service list ezmlm, Mailman, and/or Majordomo from within your WordPress blog. It includes a Widget for adding the Newsletter subscription information to your blog’s sidebar, and easy configuration. Newsletters are sent from the mailing list management program, not from within WordPress.
Feed Subscription WordPress Plugins
You can offer your readers subscriptions to your blog through your feeds. Your feeds include your full blog feed, comments only feed, and specific category feeds. Your feeds can be created and hosted through your WordPress blog, or through Feedburner or other feed hosting services which allow easier monitoring of your feed statistics.
Feed Subscriptions are similar to social bookmarking site submission links and icons. They are a list of the most popular web-based feed reading services for readers to click for fast adding of the blog to their feed reading list. The most common online feed reading services include Bloglines, Google Reader, My AOL, My Yahoo, Newsgator, Rojo, NewsBurst, FeedFeeds, Netvibes, and Feed Lounge.
WordPress Bookmarking Widgets offers a simple list of fifteen different web-based feed readers for inclusion in the visitor’s feed reader.
Other Feed/RSS Subscription WordPress Plugins include:
- Semiologic’s Subscribe Me WordPress Plugin
- Chicklet Creator WordPress Plugin for Feeds
- Subscription Feed Icons WordPress Plugin
- ak-subscribe WordPress Plugin
- TwisterMC – Feed Subscription Button Maker (create your own Feed Subscription List for WordPress)
- Top Rank Results – Feed Subscription Button Maker (create your own Feed Subscription List for WordPress)
If you move or change your blog’s URL or permalink structure, you still want your feed subscribers to track you down, right? Ryan Boren’s Feed Director WordPress Plugin will help you “redirect” your feeds to from the old location to the new without breaking stride. It’s up to you to inform your feed subscribers through your WordPress blog that you have a new location.
Feed subscription services, like Feedburner, have recently added some Widgets and technology to add “encouragements” to get readers to subscribe above and beyond offering them a link. The FeedBurner Awareness WordPress Plugin is one of these. It adds statistics of your Feedburner account to your blog’s sidebar, adding more emphasis to encourage them to sign up for your FeedBurner feed.
Feedburner WordPress Widget allows easy adding of the Feedburner subscription icon to your WordPress Theme sidebar. It includes the choice of different Feedburner icons, and the ability to show other blog services Feedburner hooks into, further expanding your feed subscription coverage.
These are just samples of what’s available. They may become obsolete or discontinue support at any time, so check out Newsletter WordPress Plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory for updated listings.
- Social Bookmarking Submit Links on WordPress Blogs
- Comment Live Preview Placement
- You Got To Earn Your Reputation
- Genealogy Blog: Determining What Features I Want in My Blog
- Things I Want Gone from the Web in 2007
- Comments on Comments
- How NOT to Comment on Comments
- Don’t You Know What a Feed Is Yet? Get To Know Your Feeds!
- Benefits and Uses of Website Feeds
What Subscription WordPress Plugins Are You Using?
Are you using any of these WordPress Subscription Plugins? How are they working for you? What do you like and not like about them?
Have I missed some of your favorites? What are you using to add subscription information to your WordPress blog?
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network Subscribe