Ditch the Niche, Go General Instead, But Still Send Subscribers Niche Email Alerts

My definition of niche: a tightly focused web site, on a very specific topic. But for some over-thinkers, they might create 184 niche sites. No need.

While a niche site does have its advantages, some people that are just bounding with ideas, do not want to manage multiple sites, but still want to get all of their ideas out there.

Naturally, when you develop/launch a laser-focused niche web site, it caters to one specific pocket of people. This is great in terms of tight SEO rankings (Google knows clearly what the site is about), and when done correctly and with value, there should be a lower “bounce” rate. People will stick around, because you are delivering exactly what they want, and it’s obvious when they land on your site, what it’s about.

I struggled with this concept for awhile. You see, I have lots to talk about. Plus, I have lots of ideas that I feel would be fun to discuss, and generate a profit from at the same time. Although, I know the time expense in managing heaps of web sites.

And you know something… there is value in more “general” web sites, provided you make “specific” sections for each topic, and treat them all like individual units. I will explain, but first, let’s talk about automated mailing lists shall we?

You can leverage the RSS feed to automatically send messages to your mailing list

I develop with WordPress. Nothing else. And when I build a site, if it’s a blog, I like to use the RSS approach to feed my mailing list. Let me explain what that is.

Your blog has an RSS feed right? Usually found by tacking on /feed/ to the URL of your web site. It might look like a lot of gobbledy gook if you have a peek at it. Well, it’s probably a heap of not-so-friendly XML staring at you.

Some people can read it OK, even without “styling” it first, but machines can read it very well, when setup to do so. And what lies within all this XML gobbledy gook? It’s all of your published blog posts, probably regardless of category. When you add a new blog post, it gets automatically stacked on top of the pile.

OK, so… when an RSS-reading program becomes aware of the feed, it can monitor it for changes. How I leverage that is… I ask the software to look for new posts from my feed, and when a new one shows up, email an attractive version of it to the list of people that asked for updates.

As you can probably see, with this approach, if your site is more general in nature, people may start getting content they are NOT interested in. For example, they may have landed on your blog because you shared a recipe that you accidentally whipped up in the kitchen, that the kids loved, and was semi-healthy. Yay! But, you may never share that type of content again. Well, the person reading your post, may want more of that, so they subscribe, only to begin receiving your boring raves about the increase in bee populations.

And, you know, it’s not *just* general sites that run into this issue either. A real case scenario involves a raw food web site that I used to run. 95% of the articles discussed the benefits of raw foods for human beings. However, my writer got bored, or analyzed some Google Suggest queries, I dunno, and decided to publish articles on “raw food for dogs”. Well, a dog owner who wanted to learn more on that topic, stumbled across the blog post from clever Facebook hash-tagging, subscribed, and then got inundated with “benefits of raw foods for human beings” type info. She sent me a note, and politely unsubscribed. The next day, my writer published another article about raw food for dogs, and this kind old lady did not receive the alert in her inbox. We helped her find her way back with retargeting, but that’s a different story.

Categorize your content, and leverage the category-feed rather than the site-wide feed, that simple

Now, the solution is actually very simple. We already divide the content on our blogs into tight tight categories, don’t we? Well, we should. Each category, while it may (or may not) complement its sister category, may also cater to a pocket of people that don’t care about content on the rest of the site.

Think of this category as its own mini-site, without the need to develop/manage multiple individual WordPress web sites, or setup WordPress Multisite. Heck, you can even make some changes to color the category archive, and all posts contained within it, differently than the rest. And set it up so that only “related posts” peek within the same category. Plus, you can take advantage of the category description, and have the category archive page stand on its own. Woo hoo. That should even help Google maintain an understanding of the different “sections” of your web site, or the mini-sites within your global site. But that is beyond the scope. Just take care to link to your individual posts from “like” content around the Web, and SEO shouldn’t be of concern for you.

Let’s get to the point. Here are the steps needed to allow people to subscribe to individual categories on your web site, so that they only get the content that they want.

Note: Keep in mind that these steps will simply expose the RSS feeds to your visitors, in an organized, attractive way. Please take care to educate your readers on what you are displaying to them, and what can be done with it. Even something as simple as: “Choose from the following feeds that interest you, and plug the feed link into your favorite RSS-to-Email software and never miss an update!”

  1. Download the Category Specific RSS feed Subscription plugin from the WordPress repository.
  2. Login to your WP Dashboard, click “Plugins”, “Add New”.
  3. Click “Upload Plugin”.
  4. Click “Choose File”.
  5. Locate the .zip file on your computer that you downloaded in step 1, double click it.
  6. Click “Install Now”.
  7. Click “Activate Plugin”.
  8. In the left WP menu, click “Settings”, “Category Specific RSS” to make any desired configuration changes.
  9. Go to “Appearance”, “Widgets” in the left WP Menu.
  10. Drag the “Category Specific RSS” widget to any area on any sidebar, and click “Save”.
  11. Visit your web site and click “Refresh” in your browser.

You should now see individual subscription links for each of the topics on your blog.

For advanced configuration options for this tool, please check out this post.

Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    Thanks making things sound so simple and look forward to reading more articles.

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