I'm always plugging winery blogs. Some blog include links which say "Subscribe to this blog's feed" (because it's a default part of the blog templates for both TypePad and Movable Type from Six Apart). This is great - it's an opportunity to add another reader to your blog! But...there's a not-so-small hiccup in this process - it doesn't work as expected.
Tom probably won't mind too much if I point you to an example of this type of link in the right column of Fermentation, right under the search box. When you click on the link, you get..., well, you don't get subscribed to his blog.
This same thing happened to Alison over at Sokol Blosser Winery, who has just updated the official Sokol Blosser Wine Blog to include an RSS feed (yay!) by switching to Movable Type as their software platform. She wrote me a nice e-mail to ask why clicking on that link didn't seem to be having the desired effect.
What I said to Alison, and what I will say to those of you who are blogging (or thinking about it), is that you really want a link that works like this one:
In other words, to get people to subscribe to your blog, you need a separate page that doesn't surprise people with raw XML code, and might actually get them subscribed to your blog.
It semi-appalls me that Six Apart, which has done a lot to make blogging something that Mena's mom can do, doesn't do this for their products. Normal people don't give a hoot about RSS feeds - they just want a nice way to find out that someone has updated a blog without having to periodically visit the blog in their browser.
You may have noticed in the picture above that Fermentation has several colorful icons under the "Subscribe.." link. These are single-step subscription buttons for Feedburner, My Yahoo!, NewsGator, and Bloglines. Clicking the orange XML button takes you to a FeedBurner page which explains things pretty well. But clicking an orange XML button is not going to be obvious to someone who has never subscribed to anything before.
So, take matters into your own hands! Create a page which actually helps people subscribe to your blog (even if it means explaining what to do, and why they might want to do it). This is one reason I like Bloglines. It's a painless introduction to using an RSS reader, because all it requires is a browser.
Anyway, feel free to steal any/all of my subscription instructions for your own use (just change the references to Acme Winery). Heck, use the FeedBurner page as an example - it's pretty darn good! And go visit Sokol Blosser's new RSS-enabled blog.
That is all.