The white plume of smoke that rose above The Vatican on March 13, 2013 signaled the dawning of a new Pope in Rome.
Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a plume of black smoke rose over Mountain View, CA as last rites were read to a content distribution legend.
Google Reader is dead, put down by the hands of its maker.
The beloved RSS reader will be laid to rest officially on July 1, making the next 3+ months a requiem … for a stream.
There is undeniable frustration, even sadness, at the impending loss of Google Reader. People depended on it. People loved it.
And that’s why its removal from the online content landscape provides such a great opportunity for you, the content creator.
Two problems from the grave
Google’s discontinuation of Reader presents two major problems:
- Its users are now RSS orphans. Some of these people may have counted on Reader to be their daily online reading hub since all the way back in 2005. They must find an alternative.
- Online content creators now risk losing a significant percentage of their daily audience.
Any Reader user who does not migrate to another RSS platform, or who does so ineffectively, with data loss — namely, your feed — is a lost reader.
You work hard for subscribers. You cannot sit idly by and let a decision you had no control over adversely affect your bottom line.
Fortunately for you, RSS stands for something a little different at Copyblogger today.
‘Real Simple Solution’
Here’s the simple formula for turning Google’s decision into a positive for you and your readers.
Move your Google Reader audience to email …
Move your Google Reader people to email. That is all.
— Brian Clark (@copyblogger) March 13, 2013
What you need to do is — by being awesome — sell your readers on why now is the best time to subscribe to your email list. Not for you, for them. And it’s precisely because of Google’s decision to drop Reader.
All Google Reader users are feeling an immense lack of control right now. I know this, because I am (was) a user of Google Reader.
As soon as I saw the announcement, I (along with many others) became terrified that we’d lose track of all the sites we’ve taken so much time to find and organize.
In that moment of confusion, one thought provided me with comfort: At least I won’t have to worry about the sites I’ve also subscribed to via email.
When you subscribe to a website via a third-party RSS reader, you’re at the mercy of that third party. But when you subscribe via email, you’ve created a direct relationship with the publisher.
So no matter what happens with the third-party reader, you’ll still get your content. You don’t risk losing it on a whim or having to migrate to another platform.
That’s why — if you love Copyblogger — you should subscribe via email.
And this is why you should go right now and subscribe via email to your other trusted and high-priority daily reads.
Email will never go away. Neither will email subscriptions. Unless you want them to. Control is a wonderful thing.
And yes, I’m someone who has always gotten my daily Copyblogger fix via Google Reader, so I’m eating my own dog food here.
Or … offer RSS alternatives
But this isn’t about giving people the hard sell on email.
As I learned while interacting on Twitter last night, some people have zero interest in becoming an email subscriber.
You have a tremendous opportunity to positively impact these folks as well.
Do so by providing them with the solutions they want, not just the solutions you’d ideally have them adopt.
There are a number of terrific Google Reader alternatives out there for people who want to continue using RSS.
First, let your audience know about Google Takeout. It will be their RSS migration friend over the next three months.
Then, show them a number of possible RSS options they can choose from.
Feedly was the most oft-cited alternative I saw being tweeted, and they have Google Reader migration instructions posted already.
You can also point folks to useful resources like Marketing Land’s post on 12 Alternatives to Google Reader.
Provide value in a time of need
What’s important here, as always, is to listen to your audience and offer the solutions that they want.
A wise man once said — yesterday, in fact — “choose your customers first.”
You can’t go wrong listening to your customers’ or readers’ wants and needs, then fulfilling them.
Right now, those of your readers who relied on Google Reader are faced with two immediate needs:
- A trusted way to control consumption of their favorite content in perpetuity.
- An alternative for RSS.
Email subscriptions fulfill the first. Any number of alternatives can fulfill the second.
As you write your eugogly for Google Reader today, offer these real simple solutions to your readers. You’ll give value and get it back in return.
Now go do this…
Don’t miss out on your daily Copyblogger content! Drop your email address here to make sure Copyblogger posts are delivered hot and fresh to your inbox daily. Of course, we will never share, rent, or sell your email address to anyone, period.
And remember — tough as this transition is, every time your readers face a problem, you have an opportunity to help them out with a solution.