By John Gruber
I try not to assume that all of you read everything I write, but, I also try not to repeat the same things — especially meta stuff about DF itself — endlessly. A recent change that I probably haven’t repeated enough is that starting back in August, the RSS feed that is available to everyone now contains the full content of both articles and Linked List entries. Previously, the full content feed was only available to readers who paid for a t-shirt or annual membership. Among other things, one benefit of this is that because it doesn’t require HTTP authentication (as the members-only feed did) the full-content feed now works in Google Reader.
The full-content feed is available for exclusive sponsorship on a weekly basis. The sponsorship price and estimated subscriber numbers are available here.
The sponsorship system for the feeds has worked out great so far. Demand is strong, and sponsors seem very satisfied with the results. Geoffrey Grosenbach, who sponsored the feed to promote PeepCode, his screencast and e-book site for web developers, told me, “I was able to track about $1,500 of sales directly referred from Daring Fireball. Together with other promotions, it was the biggest week ever for my business. I would definitely recommend Daring Fireball advertising to any Mac or web-related business.”
I only have five spots open for the rest of 2007; if you’re interested in sponsoring the feed for your product or service, let me know.
One of my concerns about putting the full content of the site into the free feed is that it might lead to a sharp drop in web page views. Page views are not as critical a concern for DF as they are for most professional web sites, because The Deck — the terrific ad network that provides the ads you see on DF — is not CPM-driven. But, still, it was a concern.
So far, however, that hasn’t been an issue at all. Page views did drop from July to August after I switched to the full feed, but only slightly. So slightly, in fact, that it might have been more because August is generally the slowest month of the year, traffic-wise.
Here are DF’s page view and unique visitor counts for the last few months, as reported by Mint:
October is on pace for over 1.1M page views.
I don’t know how applicable this sort of thing is to other sites, but here’s my guess about how DF’s reader traffic works: Most readers simply load the home page of the site. Many people who are subscribed to the RSS feed just use it as a notification system, and when they see something new has been posted, they load the web site. (This is how I personally use RSS for sites other than link-blogs — I enjoy reading actual web sites.)
In short, I think most RSS subscribers still visit the web site regularly, especially to read articles, and the small segment of readers who don’t visit the site anymore (because they’re reading everything entirely via the RSS feed) probably weren’t visiting the site all that frequently before I offered a full feed anyway, because the whole reason they enjoy reading via feeds is that they don’t like reading via regular web pages.