There are multiple ways to increase your RSS feed. You can have a HUGE RSS button, offer free ebooks, dedicate a subscription landing page, guest blogging, forum posting/hopping, etc. The most interactive one (I personally find) is hosting a contest or giving out rewards.
In the past I have hosted 3 contests with specific sponsors giving out a free version of the Theme by Bill Smith, giving out Publishing by Simon, and recently giving away 3 Premium Templates for Free! Now, I am having another contest with more sponsors and more prizes to giveaway!
First, how can a contest really attract readers to your blog and will they subscribe? A contest with prizes is more like a bribe; you want to reward your readers with something unique. A lot of readers will start to view your blog because you are giving things for free. I mean who does not like FREE. But are the rewards worth the bribe or benefits?
Think about this, Mark SMith literally gives things away via contest. What he gets from his business partners for free he gives back to his readers. I am doing the same with the help of some sponsors. With the help of sponsors, I have the chance to give something back to my readers. It can be a simple T-Shirt, EntreCard Credits, or it can be a $97 eBook; whatever the rewards that your sponsor is providing it should benefit your readers. If you provide poor pathetic rewards you get poor pathetic results.
What is a contest when there are no participants?
Your current readers need to be interacting within your blog, reward them for what they do on a daily basis a simple comment or by simply subscribing to your blog. If a contest has a great prize then maybe something of greater value such as a post about the contest may be more qualified to winning that specific prize.
If your readers simply just read your feed and do not comment, try to get them to comment by stating you have a contest. This allows you to interact with your readers that normally do not interact with your blog. Create that atmosphere to your readers, especially if your posts are controversial.
Your current readers should be the first to be on the scene when you announce you have a contest. They should be the first one to tell their friends or leave a comment. Your current readers are the ones that give your blog authority to the new comers of your website. Just like a forum, if there is no interaction it proves to be a lousy forum, same goes for your blog.
Using the benefits of RSS to get New Subscribers and Interactions
When you subscribe to a feed there are usually footer notes at the bottom, either from a WordPress plugin or from Feedburner. This proves to be very beneficial, there are multiple readers that subscribe to a feed but do not interact with your blog. Leaving a foot note to comment on a specific post to win a specific prize can give them that push to comment and interact with your blog, giving you more authority.
Also, there are a lot of readers out there that go to your blog that just remembers your dot com. These readers particularly do not bookmark or subscribe to your feed; these are readers that love your blog so much they just want to go to your site. To entice these readers, tell them you are having a contest and you are rewarding dedicated readers on this blog with great prizes. Once they are subscribed they see the foot note and they interact, it is a chain reaction.
A lot of your readers are probably thinking “Whats In It For Me?” Get them to think differently, explain the benefits of leaving a comment. Tell your readers you are having a contest and only valid comments are eligible to participate in such a contest. A simple comment from your reader gives them a chance to win a prize from you or one of your sponsors. I personally think this is the best way to gain more readers and create interaction among you, entrepreneurs, and bloggers on the internet.
The contest does not just gather more readers or create interaction; it creates some what of a viral stage. Users will start to write and spread the news of a blogger giving out FREE things, especially if the item is of great value. Once the contest is being spoken of in forums, written on other blogs, bookmarked, etc you gain more readers and soon gain more RSS subscribers.
Overall, a contest on your blog can prove to be very beneficial to you and your readers. Also, it proves to be entertaining and fun as well. The best part is everyone benefits: your sponsors, your readers, and you as a blogger.