Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Secret to Getting More Blog Subscribers

More Blog Subscribers

Image via twohourblogger.com

The secret to getting more blog subscribers is simple: Write good content.

Equally important is this: Don’t write bad content.

But that’s not all there is to it. Is it?

There are tricks and secrets and all kinds of expert knowledge that the “gurus” are withholding from you.

Right?

What most bloggers do

A lot of bloggers think blogging is a numbers game. And they’d be right — if this were ten years ago. But it’s not.

We are no longer hungry for content. We have more content than we know what to do with. We don’t need more information; we need more filters.

Most bloggers try to keep up with news sites. They fill the gaps between great posts with average content — just to keep something in the feed.

They think they’re doing themselves a favor. They’re not.

Remember, the Internet is full of noise and wannabe rock stars. If you’re contributing to the noise without adding value, your subscribers will ditch you in no time.

Also, just a reminder: You’re not the New York Times. Stop trying to be.

That’s why I appreciate sites like Two Hour Blogger. It’s not about adding to the saturation. It’s about adding value.

Be different

My friend Martyn (who started the aforementioned blog) only writes an article when he has something really important to say. And he spends at least two hours writing it.

It’s no surprise that Martyn has guest posted on Copyblogger multiple times and has built up an impressive audience and business in a short time. The dude is making it happen. And he’s doing it in a unique way — by focusing on quality, not quantity.

This is the same strategy employed by Tim Ferriss and Julien Smith. These A-listers only blog when they have an important message to share; as a result, every time they do, people listen.

The lesson here is not blogging frequency. It’s intentionality. Every time you publish, you’re doing something to your brand — either strengthening it or weakening it.

It’s not just about content, right?

Of course, there’s more to it than just creating great content. If it were just about the content, then there wouldn’t be highly-trafficked mediocre blogs out there. And you and I both know those exist.

The quality of your content will definitely help you build and sustain your blog. But you also have be aware of how things like web design and navigation affect people’s choices. There may be something very simple that you’re overlooking.

There are little tricks you can do that make a huge difference in growing your blog subscribers. Some of them are ridiculously obvious, like this “one stupid fix” I wrote about on Martyn’s site the other day.

It was something I saw other bloggers doing and just glossed over. I didn’t think it was necessary for me. I was wrong.

Here’s an excerpt of the article I wrote for Martyn’s site:

Okay, confession time. I’ve struggled to grow my email list. Crouched at my desk day after day, I’ve checked the stats. They’ve gone up and down, but they haven’t grown. My Feedburner chicklet has stared at me, tauntingly.

I’ve determined to grow my blog. I’ve made my goals. I just couldn’t meet them. Despite good content and frequent writing, the numbers refused to move. I was stuck.

If you’ve ever felt that way, read the rest of the article: How to Get More Subscribers with One Stupid Fix.

In it, I share how spending five minutes got me forty new subscribers overnight. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme or anything grandiose; it’s just a simple trick to help you break through to a new level.

And that’s the secret I’ve learned: There is no secret. None other than creating great content and only interrupting your audience when you have something really important to say. (Note: This can be every day, so long as you take your readers’ permission seriously.)

That said, here are a few techniques that may help:

  • Be accessible. Respond to comments. Give out your email address. Go the extra mile. Help people whenever you can — for free. It will cost you time and effort, but your readers will repay you with loyalty.
  • Be clear. Make your email signup and RSS link clear and obvious — above the fold and easy to find. The convention is to have it in the upper-right corner and below each post. If your blog theme allows it, you should add a “feature box” on your homepage.
  • Reward subscribers. Incentivize signups with a free eBook or download of exclusive content.

Always be tweaking

To be honest, successful blogging is just the result of a lot of experimentation. Those who are making it work are constantly testing, tweaking, and shipping. It’s a lot like the scientific method.

Remember, it all begins with quality. Your content is the bedrock on which everything else is built. You can have a lot of nice bells and whistles and if all you’re writing is fluff, it won’t matter much.

If you don’t build your blog on a solid foundation, the whole thing will eventually come crashing down, and you’ll be exposed for the fraud that you are.

Better to build slowly and honestly, to learn simple tricks along the way through trying out new things. To keep at it, showing up consistently and carefully, and always looking for opportunities to help people.

Good luck.

What’s working for you? How do you get more blog subscribers? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I was really hoping you were just going to have a plugin that I could install…

    You mean I have to work at improving my content?  Crap ;^)

    I’d better get back to writing then.  Thanks for the reminder.  Content is king.

    • Ha! Dave you took the words right out of my mouth!

      Now where’s that plug-in…….

    • Sorry, dude. That’s the very BEST way to get more subscribers, but there are some fun tweaks you can do that can make a big difference (like this one). Read more on my article for Martyn’s site.

  • So far, networking. Commenting on other blogs regularly has helped my traffic. Still looking to break that barrier from loyal readers to loyal commenters.

    • Try asking questions?

    • have you tried tweaking content or asking for responses?

      • I ask for responses. I am working on tweaking the content.

        • tweaking is where it’s at. small changes can make a big difference.

  • Aw dude, thanks for the link! Appreciate it. 😉 And cudos for breaking a thousand subscribers. You’re growing pretty quickly. That’s awesome. 

    That’s a good image, isn’t it? You can’t beat iStockPhoto. 😛

  • I feel convicted 

    • i think you’re about to experience a breakthru with your content

  • Anonymous

    Changed it to make it look a little better. Bought the Standard Theme, which helped with SEO. One step at at time. 

  • Sorry. that last comment was from me. Was logged in under work email. Changed it to make it look a little better. Bought the Standard Theme, which helped with SEO. One step at at time.

  • Amy Putkonen

    Still working on this one… what seems to work for me is to find talented people and start talking to them in their comments, read their stuff and think about it. Comment with thought. I feel like a newbie, but that is what I think has worked so far.

  • I’m glad you’re emphasizing quality, because I have heard people proclaim the need for consistency without quality. I think the trouble happens when “I will only write when I have quality” is used as an excuse to be lazy. Instead of taking the time to come up with something that has quality, you simply wait for quality to strike. Which, if you never think about it, could take a long time.

    • I agree. It would be for me, anyway. But it definitely works for some people.

    • Valsannk

      i dont think one is made to wait long to get quality ideas or even any ideas suitable to your blog style. If one is passionate about what one has to say the ideas will come to you even in your dreams and of necessity it will appear in your dreams. Because ideas will get suffocated if kept unexpressed. All great original creations including Beethovan’s fifth symphony notes appeared in his dreams first. So dont despair just believe in yourself and what you have to say and Cosmic forces will take care of the rest. Cheerio valsan from vnalumakkal.blogspot.com

  • Jeff,

    Fine thoughts and nicely expressed as usual. Alas, what is the answer? We all know that there is no one answer on how to grow your blog’s readership. Essentially, the readership grows, we don’t grow it. It’s more of an organic process that comes as a result of our heading out to the blogging fields on a regular basis, for some everyday, hoeing our content rows, and feeling grateful when the harvest arrives.

    Congratulations, by the way!

    Peter

  • Jeanette Sullivan

    I was struggling because I post my blog on Facebook and Twitter and also email it to some of my non-social networking friends, but I couldn’t seem to enlarge my network of friends and followers. This summer, I just took some time off and absorbed myself into one of the Facebook games that EVERYBODY plays, and got to know a LOT of people. I was chatting with people all over the world, and as a result, when I posted my blog, the borders of my blog increased drastically. It is now in 9 foreign countries and still growing. I guess on the internet you meet people the same way you do in real life…you go to where they hang out. I found that a lot of people hang out in the games. More than quadrupled my contacts. Now I’m ready to get back to work.

  • There are a bunch of “housekeeping” updates I need to make to Some Wise Guy and this is definitely on the list. Great article and great reminder about quality content. Definitely an area of opportunity for me.

  • Great advice yet again, Jeff! 

  • I’ve been thinking about doing something like what your friend Martyn does, posting only when I have something to say. But I just can’t seem to commit to it. A combination of my particular blog’s strategy and my own need for structure is keeping me in the cycle of daily blogging. I don’t know if I can keep up the pressure, but I don’t know another way out. 

    • I need that, too, Joe. It helps my quality, as well (the more I do it, the better I get). It’s just nice to see that other models work. Here’s another one: https://inoveryourhead.net

  • I think the frequency of content issue has a lot to do with your audience, particularly your direct vs. subscriber traffic. I could be totally wrong about this, but I’d imagine that Two Hour Blogger’s audience is mostly sophisticated blog readers who use RSS or Email subscriptions. For that audience, posting rarely isn’t bad at all.
    Other niches may have audiences that don’t subscribe but just simply visit directly whenever they get the inclination. For them, checking back and seeing the same article again and again and again at the top of the page may be a turn-off.
    This is just my two cents, and I could be very wrong. But I would imagine that direct vs. subscriber traffic is a very important metric to consider.

    • Good call, Loren. I think you’re right.

    • Maybe a good “skin” to have in those types of situations is one of those home pages where the articles scroll past via image??  Personally, they kinda bug me, but they might be a good way to get people to look at more than just your latest post.  {They use this at theology21.com and at bibledude.net}

  • I read this post a few days ago and I’ve been trying to reconcile this with the fabulous guest post you had on creatives needing rest!  I’ve hit the pause button on my blog to mull all of this over, considering how can I include more rest in my life so I CAN create better content? 

  • I tried to comment on this and ended up accidentally posting the comment on the two-hour blogger site.  Eek.  Here’s the comment that was meant to appear here:

    When people are dating and all hung up on wanting a special person in their life, the advice they’re often given is: You’ll find someone as soon as you stop looking.For me, blogging has been kinda like that. I have a very small follower base still so I’m certainly no expert on the topic, but as soon as I stopped caring whether I would ever be a ” blog rock star” and wrote purely with purpose, I found that people started paying attention and most importantly, I became satisfied with what my blog has become. Hopefully, I am giving readers something worth taking the time to read. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, and I think sometimes the content gets lost in the pursuit of high stats and outrageous numbers and rock-stardom.

    • saw your comment, Cara, and loved this analogy. so true.

  • Slow and steady wins the race could be my motto. And as always I agree with everything you say here. I keep coming back because you are so generous and authentic with your advice. And it helps me be a better writer/blogger. I lost my dog yesterday and wrote about it to deal with the grief and the outpouring of love from my tribe has really rocked my world. You really can create authentic community on-line. And relationships aren’t built overnight.

  • J. R. Nova

    Great post, Jeff, thank you!

  • Great post!

    Love the recent tweaks to your blog (if my eyes lie-eth not)..lol. 

    I love how you’ve put it – on frequency. I’ve felt the pressure to post more frequently (like more than once a week) but honestly, I don’t feel like I would be giving my best if i shipped more than once a week. For now.  

    You’ve put words to my feelings…thank you! I feel better haha.

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  • Valsannk

    Human interest stories are always welcome. They always touch you. Remind you of somethings we are forgetting that we can be great only if we realise the inner us waiting to explode into the real us. That we are actually made in the same form as Gods who have forgotten who we really are. As Swami Vivekananda never got tired of repeating “Man is really God who has forgotten who he is (who has fallen) and God is man who realises that ( therefore has risen in esteem) and lives according to it” valsan at vnalumakkal.blogspot.com

  • William Brust

    I spent some time analyzing my stats today on WordPress. Found out I get many more readers from blogging about things that make me happy. Makes sense, I guess. The posts I love to write the most are the posts people want to read the most!

  • Asa Jomard

     Wow, great post. Thanks ! I am collecting tips about how to get more subscribers. Well, you have to start somewhere!

  • Alangus Mini Aussies

    Excellent idea about adding subscribe link at end of post! Thanks.

  • Thomas Mayberry

    I have been blogging for a year and and have published two books. I do not want my blog to turn into a plea for subscribers, but I struggle to get people to sign up.

  • Sophia Simson

    I have also been working in this filed since eight years and learned many things from failures and successes. I got an excellent idea for my blog related to online work. Thanks for sharing such a great useful post. Here is another useful blog for readers of this blog.
    http://workonlineblog.com/