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