Top 10 Ways To Lose Subscribers To Your Blog

by Robb Sutton

Blogging is all about attraction. You have to attract readers to your content, make a great first impression and then hope that they subscribe to your blog. There is a lot of talk on the net about getting readers to hit that rss feed or newsletter subscription, but there is not as much discussion on how to keep those readers once the conversion process is done. Online…you only really get one chance. I don’t want to put a lot of unneeded pressure on you…but once you lose that rss or newsletter subscriber…it is incredibly hard to get them back for a 2nd round. So…in true “don’t do this at home” fashion, let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to lose subscribers to your blog and have them running away with no hope of coming back.

Top 10 Ways To Lose Subscribers To Your Blog

  1. Frequently Go Off-Topic – Going off topic every now and then to give your readers an insight into your life or interests is one thing, but frequently going off into unrelated topics on your blog with no rhyme or reason can kill your chances of retaining consistent subscribers. Readers subscribe to blogs for a number of reasons, but the #1 reason is to get relevant, up-to-date information on a given topic…even if that topic is the blogger (applies to personal blogs). Have a defined topic to your blog and stick to that subject matter. If you are going to ADD your blog into randomness…do not expect people to stick around. They will just find someone else that will.
  2. Inconsistent Content Quality – There is a lot of talk in the blogging world about posting frequency. For new bloggers, this puts a lot of pressure on them for a schedule, and – often times – I see new bloggers (and some experienced ones) sacrifice content quality for a schedule or the feeling that they have to post so many times a week. It is and always will be quality over quantity in blogging as it relates to content. Do not sacrifice the quality of your articles to satisfy some random post number or schedule. It is not worth it.
  3. Performing the Hard Sell – We all know you want to make at least some income from your blogging. Hell…these days it is pretty much expected! However, honesty and transparency still rule when it comes to quality blogging and no one wants a used car salesman in their face when they are trying to get real information online. I have seen bloggers lose a massive amount of subscribers by getting desperate for the almighty dollar, and…by doing that…they post up questionable reviews and content that are a vain attempt at converting content into dollars. Be patient…money comes with successful blogging and them more you push affiliate advertising on your readers…the less success you will have.
  4. Changing Topics Frequently – Throughout the course of your blogging, you are going to see or come up with more great blog topic ideas. Just like the blogger that frequently goes off topic, you also do not want to change the direction of your blog frequently or chase other ideas on other blogs. You have to give one blog a real run at it for at least 6 months before deciding to change topics or dropping it completely. There is no quick and easy way to get a ton of subscribers and traffic within the beginning stages (unless you already have a massive blog in a related field), so stick with it and try not to chase every “great idea” out there…you will lose the subscribers that brought you your beginning success.
  5. Changing Designs Frequently – There are a ton of WordPress designs being released every week. Every 6 months, there is some new, hot theme that everyone just has to have. This is not going to change. Especially if you do your own design work…you are going to be the most critical when the readers of your blog probably don’t even notice the aspects of your design that just get under your skin. If your design is performing as it should…leave it alone. Do not add every single new, hot plugin or theme as you will start putting off readers with clutter and ever changing environments. The key to successful blogging is consistency.
  6. Forgetting To Interact With Your Readers – Readers will subscribe to your blog to connect with you as the blogger (even the lurkers). You have a comments section and contact form for a reason. Connect with your readers by responding to comments and answering emails. This task will get more daunting with more success, but even the most successful bloggers answer their emails…so you can to. If you want to lose subscribers…show how much you really don’t appreciate their efforts to help promote your content by ignoring their emails and comments.
  7. Not Providing Value and Uniqueness – So you created one incredibly valuable blog article that is converting casual readers into subscribers…great! But…now you are getting lazy and your content is slipping. Instead of creating unique, valuable content, you are just regurgitating the content of others and posting up sub par crap that your readers just could get better somewhere else. You absolutely have to provide value with a unique angle to be successful in blogging. If you are expecting to copy the success of others, the few subscribers you do get will leave in search of the real thing.
  8. Too Many Ads – Just like the used car salesman, no one wants to be bombarded with a bunch of banner advertisements on your blog. Your readers will understand (and appreciate) well placed, relevant advertising, but they will not tolerate in your face ad placement. If you want to lose subscribers…and quickly…blind them with ads. It looks cheap and actually converts a lot lower than well placed, relevant ads due to “ad blindness” (so many ads that they do not look at any of them).
  9. Negativity and Ranting (online arguments) – No one wins online arguments…ever! Yes…you can reach a lot of people at once and tell them how much you hate someone else…but the reality is…if it is not related to your blogging topic…your readers don’t care! Public bashing for the pure reason to just show your ass will drop subscribers faster than you will be able to recuperate from it. Keep the ranting and online negativity to a minimum…especially if it has nothing to do with what you are blogging about. You know you hate that co-worker that does nothing but bitch all day, so why are you going to be that person online?
  10. Becoming Bigger Than Your Blog – You start to see success, things are going really well, you have made a little bit of money and…all of the sudden…your head has gotten so big that you can’t fit through the doorway. Online ego’s and the feeling that you are not better than your readers will drop subscribers like crazy. You are never bigger than a single one of your readers and if you start to grow that online ego, it will come through in your writing. Humbleness breeds success in blogging. Even if you have succeeded in positioning yourself as the expert in your niche, there will always be more that you can learn and you will never know everything. The day I know everything about blogging, cycling or coffee…will officially be the stupidest day of my life. Always be learning and always be humble.

There you have it! The top 10 ways to lose subscribers to your blog. If you want to keep and attract subscribers to your blog…do the opposite of every single one of these top 10 items.

Image by Pippybug

24 comments

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24 comments

Rob December 17, 2009 - 8:34 am

Great post Robb! This is very true post, their are 101 ways to attract readers but the most important part is keeping them. Their are a millions blogs on the web so you need to give them a reason to choose yours!

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:14 pm

It’s getting harder each day as more and more blogs hit the web running. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it)…most give up before they really make it.

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Rich December 17, 2009 - 8:45 am

Thanks for the great post, Robb! I find true value in your posts and using this one as an example, you give great insight on what NOT to do just as much as you do on what to do. It gives a realistic view and keeps us grounded on the fact that blogging is not always going to be a successful path without a few bumps in the road.

-Rich

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:15 pm

Thanks Rich! Sometimes…knowing what not to do is actually more important than knowing what to do.

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Darni December 17, 2009 - 11:46 am

We not only worry that we might lose our subcribers,we also worry that we might lose our audience.We can’t afford that.I believe the number one reason that we might lose our readers is(like what you have said)inconsistent content quality.

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:15 pm

I find that losing your audience and subscribers really go hand in hand.

And you are right…inconsistent content quality is a real killer for blogs.

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Srinivas Rao December 17, 2009 - 11:52 am

Rob,

This is a great list. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been fairly prolific as a blogger and usually have 3-4 posts in the can if I don’t have anything published. But I think forcing your content brings the quality down. I think authenticity is huge and makes the difference between good blogs and bad ones. The ego thing is interesting because I think that the whole blogopshere is about collaboration and you should never get too big to turn down an interview request or guest post as long as the content quality is there. That’s why I interview people who have less traffic and visitors than me as part of my interviews with up and coming bloggers podcast series. It’s paying it forward and what goes around comes around.

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:16 pm

Having a backup of quality posts is a great idea…it makes sure that you have something to post if the worst should hit.

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Brandon @ WeBlogBetter.com December 17, 2009 - 2:18 pm

Robb, I especially love that last point about being teachable. I don’t think any of us are actually drawn to arrogance, but sincerity instead. I tell myself all the time, “I have not arrived, I have a long way to go…”

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:18 pm

That is a thought I try to live by. In my professional life…I was always surrounded by a bunch of experts on nothing. You couldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know or could do better. For that reason, they never got any farther than where they already were.

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tom janneck December 17, 2009 - 2:27 pm

Mr. Robb: Glad to have come across another one of your educating post. As I research my attempt at blogging and see the billion ways to go about it, your simple and practical approach helps keep me grounded. I truly suspect I will be applying your teachings when I get up and running.
Thanz again…tom

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Robb Sutton December 17, 2009 - 4:19 pm

Glad to help Tom…just time to get your voice out there!

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Mike Crimmins December 17, 2009 - 5:02 pm

Right now, I’m repeating over and over

“Do not add every single new, hot plugin or theme as you will start putting off readers with clutter and ever changing environments.”

I’ve been guilty of that.

For me, I think the real reason that I lose subscribers is because I don’t do a good job of connecting with people via my newsletter. I think I need to work on making it more personal because really the only time that I lose a subscriber is right after I send out the weekly newsletter.

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Robb Sutton December 18, 2009 - 7:04 am

Mike,

You are going to always run into that when you send out a newsletter. I try to watch for any comments that come through…but the reality is…

– Some people change email addresses
– Some people sign up for what you are giving away
– There is normal leakage of subscribers with anything

I would try to watch the ratio and make sure that you are retaining a much higher percentage. While it is easy to focus on the one or two that leave over the double or triple digits that stay…try not to change two much for the small percentage and focus on keeping the large percentage happy.

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Chad December 17, 2009 - 7:55 pm

All very good points, especially #2. It is so easy to get caught up in the idea of consistent posts, and as a result sacrifice the content quality. This is a very quick way to scare off subscribers.
I am a recent subscriber to this site, and am happy to have found it. Good stuff, Robb.

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Robb Sutton December 18, 2009 - 7:06 am

Thanks Chad! I’ll do my best to keep #2 in place!

You are right though…I think a lot of beginning bloggers read articles about “posting schedules” and think they have to keep to that or everyone is going to unsubscribe right away. A lot more readers unsubscribe because of diminishing content quality over keeping to a schedule.

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Tim L. December 18, 2009 - 4:40 pm

Robb, I’d gladly put up with more banners on your site if you’d get rid of that nagging pop-up I have to close every time I visit. Really annoying and it makes me not want to come back as often.

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Robb Sutton December 18, 2009 - 5:18 pm

Tim…that is only supposed to show up once per visitor…ever. Do you clear out your cookies every time you close your browser?

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16 Blog Posts To Read This Week | Internethow Blog December 21, 2009 - 5:50 pm

[…] Top 10 Ways To Lose Subscribers To Your Blog @ robbsutton.com […]

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Bridget Willard January 4, 2010 - 5:11 pm

” by getting desperate for the all might dollar, ”

I think it should be “almighty (or Almighty) dollar,”

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Robb Sutton January 4, 2010 - 8:52 pm

Thanks for catching that! Automatic spell check plays games with things sometimes.

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BestWicklessCandles June 11, 2010 - 10:16 am

As a blog reader, your point number one is the down fall of most blogs. I am following a blog mostly for the topic. Discussing an unrelated topic is annoying and wasting my time.

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Early Retirement Extreme June 11, 2010 - 11:34 am

People have told me that around half of those are the very reason they come to my blog, especially 1 and 4. Breaking the rules can work to your advantage 🙂

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Richard Scott June 11, 2010 - 11:44 am

There are a couple of reasons why I stop reading and commenting on blogs. You’ve touched on most of them:
1) Not inspiring me anymore.
2) Not posting in weeks.
3) Not replying back to my comments.
4) Having to log in just to leave a comment. 🙂

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