For as long as I have been blogging, I have been terrible at subscribing to peoples’ blogs. I had a lot of concerns about it. For example, would I just go to those sites and never find anybody new? Would I get so far behind that I would just do what so many have done and delete the whole mess?
It was quite an interior battle. However, today the stalemate broke. I decided I am just plain tired of missing blog posts, or coming in so late that I am comment number 7 million. By that time, there are too many comments to read every single one and yet you kind of have to so you don’t become “that person” who repeats what has already been said 7 times. It bums me out. Therefore, I proclaimed today “National Subscribe to Blogs Day” and I became the first (so far as I know) to celebrate.
In the process of going through the online world and finding blog posts I wanted to subscribe to, I encountered a lot of roadblocks in my way. I wanted to share those with you so that you can make sure people find it really easy to subscribe to your blog posts. I mean, I was out there with the PURPOSE of subscribing. Many people will only opt to describe after they’ve read a post of yours they like.
With that said, here are some important things to look out for.
1. Hard to find or hard to identify subscribe buttons
I know the temptation on your blog sites is to get really creative with design, but there are some things that should probably remain really boring and plain. Your subscribe button falls into that category. I should not have to guess where the button is. I should not have to look for it either, because…I probably won’t. Have it out there. Be loud, be proud.
2. Technology that doesn’t work
On a lot of blogs that I tried to subscribe to, the RSS button took me to an XML code page that was worthless for my cause. This happened in Chrome but not in Safari. However, in Safari, the only way to subscribe via email was to use a program already on your computer (for me, Mac Mail). I was using my Gmail account. I lost patience and did not subscribe to those sites. It was taking too much time to figure out. Test your subscription options yourself and make sure they are working the way you want them to.
3. An email icon that takes me to your contact page
On a few websites, the icons are a little confusing/misleading. On some sites, the email icon is a subscribe button. On others, it stands for “Email me.” On some sites the RSS button is just for readers while on others it also offers the email option. Don’t make your potential subscribers guess what they should click on. Gently guide them to the promised land of subscriber happiness.
4. Buried buttons
Related to point number one, but a surprising number of sites had subscribe options that were buried way down under the page. To me, this is a higher priority than the people who have “liked” you on Facebook. The people who engage with you on your blog and who are willing to read your ramblings whenever you write them are pure gold. Move those buttons up, up, up.
5. Invite people to subscribe, but don’t be pushy
One thing I don’t do enough is making the ask. When I was working on my engagement series last year, I made a point of mentioning now and then that you could subscribe to keep up with the series. Guess what? My number of subscribers increased by about 100%. When I stopped making those reminders, my number of subscribers stopped growing as fast. Not much of a mystery, right?
With that being said, I’m not a huge fan of the 20-sentence-long invite to subscribe that some folks have at the bottom of every post. I suppose it makes sense, but it drives me nuts. Be gentle with me. I’m fragile.
Have you checked out your blog site as if you were a visitor and not, well, you? Have you clicked your subscribe buttons to make sure they are working? Are your subscribe options super easy to find?
What other important things are there to look out for when it comes to building your subscriber list?
Oh, and by the way, if you want to subscribe to my posts, the subscribe buttons are right over there, in the upper right-hand corner 🙂
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/documentarist/473086629/ via Creative Commons