4 Critical Mistakes that Cost me 1000’s of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

This is a guest post by Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM.

In the first year of running my blog I wrote close to 100 guest posts. I was consistent and committed to growing my blog by writing 2 guests posts a week on blogs ranging in size from 1,000 to 50,000 subscribers. After 3 quarters of aggressive guest posting I was still struggling to break the thousand subscriber mark. A few months back I interviewed Jon Morrow. After that interview, I realized I had made some critical mistakes that had costs me 1,000’s of potential subscribers, fans and followers.

1. A Focus on RSS Numbers

Like many early stage bloggers, for months I obsessed about seeing the chiclet count on my Feedburner badge hit 1,000, only to find that it wouldn’t do much for me other than inflate my ego. Top add to that Feedburner became completely unreliable and the subscriber count fluctuated dramatically on a weekly basis. The number of people who subscribe to your blog via RSS is one of the most meaningless metrics because it’s not an accurate representation of who is really reading your blog. I’ve found blogs with 1,000’s of RSS subscribers and virtual no comments. So, don’t focus too much of your effort on this.

2. A Lack of Landing Pages

If there’s one thing that cost me and many other bloggers 1,000’s of subscribers, it is not having landing pages in their guest post bylines. In the past if I wrote a guest post, I would just include a link to my blog. Now I make it a point to include a link to my pages on the 7 most important things you should have learned in school. The result is about 50-60 new subscribers for every single guest post I write.

3. No Email List

There is probably not a single successful blogger who won’t tell you that “the money is in the list.” My friend Dan Andrews refers to this as your silent majority. The people who comment on blogs are often other bloggers, but your readers that you should paying the most attention to are the ones on your list.

Your list gives you an opportunity to have a much more private, intimate conversation with your readers because, by singing up for your list, they’ve given your permission to do exactly that. With a list, you can send a very specific message on a particular day/time of the week. One of the biggest mistakes I made in the early days of my blog was neglecting to build up a list with my content on my blog. Below I’ve shared a few tips to get things going with your list.

  • Repurpose content. One simple way to improve your list is to repurpose your archives for use in your newsletter (credit to Nathalie Lussier). If you’ve been writing for 3-6 months you should have more than enough content to do this. If you’ve got an e-book you can use sections of it for for newsletter content.
  • Write one article each day. If you are writing one blog post each day, all you have to do is repurpose one of those articles for your newsletter. If you do this for 5 days in a row, you will have an autoresponder sequence
  • Record audio/video content. As a podcaster, I’m a huge fan of anything multimedia. It gives your readers a really in-depth view into who you are as a person since they get to hear your voice or see your face. It is also often faster than writing.

4. No Immediate Call to Action

When a new reader first signs up for your email list, engagement is at a high point. That is why it is important to strike while the iron is hot and incorporate calls to action at the right moment. Below, I’ve include the calls to action have driven my engagement with my readers through the roof

1) Create a custom confirmation page. I have give credit to David Risley for this idea. Rather than just have people confirm their email address, I send my readers to a custom confirmation page where they see a welcome video with some calls to action. The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of Facebook fans.

2) Send emails for 7 Days in a row. Some people might debate on this one. But I found that when somebody receives an email from you everyday for 7 straight days after they sign up for your newsletter, the open rates go up. It is because you are fresh on their mind. When they get an email from you once a week, they might not even remember how they ended up on your blog.

3) Request replies. In the very last newsletter people receive from me in the auto responder, I ask them to reply to me with what they would like me to write about and what their current challenges are. I get an email at least once a week with people sharing their thoughts with me. I have to credit Derek Halpern for this advice.

Everything on this list is about creating a deeper connection with your readers. The increase in numbers is just icing on the cake.

What do you do to ensure better engagement with your readers and subscribers? Please share in the comments!





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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Srini,

    #4 all the way.

    Make your call clear as day. And make it often! I keep a call widget prominent, with a nice big ole cash gift, and I end each post with a call in my resource box. No better way to build your list and grow your fan base.

    I too made each error but have learned my lesson. My calls are clear and frequent. If you want to know more about me and how I can help you, you are darn well sure of it after reading my posts.

    Thanks Srini!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph just posted How Internet Money Finds You Quickly

    • says

      Hey Ryan,

      That’s a great question. I basically created a 7 day course called “the 7 most important things you never learned in school.” It was content I already had on my blog and I just repurposed it for the newsletter. I was buried in the archives and I realized would actually be great for my newsletter. After that 7 days I only send out 1 email a week which goes out on Mondays. It’s basically my recent 2-3 posts. I’ve been meaning to get a bit more hands on with it and write out a newsletter each week, but I’m focusing on doing that for BlogcastFM more than Skool of Life at the moment. Hope that answers your question.
      Srinivas just posted Give it One More Day and Take Another Step Forward

    • says

      HEy Dave

      There are a couple of things you can do. If you are blogging than you already have content. You could repurpose some of that or even beef it up a bit specifically for your newsletter. IF you don’t have any content, then you could write a little bit every single day that would eventually be content for a newsletter. Even though I had one for a long time I neglected it, so I guess you could say I started late as well. If people ask you questions frequently use those as content for your newsletter. Feel free to leave any more questions here in the comments or even reach out directly and I’ll be glad to answer them.
      Srinivas just posted Give it One More Day and Take Another Step Forward

  2. says

    Hi Srinivas,

    These are excellent tips! I especially love #4, engaging your readers. Since I mainly send out update broadcasts of my blog posts to my current list I haven’t thought of requesting a reply on what my readers want me to write about. But I could do that in the welcome email, couldn’t I? Brilliant idea which generates more content ideas.

    Thanks for sharing your awesome insights!

    Ilka
    Ilka Flood just posted 3 Powerful Strategies to Keep Visitors on Your Blog Longer and Get More Google Love

  3. says

    I too would be hesitant about sending an e-mail every day for 7 straight days. If that personally happened to me, I would unsubscribe by about the 3rd or 4th day. That may be why your e-mail open rate increases. Then again, if you have interesting e-mail titles and good content, they might not feel the need to unsubscribe.

    I do like the idea of a custom e-mail confirmation page. Too many sites use a generic confirmation page with no calls to action at all. While they’re back at your site, you might as well try to keep them there.
    Jeremy just posted Craigslist Classified Ads – Bargain Hunting Made Simple

  4. says

    All of these pointers are so true. I remember when I first started out my blog: I really didn’t want the responsiblity of having an email list but I decided to have one anyways. Slowly but truly I’m building up a following. I see that a large percentage of the people on my list open up the email newsletter that I send out once in a while. I’m not avid about sending out emails, only when I truly feel that something is worthy of their attention. Thats why they trust me.
    All the best,
    Eren
    Eren Mckay just posted Anne Geddes Baby Shower Invitations

  5. says

    Landing page is extremely important in my opinion to build your list. It is far better than RSS because email can be customized. It is very impressive to have 50-60 subscribers for each guest post, well done!

    Another thing that is critical for guest post is to choose the right blog where there are active members so that you can get some new readership for each guest post. Thanks for the great tips :)
    Ming just posted How To Get Backlinks To Rank A New Site

  6. says

    I am not sure I would want an email from something I signed up for every day for a week strait. It would have to be something I almost couldn’t live without, and I probably wouldn’t read them all. The shorter and to the point the better. Nothing personal or anything. I am just not a fan of getting bombarded with email or bombarding someone else with them. But, if it is working for you that is great.
    Ray just posted Do You Really Need a Premium Template Theme

    • says

      Ray,

      Your point is fair. I think it really is niche dependent. My emails that I send out are short and after that initial 7 days I only send one a week. But I think the only yway you can know is by testing it. Doing that was an experiment. On the flip side, I run BlogcastFM. We were sending out an email newsletter every single time we published a new interview. That meant 3 emails a week. People were unsubscribing like mad. So I scaled it back to once a week and included all 3 interviews in that one email. AS I said, it kind of is niche dependent. MY Skool of Life readers don’t seem to mind.
      Srinivas just posted How Personality Impacts Job Satisfaction [Infographic]

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing these nice steps for how we can place himself in safer side.

    All points are on the target but i impressed by these words which you mentioned like that in your blog post “”Send emails for 7 Days in a row”” i agreed with that if we will send emails to him on daily basis then we have high chance to stay touch with him/her.
    India carnival just posted Goa Carnival 2012

  8. says

    Hmm, this list makes me realize I have a bit to learn about building my reader base. I have been at it for the last 8 months and not as consistent as I should (I do 5 blogs a week then every 2 weeks and every month and so on). I know thats strike one but lately I have been doing guest blogging without landing pages. One top of poor call to actions and clear newsletter sign ups.

    I am glad I read this article, it gives me a check list of things I need to improve! Thanks!

  9. says

    Hey Srinivas,

    First off, thanks for the post.

    Personally I have RSS Feed ion my blog, but I don’t push it very much. I would rather have the opt-in. This way I control what I send and when I send it. And as you put it I can send newsletters and alternative content to my subscribers, direct them to certain pages and engage them on a more personal level.

    I don’t really repurpose my content to newsletter. Maybe I should? I simply write more content for newsletters.

    I have been working a lot on my blog lately to interlink and make my blog a greater experience where people can find exactly what they are looking for. Also not to miss opt-in opportunities and sharing links. I guess I will see how it turns out over the next few weeks.

    Great Tips Srinivas, Thanks.

    Dan Sumner
    Dan Sumner just posted My Blog Sucks Part 1

  10. says

    This blog post came at the right time. I too have been struggling with these issues and realized that having a landing page is essential for building my list. I do a lot of affiliate marketing and need to make it a point to direct them to my list instead of the person who is promoting the products or services.

    Thanks so much for this great list.

    Cindy
    Cindy Murphy just posted What Is This New “Relationship Marketing?”

  11. says

    Every blogger at his initial stage make such mistakes which don’t make any difference in his blogging like rss number, FB & twitter followers, checking his Adsense account again and again and there is no exception for this.
    Using your list efficiently is an art and the points you have mentioned are excellent for that.
    Pritam just posted How To Become An Insurance Agent

  12. says

    Like some others have mentioned, I don’t know about an email everyday for 7 days. At the same time, though, I have definitely received emails from bloggers and wondered how I got on their list in the first place… because they waited so long to contact me.

    So, I think it’s worth a shot at sending at least 4 or 5 within the first 7 days. I’ll give this a try and I’m sure you’ll hear about the results, Srini. ;)

  13. says

    Uh-oh. Hate to admit it, but I am sooo guilty of committing all these mistakes even after 2 years of (on and off) blogging. And I even purchased a subscription for an autoresponder which is left untouched for several months — what a waste. I guess, my number 1 mistake is ‘lack of action’. :)
    James Moralde just posted My 580EX II Sometimes Does Not Fire

  14. says

    I think number 4 stands out as one of the most important for me – especially the aspect of asking for a response from people.

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you really need to lay it out for people and tell them want you want them to do. If you don’t, it’s just not likely they’re going to do what you want to achieve.

  15. says

    Once you have gone through the hard work of thinking up and creating a post, it only makes sense to try to maximize the value of that post. There are only so many hours, so many things you can do. Thanks for saving our time…so we don’t make the same mistakes you did.

  16. says

    Thanks for this post – it’s always great to be able to learn from what someone else has learned from their mistakes – hats off for having the courage to be transparent!
    I’m going to implement your tips to customize my confirmation page (genius idea to mention a Facebook visit at that point!), and be more up front with asking for peeps to send me what they’d like me to write about.
    I already use a detailed step by step series as my opt-in offer – specifically to get people used to having me around and adding value :-)
    cheers
    Tanya
    Tanya Smith just posted More Clients and Profits – Plugging Your Website Leaks Part One

  17. says

    Srinivas,

    Great info here. Building a strong email list was simply one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever gotten. My email list has made me more money over the years than anything else i have done.

    Your time online is essential, it is important to get the most out of it and do only the things that really provide you great returns on that time investment
    Steve just posted 13 Ways to Use Fiverr.com as the ULTIMATE Link Building Service [Niche Affiliate Income #4]

  18. says

    Hi Thanks for the tips, I have just started writing my blog and I am consuming tips hints and info all of the time, this is great if and when I get to the guest post level, I would love some feedback on what I am doing, be as critical as you all want as I am trying to learn and constructive criticism is one of the best ways to do this.

    I especially like the custom landing page, great thanks.
    Paul just posted Help me I am looking for an advertising agency what should I do?

  19. says

    Great Post!

    List posts are great for the reader too because they can find exactly what they need by skimming through the major points.

    List posts will always have a place in my book!



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