Why Do We Ask People To Subscribe To Our Blogs?

greatest dad bloggerMy vast and mighty legal team once asked me to concentrate on writing the kind of blog post that would never get me into trouble because some people look for the opportunity to be offended so they can sue you.

I smiled and told them I am confident they are correct in their assessment that some people look for offense and that some of them will try to use that to their advantage.

It took all of five seconds for me to wipe the smile off of their face because I said I was certain the only benefit in writing bland and uninteresting content is to cure insomnia.

I suppose if my sole motivation was to monetize the blog and I thought there was a legitimate chance to use this joint as a substitute for sleeping pills I would do so.

It might not be a great way to promote my skills as a writer but the money I could earn by offering a natural and drug free solution to insomniacs would likely serve as adequate compensation.

How Do You Build A Subscriber Base?

There is an ongoing conversation among bloggers about the best way to build a brand and to make it work on as many social media platforms as possible.

You can throw a stick without poking 983,292,833 bloggers in the eye while they read or write posts about the most effective tools for building a subscriber base.

Sometimes it feels like I can’t click on a blog without being hit by 98 pop-ups asking for me to subscribe to the blog and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and every other social media platform they can think of.

Many of those pop-ups and or overlays make me crazy because they ruin my reading experience.

Sometimes it is because they don’t work with responsive design and or aren’t mobile friendly so instead of serving as an accessory to reading they are an irritant.

It almost always leads me to ask the same question.

Why Do We Ask People To Subscribe To Our Blogs?

If you look at the most recent posts here it is obvious I am on another social media kick.  I like shaking the bushes and not just to see what happens.

I like exploring and trying to understand what we are doing and why. I like figuring out if the puzzle pieces I try to assemble work together or if I just blowing so much smoke into the breeze.

Those of us who spend significant amounts of time in the blogosphere sometimes forget how many people are clueless about it because they are uninterested or haven’t spent much time within it.

Sometimes we forget that being a big deal online doesn’t always translate into terms someone else understands.

I am jaded about personal blogs being used as tools for passive income, book deals and or fame.

Been doing this for so long I am skeptical about the numbers people throw out regarding how much they earn from writing a few words about parenthood, technology, sports and or entertainment.

Doesn’t mean someone isn’t making a buck but the low barrier to entry and saturation makes it hard for me to believe that more than a few are getting the kind of dough that the passive income professionals hawk as being standard.

It is not like Field of Dreams and there is no guarantee that if you write it they will come.

Some of that is because of chaos and noise within the blogosphere and some of it is because some of the blogs are simply…awful.

And all of this makes me ask myself and others why we ask people to subscribe to our blogs.

Why Would You Have Children?

The discussion about blogs and subscribers always makes me think of a conversation I had with a family friend when I was a newlywed.

He asked me to explain why I was interested in having children and suggested if it wasn’t for religious reasons it had to do with ego.

His motivation wasn’t based upon trying to encourage me to become more religious or to discourage me from becoming a parent.

It was he said ‘a philosophical discussion.’

Maybe that is how I should pose the question of why we ask people to subscribe to our blogs. Maybe it is ‘a philosophical discussion’ or maybe it is something else.

Either way I see merit in asking ourselves the question for the same reason I asked What Would Happen If You Stopped Blogging?

I see knowing the answers to those questions as an opportunity to strengthen the blog.

What do you think?

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  1. Tim Bonner March 17, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Hey Josh

    I won’t lie. I originally started down the subscribe to my blog route because of the old adage that the money’s in the list. I’m sure it is if you market stuff to people 7 days a week but that’s also going to piss people off.

    I came to the realisation that I am terrible at email marketing sometime ago. So now I use it more as a way to engage with people on a more personal level. I’ve had some pretty good conversations on the back of sending out an email about a new blog post. I’m not going to say I won’t ever try and sell people something if they subscribe but I’ll make sure I know everything about it before I do.

    I’ve had pop ups on my blog in the past and I used exit intent; they’d only pop up if someone was going to leave. Pop ups definitely bring in more subscribers – it was my best converting opt-in form in fact. But the reality is that those people who opted in through the pop up don’t stick around too long – at least that’s what I’ve experienced.

    • Joshua March 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Tim,

      That is a fair answer and I suspect something many people would say. That whole ‘the money is in the list’ mantra is something we all want to believe in. Who wouldn’t want to monetize their blog and make some cash this way.

      I have always figured the popups would increase signup rates but wondered how many would disappear soon afterwards.

  2. Larry March 14, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Plenty of people just don’t read this stuff – you are so right. Whether it’s time interest or what have you – limited appeal. The number of blogs have increased tremendously and it’s so hard to stand out.

    • Josh March 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      @Lardavbern:disqus It is really easy to forget how many people just don’t care about blogs. Many barely make time to read the newspaper or magazine.

      I see the importance of trying to market ourselves but content has to come to first.

  3. Danny Brown March 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Hey there mate,

    Right there with you on pop-up mania. I pretty much click away from these blogs the moment these pop-ups start (especially if it’s one second after I arrive on a site and haven’t even had a chance to read the actual content yet). For my own email opt-in, I use a simple CTA at the end of each post, and that’s been pretty effective, because the reader has viewed what you have to offer and can decide whether you’re worth further investment.

    That’s an interesting position from your friend – curious as to the “ego” part of the comment when it comes to kids. Not sure how being a parent inflates your ego – I’m usually too tired when my three and five year old go to bed that I just want to hit the sack myself. Not a lot of wiggle room for ego there! 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing others’ thoughts on this.

    • Josh March 15, 2015 at 12:40 am

      @dannybrown:disqus I like the CTA after the post. It makes sense to me to ‘show’ people a sample of what they might expect before I ask them to subscribe.
      Doesn’t mean I don’t understand why others do it differently but like you if the popup is the first thing to hit my screen I rarely stick around long enough to read, especially if I am using my phone.

      In regard to my friend, well that conversation took place before my son was born so it is somewhere between 16 and 19 years ago.

      I don’t remember how it came up or why but I can tell you he wasn’t antagonistic and that It made me think a bit. No one had ever asked me about it before and since I hadn’t become a father I only had the tiniest inkling of what might be involved.

      I do remember how he said if the point was to create little creatures whose purpose was too resemble us and do things we hadn’t done for the purpose of bringing honor to the family it didn’t make sense to him.

      It is funny to me how years later I only remember fragments of the conversation, not enough to recollect it all but enough to have stuck with me.

      • Danny Brown March 15, 2015 at 6:05 am

        I’d love to see some stats regarding negative sentiment/actions around pop-ups. Sure, bloggers share how their sign-ups have increased – but how many other readers left and never came back (nor shared content) because the pop-up was so annoying?

        • Josh March 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

          @dannybrown:disqus It would be good to know. I wonder if anyone has any stats on this. Sounds like information Buffer might have or tap into.

  4. Brenda Lee March 14, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Hey Josh! I love this post and it’s a very timely one. I feel what you’re saying, especially about popups. How can one possible read an article and gain interest into a blog if they are being covered up by popups? I find them so totally annoying. To me, it’s almost a cry for attention. “SEE ME! SUBSCRIBE TO ME!” What is wrong with the good old “Sign Up” area in the sidebar or even at the end of a post? Oy vey…. you got me started now. 😉

    Have a fab weekend and keep on telling it like it is!

    • Josh March 14, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      @JustBrenLee:disqus Hi Brenda. I understand the rationale and reasoning behind using popups. I am told they are effective and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t considered trying them out.

      Part of that is because I want to be able to see for myself what impact they have or don’t have.

      But I know I have left sites that use them because they wrecked my experience so if I did use one it would have to be different than most I see.

      Even then I have to ask myself if what I am offering merits that sort of attention especially when there are good alternatives.

      Hope your weekend is great too.

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