10 Things To Do When You Are Losing RSS Subscribers

John Chow RSS

Today, the blog set a new RSS milestone and broke 44K readers for the first time. RSS going up is something we all like to see. However, what do you do when your RSS is going down? This guest post by Steven York of SEOpher has the answers. You can subscribe to Steven’s RSS feed here.

While it can be argued that watching your statistics is a mild form of madness (and counter productive as discussed at Problogger), if you care about making it as a blogger you have to care about your metrics. I strongly believe that your RSS feed is one of the biggest indications as to whether your blog is growing or not; visitors come and go like the tides but people subscribing to your feed indicates quality of content.

So what do you do if you see your RSS figures dropping? Well there are a few good ways to take a step back and work out where you’re going wrong. Here is my 10 step guide to rescuing your blog:

1. Is It Just a One Time Drop?

About a dozen times this year the number of subscribers to my feed has dropped by 500 or so overnight; for a super-sized blog with 25,000 subs that isn’t so much an issue, when I have 700 it’s rather noticeable. The first thing to do is not panic – you won’t have actually lost these subscribers it’s more likely to be a glitch with Feedburner or something, so just sit back and maybe write some killer content to ensure tomorrow is a new high.

2. Are You Actively Writing?

Sometimes taking a break from blogging is enough to see a small but steady decline in subscribers; fortunately this is the easiest one to resolve – just start writing again! Your readers will pick up again. If you’ve got a mailing list then it’s worth broadcasting that you’re writing again.

3. Is There Any Interactivity?

One of the biggest problems people face with their blogs is involving the reader. Posts that offer little more than a narrative on events/news within the niche don’t give the user any reason to hang around, whereas asking your readers questions or inviting feedback will help ensure your RSS feed doesn’t decrease.

4. Look at your latest content – can someone learn anything from it?

Have a look back over the past month of blog posts and ask yourself whether readers would learn anything from them? One of the biggest factors for ensuring readers return is offering them useful advice – whatever your niche, if you can ensure the reader goes away with something new then there’s every chance that they’ll come back.

5. This Point Could Literally Save Your Life

Not really, but it highlights one of the most crucial aspects of blogging and attracting an audience – writing sensationalist titles. You could be writing killer content but if you’re not selling it with the title then people aren’t interested in reading it. If people aren’t reading it, they’re certainly not subscribing to read more of it… See what I’m saying? Be descriptive and sexy in your titles and you’ll see an improvement in subscribers.

6. Run a Competition!

Ask people to subscribe via Email to your RSS feed – then using Feedburner you can get a spreadsheet of all confirmed Email subscribers; after a predetermined period of time you can randomly pick a winner. This will encourage feed subscriptions and if you follow rules 3, 4 and 5 you should be able to convert a few users. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to give away money – if you’ve got a skill you could market that as a prize. Hell, a day of my time as a consultant is comfortably $500 and that’s not a bad prize in itself. Be creative! Talk to friends, see if anyone has anything they want plugged…

7. Collaborate with Other Bloggers

Sharing readers can be a great way to increase your blog’s reach so if you’ve got friends within the niche talk to them, see if you can come to some arrangement about cross-promoting the blogs. Having guest authors raises the profile of your site and you get to share visitors – some of them might subscribe to your list too.

8. Be Honest, Be Personal and Challenge Yourself

One of the things I hate most about reading blogs is how impersonal some are; sometimes all you seem to read are loosely disguised promotions of affiliate campaigns and brags of success – to really connect to the average reader you need to be humble. Sure aspirational posts are good but I find it really hard to connect with some of the superstars because the amount of money they earn (John included) is just astronomical. These superstars can be bold about such things because they CAN earn that much. You’re probably not one of them, so be humble and honest and your readers will reward you with their attention.

9. Boast About The Things That You Do Well – But Be Constructive

If your subscribers are waining a little then it might be worth boasting about something you’ve done well (earned $1000 in one month blogging? Then explain how!). People want to read pieces of content with achievable goals, so explain exactly how you got there and you’ll attract readers. Reached #1 for a specific popular search term? Been front-paged on Digg? Mentioned in mainstream press? It’s a little like blowing your own trumpet but as bloggers we have to!

10. Last Resort, Speak To a Few of Your Readers

If all else fails and you’re still losing subscribers then it’s time to get back in touch; speak to a few subscribers you do have and ask what content they would like to see more of. It’s sometimes hard to put yourself directly in the shoes of your readers so speak to them – they’re just normal people like you! They won’t bite. Ask what content they like, what they don’t like etc. You might find the answers a little surprising. Canvas enough opinion (maybe even post a poll on your blog) and you should get an idea of what content works best for your readers – meaning you can cater to it a little closer to get your blog back to fighting weight.

55 thoughts on “10 Things To Do When You Are Losing RSS Subscribers”

  1. Excellent post!! I think you can use a lot of these points to not only re-gain subscribers, but to get NEW subscribers as well!! Thanks again for the insight John!!

    1. The Competitions and sensational lines are a good way to get people. The lines are really important to get to read your stuff. Give them a reason. Chow made a good example about saving your life…..who doesn’t want to save their life? Ask a question or make a statement that gives and answer to your customer’s problem.

      If you want more visitors then your line might be, “How to….” or even “I have 500k subscribers…what any?”

    2. nice article
      but I think feedburner is buggy.. i have 200 subs and sometimes it shows 100 and sometimes 200… I don’t think I am losing/gaining 100 in a single day 😀

      1. Li Weng says:

        I agree. This post will also work if you titled it “Why are you not getting enough subscribers”? But note that this is not written by John. The post is written by Steve York, another guest blogger.

        1. I agree!! Its buggy.. !! Sometimes shows 100 subscribers as 10 lol

    3. Car Blog says:

      Another thing to do is use seth godin plugin.

  2. Thanks for this. On one of my blogs, the counter always increases highly, then drops. It kind of sucks to see, but hopefully it all ends well.

    1. Sohail says:

      yeah that happens to me as well, a high increase and then drops in a day or two. Thanks for post

      1. I notice drops over night, but then huge gains the next day, and then more drops. It goes up and down.

    2. At least you’ve got a counter!! I still have to integrate mine into the design hehehe

  3. Josten says:

    great post seems my rss subscribers go up and down

  4. Melissa says:

    I need to worry about getting RSS readers before I can think about losing them!

    1. well…i guess for any subscriber not gained is one lost…..

  5. I need to incorporate more of #3 – interactivity on blog posts. I have 300 plus RSS subs on my vegetarian blog but get only a handful of comments. This is partly due to my inconsistent posting schedule. But for 2009 i’m going to set a goal to up that number.

    These are all solid tips and will bookmark for future reference. Good job!

    1. As Gary Vaynerchuk says….do you have the chops to keep …. great content is key but unless you are keeping up then know one is going to consistently come

  6. I usually use RSS stats to judge the loyal followers of my blog (those who take the initiative to get posts delivered to their emails or feed readers). Drop in feed stats equates to drop in loyal followers. For any blogger, that is one of the biggest downsides!

    This blog posts will help me retain the core readers of my blog. Thanks for a very useful post 🙂

  7. Great input..will definitely look into it as my new launched love blog – Cupid Blogger Dot Com two weeks ago, only has about 20 RSS subscribers…

    1. 20 in two weeks is not bad at all!!!

      1. Thanks taris… 🙂

  8. Great tips, it’s time to run a competition.

  9. Shirley says:

    You might also consider something that you might be doing wrong… ie. Did you just add popup ads to your website? Or have you made any changes to the interface? etc…

  10. Great post. I think the point about sensational titles is important – got to attract those readers in!

    1. Funny how the title here, “10 Things To Do When You Are Losing RSS Subscribers” gets everyone to read….why…b/c we have a need that needs to be solved. That’s the whole point of the headline.

  11. Great tips. Keep up the good work, John.

  12. I think you can use a lot of these points to not only re-gain subscribers, but to get NEW subscribers as well

  13. Arfan says:

    Great Article I have to admit Never ever struck me about Loosing RSS subscriber till now

  14. Ben Pei says:

    Definitely some good ways to increase subscribers.. some which I never thought of.. Really some boost in numbers

  15. Mike T says:

    As a blogger, most important is, you have to provide content that people like to read ( point number 2 and 4 ). Find the niche and start posting…

  16. portable says:

    congrats on the 44k! impressive

  17. BusinessX says:

    Sometimes I feel that guest posts are fairly lame. Don’t know why, when guest posting one would want to bring their A game to help establish their self. Steven York did a very good job, with some thoughtful points.

  18. I would say that contests is in the top three. People love competitions, especially if you give away major prizes like money, cars, etc.

  19. ألعاب says:

    This is a really great post . these can be used not only to drive back RSS readers but also to attract new Rss readers . Great !!

  20. http://resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com says:

    I think some of the drops are because of the unverified accounts on email subscription.

  21. Aditya says:

    A helpful post. I realized the same few months ago when i was loosing RSS readers. Good post indeed.

    I just wrote a new article on my blog. I hope fellow bloggers like it.


  22. Trevor says:

    great input. Second time I found it.

  23. ألعاب says:

    Interesting blog and creative writing.Keep up the good work.

  24. mxyzplk says:

    I even dont know how to get subscriber…

  25. TStrump says:

    I can certainly relate – I wrote a post once, and had a huge drop the next day.
    While I admit, I did panic, I decided to sit back, reflect and make a few changes.
    Of course, maybe it was Feedburner??

  26. nice tips. I will take it into my heart and appy it into my blog.

  27. my alexa ranking just dropped , how do i restore that back ?

  28. Raja Kamil says:

    I am not sure about this, but I also face this when my feedburner subscribe reach 70 for the first time. It’s drop to 22 . It happen rapidly. Some time it drop to 22, then it raise up back to 70. I think it is an issue with technical problem. What you think ?

    Anyway, the post above is about how to gain trust from your readers. Really a nice tips.

  29. Smitty says:

    I just added a personal blog to website where I am documenting the building of my airplane. I’m thinking that having something to write about (namely building an airplane) would give me many subjects to talk about. I think a good blog needs some kind of special interest subject, don’t you?

  30. StyleWP says:

    Great tips – will surely help out.

  31. Takumi86 says:

    This is so true, if you don wanna lose your reader, you must keep posting. But i can’t help myself when i got stuck on what to write next

  32. Chester says:

    I will focus on marketing my blog if the RSS feed goes down. That will help to increase it again.

  33. There is one more thing to do, Make a list of the lost email subscibers and email them a survey. They would tell you why they unsubscribed.
    Feedblitz does this survet right at the time the subscriber unsubscribes, and gives the feedback to the publisher.


  34. Fantastic post for those blogging newbies out there, such as myself.

    The one annoying thing I keep seeing with my own RSS subscriptions is the fact that Feedburner flip-flops so much with the amount of subscribers and I’ve seen tons of people complaining about the same thing.

    I’ve also read a lot of complaints about the infrastructure behind everything, so hopefully something will eventually change for the better.

  35. Great tips! Once I transfer over to wordpress my readers will be able to interact more. Unless I am doing something wrong, I cant find a better comment link on blogspot. I find myself always asking questions, or requesting feedback at the end of each post. I finally, started receiving comments on a post I wrote about giving a Social Media Cruise. I allowed my readers to participate in making the Cruise happen. I totally agree with interacting with readers. Thanks for the tips!

  36. realer00 says:

    Learned a lot,thanks

  37. sam says:

    thank you for your sharing!

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