What Does It Take To Make You Subscribe To A Blog?

This post was guest blogged by Carl Ocab, who who has great timing since I recently broke 35,000 RSS readers.

OK, OK… I’d be honest with the you, I hate reading posts like “how to increase feed readership, increase feed count, blah blah blah” They all recycle the same tips over and over again. Day after day, someone out there is posting about how to increase feed readership that’s for sure.

But what if I make it this way, what if I ask the crowd face to face what makes them subscribe to a blog’s feed? Because actually, the best tips are really in you, if you just put yourself in the reader’s shoe, I’d bet you can give the best tips.

Of course, as the one who asked the question, I’ll be the one to answer it first. Here are some of my spot-on reasons why I subscribe to a blog…

1. Quality More Than Quantity

I’m not really an avid reader in nature. Your content has to be something special to make me read – and that’s exactly what big chunk of bloggers are – lazy readers.

I skip those segregated newsy posts saying “AdSense changed their TOS, Yahoo acquired by Microsoft, etc” You get the picture.

Point is, concentrate in quality, don’t be tempted to post those news (Yep, I was too), people are up for unique and jam packed content.

2. Readability of Posts

WARNING: The next paragraph will probably burn your eyes if read full or make you cry while slowly digesting what it’s saying – but by doing that, you’ll get what I mean in no time 😉

Imagine reading blogs that make post like these, but before I get to that, let me tell you that I had a great day fishing with my dad today. Even though we only caught 2 fishes and 1 got back in the water, it was still fun. After we went fishing, we stopped by the nearest gasoline station to have a drink after that tiring day then hastily drove home to cook the fish that we caught. It was a tiring day, yes so to get some relaxation, I sit down here and made a post for you guys. Ok, so what’s wrong with this? First of all, making a grammatical error on the first sentence – yep, that’s a good addition. Then second, telling unrelated stories about your life that people don’t care of. Third, putting it all in one slab of paragraph. Fourth, making the post dull without any pictures or anything and lastly by doing this… PLZ SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED (Not to mention the caps, geesh)

3. Style of Writing

For some reason, I don’t subscribe to a blog with an off the chart “formal” style of writing even though the content is worth subscribing to – a lawyer’s article for example.

Like what I said earlier, I’m a lazy reader, it takes something to make me (And other people too I bet) read – I need emotions, I need personality and the most important, I need connection with the blogger.

4. My Friends’ Blog

Whether I like their posts or not, I have to subscribe just so I can relate to them whenever we talk. It’s just a little favor so I’ll deal with it 😉

What about ya?

I have a couple of reasons in my pocket, but I don’t want to spoil ya so I’ll keep it and give you the floor.

Again, the question is…

“What does it take to make you subscribe to a blog?”

Give the community your reasons by commenting below – after sometime, I’ll get back to your comments and handpick em’ for a monstrous list that I’ll be posting on my blog. Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog’s RSS.

76 thoughts on “What Does It Take To Make You Subscribe To A Blog?”

  1. Kieran says:

    It comes down to content for me – I dont care what the site looks like or its navigation. You want me to subscribe right some good content.

    1. I’m all for content but the blog still needs to have a reasonable appearance. If it looks too cheesy or too spammy then I’m going to go somewhere else. And trust me there is always another place that has just as good of content that is visually appealing.

      Easy to use navigation is also a must. If you can’t find what you are looking for then why would you return?

    2. Ryan McLean says:

      Yeh content is important, but I also go for sites with large RSS readership because there is more interaction as there is more people.
      I mean no offence to John but sometimes he writes content that is completely useless to me (like when he talks about the food he ate). But I love getting involved in his blog because it has such a large readership

      1. Tushar Dhoot says:

        Not to mention 1 or 2 reviews a week, sometimes often about stupid unrelated stuff like sleeping pills.

  2. Stanley Tang says:

    Number of RSS feed subscribers… more tend to suggest there must be something to this blog that is making people subscribe… also known as social proof.

    Also I check out the content of the blog as well as technorati stats. Don’t tend to care too much about writing style as long as the content is good.


    1. Stan,

      doesnt help for new blogs. Writing style does make a difference, doesnt matter how good the content if you can’t read it. Yes as you say quality content is very important though.

      Also, do they make it easy for you to subscribe?

      1. Tushar Dhoot says:

        When you say easy for you to subscribe, you mean the blog owner right?

        So if there are easily available rss buttons and links, etc?

    2. Jamie Harrop says:

      That’s interesting, Stanley.

      Granted, a nice subscriber count may sway me slightly, but I always like to make my own judgement rather than relying on others.

      Each to their own, I guess. 🙂

      1. I’ll agree completely there, why should you have the “me too” approach when reading a blog? Its like following Scoble or Calacanis on Twitter. I’m not going to follow them just because everyone else is. The things they say or do is not relevant to me in anyway.

        1. Carl Ocab says:


          But those big numbers just give me a tickle once or twice – it makes me curious what these guys are up to and why they have this much followers or subscribers…

          Result? Making me subscribe.

          1. Tushar Dhoot says:

            I don’t know..

            It’s not hard for someone to fake their rss subscribers, and I’m sure many people are already doing it…

          2. Ben Pei says:

            Lol I agree with this totally..

    3. Andrew says:

      I tend to look at anything but stats and reader counts. I prefer smaller sites because you tend to get heard more easily.

      1. Jamie Harrop says:

        That’s an excellent point too, Andrew. I tend to prefer blogs with less than 250 readers because of that very point, your voice is louder in the arena, and there’s much more of a community feel. 🙂

        1. Andrew says:

          Absolutely; although, it is good to remember that with any blog a lot of the subscribers won’t ever comment so it depends on the nature of the site.

          With some sites everyone is so keen to comment because they know it generates visitors that you get drowned out; others you can really get a good conversation going because the numbers are neither too small, nor too large.

      2. Carl Ocab says:

        Unique point Andrew.

        Big fish in a small pond eh? 😉

    4. Kok Choon says:

      Certainly writing style is less important if you have good content, as long as you are writing for scan, use list and bold header, I think it is good enough.

  3. androo says:

    i would have to say the content that is on the blog would have to be the main thing to get me to subscribe… if it doesn’t interest me.. there is really no need to subscribe…

    1. Andrew says:

      I completely agree androo; content is king for me. If it is interesting I will subscribe, if not then I won’t.

  4. Simple. Quality content, and a full text feed. If either of those two are missing, I won’t subscribe. Period.

  5. It simply comes down to quality content, and a full text feed. If either of those two elements is missing, then I won’t subscribe.

  6. Jamie Harrop says:

    Hey Carl,

    First of all, good, though-provoking post.

    This question is one I’ve been thinking a great deal about in recent times. As bloggers and blog readers, we so often go through blogs and blindly press the subscribe button without thinking about why we’re doing so.

    Looking down my list of feeds, I seem to have some sort of connection with each and every blogger. For some of the blogs, I speak with the blogger on a more personal connection during blogger meetups, conferences and email/instant message.

    For others, I can simply relate to their story. The story they so eloquently write on their about page.

    For some, they just stood out which forced the connection with me. Maybe they welcomed me with a video or audio on their Web site, or maybe they handed me a quirky business card. Either way, they stood out and *forced* the connection.

    But the one thing it all boils down to is connections. I’m connected in some way to each and every blogger.

    If I write a comment on a blog for the first time and 12 hours later the blogger writes a comment on my blog, then emails me to tell me about a broken link or image on my blog, I’m connected. And away I go back to their blog to subscribe.

    I guess it’s all first impressions. Make a good first impression via communication, relationship building and connections, and I’ll subscribe. Give me excellent writing with no face (metaphorically. Doesn’t have to actually be a photo) and I won’t subscribe. Give me a hard working, passionate person who is going to build a good relationship with me, but only has half-decent writing, and I’ll subscribe.

    Relationships. Connections. It’s what makes the world tick, and makes a far bigger impact than any piece of unique content. 🙂

    I think there’s a blog post for me somewhere in this comment. Thanks for touching on an excellent topic, Carl.


    1. Andrew says:

      Solid gold point Jamie. If a blogger volunteers something, or even just contacts you to ask a question or offer thanks then that connection makes it likely that I will subscribe provided the content is something that interests me.

  7. Clog Money says:

    Wads of cash would help me. Other than that personality gets me to subscribe.

    P.s did any one else notice that the comment count doesn’t actually match the number of comments?

    1. androo says:

      yeah i noticed that as well… hmmm.. possible bug..?

  8. Hussein says:

    i just subscribe if I like 👿

  9. If someone is a regular commenter, or even a semi-regular, I’ll subscribe. I try to subscribe to all the top blogs in my niche and also the up-and-comers. Two reasons: 1) keep an eye on the competition, 2) sharing the dialogue with friends. I make it a point to read their posts whenever they publish!

  10. Jules says:

    For me it’s all about the connection. If I comment on a blog and the author actually acknowledges my comment, either by commenting back in that post, or coming to my blog and commenting, I’m hooked and I will continue to read them.

    There are so many times when we as bloggers comment and then nothing happens. No return comment, no followup, nothing. It leaves you wondering if the author is just a robot spitting out content.

  11. clog money, i too noticed the miss count. but for subscribing, what it takes for me is quality content,sometimes in addition to quantity. but mostly quality

  12. Rich says:

    Content is king… bottom line.
    But there has to be more; there has to be some common interest or something unique about the blog that makes it stand out.

    Almost as important is design, if the blog is not well formatted or has ads everywhere (I actually hate those in-line ads… sorry john) I will immediately click away and find something that looks more like the blogger knows what he/she is doing and is not just posting crap in the hopes of getting some adsense clicks.

    If the design is pleasing and the content is rich and unique, ie. not regurgitated news or stats I will probably subscribe.

  13. I have several criteria I consider when it comes to subscribing:

    (1) Quality content that is useful, informative, or entertaining.
    (2) Content that is well written and updated once a week or more.
    (3) A responsive community with a blogger who responds to comments.

    This blog has made all three.

    I’ll unsusbscribe from a blog if the comments are poor, and if the blogger doens’t take the time to respond to a good number of comments.

  14. Andy says:

    Great Post! For me, it’s all about the content. I am looking to gain knowledge from the blog. I am not reading the post for my health.

    I am working on getting new subscribers to my site and I am keying on providing solid content.


  15. I have never unsubscribed from a blog because of infrequent posting. If it’s not showing up in my reader, then what reminder would I have to click unsubscribe?

    I think that’s one of the biggest myths out there.

    Secondly, the only thing that makes me unsubscribe is if the blog is no longer teaching me anything or if I haven’t learned anything in a while. Basically if it’s wasting my time.

    I recently unsubscribed from Yaro Starak’s stuff because he was only sending out affiliate links, and nothing useful.


  16. Eathan says:

    If I find 2 or more things on the site that I enjoy reading, I’ll subscribe. Once again it comes down to quality content. Content that I am interested in.

  17. Haroon says:

    1) Good content (no restaurant dishes)
    2) No advertising
    3) Less pictures in the content
    4) To the point stuff
    5) No referral links
    6) No guest posts, loaded with links
    7) No ‘stumble this, reddit this, …’ kind of links

  18. Greg says:

    If I find useful content then I’ll subscribe. Also If I can get info that I want, like an ebook for example, then I’ll subscribe, but if the info doesn’t hold up i’ll unsubscribe later.

  19. banji says:

    A trick I once see on a blog is when he writes high quality content but the blog is full of advertisement. He then persuade the readers to subscribe if they don’t want to see the advertisement. Brilliant!

    There’s only two possible outcome from this, increased subscribers or increased income

  20. Ben Pei says:

    I would go for content too.. Probably something that I would not want to miss out so I subscribe to make I get the news.

  21. As everyone, content comes first.. but I also like to check out the blogs of people who leave intelligent comments on my site… I’ve discovered a few gems that way…

  22. “OK, OK… I’d be honest with the you, I hate reading posts like “how to increase feed readership, increase feed count, blah blah blah” They all recycle the same tips over and over again. Day after day, someone out there is posting about how to increase feed readership that’s for sure. ”

    Don’t get me wrong about the recycled content, but I don’t see nothing new in this post about why people subscribe to blogs?

    There has to be content re-written because the article you are thinking about writing is already written most-likely.

    Just my two cents, but yes I agree, I do subscribe because of a blogs content, but also the community is a strong factor to.

  23. Zak Show says:

    I think it’s all about content, If a blogger post good and useful posts in a regular basis people will love to hear from him so they subscribe, that’s it!

    We can rise the number of subscribers also with contest but if you have a crappy blog, when the contest will end they will unsubscribe!

  24. Zak Show says:

    I think it’s all about content, If a blogger post good and useful posts in a regular basis people will love to hear from him so they subscribe, that’s it!

    We can rise the number of rss subscribers by asking people to do that via contests but if you have a crappy blog, when the contest will end they will unsubscribe!

  25. Mike Huang says:

    Simple post, but hits the point. However, this post is something that has been mentioned almost everywhere, so it’s pretty much the same. Nothing against you though, Carl 😀


  26. Content and design are the strongest reasons

  27. Tushar Dhoot says:

    I find personality, content, and uniqueness are some of the main reasons I subscribe to blogs.

  28. I don’t get the people that say they won’t subscribe unless they see a high subscriber count. So you’re telling me that if you came across a site that was well-designed AND had excellent content, you wouldn’t subscribe because they have no subscribers? Come on now.

    I agree with the ones saying that content is king. In the end, that’s what it really boils down to.

  29. TechDude says:

    When subscribing to the RSS I mostly take into account the topics being covered and the style of writing. I would not subscribe to my friends blog, if it does not fit in well, only for the sake of helping him out with one more subscription )

  30. Jill Florio says:

    I’ve given up on RSS feeds. They got too bulky too fast. I use my bookmarks mostly, and I also check posted links on Twitter.

    What makes me bookmark something? Page presentation is huge for me – I scan. If the content seems worthwhile, I will sit down and read something. If I really like what is on offer, I sign up for mailing lists.

    I have to admit, I tend to most often sign up on lists if there’s a free ebook or report offered. I am kind of a report slut that way.

  31. It takes a personal touch and a niche of exceptional interest for me to subscribe to a blog. I’m looking for rich content every day.

  32. These were all awesome, and great for me who is just starting out. I imagine that all of these tips will still be on my ‘format page’ when I double check my new blog posts in twenty years.

    Thanks John. : ^ )

  33. Jesse Grant says:

    *good content
    *nice Rss buttons 😛
    *easy to find published content
    *atleast 4 posts a week

  34. Kok Choon says:

    I subscribe to Interesting content, even if it only update once a week.

    The title and outline is also very important, if most of the post doesn’t interest me, I will not be reading it at all.

    So always put some effort on your title and summary, the outline should be write for scan, because there is so many information online, we tend to scan everything first before doing any in depth readings…

  35. Content and community. I’m looking for someplace that is willing to consistently willing to give and receive. Lots of great blogs out there, but not enough consistency of posting! As far as community, I hope to become a regular part of the conversation along the way.

    1. BusinessX says:

      Reading all the comments before posting is a good practice, but with as many comments as John Chow gets it is not always possible. Because I have simply said Amen to your comments on content and community.

  36. Keral Patel says:

    I do nothing for feed readers. I just keep posting and Yes I do provide a free ebook written by me to my feed subscribers about how to buy and sell domains.

  37. Downloadic says:

    i just subscribe if I like

  38. Dfunda says:

    i subscribe to read the posts directly via mail.to reduce the hassle of typing website every time.

  39. LotusJump says:

    I used to subscribe to everything but now I don’t subscribe to anything unless it comes recommended from somebody I really trust. I have too much information coming in my rss reader these days, I’m looking to trim information not find new stuff.

  40. Content is great, but unique content is or some kind of spin with your personality infused can do wonders for increasing readership.

  41. SAMMY says:

    I beg to disagree that bloggers are “lazy readers” unless of course there is statistical data available to prove it. How can you write and communicate effectively to your audience if you don’t have the habit of reading?? To be a leader, you should be a good follower as the saying goes.

    1. Leader does have to be a good follower AS LONG AS HE MAKES HIS WAY TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE. This way his fellow men know who he is and where he has come from. Telling people what you did is only interesting if you are a top secret agent

  42. secret says:

    The content and something related to me or relate to what i’m doing

  43. Mike says:

    I actually don’t subscribe by RSS but I do selectively bookmark blogs that appeal. So what appeals. Very simply, original content, whatever the standard, beats re-cycled rubbish (doesn’t sound very green) in my book. I hate site loaded with adverts, auto playing audio etc. Surely blogging, whatever your topic, is about community and not making a fast buck. The herd instinct, often helps promote content, that quite honestly would not be worth the paper if indeed it was written on such a medium. I enjoy the connection made when someone takes their time to comment on my thoughts, so I always make a response if its appropriate. Simply writing “great post why not visit my blog…..” however does not fall into this category!
    How did I arrive here, well I actually read a post about this post on another site!

  44. Takumi86 says:

    Well i can say that is a very common sense, you can also invite those ppl to subscribe by adding text link to “subscribe to this post if you feel like it” thats easy

  45. Alot of these play a big role I’m sure, but what gets me to subscribe is whether I enjoy the community they are involved in, and how big a part they play in that community themselves.

  46. BusinessX says:

    Great post as I recently cleaned out my subscribes. They accumulate. What was left are blogs with yes content, but also consistency. Nothing like subscribing to a blog then nothing except once a month or never.

    Also, community. Digging around John Chow’s site I find others that I give a subscribe to and see how it goes. Then the above applies.

    I disagree with having to always stay on topic, Chow posts pictures of his food. Shoemoney and MMA. I think the asides gives color and it sure doesn’t hurt their subscriber counts.

    1. Kok Choon says:

      I think only top blogger like John Chow can post food and many reviews… I will still try to stay on the topic until my site and influence is big!

  47. Natasha says:

    One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made this past year with my blog is that I didn’t make enough time to connect with with guests who leave comments. I look back now and see all the opportunities I missed to network and connect with others.

    Although I agree that quality content is very important, but connecting with readers is, in my opinion, equally as important. Thanks for this post Carl and thanks to all the great comments. I’ve learned quite a bit by reading all of them.

  48. Melvin says:

    What makes me subscribe? Well I think I more likely subscribe to blogs that are just spontaneous. I mean content is nice but sometimes I like to read trivial things about how just people think about something. Blogs that are just like real blogs oftentimes are the blogs I am subscribed to.

  49. Quality More Than Quantity. Agree with that. So currently I have 2 blogs. One blog where I write dailly. The other blog is for quality content from the first blog. I also need quantity to get traffic from search engine.

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