Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric?

By: Guest | October 4, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is by Jayme Soulati 

If your blog was ranked (how does that even happen?) and suddenly had a ton of subscribers, would that change your outlook on blogging?

Would you love every minute of it and revel in your success?

Or would it suck the joy out of it for you?

Let’s back up…when you launched your blog, was it your goal to earn 500 or 1,000 subscribers in 12 months?

Didn’t think so.

But just like any popularity contest, numbers – votes – matter, right?

And eventually, you start feeling a little “less than” when looking at your stats.

What’s easy to forget, however, is the blogs that launched at zero and are now incredibly successful with a gazillion subscribers (usually) took a long and, sometimes, very calculated road to get there.

Big Numbers are Hard Work

Some of what transpired on that roadway to earn a katrillion subscribers may have included these mile markers:

  • Deploying the latest bells, whistles, widgets, and plugins to spiff up the house and make it attractive and enticing.
  • Mastering analytics, either with Google or Clicky (or a combination of both), to know who’s coming to visit, where they’re landing, how long they’re sticking around, and what content is being perused.
  • Writing with keyword SEO juice and link love as second nature.
  • Entering contests to become the biggest this and the best that.
  • Applying for ranking with the Ad Age Power 150 to get that awesome badge in the sidebar of your blog.
  • Writing consistently about topics that are specialized to a niche audience.
  • Cultivating community with authentic engagement every day.
  • Migrating from freebie to Feedblitz (or other RSS publishing options).

Live to Write or Write to Live?

Now think again about the reason you launched your blog…was it to:

  • Walk the talk and understand what all the hoopla is about?
  • Write because you have something to say?
  • Become a thought leader on a topic or profession?
  • Share your passion about a hobby or cause-related issue?
  • Create and build a fabulous community that supports you?
Fast forward to today – is your blog on track with your original goals? Are you happy and content, no matter the number of followers you have? Or, are you just going through the motions without rhyme or reason, concerned because you haven’t hit the big time?

The bigger question to ask yourself is this: Do you really care whether you have a boatload of subscribers?

More Subscribers Means More Accountability

Being a blogging superstar isn’t a walk in the park. When a blogger hits the big time and earns a ton of subscribers or has a large community commenting, said blogger has to be there to reply, engage, comment, and return the favor.

A blog with oodles of subscribers also has to become more accountable, and that takes oodles of time and money.

Here’s why:

  • You need to be consistent in publishing.
  • The posts must have authoritative content that leads and bleeds (that means it’s provocative).
  • You must provide thought-provoking, influence-building, genuine, original, and authoritative material.
  • You should respond to every single person who stops in to say anything.
  • And install all the new bells, whistles, plugins, and design requirements to keep everything fresh.
  • You’ll most likely invest in an IT firm, team, or professional who can help with the backend.
  • And you need to master analytics, big data, and the next big gizmo, to lead the community to it.

It’s also important to make the distinction that a high number of subscribers does not a community make. Not every subscriber will engage and leave comments, for example. And you might have a rich, lively, and loyal group who does just that.

Consider also that if each person who subscribed to your blog (if you had 1,000) commented on each blog post, you’d probably crash the server!

So, rather than getting caught up in subscriber-numbers as a metric of “success,” look back at the lists above, rediscover why you started writing in the first place, and be true to your school.

If it’s all about the numbers, and you have the time to invest, then definitely go for it.

But if you’re blogging mainly for the love of craft, your consistency and passion will enable real, organic growth, with more subscribers rolling in on a daily basis.

Jayme Soulati blogs at Soulati-‘TUDE! and is everywhere on the Interwebz, starting with @Soulati.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

95 responses to “Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric?”

  1. And, thanks to @dannybrown , @nemultimedia  Jason Konopinski for the tips this week over at my house about the need for Responsive Design! Your blog has to be mobile ready!

  2. Carmelo says:

    Yeah, we all have our reasons don’t we? And they often get all caught up in what everyone else is doing and telling us to do! The trick is to stay true to your core. What works for others isn’t always going to work for you. Nor would you want it to! Good reminders. 

    •  @Carmelo Hi, Carmelo! Great to meet you…love that…”stay true to your core.” ECHO. 
      What we also need to do is be mindful of the tech — mobile tech IS altering our course a tad, and the early adopters will do their blogs a favor with friendly design for smart tech.

      • Carmelo says:

         @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Nice to meet you too, Soulati! And yes, very important to have our content reach the devices people are using.

  3. Consistency in publishing: I took a 10-day break and my traffic practically fell off the map. In the past, there were times when I didn’t write for months at time, yet an old post happened to get linked in a hot discussion somewhere, and traffic took off.  I’m just calling it all an experiment. 

    •  @barrettrossie And, look what happens when you’re rockin’ it! Know what else? You’re a big Triberr Chieftain, too; managing the tribe like you own it (you do). I like that and you’ll reap rewards in spades as a result! 
      Now, don’t go disappearing another 10…I’ll have to come and show you who’s boss!

    • jonbuscall says:

       @barrettrossie How much of that traffic was really meaningful ? When I reduced my posting schedule I didn’t really see much of a dip in traffic that stayed on the site, just a dip in the 1 second visits from social media / rss pings

      •  @jonbuscall Jon, that’s hard to say because I’m just ramping up. Though I joke about it, it’s just an experiment at this point. I’m not really selling anything, just practicing, and giving potential clients a chance to see that I can occasionally engage people. Does that make sense, or is it weak? 🙂 At any rate, some changes are coming. 

        • jonbuscall says:

           @barrettrossie  @jonbuscall I’m curious to see how it pans out. At least that will be a follow-up post !
          Best of luck.

  4. ErinMFeldman says:

    @Soulati You’re welcome!

  5. jonbuscall says:

    I think it’s still important to talk about the biggest metric of them all: sales! Or at least, really good lead generation. 
    Blogging for conversation, insight, development, self-awareness, etc, is incredibly important and something that’s drive me a lot of the time. But I do try to stay aware of the fact that blogging, unless you’re careful, can be a time suck. Scheduled time for commenting, reading and writing keeps me focused. Of course, there are times when client work takes over totally, but a blog is an important part of our business armoury. Let’s treat it like that too and remember to check those really important numbers in the blog / business equation. 

  6. Good thoughts Jayme! To address the title question… I definitely do not think that subscribers are the only metric. Big picture, I think the measure of success is related to the site’s goals. Each site’s goals are different, so each measure of success is different. In my case, I know that RSS subscribers is not a good metric. Having a non-tech, non-blogging/social topic, most of my readers will be not be RSS users. I think email subscribers is a better metric in my topic area, but I look at a blend including traffic, bounce rate, etc. (Love Clicky!!!)
    In the end, metrics only have the meaning you give them.

    •  @Adam | Customer Experience I saw my pal @EricaAllison sneaking in a like down there; she’s the one who turned me on to Clicky. It’s awesome. 
      Sounds like you have a handle on your site very well and your audience, too, Adam. I think those are two ways to manage a blog — for whom are you writing and what about and then the subscribers come?

  7. […] Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric?, […]

  8. Start at the beginning and ask yourself why you blog and what your goals are. Without that information it gets to be hard to answer many of the questions this post raises.

  9. Thanks, Triberrs and Carmelo for weighing in here today! XO to y’all…

  10. Soulati says:

    @ginidietrich did I say that? Dang that’s a gooder!

  11. ExtremelyAvg says:

    I didn’t know the answer to the question until I read the post. I guess, I must be in the live to write camp. I spent the first year trying to build traffic and then sort of morphed into writing novels and books. (I’ve written 5 since Jan 2010) I still post every day, but I haven’t checked to see if anyone is reading the posts in half a year. Sometime I get comments, Bill Dormann stopped over a few nights ago, but I suspect my views have dropped to almost nothing.  My mom and dad still read.
    So, I guess I write because I like writing. My blog is little part of me that I feed every day and if people want to read it, that is fine, and I’d love more readers, but it isn’t a need.
    I enjoyed the post. Thanks for bringing me some clarity.

  12. Soulati says:

    @ginidietrich dang I said that too?

  13. Soulati says:

    @alisonmunn thanks for that!

  14. ExtremelyAvg says:

    @Soulati You did a really nice job with that post. 🙂

  15. To further the convo I am on iPhone and this site is using WP Touch. What an amazing user and nav experience!

    Now that I have firsthand feel for what you tech geeks are saying…run to WPTouch pro!

    • Danny Brown says:

      @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Except you miss the cool stuff in Gini’s sidebar with WPtouch Pro and that’s a lot of call to actions and expertise that potential clients may be missing out on.

  16. rdopping says:

    Jayme, late to the party today.
    I just wanted to lend my support to your enthusiasm as a blogger. If more people had your drive there would that much more stiff competition out there. Thanks for asking those questions. It’s always good to go back and discover why you are doing what you do.
    Personally, all the tech talk lately has me thinking and I am investigating to make sure i don’t get lost in the tech shuffle. Slow and steady but that’s not the essence for me. The “love of the craft” and the love of design is why I blog and we have big plans over here at theviewfromhere for the future.
    It is fun, huh?
    Great post. You are a key inspiration for me and my growth in this wild and woolly world. Cheers!

    • @rdopping Thanks so much, Monsieur! Un baguette si vous plait!  Je’taime… OK, so how’s France? Apparently, you miss us and need something to do so our blogs beckon…love that.
      I’m so thrilled when I learn something new, like Feedblitz thingy or the mobile platform technology or what a CTA is…hah, feels like shades of @3hatscomm who is so MIA these days…anyway…I’m so thrilled to pass along the new to you to inspire learning, as well. 
      FWIW…Hey, Davina! Where you at?

  17. Soulati says:

    @howiegoldfarb Nice to see you’re finally branding yourself. What a cool gig with @ginidietrich too.

  18. […] bitácora? En el siguiente post se hacen esa misma pregunta y nos ofrecen algunas respuestas Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric?Y antes de dejaros con la infografía de la semana, un interesante post que habla precisamente de […]

  19. ginidietrich says:

    Here’s the rub: Subscribers, traffic, pageviews, AdAge…that’s all fine and dandy, but those are ego-driven metrics. They don’t mean squat if you don’t get something out of them. Find ways to make money from your blog. It may be ads or selling content or providing products or getting paid for reviews. Whatever it is, the numbers will help you increase those dollars, but they won’t sell for you alone.

  20. bdorman264 says:

    Hmmmm……on one hand I have far exceeded whatever I thought I would be doing in here. When I first got started if you would have asked if I would make it to 140 posts I would have said ‘probably not.’
    But that’s the dilemma; I am still around but essentially doing the same ol’ thing as when I got in here.
    It’s easy to be the goof w/ a free site and no discernible plan; all I have to do is show up for that, right? 
    I might play one on TV, but I’m no dummy; I see what works and what doesn’t. I know what would needed to be done to take it to the next level. 
    I’m asked all the time ‘then why are you doing this if you aren’t on a path to monetize your existence?’ Good question; probably the easiest answer is I actually like to network, social just opened a whole new avenue for me. It’s easy for me to hang around just for that fact alone. 
    If I was sucking wind in my day job maybe I’d get a little more serious about it. However, just because I ‘know’ I can do something still doesn’t mean I want to. 
    Bottom line, I really don’t look at any numbers except who is showing up at my place; that’s really the only number that means anything to me. If I started stinking it up and chasing everybody off then I might have to reassess my motives and mission. 
    I’ve met some great people; I’ve learned a ton; and I have enough ‘experience’ in social that if I ever decide to make Gini proud and truly become the next A-lister, it won’t be hard to work from the base I already have established. 
    Probably more than you cared to hear and of course it was all about me, but that’s the other thing I’m good at; talking about me……….:).
    Good to see you at Gini’s.

    • @bdorman264 What I love the most about that statement (and there’s never any pressure to comment where I write so thanks for doing that, Bill) is the fact you recognize perfectly “doing the same ‘ol thing as when I got in here.” 
      So many bloggers don’t have a clue about that, so you’re in a good spot. You’re very aware of your goals and monetization isn’t for everyone…heck, not even sure I can get there without someone pulling me. 
      Thanks for getting outta da cah to be here.

    • ExtremelyAvg says:

      @bdorman264 You hit on something rather important. “…the base I already have established”.
      I’m working on a double secret project that involves an app for iPhone and Android. I think it is a good idea and the best part is that when it comes time to tell the world about my app, I have a base. I’ve got a blog of a couple years, and a very solid 2300 real followers on Twitter (I’ve blocked thousands of people who tried to follow me, but they were obviously spammers or nutters). I’ve even done okay with G+ and FB.
      The foundation one builds may not end up supporting the dream one first imagined, but if it is solid, it will be there for whatever dream might come.

  21. Mark_Harai says:

    I’m here because of the people I get to share a piece of my life with.
    They also happen to be some of the sharpest minds in all things business on the web. I love that part and these types of people : )
    In the process I get to learn, grow, share ideas and hopefully contribute value to the community in some way.
    For now, that’s enough for me.
    Cheers, Jayme!

  22. Danny Brown says:

    Great post miss, and always nice to see people talking about the value of a blog. It all depends, doesn’t it?
    Can you make money? Yes. Will you make a lot? Maybe. Do you need to make money? No. Do you need a gazillion subscribers to feel successful? No. Can it help if you have a lot of subscribers? Yes. Do comments count? Yes. No. Maybe.
    That’s the beauty – the metrics that matter are the ones YOU define matter. Everything else is someone else’s definition of success.

  23. So, there’s a little discussion going on about how to monetize a blog…who has thoughts on this? Doable for any blogger? Easy or more complex than you imagined? Am thinking a blog post brewing with this community’s help. Or, maybe I’m stepping on some toes, Gini?

  24. In the olden days I woulda started hitting Gini’s other posts for commenters. In the olden days I woulda had 100 comments, too. I’m itchin to get there, so I see I have some work to do…

  25. So, anyone who wants to bring in a commenter I’ll give them a sucker. (There, that’s 3 more…28 to go.)

  26. I think I can count the “likes” from peeps who never said nuthin’, eh?

  27. HowieG says:

    I just want one subscriber. Warren Buffet.

  28. Oh, you guys rock for getting me up to 80; I’m good. Thanks, ALL, for all the #RockHot ‘raderie!

  29. ContentRambler says:

    @markwschaefer @ginidietrich Thanks for sharing 🙂 I started blogging to write, but the make-money sounds make it hard to focus at times!

  30. Anthrofashnyst says:

    @jkcallas @ginidietrich I hope not. Because I’m in the toilet then…

  31. Soulati says:

    @writeontrack_l Just tried to invite you to my Globe Spotting tribe, Lorna…Are you on Triberr, please?

  32. Oh, goody…we’re creeping up to 90…hope everyone had a great weekend! See you Monday!

  33. mclinklove says:

    @kyleplacy They’re easy to count. So, yes.

  34. be3d says:

    @kyleplacy @ginidietrich Does anyone really think that?

  35. chavisa_t says:

    RT @kyleplacy: Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric? via @ginidietrich

  36. […] Jayme Soulati entertains the question, “Are Blog Subscribers the Only Success Metric?” at Spin Sucks. […]

  37. LOL, I’m WORKING ON IT. That. Is. All.

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