Want 1,000 Blog Subscribers? Just ‘Invent’ Them

By Judy Dunn, Cat’s Eye Writer

When I was writing for children, I used to cut out photos of cute 6-year-olds from magazines and tape them to my whiteboard.

You could say I invented them.

It helped me fill that big black hole, you know that audience you talk to as a writer, but can’t see?

I am often asked, in my blogging workshops, and in emails from my readers, “How do I get more subscribers to my blog?”

I can hear the tension in the email. I can almost see the frown on the face, the furrowing of the eyebrows.

And I say, “Just invent them.”

I can hear the deep silence on the other end, see the question mark at the end of their sentence get bigger.

Dance like no one is watching, blog like everyone is

I know the advice. You’ve heard it, too. It goes like this:

Slow and steady wins the race.

Walk before you run.

One reader at a time.

And it’s true. Because that is how you build your community. And, yes, turning a visitor into a subscriber is one of the most difficult of all conversions.

But you see, if you only focus on that, you are limiting yourself. You are looking at what is, rather than what can be.

I ask my blog coaching clients this: “Would you blog differently if you had 1,000 subscribers?”

There is a pause and I can almost hear them thinking. Most everyone says, “Well, yes, I suppose I would.”

Here is my challenge for you. Blog today, starting right this moment, as if you had 1,000 subscribers. Because, you know what? If you keep doing that, those 1,000  subscribers will show up.

I promise.

5 ways to blog like you have 1,000 subscribers

1. Focus less on incentives and more on kick-ass content.

Offering a free gift to subscribers is common and does help you to some degree. But there are people who subscribe to get the gift and then unsubscribe. There just are.

The best way to get subscribers is to keep cranking out the highest quality posts you can. Day after day, week after week.

2. Watch your consistency.

Readers don’t magically turn into subscribers. They become converts because they eagerly anticipate your next post. And part of that is knowing which day or days they can expect it.

Keep to your posting schedule. Be that consistent and loyal voice they have gotten used to hearing.

3. Claim your voice.

Think about the blogs you subscribe to. You probably could read any one of those bloggers’ posts and know who wrote it without looking at the author’s name. This is what you want to strive for.

Claim your voice and wear it proudly.

4. Tell your stories.

Whether you are a freelance writer, an author or a business blogger, you have stories to tell. When you tell them, readers just naturally connect with you emotionally. And that is exactly what you want to happen.

Weave a little storytelling into your blog posts from time to time and see what happens.

5. Have fun.

If you show your passion and sense of fun, your readers can’t help but follow along.  One way to do that is to become a child again.

Don’t be afraid to show your passion for the topics you are writing about because that’s the way to draw your readers closer to you.

What about you?

What are you already doing to blog like you have 1,000 subscribers? Leave a comment and tell us your strategy.

Judy Dunn is a blogging coach, content marketing specialist and the author of Guide to Showing Up Online. Subscribe to her blog, Cat’s Eye Writer, to find out how to attract more online visitors with compelling copy, a true voice and smart social media strategies.

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33 comments on “Want 1,000 Blog Subscribers? Just ‘Invent’ Them
  1. Adam Green says:

    Great post, Judy. After an abandoned attempt at blogging last year, I think one of the main things that held me back was not blogging like I had 1,000 subscribers. With my new blog (this one’s gonna stick, folks), I’ve committed to using my website as my primary long-term marketing tool, which is something I’m already telling clients to do. If you’re going to follow through with that, you most certainly have to blog like the world is watching.
    Adam Green recently posted..Copywriting and the Art of Brevity

  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks for this! I’m encouraged. Also, I love the princess picture. Classic.

  3. Judy Dunn says:

    Adam,

    Good for you. It takes some devotion and grit to keep going when it seems like no one is there. But you will build a following. Copywriters are such a natural fit for blogging. Each post shows a prospective client or customer shows what you can do, what you know about, what you are passionate about, how talented you are.

    Best of luck with your blogging journey!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for this great post Judy.

      I always thought one of the secrets of my blog’s success is I ALWAYS treated my posts like they were $1-a-word articles for a 1 million subscription magazine! So I thought even bigger.

      I knew from the start I didn’t want my post to be in any way substandard compared with anything else I wrote. Think that attitude has worked out well.

      We should probably add this to our list of Content tips for the Webinar!

  4. Cheryl says:

    Hey Judy,

    And this is exactly why I love your blog. Thanks for the helpful tips.

    I’ve just started with a new personal blog about a month ago…working on casual but educational content.

    All new to me because I always did business blogging (had a business blog for a few years, and also blogged for Entrepreneur too) So it’s a learning curve now…we’ll see…

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Cheryl,

      I’m sure you already know this, but a lot of the same stuff that made your business blog succeed is going to apply to your personal blog. And you blogged for Entrepreneur? Very cool. : )

  5. Great post. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it is exactly what I am doing. My new blog is less than two months old, but I am so passionate about it that I feel like I have a thousand subscribers. I think that thinking how I can re-purpose the posts later helps to make that a reality because at some point that many people will have seen them! And I will have more technical stuff figured out as I go along that I can apply to these posts making them even more enjoyable.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great point about repurposing — some of my posts definitely formed a starting point for my ebook!

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Lillian,

      You are wise to think about more long-term uses for your blog posts now, because that definitely raise the quality bar, at least in your mind, as you blog.

      Oh, and keep blogging to your imaginary 1,000 because they will eventually show up!

  6. Judy Dunn says:

    Carol,

    Ha! Nothing like making big things happen by pretending they’s already happened. A writer after my own heart. : )

  7. Tammy Redmon says:

    One of my favorite sayings is ‘Fake it Till You Make It’! That is what this post says to me. It’s all about how you project your mindset and set your path for success. You aren’t successful when you have 1000 subscribers if you don’t see yourself as a success along the path.

    This holds true is so many areas of life. We aren’t a good parent the day our child is born, no we fake it till we make it. We aren’t a good speaker out of the box, no we practice and fake it till we make it.

    It is about the dance and it is about believing yourself to that happy place. If Dorothy could click her heals three times and return to Kansas, imagine what might happen if you believe so passionately in your next endeavor. And the read shoes might help get you there too. :)
    Tammy Redmon recently posted..5 Ways to Avoid Valentine’s Day Blues

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Tammy,

      Yes! Mindset is everything! If you write your very best stuff and respond to reader comments, even when you have few, you become a more confident blogger. And readers appreciate (and stay with you) because they knew you ‘back when’ and you treated them with the respect they deserve.

  8. Once again, Judy, you have struck positive notes. I am particularly drawn to points 1. (enticements) and 4. (storytelling). I’ve learned in 10 years of marketing on line that gimme gimmicks, as I call them, have no lasting value. I call it the “cotton candy” approach.

    That point ties directly to No. 4. Throughout the years of teaching in ‘J’ schools, the central theme of becoming a good writer/reporter/editor was always: learn to recognize, gather, collect, and tell and/or retell good stories (yours and other subjects’), and you will excel.

    Thanks for your continuing support for us who aspire….
    Be of good cheer,
    Mike

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Mike,

      Are you the same Mike McKenzie who attended our Savvy Blogging workshop in Bellingham, WA? If so, very cool! You are the former editor, right?

      (And, yes, story is everything. I so agree.) : )

      • Yes, one and same. Career in newspaper/magazine/books as columnist, reporter/writer, editor, and author; and ending in college athletics management & marketing/p-r/blogging, primarily centered on fund-raising. Language and writing have been my life, and it has segued into content management and marketing on line with new ventures (coffee and chocolate). Soon will open a blogsite on WordPress, The Perfect Mocha.

        Personal site w/ blog at http://www.beofgoodcheer.com, but I don’t update it often.

        I’m grateful for your insights from deep inside the world of blogging.

        Be of good cheer,
        Mike

        • Judy Dunn says:

          That’s wonderful, Mike! (The ‘J’ for journalism was the giveaway.) : )

          Thanks for the update on your new biz venture. Except for those first years in teaching, writing has been my life, too.

          Can’t wait to see your shiny new blog. Let me know when it launches, okay?

  9. I’ve noticed, as my subscriber count slowly inches up, that my writing is more authoritative now than it was when I started. If you don’t know how to write as if you have 1,000 subscribers, that’s a good place to start!
    Susanna Perkins recently posted..Comment on Expat Mailbox by FutureExpat

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Susanna,

      See? That’s that confidence thing. : )

      Why do we think we have more authority because we have more readers? We have the same credibility when we are starting out! We are just as helpful. We just learn more about what makes a good post as we go along.

      Thanks for weighing in here.

  10. Carol and Judy, it is so nice to see the two of you teaming up with your (as always) sage advice. I’m so new to blogging that I have a question: How do I find out how many subscribers my blog has?

    I have registered for your March 15 webinar and am very much looking forward to learning from the two of you that afternoon.
    Barbara McDowell Whitt recently posted..Chorus Line -Thursday- February 23- 1961

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Barbara —

      Great, look forward to having your participation in the Webinar!

      We’d have to know what system you are gathering subscribers in to advise on how you tell. If it’s Feedburner, you should be able to go on Feedburner and sign in, find your feed, and see what it says for both RSS and email subscribers. I use Mailchimp, and it updates my lists in real time as people subscribe as well, I just sign in and take a look.

      Taking a quick look at your blog, it appears you only have RSS subscribers and no email subscribers…something you’ll surely want to change. As Naomi Dunford and Dave Navarro say in one of their launch-success videos, if you have no email list…you have NOTHING. RSS subscribers are problematic because you don’t know how to contact them, so you can never market to them. If you don’t want to sell anything maybe that doesn’t matter, but for most bloggers, the email list is all.

    • Judy Dunn says:

      Great explanation, Carol. Thanks.

      Barbara, delighted to have you join the webinar!

      Carol brings up a great point about offering subscription options—RSS (reader) feed and email delivery. That list is so valuable in marketing. But the other thing is that I think the split is something like 80-20 as far as people’s preferences in which way they receive your post. The last data I saw was 80% still prefer email delivery. If you only offer RSS feed, you are losing some subscribers. So you should offer both choices.

      Good discussion here.

      • Carol Tice says:

        Right on, Judy — I think a LOT of bloggers don’t understand that only a small percent of the population knows what that RSS symbol even means! But everybody gets email.

        One of the tips I always give is to try to make your email subscription box way bigger than your RSS graphic. You want to drive people to email subs. Techie types know that graphic and will sign up for RSS if they want. Take a look at this blog — see the little square RSS logo in my social sharing row? Then see the huge Free Report banner, which links to my email sub form. You want email subscribers way more, and more people know email, so make that ask bigger.

  11. This advice is one of the best attitude adjustments that anyone can make. A less eloquent way of putting it is, “Don’t half-ass any writing project.”

    See? Totally less eloquent. I prefer Judy’s post. :-)

    Focus on producing your best work, not who’s reading it.

  12. Judy Dunn says:

    Stefanie,

    Not sure. I kind of like the ‘don’t half-ass.’ Sort of has a nice ring to it. : )

    Thanks for sharing here.

  13. I think you strategy depends on what your content areas are. I tried offering some free ebooks, but people looking for tablet pc(my website) is not interested in that.
    I offered like certain discounts when you subscribe and it only worked for awhile. People subscribe and then unsubscribe. Help!
    Sam@ Android tablet recently posted..Leather USB Keyboard case for 10 Inch Android Tablet Like Typad

  14. Judy Dunn says:

    Sam,

    You are right. When we offer a free gift when readers subscribe, definitely, some will sign up to get the gift and then unsubscribe. Some will stay, though, so it’s still a valuable strategy and way to get new readers.

    The thing I need to stress again is that it’s the top-notch quality of your posts that will bring people back. So offer the gift, but focus on quality content. The gift gets them there. The content keeps them there.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m with Judy. Definitely I get several people a day likely who just rip the report and then unsubscribe. But the bottom line is my number of net subscribers keeps steadily rising. Most people stick around as ongoing subscribers, and I consider it well worth it.

      Besides, my report has sales offers on the end, so even if they just take it and leave, I may still see them back to buy an ebook, or get involved in the site in some way in future.

  15. Oswald says:

    Good stuff – I have a problem doing this one part though – “Think about the blogs you subscribe to…”. I am blogging, but I have never subscribed to a blog in my life and I don’t think I would! It seems there is just too much good stuff to read out there, blogs and otherwise.
    I do find myself going over and over again to some blog for some period in my life. But just using a bookmark. And eventually it seems there are a few killer posts in the blog but they come less and less often, and life and interests move on anyway.
    So – why do some people subscribe to blogs rather than just bookmark the really good ones and check on them from time to time?
    Oswald recently posted..Ditch your stuff and see the world

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Oswald –

      I’m sorry you haven’t discovered the benefits of subscribing to a blog! I don’t know about other places, but I often send special offers only to my email subscribers on here, so if you’re only bookmarking you’ve missed them all…and I’ll be doing more of that in future. When I do limited-time offers or ones where only 20 people can get the discount, I usually tell my subscribers a day sooner so they can be first in line to take advantage. Come see what you’re missing!

  16. Judy Dunn says:

    Oswald,

    You are right. If a blog is inconsistent—in frequency of posting, in quality, etc.—who would want to subscribe and get every single post? On the other hand, if the blogger offers useful stuff on a regular basis, some readers will find that valuable enough to subscribe.

    There could be other reasons for not subscribing. For instance, if you are starting a new hobby, or learning to cook or beginning a weight loss program, there would be personal blogs you might find useful for a while, but not forever.

    I subscribe to more than a dozen blogs. I don’t read every post on each blog, but that’s what a good headline will do: it lets me know instantly if the content will be interesting or useful to me. Other times, I just skim and scan, looking for pieces of information that might be new to me. (And that is where it’s crucial to format a post with bolded sub-heads and lots of white space.)

    On the top-rated blogs, I can expect to find quality content on a regular basis. So I stick around.

    Hope this answers your question.

  17. Georgia Christian says:

    Thanks for this great post Judy. Not sure. Language and writing have been my life, and it has segued into content management and marketing on line with new ventures (coffee and chocolate). The thing I need to stress again is that it’s the top-notch quality of your posts that will bring people back.
    Georgia Christian recently posted..Cancer Tips

  18. Judy Dunn says:

    So true, Georgia. It’s the consistent high-quality content that brings readers back. Sounds like, having been a writer for that long, that you have a head start in that department. : )
    Judy Dunn recently posted..How to Write an Irresistible Blog Bio

4 Pings/Trackbacks for "Want 1,000 Blog Subscribers? Just ‘Invent’ Them"
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Dunn, Judy Dunn, Claire Wagner, Jessica McCann, Sheila Siler and others. Sheila Siler said: RT @TiceWrites: Want 1,000 Blog Subscribers? Just ‘Invent’ Them http://goo.gl/fb/CM3mP [...]

  2. [...] my Webinar partner Judy Dunn said earlier this week, bloggers who want to succeed today should write like they already have 1,000 subscribers. Or take the attitude I always did — that each blog post I wrote was as important to me as a [...]

  3. [...] writing wherein I have nothing published. I am more than willing to work on that. Your article to invent your audience was of some help, but again I fall short of good content (great is something far far away, I feel) [...]

  4. [...] Want 1000 Blog Subscribers? Just ‘Invent’ Them by Judy Lee Dunn [...]

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