Foolproof Ways to Attract Your First 1,000 Blog Subscribers

Less than a year ago, this blog had fewer than 300 subscribers. Now, it’s headed toward 2,000.

This is the story of how I skyrocketed my blog subscribers — and how you can, too.

I tried a lot of strategies — and some of them worked. The good news is, the things that worked for me are things any blogger can do to grow their audience. You’re pretty much guaranteed you will add subscribers.

How many subscribers you add depends on how well you execute your plan — and definitely on a little bit of luck! — but your numbers will definitely go up.

Before I start, I just want to say that growing an email subscriber list should be the first goal for any blogger with dreams of earning from their blog. A lot of new bloggers are unaware of this — I know I was! But without a list, you cannot easily market and sell things to your readers.

I agree with Naomi Dunford of ittybiz — when you don’t have a list, you’ve got nothing. You can be doing a lot of awesome stuff, but at the end of the day if that stuff doesn’t build your list, it’s a waste of time.

Here are the 10 most important things I did to grow my subscriber base:

1. Make celebrity friends. A few years back, this wasn’t so important, as it was easier to get noticed in the blogosphere. Now, as Jon Morrow of Copyblogger tells in a great video on his GuestBlogging site, it’s mandatory. You can do all of the other steps below, but it’ll be slow going if you can’t get a link or mention from an influential blogger. Just like a Hollywood starlet, you can spend years touring in dinner theater and eking out a living, or you can sit at the drugstore counter on Hollywood Boulevard and get noticed by a big movie-studio producer right away.

When top bloggers notice your work, they can spread the word to everyone else and send a flock of readers over to your blog. Some will subscribe. You’ve also then made a great connection you can ask about guest-blogging opportunities on their blog, to gain even more exposure.

There are lots of ways to connect with top bloggers. The first way I did it was just by putting my blog post links on Twitter. One was spotted by Jon and he asked me to guest post on Copyblogger. A lot of good stuff rolled from there.

2. Listen to your readers and meet their needs. You may think you know why readers visit your blog and what they want to read about, but take a poll and ask them. The answers will probably surprise you. If you only have a few readers now, email them individually and get their thoughts. When you write more extremely useful posts on exactly the topics readers want, more readers will subscribe.

3. Post frequently and consistently. Initially, I posted sporadically, then progressed to once a week. I gradually upped that to twice a week, and then three times, which seems to be a good level for this blog. More posts mean more visits — it’s just that simple.

I also set my posts to all go up at the same time of day, and on the same days of the week (holidays excepted). I found readers like to be able to rely on you for a fresh post at particular times in their week. People are creatures of habit, and regular posting will make your blog habit-forming.

4. Write amazing headlines with key words. Regular readers are probably sick of hearing this from me, but most blog-post headlines aren’t drawing readers the way they could. If you improve only one thing about the posts on your blog, let it be the headlines. When I learned more about headlines and wrote stronger headlines, I got noticed by a lot more influential people.

5. Give away great free stuff. So many bloggers complain they can’t get people to subscribe, but they don’t offer any incentive to do so. Put together a short, useful free report and you’ll be amazed at how many more subscribers you get. People love free stuff! When I did my first guest-post on Copyblogger, I was so excited — I thought I would rack up hundreds of new subscribers right away. But I didn’t have a free-giveaway offer, and I really didn’t get many subscribers. So you can drive a crowd to your blog, but if you don’t make them an enticing offer, you still won’t gain many subscribers. I definitely learned this one the hard way.

6. Ask for the subscription. Back when I had about 250 subscribers, I did a consulting call with Jon Morrow. I complained about my low subscriber rate, and he said, “Well — do you ask readers to subscribe?” I countered that I had a signup box.

“No,” he said. “Ask them. On the bottom of your posts write, ‘If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing,’ and give a link to sign up.” Sure enough, making that “ask” got a steady trickle of signups going, right away.

7. Make it easy to subscribe by email. I’ve looked at more than 100 startup blogs in the past couple of months, and a common problem new bloggers have is not making it easy to subscribe by email. Often, there’s only an RSS signup, or the email signup is buried inside the RSS signup sheet.

I used to have a similar problem — I had a small text-link you clicked to subscribe, which took you another place where you filled out the subscription form. In other words, it was a 2-step process. When I fixed that and made it a one-step process, subscriptions rose. Lesson: You can never underestimate how lazy people are when they’re reading websites. Every step they have to take gives them a chance to lose interest and wander away without subscribing.

8. Remove the clutter. Last summer, I got approached by Derek Halpern of DIYThemes and Social Triggers to do a guest post for DIY. He told me my site was too cluttered and I should delete many sidebar widgets. When I did, I got more subscribers. It’s because my site became less confusing and it’s more obvious to readers what I want them to do — subscribe.

9. Learn about technology. When you don’t know how to operate your blog, you get stuck. Your blog becomes static while you save up the money to hire yet another expert to improve your blog. I hate technology with a passion and would much rather be writing, but I sucked it up and learned how to do the vast majority of my blog changes myself. It gave me the ability to improve my blog quickly and implement the changes all those experts were telling me to make.

10. Market the #%(@*! out of your blog. When you write a blog post, you have created a marketing tool. Next, you have to get out there and use that tool to help people discover your blog. Retweet your content, post links on Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever else your crowd hangs out. Comment on other blogs. Invite readers and experts to come guest-post on  your blog — it’ll make them into big fans and promoters of your blog.

Growth chart image: stock.xchng – guitargoa

  1. Rakesh says:

    The “Celebrity Friends” trick works really well. To be honest, I have harvested some good traffic from it, the only problem is that it won’t last long!

    Rakesh
    Rakesh recently posted..Shared Web Hosting V-s VPS V-s Dedicated Servers

  2. Hajra says:

    The celebrity thing is pretty cool! Wonderful stuff here!

  3. Gabrielle says:

    Jon’s name is floating around the blogosphere today! I just read a guest post at Problogger from fellow Guest Blogging and coaching peer, Danny Iny, and he talked about Jon. I got off a great coaching call with Jon this past Saturday and he said I should check out your blog. Glad I did! I got some more insights from your post today to apply to my blog. 1,000 subscribers is in my sights but I’ve got a-ways to go.

    For # 10, I had read that it was good to tweet @ someone a blog post that you’ve written saying that their readers might like it. The person who had mentioned it said they tweeted at Guy Kawasaki and he retweeted it.

    • Carol says:

      Jon is a really bright guy. I targeted Darren Rowse once and it crashed my server…one of my busiest days ever. While Rakesh is right that it’s usually a brief hit, it can still be well worthwhile and an opening to ding that expert again…for a guest post or maybe a quick interview for your blog. The trick is to build on it.
      Carol recently posted..Foolproof Ways to Attract Your First 1-000 Blog Subscribers

  4. Joseph says:

    Hi Carol,

    Related to point number two, you can create an easy and nice looking survey through Wufoo.com. I did that last week on my blog (viewable on the home page), and the results were interesting and insightful. Without doing this kind of survey, it’s hard to know what posts people are most interested in. The responses have been very helpful, and I’m going to narrow my writing down based on them.

    Thanks again for the great content.

    Joseph
    Joseph recently posted..The Secret to Getting Your Online Content Noticed

    • Carol Tice says:

      SurveyMonkey is great for surveys, too.

      The technology is easy now, or you can do a survey without an official poll structure — just ask an open-ended question in comments, such as “What is your most urgent question about (your expertise area)?” and let people leave their thoughts.

  5. Dindy Yokel says:

    Hi Carol. Always enjoy your posts. Item 7 rings true…I have a few RSS feeds that come to me daily or weekly but I always forget to read them. When email is the venicle I don’t miss a word and often share the good info when it is a point and click away.

    Keep writing, your wisdom is much appreciated.
    Dindy

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Dindy! I appreciated the chance to take a look at your blog in the free call a few weeks back. Can’t wait to see what happens when you put it together with your writer site and get it all working for you.

  6. Hi Carol! Thanks for providing such great info and value in your blog. I am a “new” blogger and I feel so much better after reading your posts. Thanks just don’t seem like enough.

    I tried clicking your affiliate program link and got an error 404. I’d love to learn more but thought I’d at least let you know in case it’s a broken link.

    Blessings,
    Torrey
    Torrey Shannon recently posted..Best Selling Author Turns Down Half A Million Dollar Publishing Contract To Self-Publish

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yikes! Thanks for alerting me, Torrey. Copied the wrong link there…it is working now.

      You can also see the link at the bottom of both my Webinars and Ebooks pages.

  7. Carol Tice says:

    Hi all — just want to say hold off if you’re interested in the affiliate deal. I’m working a few bugs out of the system now…I’ll check back in when it’s ready to go.

  8. Carol Tice says:

    Hi all –

    You’ll see I’ve taken the affiliate offer down. I’m so unhappy with the setup I’m going to be switching providers for that, so unfortunately it’ll probably be the next Webinar before affiliates can get into the act. Stay tuned…

  9. Natalie says:

    I am terrible for growing my list. Struggling for time at the moment and while I have managed to keep one blog going, the other has been left to fester. Something has got to change so I can concentrate on subscribers.
    Natalie recently posted..Why You Should Not Worry About Your Bounce Rate

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Natalie –

      If you look at the previous post where I reviewed all the blogs, there are a lot of tips for growing your subscriber base. You have the problem common to many blogs I looked at where you have no way to subscribe on email — and there’s no way to market products to RSS subscribers.

      Create a nice big email sub box with a free report offer and you’ll start getting more subscribers. Ask for the subscription on the bottom of posts. Without email subscribers, you’re doing a lot of work but probably not building a viable monetizing vehicle.

  10. Miss Britt says:

    Oddly enough, getting 1,000 subscribers was the easy part! But I feel like I’ve been stuck at the 1500 mark forever.
    Miss Britt recently posted..How To “Just Be”- A Learn-As-I-Go Guide

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Miss Britt –

      Well you are lucky…I think for most the ramp to that first thousand is the tough part. There are definitely other plateaus you hit as you go along…one of the reasons I’m doing joint-venture free teleclasses — besides providing my current readers with a great opportunity to do some free learning, these events bring me a list of new subscribers from the people who sign up off my partner’s list.

      See the new post today about my 4/6 free class with Pushing Social’s Stanford for an example! Super-excited about getting to present his ideas.

    • Hi Mess Britt,

      I don’t know if you have considered going viral with your marketing? If you have 1500 subscribers, you can request them to recommend your blog to their friends. Instead, as suggested here, you can hold a small contest and give-away a prize to one of the lucky winners. You are bound to get more traffic that way!
      Neeraj Sachdeva recently posted..What Could ‘Faster than speed of light result’ Mean For You?

  11. Shalini says:

    Wow, such an amazing article to attract subscribers to your blog. I have a blog too and always wondering when i would get the traffic. Thanks for helping
    Shalini recently posted..Free giveaway contest

    • Carol Tice says:

      If you want to learn more about how to build your audience and get more traffic, come to my upcoming Webinar on April 12, Secrets of a MoneyMaking Blog. We will be going over more than a dozen strategies to use. You can click on that red circle up above with “blog secrets” on it to get more details about the presentation.

  12. Tram Tran says:

    I just retweeted this. Thank you so much, extremely useful content

  1. [...] On the blog today, I’m sharing the story of how I grew my blog from just a few subscribers to nearly 2,000. [...]

  2. [...] here: Foolproof Strategies to Attract 1000 Blog Subscribers Related Posts:Celebrating 1000 posts! – Burbank Library Blog This marks post number 1000 on [...]

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  4. [...] one of my products.What turned it around for me? Here’s my guide to affiliate-sales success:Get 1,000 subscribers. It’s unlikely you’ll have enough traffic to sell much below this level of readership. [...]

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