Innocent in Australia

A Scot down and under in Melbourne

How I got my first million blog subscribers

with 2 comments

Whenever you see this headline or its many variations be very wary – they get you when you’re least expecting it, when you’re feeling needy of 1,000,000 readers. And beyond … the headline promises not just a million subscribers but your first million. There will be more. More!

This headline comes from the same stable as Get 1 Billion Twitter Followers in 4 Easy Steps and the like – it’s a confidence trick that’s by no means new.

We all know that, to make a million dollars, you write a book called How to Make a Million Dollars, Get Rich Quick, or Anyone Can Do it.

Not one of these books features a section by the author/ghostwriter explaining how they made their million(s) from reading this kind of book.

There’s a technical name for this kind of headline: wank.

It plays to the shortcut gene, the same one activated by Become a Judo Black Belt in 10 Minutes and How to Learn French in Five Short Lessons.

Have you ever met anyone who did this?

It’s far better to get up early in the mornin’, tryna make a move, like my good friend Fiddy, who offers practical, everyday tips on getting rich (or dying in the process). I find I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy particularly instructive.

I speak Spanish as the result of six years formal study and year-long/months-long chunks in Spanish-speaking countries, enormous dedication, prolonged, you know, trabajo.

When it comes to writing, the implication is that having more readers is better. And I agree. Anyone who writes would agree.

But subscriptions are not a guide to readership figures, only to people who have clicked on “subscribe”. Inboxes around the world creak under the weight of subscription emails never opened and never deleted, that have become, in a sense, invisible.

My preferred rule of thumb is this: if people get past the first four words of your piece you’re doing well. Anything else is a bonus.

If you can go one better and encourage optional extras – if anyone clicks on those painfully-researched hyperlinks, say – you’re a frigging legend.

How do you get people to click on those? More of that later … maybe tomorrow.

Part 3 of 5

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Written by Paul Dalgarno

July 6, 2011 at 7:52 am

2 Responses

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  1. But subscriptions are not a guide to readership figures, only to people who have clicked on “subscribe”.

    I relate to this in so many ways. I just started my blog 2 months ago. So far I have 46 subscribers and 5 other authors. And I wrote a post saying I’m focused on growing the wrong area:subscribers. I should be focused on growing my authors. Because I’ve noticed some of the subscribers don’t comment, like, or read again after the original moment. It makes sense to focus on authors because we will comment and read other posts on a blog we share. I’m very active in the WP community and I’m always showing the blogs I’m subscribed to love but it never gets shown back so this tells me I’m wasting time.

    I don’t know if you knew this but 50 birthday is today.

    Harnew

    July 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    • Thanks for the comment, Harnew, that’s pretty interesting. I guess hitting “subscribe” is a lot easier than the continued commitment most authors/websites would want from their readers, but people do have busy lives, there’s so much to get on with etc etc … Because there’s a word missing, I’m not sure if it’s “your” 50th birthday today – if so, congratulations.

      Paul Dalgarno

      July 9, 2011 at 2:58 am


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