15 Reasons People Unsubscribe From Your RSS

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Site Sketch 101 has slowly been evolving into the beast that you see here today. During its nearly two years of existence, it’s acquired about 4,000 subscribers.

That hasn’t happened by accident, but rather, from an intentional effort to provide great content, to engage with the audience as much as possible and much more.

Subscribers come and go, but if you want more to come than go then pay attention below to the 15 reasons people unsubscribe from your RSS. As I write and work here at Site Sketch 101, I’ve found that keeping these concepts in mind have helped to make this site what it is today.

15 Reasons People Unsubscribe From Your RSS

  1. You only publish partial posts – Quite often, publishers release only an excerpt of an article in the RSS in an effort to force readers to click through and read the rest of the article at the site itself. This can lead to an increase in daily visitors and page views, but it can also lead to an increase in reader annoyance.
  2. You post way too often – There are very few sites that have the creativity and variety to be able to post dozens of articles each day the way that Mashable does. In fact, even though I love Mashable, there’s no way I’ll subscribe to their RSS. My feed would be bombarded with their updates.
  3. You don’t post often enough – I guess you could say it’s a balancing act. Too much content and you’ll end up scaring them away; too few articles and you’ll bore your readers into unsubscribing. No one wants to have a feed in their reader that never gets updated.
  4. You post repetitive content – In a world filled with millions of blogs, it can be difficult to create unique, original content…but it’s vital. If you’re posting the same opinions, news and articles that every other blog in the blogosphere is writing about then folks will quickly get tired of your redundancies.
  5. You overdo the hard sell – Nobody can kill a party faster than the guy who stands around talking about himself nonstop. You’ve experienced that feeling, looking around looking for a way to get away from the boring, egomaniac. Don’t be that guy. Stop talking pitching yourself and your products so much.
  6. You no longer fill a need – Often a user will sign up because they’re interested in a topic that’s relevant to them at that time in their lives. Perhaps they find they’re no longer interested in under water basket weaving (or whatever you write about) and as such, they move on and unsubscribe.
  7. You don’t write well – Even the most intelligent and informed author can appear to be ignorant if they’re not able to write well and there are few things that turn readers off faster than the glaring distractions of a poor writer. Pick up a copy of James Chartrand’s Write for the Web and take it up a notch today.
  8. You don’t entertain your readers – Humor cannot be undervalued. The teachers, authors and educators of our world who are able to aggressively grab the attention of their audiences and convey the truths that they’re teaching are the ones that we don’t soon forget. Are you educating your readers or putting them to sleep in the attempt?
  9. Your titles don’t entice readers – An article’s title has to put on the gloves and go head-to-head with dozens of other post titles in people’s RSS readers, email accounts, search engines, Facebook timelines and Twitter streams. It’s your job to get your post title ready to perform like the champ it has the potential to be.
    More on this: 15 Tips to Awesome, Eye-Jerking Post Titles
  10. You’ve shifted direction – Often throughout the life cycle of a blog, the author may choose to shift focus. Although this is most often a good thing as a writer matures and hones their abilities, it can often leave some longing for the content they originally signed up for.
  11. Your content is offensive – I’ve never met someone who is offended by folks who don’t swear or who don’t tell off-color jokes, but I have run into a lot of people who are offended by those who do those things. Play it safe and keep your content appropriate for as many audiences as possible.
  12. You’re not as helpful as they thought – I often sign up for updates from a site only to learn that the person I’m following isn’t nearly as authoritative, helpful, or informative as I had originally thought.
  13. You advertise in the feed too much – We all need to make money and we all understand that you’ll have to create a few inconveniences to your users to accomplish it. However, in the end, if you want to make some money from your efforts you’ll have to learn how to balance great content with a light amount of ads.
  14. Your content is too long – Most readers are working to consume as much information as possible and they’re quick to pass over your article if they see that it’s going to set them back a few extra minutes on their quest to get to the next post in their reader.
  15. Your feed isn’t loading right – Using Feedburner is a great way to optimize your feed, ensure that it’s not loading any errors and make it compatible for as many different readers as possible.

If you’re serious about increasing your subscribers then take these reasons seriously and take real action on them today. And if you’re looking for more great advice for improving your blog, be sure to check out Blogging to the Third Power.

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  1. May 2, 2011

    Lauryn said:

    Great post Nick!

    This doesn’t just go for RSS but a blog in general. Content and quality content at that, come first!


    • May 2, 2011

      Stefan Zabunov said:

      Totally agree with Lauryn!

      This is a killer article and it’s a must-read for every blogger!

      Nicholas, if you allow me, I would like to translate this article in Bulgarian and post it to my blog. More bloggers should think over all these 15 points.

      Please, tell me about your decision with answer here or by email.

      Thanks again and thank you for this blog. Since month or two, this is my “morning newspaper”.

      Best,
      Stefan


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I couldn’t agree more. Quality content will always be the trump card in all of this.


  2. May 2, 2011

    Ashvini said:

    Hi Nicholas,

    All of the points you mentioned above are extremely important if someone wants the blog to remain meaningful and popular.

    thanks for sharing.


  3. May 2, 2011

    doug_eike said:

    Several of these reasons cause me to unsubscribe, but the most common one, for me, is poor writing. Thanks for the tips!


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      That’s probably the most common for me as well. I find it to be so incredibly distracting that I can’t focus on the content itself.


  4. May 2, 2011

    Riley Harrison said:

    Hi Nicholas,
    That’s a pretty good list that would be hard to bicker with. I suppose the proof in is the pudding. Is your RSS steadily growing at a satisfactory rate or is it languishing and your frustration is the only thing growing.
    Riley


  5. May 2, 2011

    Allie said:

    Nicholas,

    I always take into consideration the fact that people subscribe to RSS (or email newsletters) and then over time forget about you or don’t check RSS anymore. This is almost as bad as unsubscribing because they just don’t read your content anymore. But frankly, you just don’t know they are doing it. (You can check your newsletter stats but can you check RSS opening rates?)

    So, if I have 100 RSS subscribers I always figure 1/2 of them are paying attention. This helps me to know I need more subscribers. And keeps me on my toes. (I just pulled 1/2 out of the air.)

    Thanks again for great tips and content!

    ~Allie


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I actually agree with you a lot. I actually think that it’s probably less than 1/2 that are really active readers especially after you’ve been building the list for a long, long time. Stay on your toes.


  6. May 2, 2011

    Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

    Luckily most are totally within our own control.

    With just a little TLC and the ability to accept feedback and constructive criticism, any blogger should rarely experience the unsubscribe. 🙂


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I agree. I think far too often folks blame the readers for their lack of interest, but just as you pointed out, 9 times out of 10 it is within our control to improve our content and entice our readers.


  7. May 2, 2011

    Gilberto J Perera said:

    I thinkt that one of the best ways to combat a shift in topic or even expanding into other topics is to create RSS feeds for each major topic category.

    I myself am looking into doing this for my tech website. What started as a Windows type how-to blog has expanded into how-to guides for Apple, Google, and other products.

    I find that my users unsubscribe because they are not interested in the topics I’m writing about today so I’ve been toying with this concept. Anyone have experience with this? That is creating RSS feeds for major categories on your site. Thanks.

    BTW great list!


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I’ve not used that idea myself, but I’ve noticed that sites like Mashable do that and I would guess that it would work well for someone in a position like you’re in.


  8. May 2, 2011

    Ryan Critchett said:

    All good points. I definitely align with the over underscored pitch, that annoys the **** out of me.

    I think you hit on a goldmine with the need to bring humor into your posting. I’ve been working to implement that more and this post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Thanks for the insights, Nick.


    • May 2, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      You’re welcome, Ryan. Far too often, folks completely miss out on the the opportunity to entertain and engage their audience by forgetting about the power of humor.


  9. May 2, 2011

    Alex said:

    Great points Nick.

    Another thing is to make sure you are accessible to your readers. If your subscribers do not feel that they can easily ‘connect’ with you then they are less inclined to stick around.

    On that note… I think you should update your digg digg or sharebar plugin to include your @Twitter name so I do not have to manually add your Twitter handle or think that you don’t care who RT’s you – and I KNOW you don’t think that 😉

    Great post Mate, definitely put a new spin some age old blogging laws


    • May 3, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Thanks, Alex. I recently updated my Digg Digg plugin and when I did, it reset all of my settings. Apparently, I forgot to update that setting aftwards. I’ve got it taken care of now so Tweet away. 🙂


  10. May 2, 2011

    Nasrul Hanis said:

    You’re absolutely right!

    As an addicted reader like myself, there are the things that discourage to follow those blogs anymore!

    Put yourself in the reader’s place and start to entertain them (including me) from now on 🙂


    • May 3, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I think that many folks fail very greatly to do that very important practice that you just mentioned: Put yourself in the reader’s place. I often think that their’s a huge disconnect between what some author’s think is great and what their potential readers think is great. We’ve got to be working to understand who our readers are and what they want.


  11. May 3, 2011

    Brad Harmon said:

    You did a great job covering all of the reasons I could think of, Nicholas. For me, not publishing the entire post or posting multiple times a day will get me to unsubscribe almost every time. I’m also likely not to subscribe to a blogger that chooses to use profanity on a regular basis. I don’t need to explain to my 7 year old what those words on daddy’s laptop mean.


    • May 3, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Right. That’s exactly how I feel. Nobody gets offended by clean language, so why risk it? Brad, how long have you been into blogging?


      • May 3, 2011

        Brad Harmon said:

        I started blogging in July 2009. Prior to that I thought blogging was just people sharing information about their families or hobbies. My intent was to just create a website for a new business I was launching, but when I was searching the latest SEO techniques I discovered the power of blogs.

        I launched my first blog on Blogger, then went to the free WordPress platform a couple weeks later. It took me about one more week to figure out I needed a self-hosted site which led to the launching of bradleyaharmon.com. My other blogs have come from splitting niche topics off of it.

        How did you get started?


        • May 3, 2011

          Nicholas Cardot said:

          I originally started with one of those blogs that talks about what I’m doing in my life. I then moved on to build a small Christian blog with a forum and some resources. There was really a good group of people that hung out there a lot. And then in June of 2009, I launched Site Sketch 101 and now here I am. Blogging really does contain a lot of potential that folks don’t realize.


          • May 3, 2011

            Brad Harmon said:

            Interesting, Nicholas. I didn’t know you had a site before this one.

            Is the Christian site still up? I’d love to check it out. One of my blogs talks about faith in the workplace. I’m always looking for more blogs in that niche.


            • May 4, 2011

              Nicholas Cardot said:

              It’s not still up. I have it backed up and I think I still own the domain name, so I might relaunch it, but it’s been down for quite some time. I just didn’t have the time to maintain it like I wished I could.


  12. May 3, 2011

    marc said:

    as for me i unsubscribe if i’m no longer interested in the topic or if i stumble in a better blog


  13. May 3, 2011

    Ali said:

    A great post!

    I think the stuff that you have mentioned is probably very precise and to the point. Like Lauryn said, this goes for a blog in general as well. If you post quality content which is easy to access and smooth to read, people will read it.

    Ali


    • May 3, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I couldn’t agree more. Folks really miss out on the importance of good, high-quality content, perhaps because it’s talked about so much that people just assume they’re doing it. Very often, I find that folks think that they are producing better content than they actually are.


  14. May 3, 2011

    Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

    There are few blogs that thrive on the bad language. The difference is, the readers know ahead of time. It’s right from post one, they are warned on about pages, and all the rest.


    • May 4, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I agree with that, and I’ve also seem some folks express their discontent when they accidentally stumble across some foul language in a blog that they had been lead to believe was clean.


      • May 4, 2011

        Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

        Absolutely. I had a comment “discussion” once with a guest poster on a normally clean blog…I also had a little chat with the blogs owner.


        • May 4, 2011

          Nicholas Cardot said:

          Really? What happened?


          • May 4, 2011

            Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

            I think the author said something about that’s the way he is and doesn’t see reason to change. I wasn’t paying much attention and just pout him on the “too stupid to follow” list.

            The admin said something about not being too fond of it, but not wanting to irritate the guests.

            I stopped just shy of recommending he continue reading blogs, but perhaps give up on his own.


            • May 7, 2011

              Nicholas Cardot said:

              I despise hearing folks hide behind the excuse that “that’s just the way I am.” That excuse is so incredibly weak and it flies in the face of the entire purpose of education. I’m trying to learn as many skills as I possibly can (including relationship and communication skills) so that I can be the greatest success possible both online and off. By trying to learn, I’m actively admitting that that’s just the way I am BUT I’m trying to change, learn and grow.


              • May 7, 2011

                Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

                Learning anew is not admitting anything accept that you know you can always be better.


  15. May 4, 2011

    Deidra L. Little said:

    A must have list for rss posting. Surely it will help to know what your subscribers feel when you post. I always thought that posting frequently is one of the surefire ways to make your audience know that you are active, and that they get valuable content. Well, I still believe this is the case, however, with your post I know better. I will put this article in mind whenever I post. Thanks a lot.


    • May 4, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Posting frequently is good, but it’s all about balance and it’s about knowing your audience. I find that posting 3 – 4 days per week works very well here at Site Sketch 101, but if I post much more than that or much less then I have issues. Mashable posts 10 – 30 posts per day, but they have a much different audience than most of us and they cover a wide variety of news topics. So really it’s all about feeling out your audience and finding the right balance.


  16. May 5, 2011

    Brittany Rubinstein said:

    All great reasons. As a subscriber I can definitely say I’ve unsubscribed from some blogs for these reasons. As a blogger it’s helpful to see the reasons other people might leave.


    • May 7, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Sometimes as bloggers, I think that we forget or lose sight of how the readers view our material. I’m glad this was helpful and I wish you all the best as you work to keep growing your subscriber base.


  17. May 9, 2011

    Ricardo Bueno said:

    Hey Nicholas,

    Great write-up with some solid things to consider. In regards to point number one, that’s got to be the BIGGEST reason that I unsubscribe from blogs. And really, it’s quite unfortunate.

    If I come to your site, and I want to subscribe it’s because I’m really interested in reading what you have to say. Then, you hit me with a partial RSS feed that just ruins the whole relationship right outta the gate. Changes are, I’m just not going to come back and read.

    For me, I live through my feedreader and the few blogs I subscribe to via RSS. So please, please, make it easy for me to access your content – don’t post partial feeds!

    Just one man’s opinion anyway… 🙂


    • May 10, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Hey Ricardo, you’re definitely not alone. Although, as of late, I’ve been frequently clicking the link that brings me back to the blog so that I can read it right from the page and tweet it out if I enjoy it.


  18. May 10, 2011

    Abdul Wajid CK said:

    As a foreign language blogger for several year till the second i write this comment, i had realized that RSS plays a major role in driving your blog a lot of visits and pageloads. Once my error configuration in my blog RSS functionality has been stopped working and i noticed a slight decline in the average visits to my blog. So, Now i take time to care and cure the problems of RSS feed and my blogs core and to keep my site clean.


  19. May 10, 2011

    ah hong said:

    All the points is good, Nick. I would like to add another one, your content is an advertorial.

    Any advertorial content which is not related to the site topic will cause the readers to lost interest and unsubscribe RSS.


  20. May 15, 2011

    Jane | Find All Answers said:

    Hey Nick,

    The thing I mostly hate with RSS feeds is partial feeds. It makes me click through. On the other hand, with full feeds, I read the post in the feed reader and if I decide to leave a comment or share, I click through. Full feeds can save me lot of clicks.

    And, too much advertising in feeds strains my eyes. Brilliant post.

    Jane.


    • May 17, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      When I first launched this blog, I used to use partial feeds, but I soon discovered that more people would unsubscribe than be forced to click through every time. Like you, people get irritated by them.




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