Analyzing My RSS Subscriber Growth

Analyzing My RSS Subscriber Growth

In my six months of blogging, I have experienced a steady growth in the number of RSS subscribers. Keep in mind, I have spent a total of $10 marketing my blog — paid last January to Matt Coddington when he first started Net Business Blog. Other than that, I have had no paid reviews, no sponsored posts, and no other link-buying for my blog.

I would not say my growth has been phenomenal – far from it. Phenomenal would be Freelance Switch scoring 3000 RSS subscribers in their first few weeks.

However, I would say that due to my consistency and interest in improving the quality of my posts, I have seen steady growth in the past six months. Take this chart showing my RSS subscriber growth, for example:

RSS Subscriber Growth

I would like to dissect the past few months of blogging and explain the reasons my blog has grown at the pace it did. First, it took me over 3 months (from January to April) to reach 100 subscribers. After that, it took one month to hit 200 subscribers, effectively doubling my readers. Two weeks subsequently I hit 300 subscribers; 400 came in another 3 weeks. What accounted for those huge leaps in readership and why did it take so long to hit 100? These are the questions I seek to answer in this post.

I maintain that consistency and patience can pay off big when it comes to blogging and business growth. First, it is my belief that blogging is a game of “survival of the persistent.” There are 100,000 blogs started each day, but very few of them last longer than a few days, let alone a few months. By being committed to blogging over the long term, you will surely “out-blog” those of dubious motivation and effort.

Reaching 100 Subscribers: John Chow Jump-Started My Success
Time from 0-100 Subscribers: 3 Months

When I started blogging last January, I wrote a review of John Chow in the 10th batch of his “Review My Blog” campaign. He no longer runs that campaign due to getting banned by Google, but when he quit he was at batch 87!

At the same time, I spent a good amount of time commenting on John’s blog and managed to be a top commentator there for an entire month. Interestingly, through John’s blog I met many other up-and-coming bloggers, such as Jane May, David Wilkinson, King Nomar, Matt Coddington and Josh Buckley. All of those guys I have known for about 6 months now – that represents years in Internet time!

Even though it took three months to hit 100 subscribers, it makes perfect sense why this was the case. As I mentioned earlier, blogging is a game of survival of the fittest. To earn the respect of other seasoned bloggers, you must put in your dues. You must go on when you want to give up. A huge amount of respect (and new readers) came after I hit the 3-month mark. They say if you can spend three months of consistently blogging, then the next three months is that much easier. (Psychologists report this is true for other habits, too.)

Reaching 200 Subscribers: The Power of A Contest
Time from 100-200 Subscribers: 1 Month

After I reached 100 subscribers in late April, I decided it would be fun to hold a contest. The contest theme I decided was to celebrate my 1000th comment. I had 800-something comments and I knew that I would be getting the 1000th one in May, so I held a two-part contest. First, anyone could enter by just casually leaving comments on my blog for that month. Whoever left the 1000th comment would win $25, a graphic design, and a review of their blog. I also held a separate contest — with the same prizes — for anyone who wanted to write about the contest.

Despite only receiving six entries for part two of the contest, the contests generated a significant amount of traffic to my blog and effectively doubled my readership in one month. In other words, what took me three months to do previously took one month now.

Reaching 300 Subscribers: Getting Linked By ProBlogger
Time from 200-300 Subscribers: 2 Weeks

After I had doubled my reader base, I essayed to blog for both quality and consistently. If you blog for both quality and consistency, your blog traffic numbers will go up, week after week. However, if you slack on either of these dimensions, expect your readership to drop.

In early May, I was linked to by ProBlogger. Being linked by Darren was gold for me – that sent me 50 new RSS subscribers in one day – AND they stayed! Anytime you get linked to someone bigger than you who blogs in the same niche, it leads to the highest quality traffic! Thanks, Darren!

Coincidentally, two weeks later, I was again linked by ProBlogger! Of course, that sent another heap of high-quality traffic to me and helped propel me to nearly 400 subscribers by the end of the month.

For those of you who are wondering, the two articles in which Darren linked to me were:

Reaching 400 Subscribers and Beyond
Time from 300-400 Subscribers: 3 Weeks

Only in the past month have I reached 400 subscribers, and unfortunately, due to work and vacation in the past month, I have taken a significant amount of time off from blogging. I said earlier that if consistency or quality drops, then readers decline. While that has not been entirely true for me in July, my growth has started to level off. I attribute that to my lack of consistent blogging this month.

Consistency is something that I will definitely focus on in August and the rest of the year. The more I have been reading “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” I am realizing that blogging is a limitlessly powerful tool for marketing and communication. This realization has inspired a new wave of motivation to blog for quality and consistency!

Conclusion

I hope that by explaining what I did during the past few months, you would start to see what contributed to my rise in traffic and readership. The most important lesson acquired by analyzing my growth is that of time. As long as you maintain a high standard of blogging and do it consistently over time, you will appear more trustworthy and authoritative in your niche.

Blogging is something I would like to do for life. There are so many reasons blogging is worth doing; perhaps its greatest reward is the wonderful and talented people I have met along the way. No amount of money earned would make me think blogging is a waste of time. Hey, even the billionaire Mark Cuban still blogs!

This post was sponsored by Bic Promo Pens who sells Bic Pens and Bic Promotional Pens.

42 thoughts on “Analyzing My RSS Subscriber Growth”

  1. Fantastic article! My RSS has been up and down of late. My blog commenters seem to prefer the tech stuff, my RSS readers seem to prefer the business/entrepreneur stuff and whichever I’m doing, I’m getting a faceful of ‘angry’ comments. ;)

    Maybe I need to start a new blog…

  2. I believe that your blog’s growth has been excellent nate. Sure, freelanceswitch has had amazing growth, but growing a personal blog can be a lot harder.

    p.s. you repeated the ‘repeating 100 subscribers’ paragraph

  3. That’s some great, solid growth Nate and congratulations for sticking with blogging. It can be hard, especially when the “blogger’s block” kicks in or when you completely lose motivation – but you’ve shown everyone else who’s just started a blog that it can be done!

    Here’s to the next 400 ;)

  4. Great Article Nate. Even though you don’t, I would consider your blog and subscriber growth phenomenal. To put it into perspective, I’m just over the three month hump and I have 8 subscribers. :)

    I just have to stay persistent and the traffic will come (hopefully). I really like these types of articles…really shows what can happen when you’re dedicated to something and stay persistent at it.

  5. Hi Nate… just wanted to say that I was one of the RSS subscribers that discovered you in May when Darren linked to you. I’ve been reading ever since. I rarely leave comments… and I know I should leave more… but I don’t like to unless I have something good to say, and you usually cover off EVERYTHING in your posts!

  6. excellent play by play! i am going to put this to use, how about you help out your fellow bloggers like john chow did, have a pr chain just before page rank results come out!

  7. That’s excellent news, Nate! I was wondering though: what is it that enables you to trace how many subscribers came from where? I’m using Google Analytics and FeedBurner, but I don’t see the type of graph you speak of nor a method of telling that information. What am I missing?

    1. Hey Mark, that is part of the Feedburner account center. Make sure that when you are viewing your chart of RSS subscribers, you select the drop down box that says “view all-time.” That will make it so it display your readership growth over time. Thanks for your support.

  8. Outstanding post. The New Rules of Marketing and PR is a good read! But this post really give us some inside information how your build your RSS subscribers, I didn’t know you started out in January, you being doing a great jobs here, Nate:)

  9. Nate, thanks for the timely post and congrats on the success.

    Timely because I’ve been doing the same kind of analysis and just reached the same conclusions –so you must be right:-)

    I had been doing 4-5 posts/week regularly, and the numbers rose regularly but nothing great. Then all of a sudden a critical mass was reached and I saw a big bump. Got a reference in a link to Guy Kawasaki one day and thought the screen was going to blow up. That was short lived. Then, as a contributor to the Age of Conversation, the numbers spiked again.

    However–if at any of those “good” times I slacked off for some reason, the numbers dropped relatively quickly.

    The conclusion: Quality + Consistency + Time

    Thanks for showing the visual and adding one more quality post to your record.

  10. Great article with great tips on increasing readership. I’ve been stuck at 80 or so subscribers for awhile now and I’ve been at it for 10 months. I will give your suggestions a shot and see what I can do…thanks again for a great post.

    Tim Agazio
    Genealogy Reviews Online

  11. Thanks for the post. This is the first blog article I have read in full, from start to end, for a long time. I am interested in boosting my RSS readership and have discovered I am following the same patterns as you for the age of my blog.

    Now I just need to get those links from Darren to boost me up to the next level!

    - Martin Reed

  12. Great post with lots of very useful insight. My blog is quite new still, not even two months, but I’ve been trying to get my feed readers up. One thing that I found helped a lot was when I started suggesting that readers subscribe to the feed at the end of every post, its amazing what people will do when you ask them.

    Keep it up, you’re very inspirational.

    Simon

  13. That’s a great analysis! Up until this month I hadn’t really paid as much attention to my RSS subscription feed. It was only when I read an article from Darren on ProBlogger that I was motivated to push this aspect of my blog.

    Btw, I too noticed a definite jump when I had a link posted on ProBlogger by Darren. Even though it was in his speedlinking posts, it definitely helped.

    Anyways, since then the biggest change I’ve made is add a “Like this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed.” which I see you’ve already done. At this point what’s your next big push to increase your RSS feeds?

    And please keep up posted on your success, the way you broke it up is what makes it extremely interesting to read!

  14. I think the hardest thing is just getting the ball rolling in the first place as after that your motivation will grow and grow. And as you say, the other thing is you want the people that comes to stick, that is where the real hard work is but that is where the payback is.

    Anyway, I always love reading success stories, it gives us all ideas and something to shoot for, keep up the good work.

  15. there’s something i don’t understand about rss feed subscribers fluctuating. why would that happen? i use bloglines to read blogs. i never care if a blog posts regularly or not as i couldn’t keep track of them if i wanted to. if they put up a new post, it pops up in my reader. otherwise they’re off my radar. in fact the only reason i remove a blog from my feeder is if they post often and i don’t find their material interesting. but there’s certainly no reason to remove a blog because it doesn’t post something at least once a week. so if you slow down posting, why would anyone unsubscribe? i thought the whole point of feedreaders was so you didn’t have to worry about that.

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