The Real Secret to Getting Tons of
Blog Subscribers

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It’s still the question I get asked the most.

Despite writing on this subject several times, and basically spilling the beans on every tip and tactic I know for converting site visitors into regular readers, people seem to think I’m holding out. Most every time I speak with a fellow blogger on the phone, or meet someone in person, inevitably some variation of the following question will arise:

OK, so level with me… how’s you get all those subscribers? What’s the real secret?

No one wants to believe that there’s no magical secret. They’d rather fantasize about some forbidden copywriting technique that drives subscriber attraction. If I’d just share the magical words that make the difference, they’d immediately put those words to use.

OK, I give up. I’ll tell you the real secret.

The most important and all-powerful words that cause people to subscribe to your blog in large numbers are… the ones other people use when talking about you.

That’s it. That’s the *real* secret.

There are a lot of bloggers out there that are working plenty hard at creating content, but getting nowhere. It’s because what they’re producing doesn’t fill an audience need, or the subject matter is too well-covered and the blogger has not discovered a unique angle to set themselves apart. In either case, the content is simply not remarkable.

The word remarkable gets tossed around all the time thanks to Mr. Godin. I sometimes wonder if people truly know what it means. If I ask someone’s opinion about something and they respond with “That’s remarkable,” I follow up with, “Yes, but how do you feel about it?”

Remarkable simply means worth talking about. There’s no value judgment included. It could be bad or good; a fleeting distraction or something worthy of continued focus; a blog post that causes a minor single-day stir or a blogger who quickly rises in prominence.

Being a remarkable blogger is absolutely critical, but it’s not the end of the analysis. What the right people say about you is more important than the simple fact that they’re talking, at least when it comes to building a regular audience. You can’t please everyone, just the people who matter.

You absolutely must get people talking and linking, but they also have to be recommending. Those words of recommendation — whether express or implied — are more powerful than any other when it comes to building your authority and subscriber list. And that brings us full circle back to offering remarkable value to others with your content.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of Scribe. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. I think that’s the word missing when people say that content is very important: Remarkable. It’s important to stick out.

    And that’s why I’m reading this blog, to learn how to write my remarkable thoughts so they can stick out (butt-kissing is good so now and then!)

  2. Well said.

    A lot of bloggers need to choose whether they’re writing to attract huge numbers of visitors and subscribers or for some other reason. I know lots of ‘secrets’ to growing my blog but using them would take me away from the original intent of why I blog.

    I know that I’ll never get thousands of subscribers but I also know that a certain percentage of visitors will like what I write and choose to subscribe.

    I guess the first part of getting more subscribers is getting a reasonable number of people dropping in to build a critical mass of subscribers.

  3. Nahhh. That’s still not it. You’re still holdin’ out on us.

    It can’t be that …. uh, simple(?). Can it ? ;-)

  4. Remarkable post, but how do you really get all those subscribers? ;)

  5. It’s the same with Internet marketing. Everyone thinks there’s some magic secret to go from $1,000 a day to $100,000 a day when there isn’t – you just have to use jay Abraham’s pillar principles and you’ll get there eventually, albeit with a lot of hard work which 95% of people aren’t prepared to do.

  6. I agree with Rodney. Alot of people start out the time-trusted way of trying to dominate a niche. Even if you do it well, your niche may be so small that it isn’t realistic to have tens of thousands of readers, especially if you’re writing in a local language.

  7. Only one part of the secret I think you’ve missed.

    Quality.

    Joanna

  8. Hmm…I think quality and remarkable may go hand-in-hand. If something is “remarkable” enough to attract and keep readers, there’s more than likely some quality going on, too. Even if, in others’ opinions, it’s quality crap ;)

    Great post, I’ve been trying to better incorporate MY own spin on things in my posts for a few weeks now with a new blog. We’ll see how it works.

  9. OK, I give up. I’ll tell you the real secret.

    Dammit, Brian! I knew you were holding out!

    ;)

  10. Only one part of the secret I think you’ve missed.

    Quality.

    Joanna, reread the last sentence of the post and follow the link if necessary.

  11. Quality too often is subjective as we find ourselves mega-narrowcasting…if the reader thinks/feels the content is of useful quality, then its quality.

    There are no “Good Housekeeping Seals” for blogs.

    Finding those tipping point-ers…those who create buzz, those are the folks to whom real growth in blogs can be attributed because of the buzz they start and build on a blog…that I think is a huge opportunity.

  12. if the reader thinks/feels the content is of useful quality, then its quality.

    Peter, exactly. We writers often fall in love with the “quality” of our work, and yet are blinded to the fact that no one else cares.

  13. Very well written, Brian. I think people have a tendency to believe that things must be difficult to get the results they want. Fortunately they’re wrong in this instance, and that would benefit a lot of people if they would just believe it. I always look forward to reading your thoughts.

  14. I think your completely correct, Brian. I started my blog hoping to help small businesses create a web presence affordably. From everything I read I thought I would be writing for a year before anything great started happening, but I think I found a niche because I have more subscribers than I would have expected, in less than 3 months of time, and more visitors/readers than I ever expected. I think being honest with people is also a very important part of being successful.

  15. Like everyone else, I must agree. Recommedations and testimonials from third parties are always going to be the clinchers; if you get enough of them, or one or two from authoritative people, then you have a good chance.

  16. Well Said, and gr8 post too…..

    Thanks

  17. great post!!! You have a lot of awesome tips. If you can check out my site and let me know what you think? I usually don’t ask but I do need some input I think. I have you on my reader so I will be checking back in again. Cheers!

  18. This post got me thinking about my new blog that I have just started. I really need to work on becoming more remarkable.

    thanks for the great blog

  19. Great post, Brian.

    Very interesting to me, too, because most of my entrepreneurship has been in the brick and mortar, rather than virtual world, yet the same principal applies. I’ve built a few business with almost no marketing budget by spending the majority of my time figuring out how to develop a core product or service that was so impactful and different that people (and press) just couldn’t stop talking about it.

    When I mentor entrepreneurs, they always ask how they can package their product or service to make it a huge seller and I always send them back to Godin’s Purple Cow.

    While I am a newbie to the world of blogging, it’s fascinating to see how well the concept translates to written content and blog traffic.

    Much peace,

    Jonathan

  20. Yeah, I still think there is a bigger secret…

  21. So true. I’ve written about this too, essentially branding your blog. It’s so important. I’m still trying to get it right. I think it takes a little time for your brand to actually gel. Some get it faster than others. Nice work here on branding your blog!!

  22. It seems to me that if you spend all your time trying to get people to link or subscribe, you have very little time to actually blog about something interesting or worthwhile.

  23. It seems to me that if you spend all your time trying to get people to link or subscribe, you have very little time to actually blog about something interesting or worthwhile.

    That’s why it needs to be all one and the same thing. :)

  24. That’s a great article indeed.
    I really like the way you put it, with paragraphs and one link to another article on topic in each of them.
    Now, lets read those, comprehend and get me some subscribers finally!

  25. I’m still stuck in the “finding an angle” phase. My blog is a bit over a month old, and i’ve seen a few shifts in my topic coverage, but really want to capture a best niche within my topic of vegetarianism. I’m off to read your article on “discovering your unique angle”. Thanxs, Brian.

  26. Yes, you have to deliver content, useful and valuable information, but there are many other things you have to do in order to have a huge amount of subscribers.

    You have to put yourself in the shoes of your visitors, know what they want and how they want it.

    If you are able to interact with your visitors in the way they like, then, you can create relationships and truth, people will love you and you’ll make them happy, therefore they’ll always be back to your site.

  27. hi, this article was very useful to me, thanks =)

  28. This article is really useful.

  29. Nice article. I’ve got a question for you:

    Why do people continue to pester you for all your “secrets” instead of going out and experimenting on their own?

  30. I write my blog for me, and the entertainment of my 5 to 6 regular readers, that’s it. Anything outside of that is considered a treat. In my opinion, all blogs should be written within the same mind-set, and same focus – This would keep content pure and honest, keep things from being written FOR traffic, and would help keep link-bait spam verbiage out of the blogosphere, but hey… that’s just my take on it.

    Good write up, but I think it misses the point of expressing thoughts, and sharing your findings (blogging)… And endorses the fundamentals of writing for a goal other than blogging. Then again, capitalism drives people, it’s the American way, but remember – capitalism is what drives the people away from sources like Fox news and CNN and into the blogosphere for what I consider “real journalism” (depending on the site, of course)

  31. I experienced this first hand. A few months back I wrote an article about methods you can use to bring that creative person inside you out in full colors.

    One person of authority read the article, talked about it, and bam – my article was on the front page of del.icio.us on a Saturday night. I had thousands of hits and a bunch of new blog subscribers.

    Following that, I had links pouring in as there was a buzz in the creativity niche about how this article to train yourself to be creative was a good read.

  32. I really liked this entry and I agree with it (as well as the comments).
    I think our problem might lie in the fact that bands will use us for free promotion–and they won’t shoot back the favor. We’ll get a lot of emails from band managers and bands telling us how awesome our site is and how they would love to be interviewed or be apart of it in some way…and yet, when we actually do post something about them on the blog, we don’t get acknowledged in the end. It’s a difficult spot to be in…
    But I guess the real problem may lie in the “unique angle” aspect of the blog–which I’m working hard on trying to achieve :]

  33. This rule applies to starting a business as well, and is the most important, and most overlooked at the same time.

    Question is, how do you find a niche that needs filling? now thats the hard question that I am trying to find an answer for. I can blog effectively about anything. Just give me a week and a wordpress site.

  34. Remarkable, that’s what I would like to be in my niche. It’s just so “covered” already, I am not sure how I can stand out.

  35. Great post…..
    This article is really useful, Thank !

  36. I think the real secret to getting tons of blog subscribers is to be a really good writer. But no one wants to hear that.

  37. I just made a new site and was wanting to start a blog. I have so many little niches I can write about and educate people on. I am so glad to read that quality is better than quantity.

  38. I don’t even know how to get my RSS button to work on my blog. Maybe I should look into that?

    I too get asked the same question all the time and I think the answer is pretty simple.

    You have to be entertaining, and people have to like you. (Or hate you).

    It’s pretty much the same gig as high school.

  39. Many thanks, Brian. I love your candour. It’s very refreshing to know there’s no black magic afoot. Best regards, P. :)

  40. Brian, always great reading your posts. Copyblogger is definitely remarkable… always relevant… usually full of personality and integrity. The Copyblogger writers are a cool crew with valuable insights. Truly remarkable.

    That’s why I subscribe, that’s why I keep coming back.

    Add beautifully easy site navigation that’s simple, without a lot of “obvious” ad crap and distractions, a splash of controversy, a few well placed inside jokes, some blatent humor and irreverence, a lot of character and a variety of contributing writers, a contrarian viewpoint that get’s me hot now and again… What’s not to love?! ;o)

    You’ve got a perfect formula, you’re great role models (do as we DO, and as we say – it’ll be alright.) Oh.. and it doesn’t hurt that you work your butt off to deliver the goods and obviously care about your readers – for real.

  41. Loved the article. The blog I’ve started was mainly because of the unethical methods of the large corporations. I have worked at so some of these and friends have been Class “C” executives and want to share their stories of how they were forced to do things such as Mark to Marketing accounting, saying vaporware was real, ending the jobs of 100’s while telling the local politicians they would stay in their area….. First focus in Enron and how to this date people that stepped up (these contributors included) are being nailed and it is impacting their personal careers to this day. HR departments will google them and see these corporate/prosecuted executive sponsored trash the ethical guy blogs and manage to continue to rank high on the search based on tags and whatnot.

    The big thing is the fact that the practice of Mark to Marketng accounting along with other Enron Broadband wrongdoings are still allowed and the loopholes still exist in large corporations. The government has legislation to allow this to continue. My sources are really wanting to at least expose some of these things in hopes that it will push the government to actually prevent another Enron or Worldcomm.

    It’s just getting started but I could use advise on the best way to get their info out safely so they don’t get attacked again and push the site up in ranks to help with the ethical ones to get the high level jobs like they left to get away from the corruptions.

    Any advice is appreciated and the blog is located at http://enemaron.wordpress.com should we duplicate on another type of blog. Donating my time to try to help the guys get their stories out. Once going we will be releasing the Enron emails that were deleted from the publicly released archives by the guys that were being prosecuted.

    Thanks in advance for your advise.