How to Stop Throwing Away Your Blog Traffic and Get More Subscribers

One simple trick to help you get more blog subscribers If you’ve been struggling to build your subscriber list – despite focusing on serving the needs of one specific reader – despite asking the #1 question that will gain you a loyal following – despite dishing out the best content you can…

You’re probably making a mistake that is going to cripple your ability to grow your subscriber list.

Let me back up.

Every time you show your reader a link, you’re inviting her to leave the page she’s currently reading to follow that link. You know that, right?

If you’ve read my post on how to convert Pinterest visitors to subscribers, you know it’s important to prioritize what’s in your sidebar and to get rid of anything that would prevent people from subscribing to your blog. So if you’re like my standard reader, you’ll ditch the blog awards, toss the blogroll, and cut down on your ads to the ones that are truly making you some money.

But you’ve probably overlooked the one thing that’s even worse for your subscriber numbers, innocently thinking that it’s helping you.

Can’t guess?

::

It’s Facebook.

Or maybe it’s Twitter.

It’s whichever little button that convinces your reader not to enter her email address to get on your mailing list, but to follow you elsewhere in social media instead. What’s wrong with this, you ask?

You can’t control Facebook.

You might sit down and write the best blog post of your life and then run to your blog’s Facebook page and post it, sending out the news to your 1,500 devoted Facebook followers…and only 132 of them will ever see it.

Or you may tweet that post to 540 people, but only 36 of them happen to be online when you send your tweet. Talk about missed opportunity.

Forget all the hype about “When is the best time to post on social media?” and think about this: If someone agrees to let you communicate with them via email, it’s money in the bank. They don’t have to be part of the magic minority Facebook chooses to notify. If they don’t happen to be online when you send it, it will wait for them.

Get those social media buttons off your blog and give people one way to subscribe: via email.

And social media itself? Don’t ditch it altogether – but if you know your audience likes to hang out on Twitter or read Facebook updates, then promote your social media accounts through your mailing list.

That way you’ll know that everyone who comes to your blog and wants to connect with you on a deeper level is on your mailing list first.

Actionable:

Get rid of your social media buttons. Seriously. If you’re not comfortable with making that move permanently, then at least drag them to the Inactive Widgets area in WordPress, put them in the footer of your site, or keep a text file with the code in a safe spot on your computer.

Your list will thank you.

So what do you think?

If you’ve never thought about ditching your social media buttons before, I’m sure you have an opinion here – and I’d love to hear it.

Leave a comment below and tell me whether you’re going to change anything on your blog – and why.

137 Comments • Leave yours below!

    • says

      That’s a really good question. Obviously, on my blog I make an exception for Pinterest, and it’s because people don’t expect to be “joining my blog” or finding out about my latest posts through Pinterest. But even if you keep it, it’s important to still have one *main* call to action of “subscribe.”

  1. says

    Hi Jeni, I found your post really interesting. Even more so because it’s a very simple step on how to increase my blog followers. I have always used facebook to promote my blog but it doesn’t seem to work very well. Now I know why. Thanks a lot! Marika
    Marika recently posted..Chilled Avocado Soup with PrawnsMy Profile

  2. says

    I really can’t agree with you since I myself prefer following other blogs and sites via social networks, mostly pinterest or facebook, since i really hate when my mailbox is overwhelmed with newsletters and I never ever subscribe to any of newsletters sent by bloggers, although I read many of them on a daily basis
    Irena recently posted..Pesto pancakesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Irena,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I didn’t say this was what your readers would prefer – I said it would grow your email subscription list faster. What about the evidence from psychology that shows that when people are presented with too many choices, they often end up choosing nothing at all? If you show your readers 8 different choices, they’ll either be overwhelmed and choose nothing, or they’ll choose what they *think* is the best way to find out about your new blog posts, which may not actually help them get your information best. You don’t have to stop using social media – I just prefer to give people the option of the other places they can follow me *after* we both know they have a 100% chance of getting the helpful information I send them. Of course, not everyone thinks their blog’s email subscription list is important, but that’s a different matter. :) I appreciate your comment!

  3. says

    Good idea, but what I’m wondering: is there a way to monitor who subscribes to your social media through the buttons on your website?
    Might be good to know.
    In that case if removing the buttons would cause a dip in SM subscribers, you’d know it was because of removin those buttons.

    PS I’m looking for a news theme and this one looks pretty good:) Have been looking at StudioPress and WooThemes

    • says

      Hi Sofie, an advanced technique for tracking who subscribes to your social media accounts is called “Event Tracking” and there’s a pretty good tutorial for that here.

      I think the real question to ask is, which is more valuable in the long run for your blog? A social media follower or an actual subscriber to your blog? If you’re committed to giving people the most amazing, helpful content you possibly can, then you want to make sure that they get each post when you write it. For example, out of the 667 people who have found me on Facebook (which I don’t promote at all, except for one automatic email through MailChimp), only 70 people saw my last post. That would be a pretty terrible statistic if Facebook was the only way the other 597 people could find out about my post – they wouldn’t get the information they want and have asked to receive by “liking” my page!

      It’s not that I don’t use social media – I definitely do. But people who prefer to follow me on social media find out about it once they are subscribed to my list, so we both know they have a 100% chance of getting the next post that’s going to help them grow their blogs.

  4. says

    This is so helpful, thank you! I will definitely do this today. I have a question though. I don’t know how many subscribers I have through my Feedburner and don’t know how to check it. I’d like to use MailChimp but don’t know how to covert them over without losing them. Thanks for your help!
    Heather recently posted..Healthy "Stuffin" MuffinsMy Profile

  5. says

    You have just lifted a weight off of my shoulders! I have never wanted them there in the first place but did because I thought I was suppose to…I am going to try this and see how it works. I am always overwhelmed by all of the social media, I can only imagine how my readers feel! If it doesn’t work, I can always add them back. Thanks!
    Sonya ~At Home with The Barkers recently posted..Christmas Home TourMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Sonya, what you’ve said here is HUGE – a lot of bloggers just don’t understand that lots of people (their potential readers) just plain hate using social media! Probably better than anyone else who has left a comment here, you can understand the value of giving your readers email as a first option, and then promoting your social media channels as a secondary measure, if that’s what your readers need or want. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment here!

  6. says

    Hi Jeni -

    This is a really interesting idea, and one I haven’t come across before. I definitely understand the “too many choices” logic, and I have FAR fewer email subscribers (through Feedburner) than social media followers. Feedburner doesn’t provide great email statistics (ok, barely ANY email statistics) but it seems that engagement is low. I’m not ready to give up my buttons, but I did just take two minutes to move my subscribe button up to the top, above my social media buttons. Before, it was lost under my sidebar’s “about” section.

    Before subscribing to your newsletter I actually looked all over your site for social media buttons! Now I know why I didn’t find any. :)
    Laura recently posted..Classy Ways to Wear a Leather SkirtMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Laura, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us here. There’s a lot more to the “email subscription” strategy than just having a list, but that’s definitely the necessary first step. Even the baby step of putting that email subscription box up at the top is a pretty big deal! You’re helping your readers prioritize what’s actually the best way they can get information from you.

      …and if you really want to hang out with me on social media, my favorite is Twitter. I’m there pretty much every day. :)
      jeni recently posted..How to Stop Throwing Away Your Blog Traffic and Get More SubscribersMy Profile

  7. says

    I totally understand where you’re coming from and that it might be helping our email list grow. However I would advise against totally getting rid of social media buttons. It’s one of the main things I look for on a blog and it’s what makes a blog look more “legit” in my eyes if they have buttons AND a good following. As a marketer who can speak from the client perspective, this is something we look for when we seek out bloggers for outreach opportunities with brands as well. I do like the idea of moving them to the footer though and I will do the same with mine. Great post.
    Kammie recently posted..Giblet Mushroom Stuffing for a Healthy ThanksgivingMy Profile

    • says

      I appreciate your perspective on this, Kammie. I’m currently working on a blog design for a very popular TV personality who has over 20K Twitter followers, 10K Instagram followers, and has over-the-top engagement on social media. But her blog itself has a TINY following. She has written over 1,000 posts and her subscriber list is just a few thousand. And no comments on her blog to speak of, either. When we were working on her design strategy, we decided to put her social media channels (with her impressive numbers) on her “About” page and put social media buttons in the footer of her site so brands can easily do their research on her. But she’s losing valuable opportunities to bloggers with bigger subscriber lists, and we’re having to fix that now. It would have been a lot easier to *start* with the list and branch out, than it is to do the reverse.

  8. says

    Gosh that sounds so scary! All I’ve been told is to use social media and promote it everywhere so to get rid of it seems overwhelmingly scary. What you say makes perfect sense! It’s true that a subscriber is much more valuable than an every-once-in-a-while or if-I’m-online reader. Now I have some serious thinking to do!

    • says

      Hi Kayla, I don’t mean that you should stop using social media to promote your posts or to keep the conversation going while you’re not on your blog. Most of my new traffic comes from a mixture of social media channels and Google…but I don’t emphasize people subscribing to my social media channels as the #1 way to get the helpful information I’m serving up. The nice thing about having a healthy email list is that anytime I decide I want to place a focus on another channel (like Twitter, which I love), all I have to do is email my list and tell them I’m hanging out on Twitter for awhile. But if I started with Twitter as a first option, I wouldn’t have a good way of reaching my whole audience with my message. Does that make sense?

      • says

        I totally understand what you are saying. Social media is great for bringing people to the blog but we want them to stay and let the taste marinate. We don’t want to encourage them to leave by shoving our social media channels down their throats if our goal is to have our blog views as our highest metric.

  9. says

    I am going to give this a try. I’ve been so focused on building my Facebook community….really wanted to get it to over 1000 likes. I’m 50 away! I really want to build my blog, so I’m going to step out on faith and try everything you suggest…that I can afford :)
    I’ll move them to the footer or just remove them completely. I do have my social media accounts linked to my email list.

    • says

      Hi Darcel,

      If you already had a goal of getting over 1000 likes on your Facebook page and you’re only 50 away, I think you should follow through! Nothing helps spur you on to do more great things than meeting a goal, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from you.

      Notice I didn’t say just ditch your social media buttons. I also said that if you want to expand your social media following, you should do it through your mailing list. :) It really all comes down to what your goals are for your specific site. But I don’t want to take anything away from what you’ve already accomplished. When you do hit 1,000 you’re going to feel great!
      jeni recently posted..How to Stop Throwing Away Your Blog Traffic and Get More SubscribersMy Profile

      • says

        I’m not giving up on my facebook goal, just figuring out a better balance. I love to write, but I’ve been so focused on growing facebook that I let the blog go. Since reading this post, I changed my blog theme and took off my big social media widgets. I feel good about it!
        Darcel recently posted..Business As UsualMy Profile

  10. says

    This is so interesting and almost counterintuitive! I have been trying to get e-mail subscribers for a while and always thought: the more buttons, the BETTER! Great post. I have a question though: I don’t use wordpress, but I am trying to move to a wordpress blog. Do you think my initial choice not to use wordpress cut off the many people who use and frequent wordpress blogs that might have been interested in my blog e-mail list? Just a question I ‘ve been thinking about for a while.

    • says

      Hi Briana, you never know what “might have happened” if you’d made different choices, but I’ll tell you this: if you want to start focusing on email subscribers, you can start using a list management service like MailChimp *today* and whenever you do move to WordPress, you’ll be able to take those readers with you. You could actually just start with FeedBurner (but make sure you’re using the email subscriptions and not RSS broadcast!) and then move those email subscribers with you later as well…that’s the free option. :)

  11. says

    This is one of those slap-myself-in-the-forehead moments. Seriously, it’s mind-numbingly simple, makes perfect sense, so WHY OH WHY have I never thought to do this??? Thanks for pointing out the obvious. The few hundred newsletter subscribers I do have are by far my most loyal readers/commenters. Facebook fans – over 2K of them – not so much. Duh.
    This also makes me think about all the guest posts I’ve written and the laundry list of social media links I add to the bottom, begging readers to “Follow me if you enjoyed this post!” Totally new perspective. Mind blown. THANK YOU!
    (And yes, I will be sharing this on my social media networks – how could I not?!)
    Kirsten recently posted..Designer Painted Ornaments from Plain BulbsMy Profile

    • says

      LOL You made me laugh, Kirsten. I love those lightbulb moments – it makes all of this worthwhile. :) There’s a lot more to the email strategy than just getting people to sign up, but that’s definitely the first crucial step. I’d love to hear about your experiences when you start implementing, so make sure you keep in touch!

    • says

      Just to be clear, Stephinie, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using Facebook – all of my new traffic is a combination of social media shares and Google traffic. But I don’t recommend using it as the primary way people should expect to get your best information. List first, social media second…through the list. ;)

  12. says

    I haven’t been sharing my post on social media because I felt like I was spoon feeding them on the wrong platform. I was thrilled to hear you mention this and will be putting my social media buttons in my footer as well.

    Thanks for this post!
    Dollie recently posted..A Fun Candy Cane GuideMy Profile

  13. says

    I think this is a great idea…I know I more faithfully see and read the blogs I follow by email. I moved the email subscribe button to the top of my blog, and while I didn’t remove the social media icons, I put them much farther down the page. I still do want to attract followers to those sites as well. Thanks for sharing!
    Linda recently posted..Vintage on the Porch…My Profile

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Linda. It’s definitely not an “all-or-nothing” thing. Well, it is with me, but I’m pretty confident in this approach at this point. :) Even just moving the email subscribe button to the most prominent spot is going to help your readers prioritize what’s actually the best way to get all your most helpful information. Two thumbs up for implementing!

  14. says

    I think this makes good sense but when you are a new blogger with a new website how do you bring traffic to your website and get people to sign up to your blog with their e-mail?

    Thanks Jeni~always interesting stuff

  15. says

    Personally, I would rather have a smaller email list and keep my social icons where they are. I have gained far more clients via social media than my email list, and while that may be a failure to engage the list on my part, I’m not too bothered by it. I prefer having a conversation to earning a dollar any day.

    I don’t subscribe to any email lists myself – if I can’t follow posts via RSS (which is rare, since I have a browser extension to find the feed even if there is no button), I just don’t follow that blog. Period. I just can’t get onboard with pushing something on my audience that I’m not willing to do myself. I’d be interested to hear back in a few months from some of the people who removed their social icons to see how it worked out for them, though.
    Andrea recently posted..5 Great Holiday Gifts for Web DesignersMy Profile

    • says

      I don’t want it to seem like I hate social media or don’t use it – I definitely do. Well, not all social media…Twitter and Pinterest mainly. But what I do on Twitter is very different from what I do on my blog. I use that as an open conversation and just a place to “hang out” and chat. I also promote a lot of other people’s work through Twitter.

      For me, my list is a way to make sure that the people who will really benefit from my message always have the best access to that information. We can connect through other social media channels as well, but if people are here to *learn*, they subscribe.

      Don’t get me wrong – a lot of my own clients have come to me through social channels…but rarely through them following me personally on those social channels. Usually they’ve found my blog through a link from Pinterest or Twitter and then subscribed. They’re not always ready to work with me right away, but through my list, I keep building trust and my own reputation (just by sharing my best info), and when people *are* ready, I’m the first person they call.

      I have a social space, and that’s Twitter. But my business space is primarily my blog.

  16. says

    This is something I have been seriously considering. This post was sort the guts that I don’t know if I have. ;) Mostly because I do want to serve my readers and if they don’t want emails, then I don’t want to totally lose them. I think I might put my social media icons into my footer. That’s the idea I’ve been toying with … you definitely have me thinking!
    Leigh Ann recently posted..Christmas Advent: Our 2013 PlanMy Profile

    • says

      Thinking is good. :) Whatever you decide to do with it is fine – just as long as you’re being intentional and not doing it “just because.” Thanks for commenting!

  17. says

    I completely agree with you…I have two different sign up boxes on all my pages for my newsletter, as well as a pop up that comes up when someone first gets to the site. I offer free downloads with each sign up so I end up getting anywhere between 25-100 new subscribers a day. I have been very frustrated with Facebook lately…I have more than 5,000 followers and I’m lucky if 400 people see my posts. I definitely want to focus on what I have control over! It’s exciting to get a big following, but if no one sees your posts than none of it matters.

    • says

      I appreciate you sharing your experience – there are way too many people who have put all their eggs in the Facebook basket who now have very little to show for it…

  18. says

    Thank you so much! I’ve been completely clueless the past couple of years that I’ve been blogging, and I know that all your posts are going to help me make it grow! Keep up the great work!

  19. says

    This makes so much sense but it really never occurred to me to try. I’ve been working so hard on building my email list – good content, invitations to subscribe at the foot of every email, subscription box at the top of my sidebar, etc. And it has been so slow. I’m going to give this a shot. I’m starting to launch some actual products, so I want to be able to talk to my audience as directly as possible! The percent of my audience who sees any FB post is pretty pathetic.
    Dona Bumgarner recently posted..DIY Chai Tea ConcentrateMy Profile

    • says

      Yes! I can tell you’re an intentional blogger, Dona. If you have plans to launch products, then a well nurtured list is definitely the way to go. :) I’d love to hear your experience if you decide to put the social media buttons aside for awhile, so please stay in touch!

  20. says

    I think this is good advice and I have been trying to point all my efforts toward growing my email list. BUT my email readers are not clicking through. My open rates are between 20-40% and I only get a handful of clicks.

    I wonder what your thoughts are on including an excerpt or a teaser in the email or the full post. My click throughs were even lower when I was only sending a teaser and so I switched to the full post.
    Sarah recently posted..Flash Christmas Planning Challenge Day 2: GiftsMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Sarah, I actually talked about the “full feed vs. partial feed” debate in this post.

      But that really raises another question, which is whether to automate your post delivery or whether to “hand deliver” it by writing a personal note. I personally don’t blog every week (my focus is on quality over quantity), so I take the extra time to write a message to my subscribers and include the link to the post I’m sharing. This does two things: first, it personalizes my blog for my readers. I can say things to them via the email that I wouldn’t necessarily put in a blog post, but that I think will add value to their lives. But more importantly, it also helps build my relationship with my readers and we’re slowly becoming more of a community instead of just a one-way “preaching from the pulpit.” I don’t know how this applies to your situation, but that’s what I personally do. :)

      Thanks for your note!

  21. says

    Thank you Jeni, It makes sense, and I had a hunch that might be the reason we were not gaining more traffic. My sister would add a link to our post on her facebook page everytime we posted something- spoon feeding them, rather having them subscribe to get the posts. I just called her to tell her not to do it anymore and explaining why. And she gets it now. Thanks, Anna
    I have a question, should I ditch the blogroll which is located on top in the pages next to “about and contact” pages?

    • says

      Hi Anna, it’s really up to you whether you want to keep the blogroll. Those can be good to build relationships with other bloggers you like; when you are sharing your traffic with them, it can help you build rapport with the other blogger. I don’t personally use a blogroll, but some people do.

  22. says

    Hi Jeni!

    I agree with you, but. . . if some of my readers are like me, I get soooo much email until I rarely open my emails. Even if it is from blogs and sites that I may subscribe to. It’s just too much. Everybody seems to want your time and attention so I just open a few and skim the titles.

    But I do agree with putting your stuff up on your sidebar.

    • says

      Hi Angela, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. My response is to always make sure *you’re* the blogger with the highest quality content in your readers’ mailboxes, the email they can’t afford NOT to open. :)

  23. says

    Hi Jeni,
    This all makes perfect sense! I half heartedly do social media (except Pinterest of course) anyway and think that focusing on getting email subscribers is the way to go for me. So thanks…And, my condolences to the Elliott clan about the Crimson Tide. (I heard it was an exciting game though!) Aloha, Lori

  24. says

    So I was reading along and your pop up came up about non-annoying pop ups… and I was really curious about it/the download. I tried to enter my email to get the download, but since I already subscribe it wouldn’t take my email. Anyways… is there a place to get that pdf/ how did you get your roadblock to wait rather than being the first thing that comes up?

    • says

      Hi Abagail, that’s part of the magic of OptinMonster. I have it set to only show on a person’s *second* page visit, and it’s delayed by 20 seconds so my visitors have time to actually read and get absorbed in my post before they’re offered the free guide. :) I’ll send you a separate email with a download link for that resource.

      • Carolyn says

        I’m a subscriber too, and I got the pop-up about a free ebook for getting more blog subscribers. I would like the ebook – do I have to unsubscribe and re-subscribe to get it? :)

        • says

          Hi Carolyn, I’m trying to figure out a way to send that out to everyone on my list without sending you duplicate emails when I write to you in the future. I have a solution and will be implementing it in the next day or so – I appreciate your patience! Will get it to you shortly, so stay tuned… :)

  25. says

    Hi Jeni,
    What an interesting idea! I am contemplating moving my buttons further down on my homepage. I just got rid of the blogroll in my sidebar (and finally signed up for feedly so I can keep up with my favorite blogs that way). Have you checked out hellobar? I’ve gotten a lot more subscribers since installing one. The free plan only gets you 25 clicks/month, but it’s a lot more than I was getting before! I’m going to check out OptinMonster, too. Also, I currently use Feedburner, and would LOVE to hear more about why/how to switch to MailChimp.
    Thanks so much for all your fabulous ideas!
    Becky recently posted..Caldo Tlalpeño (Paleo, Gluten-free)My Profile

  26. says

    Wow, so as the only male to comment on this article, I have to commend you for pointing out the obvious on social icon placement. It is simply just in our nature to get distracted. This internet enables free reign, and our minds simply can’t keep up with all of the content being put out 24/7. Great post.

  27. says

    I just wanted to check out more from your blog but… I can’t seem to find how to navigate it?
    I see you use categories, but there’s nowhere those categories are listed. And I also don’t see any way to go from one post to the next. The only navigation tool I’m finding, besides your main menu, is the popular posts widget?
    Sofie recently posted..What outdoor gear would you buy with $500?My Profile

    • says

      Hi Sofie, I know things aren’t ideal right now for navigating around my site. I’ll be launching a custom design here soon, and I make good use of both single post navigation and related posts. For right now, my sidebar is a great place to find posts, and you can also go to the home page and tab through the content that way. Like I said, big changes will be happening soon. :) Thanks for your note!

  28. says

    Hey, Jeni. I actually read this the day you posted it, but I’ve been so slammed this week I’ve not had time to come back to pin, comment, anything! I saw your tweet. ;-)
    So you want me to play devil’s advocate? It’s a tricky question on one hand. It depends on your goals. You are spot on about not funneling people off of your site to somewhere else where they will get distracted. Your site is the only thing you are fully in control of, so you need to keep people there and build your list IF you have things to sell.

    The thing is that not all bloggers have something to sell. Their model may be affiliate commissions, ad space, and working with brands. And in that case, they don’t really care so much about a list. They simply need traffic. I don’t know that every blogger needs a mailing list. (And don’t get me started on building a mailing list just to sell slots to companies in eblasts. I think that’s just one step away from selling their emails which you promise not to do when they sign up. I’m not a fan of that tactic.) For blogs that work with brands, those social media links are social proof. So I would say they can be very important depending on your reasons for blogging.

    But I agree with you on call to action. Make it above the fold, obvious, and single. Subordinate social media icons to that primary call to action or put them on a contact page.

    I am purposely working to build a platform on G+, so it’s important enough to me to add to my sidebars. It’s part of an overall SEO strategy, and I think it’s vitally important for me (in social media field). But it’s not that important for everyone. It depends. The bottom line, as always, is to know your goals and make everything you do fit into that strategy.
    Jimmie recently posted..Time Management for People Who Value FreedomMy Profile

    • says

      I so appreciate your opinions, Jimmie. You’re a thinker. :) I love your point about deciding what your goals are. …although in my book, it’s smart to keep your options open. Even if a blogger doesn’t currently have plans to sell products, you never know what will come up in two or three years…and then they’ll wish they had a list.

  29. says

    Hi Jeni ~ I moved my social media buttons down a bit and put my subscribe stuff above the fold. I just spoke with an advertiser earlier this week who had been on my site and then told me he navigated to my Twitter account from my blog. He was impressed with my following there and that’s how we connected at first.

    So — I agree a bit with what Jimmie is saying about social proof. I think, though, that what you say about encouraging people to actually not subscribe to your blog by having those buttons there makes a lot of sense. It’s a Catch 22 for me.

    Thank you for giving me something to ponder tonight! You are so smart!

    • says

      It can be a tough call – I’m working on a site right now for a woman who has 20K Twitter followers and out-of-this-world engagement there. She’s a brand ambassador for Kellogg’s, Dove, and a number of huge companies…but her blog following has taken a backseat to her social media following, and she’s losing contracts to women who have more on-blog engagement. We decided to put her social media buttons in the footer of her site, as well as on her “work with me” and “about” pages. Brands who are looking for her info will definitely find it there, and it won’t distract normal blog readers who don’t know the best way to get info.

      Everyone has their own opinions – I just want my readers to think and be intentional about what they’re doing and not do things on their blog a certain way “just because.”

  30. says

    Thank you for the post! I’m moving my Social Media Icons and see if this helps. I’ve added nearly 40 Facebook and about 8 Google+ and no new subscribers. Of course my Face book and Google plus are front and center on the page. Simplicity! I love it!!! I also agree with Kendra that I also look for the chance to follow via facebook/G+ but I think it’s mostly us bloggers that need that sort of efficiency and most folks aren’t overloaded by mail. Blessings and thanks! Kyle
    Kyle recently posted..Aspired Week : Teaching Young Children to Memorize ScriptureMy Profile

    • says

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, Kyle. I love the last idea you shared about “most folks.” A lot of bloggers have a hard time understanding what “normal people” know or don’t know about how blogs work. For example – before Google Reader went away, a lot of bloggers used the RSS button with their other social buttons. The problem is, un-savvy blog readers have no clue what that little icon means! There are probably a lot of well-intentioned blog readers out there who assume they’re finding out about blog posts because they liked the blogger on Facebook! Appreciate your comment here. :)

  31. says

    Jeni – most of my views come from Facebook and my Facebook reach has plummeted this week. Intellectually, I know you are right but it is a scary thought. To be honest I don’t get many clicks on my social follow buttons either. I am going to take baby steps. 1. Move below my email subscription. 2. Then move to my footer. 3. If and when panic subsides, get rid of. Thanks for challenging the status quo.
    Tara recently posted..5 Healthy Habits for Kids (and Adults!)My Profile

    • says

      Isn’t it scary how your Facebook reach can just turn on a dime? And if people who are “subscribed to your blog” through Facebook aren’t seeing your posts in their feed, you have no way of contacting them! You can still get people to follow you on Facebook if that’s a priority for you – my advice is just to do that *after* they’ve subscribed directly through your blog. So glad you decided to share your thoughts, Tara. Welcome!

  32. says

    Hmm, interesting post. I’m not quite ready to give up on social media but agree that Pinterest is a great source of traffic. At one point it accounted for 50% of people visiting my blog!

    I agree with Jeni on Facebook & Twitter. I’ve been trying to grow my Facebook business page for over a year now. I read a blog post recently which said that only 2% of your likers will ever see your post unless you pay Facebook to display them.

    As for twitter, you may have lots of followers, but how many really read your tweets in a sea of tweets? This is why I have reduced the number of people who I follow so that any tweets I receive are the ones I want to see.

    In terms of my website, I have a free ebook “10 ways to make your legs look longer” which I give away to be email subscribers. Take up on this has been slow. I’ve now placed it at the top of the side bar, followed by the social media icon buttons. Both of these can now been seen at the top of the page. It’ll be interesting to see if I gain more email subscribers this way.

    I’ve also deleted a Facebook Widget where people can like and view my facebook posts and deleted my tags widget as well.

    In terms of what Jeni is saying about the Blogroll, I’ve been thinking about removing this from my blog. Jeni is not the first person I’ve met who has told me to remove it. Maybe I should offer it as a ebook instead. Decisions, decisions.
    Carol recently posted..How to get a bargain in the salesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! I’d love to hear the results of the changes you’ve made, so please keep me posted.

      In terms of your “10 ways” e-book, I love that you’ve targeted something that’s a pain point for petite women. Since you said it has been slow to take off, I do wonder whether perhaps you might have better results if you test out a more alluring title for your e-book? Definitely make the call yourself, but something like “10 Secrets for Longer-looking Legs! (HINT: You already have 3 of these in your closet!)” might draw more attention.

      As I become more intentional about my own blog, I’m placing more of an emphasis on testing what works, and it’s easy to make a quick title change to measure the results.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment – so glad you’re here. :)

      Warmly,
      Jeni

  33. says

    Wow…thank you for giving me “permission” to lose some of those buttons!! I do not use Twitter, I see minimal traffic from FB, as well. Everyone seems to be pushing G+, but honestly, even with 500 followers, I see very little traffic from it. I would prefer people to follow me through email or Pinterest. I am going to try it for a bit and see what happens! Can’t hurt, right?

    • says

      Kim, just thought I’d share this with you: I got an email today from a man who said he took down his social media buttons and replaced them with *just* a subscribe box. In the past two weeks, he has gone from 4 subscribers to 56! Part of this exercise is just to be more intentional about the choices you give your readers, helping them get your posts in what’s really the most reliable way (via email).

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – I look forward to seeing you here more often!

      Warmly,
      Jeni

  34. says

    Depending what your ultimate goals are for your blog, this could work. Too many companies still want those social media #s, but I see the point with starting with the mailing list.

  35. says

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been trying to find a way to increase my blog subscribers. My Facebook page keeps growing, but I want to grow my subscribers list, and have been unable to do so. I have a serious love hate going with Facebook and the idea of building my audience on their platform which I have no control over is bugging me. However, the thought of removing my social media icons feels scary. But, I’m going to give it a try. Now, that I’ve typed it, I’m wondering why I’m scared. I really have nothing lose. So, do you recommend removing both the social media icons and the Facebook widget that shows who “likes” the page? Thanks again!!

    • Jeni Elliott says

      Hi Terri,

      Thanks for your note! If what you want is email subscribers, I’d remove *anything* that would distract from that, including the FB “like” box. Some bloggers use Facebook very well and have good results from it…and in that case, I’d *still* remove the like box, but set up an autoresponder to go out to new subscribers that includes your Facebook info and lets them know they can join you there as well. My own Facebook page has 737 followers, but you don’t see that info anywhere on my blog – it’s only in an email, and it’s just a small portion of people who actually subscribe to my email list. Hope this is helpful!

  36. says

    I am a new blogger & I couldn’t take the plunge on my social media icons but I did relocate them further down my sidebar and made a special graphic to grab more attention for my email subscription area at the very top of my sidebar. Can’t wait to see how it goes!!

    • says

      It looks great, Tiffany. Even if you don’t toss the social media buttons out entirely, it’s great that you’ve called more attention to the subscribe box so people know the best way to stay updated with what you’re doing. Please keep me updated on how it goes for you!

  37. says

    Thanks for a great post Jeni. Do you recommend tossing out ‘share this post’ buttons at the bottom of a blog post also. I don’t have this on my current blog but am thinking of including it on a new blog design I’m currently working on.
    Catherine Bedson recently posted..Beerenberg FarmMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Catherine,

      No, social media sharing buttons aren’t the same as the links to your own social profile offsite. I’d definitely keep the “share this post” buttons – that can be one of the primary sources of traffic to any blog because it allows people who are truly engaged with your content to tell others about it. Thanks for your great question!

  38. says

    Hello Jeni!

    Totally agree with you, the less social media buttons you keep, the better! Other way to increase subscriber is to consider offering them free ebooks or something. This will makes them feel special because you’re offering them something valuable, so they will be more inclined to subscribe – especially if it’s a great deal.
    Worli recently posted..Search Engine OptimizationMy Profile

  39. Minsooky says

    On the contrary – I hate going into my email inbox. I rarely check out any emails I get from blogs simply I dislike having to sort through my email; it’s such a tedious process, and frankly I’m a visual person too, so emails in general don’t capture my interest. One of the first things I look for when I go to a blog is some sort of social media page, like Facebook, because I prefer to be notified of new posts that way (I’m very active with social media), and plus there’s more engagement as opposed to getting an email or newsletter. If I don’t see that a blog has this readily available, then I simply don’t follow the blog…it’s not worth the hassle to me.

    • says

      Then perhaps you don’t want to get more blog subscribers – and if you’re happy to exchange that for social media followers, then that’s definitely your prerogative. :)

  40. says

    Jeni,

    Kudos to you for such a bold but truthful statement! When you invest in so many media outlets, you are inadvertently diluting the power of your marketing…it is spread thinly around and doesn’t have the direct impact that you want.

    Social media algorithms are always going to change but an email inbox is personal and is constant. There are some people that point out that they like the visuals that social media gives…but email marketing gives visuals too..and much more!

    There is a reason email marketing remains as the top method in online marketing. It’s personal, customizable, engaging, and you can even segment your contact list so that you create different campaigns for different groups of people.

    What is even better than using email marketing to help your blog is using email marketing WITH your blog! Benchmark Email has a new plugin (Benchmark Email Lite) that you can add onto your WordPress dashboard. There, you can upload a email sign-up box to any page on your site, create short blurbs or newsletters, send email-friendly version of your blogs straight to your readers’ inboxes, and even track down the analytics all straight of off WordPress.
    :)

  41. says

    Hi Jeni! All of your posts ar so helpful! I started my own blog two months ago, and your help has been so important! And not only your interesting posts, but also your personal emails and fast replys. I really appreciated the time you took answering my questions, It made me feel so much more than just another blog suscriber.

    Thank you so much!

  42. says

    Finally! I have diligently been working to drive traffic to my blog rather than to FB and although it’s very much like tooth pulling to get people to click over, it’s happening every so slowly. I took your advice and moved my social icons way down in the sidebar. You just gave me that little nudge I needed – thank you! I am going to subscribe and follow your blog via “yes” email :) Thank you and please do visit me too.

  43. says

    For the most part Jeni, I agree that you don’t want to encourage your visitors to leave your site, since it takes a concerted effort to get new people to find you in the 1st place. Its also critical that you make it easy for people to “socially vet” you as a person and making it easy for them to see what you do and how you do it on the big socials seems to be a decent route to go to enable this “are you trustworthy” question you know they’re asking?
    Neil Ferree recently posted..Content Marketing System Best PracticesMy Profile

  44. says

    This post makes a very good point — that I never considered until now. It makes total sense to direct new readers to signing-up for my newsletter rather than being distracted by the Facebook plugin in my sidebar. Thanks for the tip! I’m getting rid of the FB plugin right now. Cheers!

  45. says

    Thank you for these tips. It seems a little scary to remove all the social media links seeing as that is what most people suggest first but I understand the logic and am heading to my blog to do it right now…yep…on my way…going…..just reading a little bit more. Oh look, something shiny! Back to the blog to make some changes ;) I’ll try it, seriously. Thanks.

  46. says

    Hi Jeni,
    Great post! I removed my social media menu bar from the top of the page & updated my sidebar with popular Pinterest pics (from another of your great posts)
    I used to use AWeber for list building, but after over a year had only added about 45 subscribers. In hindsight, my old content was not as useful as my new content (now aimed at that “one reader”). I’ve kept AWeber on-hold at a reduced rate, but I’m wondering if you would recommend that I switch to another subscription service? I felt like I was throwing away money before when I wasn’t netting many subscribers despite the free offers & giveaways I was using to list-build. Interested in your thoughts!
    Karen recently posted..Fitness Friday: Work Out at WorkMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Karen, it really depends on the overall number of subscribers you have and how you’re leveraging your list. If you have fewer than 2K subscribers, Mailchimp has a free plan, but you can’t use autoresponders on the free plan. To me, it would be a huge pain to change out the code for all my subscribe areas, so I’d just as soon stay put. The *real* goal is to start using your list to make money for you so it will pay for itself. ;)

  47. says

    I think what you’re saying is a great idea; however, I’m wondering if it’s better to have people follow you via email or on a blog reader. I know after a while I get sick and tired of all the emails that come over (your’s excluded, of course). With a blog reader, they will still get your content, but be able to read it at their pace when they want to. What are your thoughts on this?
    Polished Ways recently posted..China Glaze Lotus BeginMy Profile

    • says

      The problem with blog readers is you have no control over them. If you decide to change your blog, move your domain, or if the blog reader shuts down (like Google Reader did last year!) those readers will disappear. You don’t have access to the email addresses of people who follow you via blog reader, so if the unexpected happens, you’ll lose readers. That’s why I recommend building your *email list* specifically.

  48. says

    I am really nervous about doing this because I just recently started blogging and almost all my readers have come from Facebook it seems. Is this advice for new blogs as well?

    • says

      Hi Stephanie, sorry I missed this comment when you posted it! This advice *does* apply to new bloggers. Do you want people (even those who come in via Facebook) to join you on Facebook, where they have less than an 8% chance of getting your updates, or on your email list, where they have a 100% chance of getting your updates? I promise, the followers you get via email are the most highly engaged, and over time, they become people who not only comment on your blog, but also share your posts (yes, via Facebook, even!) with their friends. Food for thought. :)

  49. says

    Are you talking about signing people up for blog emails? I’ve had an email list for a year now for my consulting site. It has more than 1,000 people, and I see very weak results.

    • says

      Hi Mark, getting people to sign up for “blog emails” is just the tip of the iceberg. Far beyond that is using your email list to build relationships with your readers/clients and training them (through the emails) to take action whenever you ask for it. There’s a lot more that goes into healthy blog/business management than just acquiring the list, but if you’ve developed products or services that the email list funnels into, it’s worth the extra work. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments here!

  50. says

    Thanks Jeni! It makes sense! I’m tired of seeing that 1 % of my FB followers have seen my posts. I wonder when Pinterest is going to start charging bloggers like Facebook…

  51. says

    Hi Jeni-
    So, would you suggest not linking at ALL via FB to updated blog posts? I typically post and then go back and link up with FB. But, as so many here have stated, I am seeing nearly no reward for this effort. And my email subscribe list has slowed down.

    Thanks for any and all help. It is appreciated :)

    • says

      Hi Maryanne, it’s hard to tell what works until you try it…but the fact that you’re seeing little or no benefit from your efforts on Facebook would lead me to say it’s not working. When you share on FB, in a way, you’re training people that you value their interaction there, rather than on the blog. I have a client who has phenomenal interaction on Facebook (in terms of comments, likes, etc.), but when you look at her blog, it looks like a ghost town. Zero comments…mainly because people are commenting on Facebook instead. That’s fine, except you have no control over how (or even if!) Facebook will share your posts with your followers in the future.

      If you do want to keep one foot in the door on Facebook, there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing email subscriptions for new people who arrive on your blog. And then if you also want to build your FB following, I’d do that through your mailing list – either in the footer of your feed, or via an autoresponder, you could encourage your email subscribers to follow you there. Hope this gives you some food for thought!

  52. says

    SO many companies ask for e-mails; I never read any e-mails that aren’t personal anymore. For that reason, I don’t have a mailing list. Social media, I use all the time. It’s true that it’s unreliable for sharing my posts, but like I said–I don’t read anything from mailing lists I subscribed to, even when I was truly interested. There are just too many. Am I an anomaly?

  53. says

    Hey Jeni! I just discovered your blog and its been the most helpful, easy to read and put into practise immediately kind of blog. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I’ve never thought about removing that widget and now I will try it out, especially because my other social media accounts haven’t been that helpful in generating traffic.
    Else Victoria H. recently posted..Ankara SkirtMy Profile

  54. Kevin Cheng says

    Hi, Jeni – I agree with not giving your readers too many choices (one is great!), because I think we’re all busy and often think of going from one task to another ASAP. And anything that slows down that mental groove we’re in and actually makes us have to think: Should I subscribe or share on FB, etc can make someone say, “OK, I can’t take the time right now, need to come back later”. Of course, then they might never come back. Or, as you say, they can pick FB and therefore NOT email-subscribe.

    From a reader’s viewpoint, whenever I read a post that’s really relevant and helpful, I get the impression that this blogger knows their stuff on this topic, and I want to learn more from that person. Then if an opt-in form is right there at the end of the post, they’ve got me! So I think the interests of both blogger and reader are actually aligned in the first place: Blogger wants to start building trust and showing the value they can provide, and the reader wants to learn or be inspired or have their problems solved, etc. It’s a smooth, win-win process, and anything that might put speed bumps into that process actually hurts both the blogger and reader. All that said, I think putting the social buttons in a section in the footer (for example) is fine. I don’t plan to put social buttons right underneath my posts, just a nice big Opt-In form :)

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