I posed the question yesterday on Twitter of WHY bloggers so often do not have a subscribe by email option. It was more a rhetorical question to prompt people to think “Do I have that? No, I don’t. I should add one.” And if it had that effect on someone, awesome. You might just gain readers. Anyway, someone popped up to offer her reasons for not offering it.
1. It’s very 1990’s. 2. Many email subs send the entire post. I don’t want that. I want people to come to my site. 3. RSS.
Let’s take this one at a time.
It’s very 1990s. Well who the hell cares? People so often equate blogging to a popularity contest, so by not offering an email option for your content, you’re missing out on people who are either a) stuck in a decade of the technological past or b) have over reasons for wanting content by email (like that they like to read a post in their email on their phone and can’t or don’t want to click through).
Many email subs send the entire post. I don’t want that. I want people to come to my site. Okay fair enough. There are subscribe by email options that allow you to send a partial that forces a click through. As a subscribe by email person, this is going to annoy me, but if that partial is interesting enough to prove that clicking through is worth my time, I’ll do it. But here’s the thing: I’m not likely to interact on your site. I almost never comment (I don’t even do that on my own blog often–I know, I suck on that point, but that’s not what’s under discussion), and I definitely don’t have the time to READ other people’s comments and engage in the community that you’re trying to build. I don’t click around if I go to a blog. I read the post, and then I leave. So how is this gaining you anything by forcing me to come there except one more tick on your metaphorical interwebz bedpost? And if I DO happen to get a full post by email? If it’s awesome enough to make me want to say something back, THEN I will actually click through and DO something.
This reminds me of the same kinds of arguments as traditional publishers who resisted putting a book out in ebook because they wanted people to buy the hardback. They’re two different groups of people. Ebook readers won’t buy the hardback. If the book isn’t in e, they simply won’t buy it, period. By the same token, people who want posts by email are not going to suddenly change their behavior and be willing to spend valuable time out of their day clicking over to your blog to see if you updated or switch to using RSS feed readers. They simply won’t read your blog.
RSS. Oh, how I used to be a fan of the RSS. It was such a nice, easy way to keep up with stuff. Any time any of the oodles of interesting people posted something, it would get queued up and let me know what I needed to read. And I kept adding and adding. And people kept posting and posting. And my time got shorter and shorter, until there were suddenly hundreds, then THOUSANDS of posts I needed to read. DEAR FREAKING GOD, THE PRESSURE. And then Bloglines got bought out by somebody whose format/interface I didn’t like and I decided it was time to cut myself free of the insanity. I deleted my entire account. And then I subscribed by email to only those half dozen I deemed MOST important, most worthy of spending my time on. Am I saying RSS is bad? No. You should definitely have that option. It just isn’t for me.
There have been other blogs I wanted to read. One I signed up for in 2011 and NEVER GOT A POST even though I knew she was posting every day. I finally figured out this morning that I signed up for her NEWSLETTER, not her blog content (it wasn’t clear from the button). There was no means of subscribing to her blog content. So I miss out. Because I’m not going to take the time to remember to go somewhere every day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because people want something by email that they’re only interested in your books or products. That’s not always the case. The blog I was talking about? I don’t actually want to read her books. It’s not my genre. But her blog content is top notch. So the newsletter didn’t do me any good at all.
It’s been suggested that a blog is a cold call. And maybe sometimes it is. Certainly there have been posts by people I would never have known existed if not for Twitter. Somebody says it’s worth reading or it has an interesting title, and I’ll click over and read. And if I think it’s interesting enough, I might click around to see if there’s other equally interesting content. And if I make it past THAT, then I’ll look for a subscribe by email button…and most of the time not finding one. Meaning you’ve just lost me as a reader. And unless somebody brings you to my attention again for awesome, you’ve probably lost me permanently.
Ultimately, it DOESN’T MATTER why some people would rather get your content by email. You can think that’s dated and stupid or whatever the hell, but the point is, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WANT IT. It costs you no more than five minutes of time to add the option. You don’t have to interact with those people like you would on social media, so it’s not a time suck for you. You are not probably going to convert the email subscriber people to those happy little ideal visitors who comment and glom and interact with your site. Which means by not having the option, you’re simply losing them as readers entirely. And it’s the content that is the important part of potentially converting someone to a reader of your other work.