Please check out this repost from 2019 below. It is about email list, but can apply to blogs and social media just the same.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
Email Unsubscribes / Unfollows.
They can feel like silent rejections and sometimes confusing because you don’t always know why the person left. Unsubscribes can leave authors feeling abandoned, especially if the person was a long-time member of the list. All kinds of thoughts go through your head.
“What did I do wrong?”
“Am I providing value?”
“Does my writing suck?”
“Do I suck?”
“Did I email too much? Too little? What happened?”
The good news is that it is okay whether someone leaves your email list or your blog. In 2019, we were not taking losses, only lessons, and there are tons of lessons we can learn from email unsubscribes.
This list encourages and motivates you to push past that feeling of confusion and rejection.
Don’t subscribe people to your list without their permission.
Please don’t do this.
There are laws against doing things like this. Never, ever add anyone to anything without that person’s permission. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook group or email list. Get permission first. When you let people subscribe on their own, they can unsubscribe whenever they want and do it all without you being sued.
However, if you subscribe someone without their approval, you can be sure they will unsubscribe.
While there’s nothing wrong with compiling a list of supporters and emailing the old-school way (directly), we live in a different time. You need a track record that shows proof this person agreed to get emails from you. You need permission. Do not grab emails from blogs and websites. Choose an opt-in email form and let people subscribe on their own, or create an opt-in form of your own using google docs but just get permission. Don’t get sued.
Don’t take it personally.
If the subscriber was legal, and the person decided to leave, the most important lesson you can learn from this is not to take it personally. It could be because they did it to enter your contest and are no longer interested. It could be because they thought they signed up for something that turned out to be different from their expectations.
People have reasons for subscribing to a list/blog, and only some are clear about that reason. If someone mistakenly thought your list would offer something that it doesn’t, they may unsubscribe because it’s different from what they thought it would be.
It does not mean they are disinterested in you or that you do not have value. Don’t take unsubscribes personally. They are not rejecting you.
Never respond to an unsubscribe.
Resist the inclination to ask people why they left. Do not send them follow-up emails unless they have reached out to you. If they unsubscribed from your main list, they probably want to stop receiving emails from you. Again, don’t take the unsubscribe personally. One apple doesn’t stop no show (and that’s grammatically incorrect on purpose). Just keep grinding.
Quality over Quantity: You don’t have to have a gazillion email list subscribers to be Relevant.
With email lists, remember it’s more about the quality of your team. It’s better to have 30 or 40 committed people who are eager to support your work and read your books than 2,000 who won’t lift a finger to give you so much as a piece of advice. You ask a question and hear crickets. I have only about 172 subscribers to my list, and I am more than okay with this. Of course, I’d like to grow (who wouldn’t?), but I am in no rush. It’s challenging enough managing the people I already have. I’ll wait patiently. Always remember quality over quantity. It’s easier to manage 30 or 50 subscribers than to manage 200 or 300 starting out.
Resist the urge to vent your rage on your favorite social media Platform
Again, don’t take it personally. Email unsubscribes are like bad reviews that only you see. Just as it is not recommended to discuss the bad review, it is also not recommended to discuss the unsubscribe. We are all human but venting about these things on social media makes you look like an amateur. Accept this person has decided they are no longer interested in your content (for whatever reason) and move on. People come in and out of our lives for a reason, and we just have to accept when that season is over. Don‘t make it bigger than it is.
Remove and Renew
Don’t be afraid to lose people. You need to unsubscribe people you see who are no longer interested because there will also be people who won’t unsubscribe. They’ll just ignore you and delete your emails, or they may just ignore it without acting.
In pop culture, we call this Ghosting when someone disappears from your life without a word, leaving you to wonder what happened. It is a form of passive aggressiveness I do not recommend people to do. Communicate like an adult.
It’s a good idea to do a good ole cleansing occasionally. Delete some people. Don’t be so thirsty for high numbers to your own detriment. If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter, and you are deceiving yourself. Every 2-3 months, I clean my list. I delete people who have yet to be active, have not been opening emails, clicking links, responding to questions, or participating. Their presence is irrelevant. I love them, but my emails are clearly not their cup of tea, and they shouldn’t be forced to drink. They must go.
If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter that they follow you. Their presence is irrelevant, and you are deceiving yourself.
It takes time.
Writing is a business; like all businesses, it takes trial, error, consistency, and time to build. We may have been born with gifts, but no one knew exactly how to execute them. No one woke up with the skills to hire a team or produce excellent products. Similarly, you only know how to manage an email list through practice and hard work, and people will still unsubscribe.
I used to transcribe to the same practices of some “gurus” who said to only email once a month. While I understand why you wouldn’t want to email too frequently, you must do what works for you. It’s a personal journey first.
So I followed my own path and now email whenever I have news. The truth is, it’s hard to stay connected to anyone you don’t speak to for months at a time. The email list can be an essential source of support if you want it to be. Or, the email list could be another social media account you update to tell people about your new books. *Yawn.*
Truth is, there will always be someone to unsubscribe. The real question is, who cares? People always unsubscribe from our lives, but we can’t stop working just because people leave. People unsubscribing from the list can be a blessing as it teaches us what works, what doesn’t, and how to better connect with our audience.
People unsubscribing is not even the real problem. The real problem is learning to connect with those who genuinely follow us. If we do our jobs well, we don’t have anything to worry about.
One door closes, one door opens.
Every time someone unsubscribes from my list, someone new subscribes. That’s the fun thing about it. When one door closes, another always opens. Just because a few people unsubscribe does not mean more won’t come. I’ve been successful in keeping my numbers steady because I am always blessed with a new person whenever someone else leaves. When unsubscribes do happen, now I just smile, knowing someone new is on their way, and hopefully, they’ll find value where the other person did not. The end of one relationship is the beginning of another.
- Ask your people questions to discover what they want.
- Let your readers in a bit on who you are. Write stories, give updates not shared anywhere else, showcase your personality, e.g.
- If possible, use a domain email address as your from address instead of gmail. Ex: yourname(at)yourdomainname(dot)com.
1. Don‘t take the unsubscribe personally
2. Don‘t subscribe people without their permission
3. Never vent your rage about it on your favorite social media platform
4. Quality over quantity
5. Recognize the growth that comes with removal and renewal
6. Remember that it takes time to build anything of substance
7. and that when one door closes, another always opens
For more email list building tips check out one of the most popular posts on this blog: