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:
I’ve seen an increase in people who follow this blog outside of the blogosphere (*Waves!*) which basically means they aren’t active on blogs. They aren’t on WordPress, or Blogger or any other blog platform but do follow me through email. For this, I think it’s important to explain some WordPress basics. After all, it wouldn’t be fair not to show everyone around the place. Yes, please have a seat. Coffee?
When you follow someone’s blog, you do this in one of two ways. You either follow them through the Reader—your “Timeline” of sorts where you can read the posts of those you follow when you log in—or you can follow that blog through email. This means you will get an email every time they publish a new blog post. This button is usually located on the blogger’s sidebar (or slide-sidebar) and says, “Click to Follow this Blog and Receive Notifications Via Email”. (For bloggers, you can add this button to your blog by going to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widget > Follow Button. There are two so make sure it’s the one that says under it “Add an email sign-up form to allow people to follow your blog”. Click and drag to the sidebar.)
The best place for this button is as near to the top of your sidebar as you can get it. I wouldn’t put it at the bottom. If your theme is set up that way (where most of the side-bar elements are at the bottom), I would change the theme. If people are lazy, they may not see your button and therefore you increase the chances of them not following your blog.
Adjusting Your Settings
If you opt to receive notifications of new post by email, it means you will receive an email every time that blogger publishes a new blog post.
Some of us post frequently. We are usually the bloggers who publish on the hour, every hour or every single day. Some may refer to us as “Powerbloggers”, or just those crazy people over there who spend unfathomable time blogging. You know, those people with the audacity to spend more hours blogging than you do at work.
We are also usually the bloggers who are very active and supportive of other blogs with little patience to be told when and when we should not write. Yea yea, “Quality vs. Quantity”. We get it, but we’re still going to blog like crazy. (What of both? Post valuable information often. Yea, I like that).
If you happen to stumble upon one of our blogs, it’s important that you take the time to adjust your settings once you’ve subscribed.
If you don’t want us invading your inbox, you can just adjust your blog settings so that you receive emails whenever you want. In other words, configure your blog’s subscription options.
The easiest way to do this is that when you get an email click on it and at the very bottom of the page, in the footnote area, look for Modify your Notification Settings or it will say “Manage Subscriptions”. Click that.
A page will come up with a list of all the people you’re following. You will see something that says “Delivery Frequency”. This is the frequency to which you will receive that blogger’s blog post. Immediate means it will be delivered to your inbox immediately, in real time. If this blogger posts a lot you may not want to get their posts immediately. If this is the case, you can change your frequency to daily or weekly and get the posts once a week or once a day instead of every hour.
Blog vs. Email List Subscriptions
Some people use their blog and email list simultaneously. That is, they use their email list to inform readers of new blog posts. When they deliver a new email via their list, you will also get their latest blog posts. However, subscribing to someone’s email list / newsletter and subscribing to their blog are two different things.
When you hit that Subscribe to This Blog button in my slide-side bar, you are opting to receive emails from this blog every time I publish a new post. When you sign up for my email list or newsletter (through the pop up alert or just by clicking on the link), you are opting to receive my email newsletters. These are not blog posts and are not from WordPress. These are emails sent once or more a month to my list of email newsletter subscriptions. Usually, a person’s email list is hosted through one of these:
MailChimp (Most popular because the free version lets you send up-to 12, 000 emails to a maximum of 2,000 people a month before an upgrade is needed).
But MailChimp is not the only program for building an email list. There’s also:
And the list goes on and on. The point is that if you’ve subscribed via any of these, you’ve subscribed to that person’s email list, not their blog.
I hope this is helpful to those of you who are new to the blogosphere and that it will be beneficial to your navigation. I do post frequently so if you don’t want me bombarding your email, you can always adjust your settings. This goes also for those of us familiar with WordPress but who do not like getting lots of email notifications of a post from those to which we are subscribed. Lots of bloggers complain about getting lots of emails. This is unnecessary stress considering you don’t have to stay subscribed to that blog nor do you have to receive notifications immediately. You can always just modify your settings.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy, Blogger, and Poet. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman who dreams of being a writer in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parent’s struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters, the pending book cover release, and full blurb for this series, be sure to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.
Check out these 5 common writing mistakes! I’m so guilty of #3! Thanks to one of my dear review buddies, I was made aware of this and am now able to watch carefully of jumping into people’s heads. I mean, how does Sally know what John was thinking? lol