Where’s The Damn Subscribe Button?

RSS Subscribe OFlaherty Really I don’t care if you’re not concerned about how many people read your blog. I couldn’t give a monkeys arse about your super minimalist design. I fart in the face of your need for the ultimate in minimalist aesthetics.

If you don’t have a clear and easily located RSS or subscribe button on your blog I won’t be subscribing anytime soon.

I’ve run into this “little issue” twice in the past 24 hours and as a result, two blogs which I feel I really could get to like are each a subscriber short.

Lets be honest here, we all blog because some part of us is an exhibitionist at heart, we want people to read what we write or we wouldn’t go to the trouble of posting it to the internet in the first place. So with that in mind, why make it difficult for people to subscribe?

You need to be wrong to be a blogger!

Never wrong On thing I can’t stand is a smug, condescending git who thinks he (or she) knows everything.

Unfortunately the internet is chock full of these assholes, who believe that their opinion is all that counts and will argue that to the death that the moon is actually the buttocks of the late, great John Candy, hanging from a coat hangar attached to the ISS, rather than face the possibility of being wrong.

While some people are simply born with this level on inbred self importance and delusional capacity to recreate reality at a whim in order to fuel their own ego,  (and I suppose they can’t be blamed for that, but I do wish we could put them down at birth) some of us join the ranks of those vomiting self righteous  and “infallible” verbal diarrhoea simply because we write for an audience other than ourselves.

I originally started blogging for myself but quickly turned to technology blogging as I got a sense of satisfaction from the idea that sharing my knowledge may help others.

Yet the more I’ve emailed back and forth with readers, trouble shot their issues, came up with solutions to problems and answered beginner level questions in the comments, the more I started to believe my own bullshit.

The more you blog, the more people read you and the more you slip into this thought process that people come to my site because “I know what I’m talking about.”, which inevitably leads to:

“How dare you say I’m wrong. You know nothing, I’ve been on the internet forever, been fixing computers since before your moms pimp went sweet on her and bought her an Atari 2600 for Christmas – I’m Paul O’Flaherty damn it! How dare you question me?”

Yep, we become full of our own crap and believe our own bullshit.

Even for those of us who don’t go to the extreme mentioned above, for those of us who manage to entertain the idea that we may be wrong after we’ve toiled diligently over our posts to create highly accurate articles full of impenetrable logic and unquestionable facts, it’s very, very important to be wrong.

If you are never wrong, in what you post then there is little reason for anybody to read your post. If you’re always 100% correct then the title should be enough for them. Why would they bother reading 500 words when 10 will do?

Not only that, but posts which are packed with airtight logic leave the reader with little if anything to think about. If your argument is perfect then why would they leave a comment? Writing the “perfect” post to present your situation discourages comments. If you’ve done your job then there is nothing left to say.

Most importantly, if you are never wrong, then your readers will never trust you. I wouldn’t trust anybody who doesn’t admit that they got it wrong and I believe most people have an innate predisposition to disliking people who are always right.

We just don’t like to think other people are better than us.

So here’s my two little titbits of advice for today:

  • Don’t make your posts perfect. Leave room for your readers to think, question and fill in the blanks.
  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong and most importantly don’t be afraid to admit it (and be gracious when you are).

After all, nobody likes a smart arse!

More Posts = More Attention?

Common sense would seem to tell me that the more I post the more readers I will have and the more I’ll be able to attract.

This may be true from a search engine perspective as the more material you have the more likely it is that somebody will click on something but what about retaining the attention of you subscribers.

Do more posts mean that they’ll visit more often or that they’re more likely to click through from their RSS reader and comments

No!

Actually, too many post can have a detrimental effect on you subscriber base leading them to loose interest in your blog and ultimately unsubscribe.

I’ve been looking at my reading trends in Google Reader for the past 30 days and noticed that in general the more items were posted by a particular site the less likely it was that I would read them.

Here’s the stats for the top 40 most prolific posting sites that I’m subscribed to as well as the percentage of posts I actually read:

RSS Feed Items/Day%Read
TechAddress88.75%
Robert’s shared items in Google Reader52.15%
Buzztracker.com – Technology51.630%
digg / Technology39.124%
The Register28.821%
Techmeme21.760%
Slashdot20.260%
Lifehacker14.257%
Dvorak Uncensored12.236%
digg / Science11.414%
Techdirt.8.560%
TechCrunch8.249%
Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim – Internet Marketing Blog & Consultant6.780%
zedomax.com6.353%
GigaOM6.278%
Search Engine Watch Blog5.984%
Scobleizer Microsoft Geek Blogger4.978%
Technically Speaking 4.478%
bit-tech.net news Feed4.323%
Chris Pirillo3.833%
The Doc Searls Weblog3.791%
John Chow dot Com3.562%
Profy.Com3.479%
Digital Inspiration3.378%
InsideMicrosoft3.384%
Web Strategy by Jeremiah2.873%
Google Blogoscoped2.893%
we make money not art2.859%
BuzzMachine2.686%
Google Blog Search: link:https://pauloflaherty.com/2.562%
Google Operating System2.468%
Weblog Tools Collection2.384%
All about Microsoft21.83%
VTOR – Virtual TO Reality2.181%
Shoemoney – Skills to pay the bills2.176%
Tech-Recipes.com2.168%
eHub2.165%
SEO Book.com2.075%
Baron VC2.081%
Hack the Planet1.979%

These percentages are obviously swayed by the fact that I will like some authors more than others and therefore read more of their posts. The same applies to news sources.

My own personal bias’s aside it remains fairly obvious that once you start to get above 9 or 10 posts a day I tend to switch off and not read your feed.

Some of this could be due to duplication as the high output sites listed here tend to be aggregated news sources and there is a high chance of duplicate posts which I tend not to read. 

I find it rather interesting that I read only 5% of what Scoble posts to his link blog but 78% of what he actually blogs himself.

If you think that implies that I’m more interested in Scoble for his editorial commentary than anything else, you would be correct and the same can be said for many blogs that I read.

A quick look (no maths just intuition) shows that the sites posting up to 4 posts a manage to get me to read between 70 and 85% of their stuff, while those posting above 10 see a sharp decline.

2 to 4 posts a day seems to be the sweet spot for keeping my attention.

I wonder how my stats stack up against other Google Reader users?

Oh, here’s a little something for anybody who may be suffering from information overload 😉