What Trips Your Unsubscribe Trigger?

I’ve been in a bit of an unsubscribing frenzy lately. Maybe it’s just hormones, but when it comes to the tall stack of blogs in my Google Reader, I’ve had an urge to purge.

Most of us pour our hearts and souls into growing our subscriber base. For newish bloggers especially, the thought of being jilted by our precious readers makes us feel sad and a little bit queasy.

Some readers are going to unsubscribe though, and that’s just a fact of life. Maybe they’re just not that into us anymore or they have better things to do with their time.

Hard to imagine, I know :)

On the other hand, what if we’re actually driving those readers away?

Unpleasant as that thought is, it seems smarter to look into it than to look away.

So, I’ve been thinking about this, and the way I see it, I’m an average blog reader in my niche. Chances are, the same holds true for you and your niche. That means the things that trigger us to unsubscribe are probably also things that would make our own readers unsubscribe.

Is it possible that by paying attention to what makes us click that little trash icon we’ll learn how to avoid tripping those same triggers in our readers?

I’m willing to give it a shot, so I’ve started keeping track of what pushes me into unsubscribing. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Being bombarded with multiple posts by the same blogger every day of the week.
  • Constant bashing of other bloggers and their products.
  • Excessive problogger name dropping and sucking up.
  • Morphing into a clone of a popular blog.
  • Too many know-it-all posts insisting there’s only one path to blogging success.
  • Posting only when there’s a new product or affiliate link to promote.
  • Frequent “I’m so awesome in every way,” posts.

When I look back at my list so far, what stands out is that the root cause of all these issues is the same. The blogger has clearly forgotten all about me as a reader, so why the heck should I bother to stick around?

So, that’s my story.

What trips your unsubscribe trigger?

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45 Responses to What Trips Your Unsubscribe Trigger?

  1. Bradley May 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I think all of the reason you listed are reasons I have unsubscribed in the past.

    I have also unsubscribed when:
    1. I thought that what the person/blogger had to say wasn't relevant to me anymore.
    2. If all their latest posts end with a sell.
    3. Too many emails.
    4. If I find myself hitting “mark all as read” day after day.
    5. Not posting often anymore.

    I am sure there are some other reasons too. I think once in a while, I just need to purge all the “dead wood” in my reader.

  2. Bradley May 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I think all of the reason you listed are reasons I have unsubscribed in the past.

    I have also unsubscribed when:
    1. I thought that what the person/blogger had to say wasn't relevant to me anymore.
    2. If all their latest posts end with a sell.
    3. Too many emails.
    4. If I find myself hitting “mark all as read” day after day.
    5. Not posting often anymore.

    I am sure there are some other reasons too. I think once in a while, I just need to purge all the “dead wood” in my reader.

  3. Bradley May 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I think all of the reason you listed are reasons I have unsubscribed in the past.

    I have also unsubscribed when:
    1. I thought that what the person/blogger had to say wasn't relevant to me anymore.
    2. If all their latest posts end with a sell.
    3. Too many emails.
    4. If I find myself hitting “mark all as read” day after day.
    5. Not posting often anymore.

    I am sure there are some other reasons too. I think once in a while, I just need to purge all the “dead wood” in my reader.

  4. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Too many emails do it for me too. I love getting newsletters once in a while with tips, etc., and I'm pretty tolerant of product launches but when the emails are always just affiliate links or links to blog posts, that gets annoying.

  5. Trece May 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Lately, I'm unsubscribing (I even unsubscribed to you) because I'm re-subscribing (yes, to you) at a new email address. I have so many subscriptions, that I need an email address for blog tips, one for just pleasure blogs, and one for money making idea blogs.

    Otherwise, I unsub when the blogger is no longer publishing anything relevant to me. And that's never gonna be you, dearie!

  6. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    Whew, I'm glad I didn't know about that unsubscription or I may have been too down and out to post :) That's a good organizational idea!

    One thing I hope to do more of is encourage lots of reader input so that the blog stays relevant and helpful in the long haul. I know I can't please everyone, but as we all grow as bloggers, I want the content to reflect that while still not leaving any beginners behind. One thing I do need to do is finish up an internet/blogging definitions page, as well as a resource page with links to tutorials/freebies, etc. Never any lack of things to do :)

  7. Angela Artemis May 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Jean, I love this post!

    I don't want to read someone's blog every day of the week. I can barely keep up with my own life as it is. I just delete them. So far, I haven't canceled my subscriptions though. I suppose I feel bad for the blogger….my very polite upbringing holds me back here. I'm going to have to get over it!

    I also have a HUGE aversion to:
    # Excessive problogger name dropping and sucking up.
    # Morphing into a clone of a popular blog.
    # Too many know-it-all posts insisting there’s only one path to blogging success.

    I run as fast as I can from these blogs.

    I also shy away from bloggers that respond to your comment on their blog with long winded know it all responses to prove their expertise.

    Thanks for telling it like it is.

  8. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble keeping up with her own life. Lately I've been finding that I'm super-sensitive to information overload. I don't want to spend so much time absorbing information that I lose touch with my own voice, not to mention not having time to live my life. If I come off sounding like a know it all I hope you'll run towards me, shake me, and tell me to knock it the heck off :)

  9. John Sherry May 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Jean this is a brave post talking about something others are afraid to as most want to focus on getting subscribers rather than why they unsubscribe. As a newbie blogger this post has actually given me an insight into subscribers actions as some of what you raised I hadn't thought of. I do agree that the “sell” at the end of the “tell” element of a blog is tiring and a bit cynical for me. I like content, positive vibe within the post and leaving me, the reader, alone to digest what I've read. Anything else is a no-no for me and a lot of bloggers start that way then stray into the list you gave. Thanks so very much for raising the subject.

  10. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    You're welcome, John. So often I find myself thinking something is annoying and then realize I'm doing the very same thing, whether in blogging or in other areas life. There have been a few times already I've started a draft for a post, read it back, and realized I was heading down an a path where the reader would not get a speck of value.

  11. Trece May 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    You are doing such a terrific job! I'm glad you're being able to get some workshops and stuff in. Maybe you'll win the pass to boot camp!!

  12. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    Thank you, Trece. The workshops do really help but I also have to watch myself so I don't spend too much time learning and not enough “doing.” One way or another, I'm going to be in that bootcamp though :) I really relate well to Leo and Mary's slow but steady style. Are you planning to go (or win!)?

  13. Trece May 7, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Ah, hon – when i read all of the fabulous comments y'all made over there, I was too abashed to write a word. So I slunk away with my tail between my legs.

  14. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Now, you can't get off the hook that easy :) Untuck that tail, stand up tall, march right back over there, and claim your prize! You know, one way of giving generously is taking time to encourage other bloggers and I KNOW you're fabulous at that, as well as providing valuable content while keeping things real. So, the way I see it, you're already an expert on how this works and are just as able as anyone else to win the prize. Just remember to say hello to me when you're a world famous blogger!

  15. BrandonBurgh May 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    I think this is the first I've been by your blog. The article title caught my eye.
    This is a unique topic…(wish I had thought of it) 😉
    Here are my top 3:
    1) Boring, bland, and mundane
    2) Blogs that aren't laid out nicely or that don't even look nice…i typically don't even subscribe to in the first place
    3) Blogs that post things that aren't in line with my “morals” I guess. This is also important if you are going to have a guest blogger post…make sure you double check it is in line with what you are about.

    Brandon

  16. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Glad you stopped by and took the time to comment, Brandon. I appreciate it. Good point on the guest posting and keeping that in line with the overall tone and branding. Obviously there will be a difference in voice, but a reader should still get the same basic vibe they've come to expect from the blog. Hope you come back again and keep me from getting too bland around here!

  17. TheInfoPreneur May 7, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Awesome number of comments here, great to see!

    For me it's being in-consistant.

    If you're are dumb ass be a dumb ass, if you post once a week then don't publish 5 a week then back to once a week for a month to speading up again, equally if you post ten times a day then great but don't suddenly leave me hanging only to post a quick 'sorry i was busy' post.

    I just like people who are real, normal people doing there thing, that's how I approach it.

    How many sites do you follow roughly?

  18. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I love the way conversation has been picking up around here. I'm hoping it feels like a comfy pub eventually where people can come to learn and chat and then get out there and burn it up again. Consistency is important, isn't it? I'm a bit wobbly in that regard yet because I'm still finding out what feels exactly right. I try to keep my subscriptions at around 50 but bumped up near 100 at times. How about you?

  19. GetYourBizSavvy May 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Jean, I think you hit most of the unsubscribing points. I really liked one blog and signed up for the newsletter. This guy sent me stuff every single day. I quickly dropped the blog and NEVER go back to the site. I think that's a biggie, how much is too much? For me I would say once a week is perfect. Someone should do a study on unsubscribing! I think most of its obvious though.

  20. virginbloggernotes May 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Once-a-week emails are about all I want to see too. Even then I end up unsubscribing from the email list if those emails are just a rehash of what was on the blog all week. Maybe I'm just more crabby than most people :)

  21. BrandonBurgh May 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    I'll be back… 😉

  22. LPC May 8, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    The post too often one is huge. I also unsubscribe when I realize I have moved on in the blog world, or when it finally dawns on me that I just don't resonate with the person's writing. Sometimes I go on mass unsubscribing binge, trying for a more minimal list, only to then add more as I keep bouncing around the Internet:). Sometimes I just want to make room for something new, and the blogger I leave shouldn't feel bad.

  23. Guest May 8, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    If I feel like I'm being sold something every other day – recently unsubscribed just because I was being offered freebies which linked to this or that thing I could buy if I didn't want the lesser freebie. Love your blog by the way. Very informative for a new blogger like me. See, I don't think I'd unsubscribe because I need what you're selling. Relevant advice for me. I like a blog to be all about me. I'm working on making sure I do that same, but it's not easy. This article gives me pause to review my direction and make sure it's on point. Thanks Jean, from your latest subscriber!

  24. Katie May 8, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Okay, now I know I'm new to blogging because I can't even figure out how to leave you a comment properly. I ended up signing up for something I don't want so and then cancelled that and now I'm anonymous. Yikes. I'm trying again, Jean. I'm the one above who said they were your latest subscriber. Just didn't want to see all mysterious. Wasn't intentional. Obviously it's not that complicated if everyone else can figure it out. Oh well. Living and learning.

  25. Kaizenvision May 8, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    WOW! Reading this article is like having a cold glass of water – in that, it's a very nice 'alert'. I agree with your reasons of when you unsubscribe – I love that you took notice of it and shared – I hadn't thought about it and it's definitely something to keep in the forefront of the mind.
    I know I've said it before – but I just have to say it again, you'r writing style is fresh & fabulous You can make an uneasy subject matter a yummy reading experience.
    I loved the idea from TRECE about a separate email box (… and yes, it does feel like a comfy pub here)

  26. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    You sound like me with that blog binging and purging thing :) When you mentioned sometimes just not really resonating with the writing, I could relate to that. Sometimes it's sort of a personality clash for me but more often in my case it's that the blogger's voice isn't really coming through for me. I notice that I tend to stick with the bloggers who I feel engage me one-on-one. Some people have a knack for that. They can be talking to a gazillion people but you feel like they're right there with you. Love that.

  27. Karen Ruby May 8, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Hi Jean,

    I'm with you on the reasons to unsubscribe and go through semi-regular purges, too.

    One other reason I unsubscribe if the guy (and it's almost always a guy) is so gung-ho and over-the-top with his need to 'create his empire' or 'be the change' or whatever he writes that he thinks will make him stand out from others. It's too much sometimes! It feels like getting bashed over the head sometimes as if the person is trying too hard.

    I also dislike being called sheep or other putdowns, just because we're not on the same level of commitment as that person. We all progress at different times and there's nothing wrong with that – but some people think that if you're not launching products or buying their stuff or being available 100% of the time and are not part of the 'in crowd', then you're nothing.

    I really purge when I get the hard and fake soft sells that flood my inbox when there's a product launch. The same people hawking the same stuff every time one of their friends needs money.

    There are too many really good blogs out there with quality writers with great information to put up with anything less.

    /rant :-)

  28. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Haha, I'm laughing with you Katie, not at you :) If you only knew the bizarre things that happen to me when I try to do things that others find simple. I wonder if it was the Disqus comment system that tripped you up? It can be confusing at first. I like it because you can have comments that thread/stack below each other to keep track of who is saying what. But that sign up thing is a pain in the keister. Sorry it gave you grief, but you'll get the hang of everything.

  29. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    Thanks for subscribing, Katie. You can't fool me with your anonymous guest disguise :) I'm really glad you're on board and I hope you'll let me know what sorts of things you need help with. Lord knows we all need help with something! I should put your “I like a blog to be all about me,” statement on the wall because we all want to feel like the blogger is talking to us and gives a hoot about what we want and need. So keep me in line if I get off course, okay? Thanks again for subscribing, for commenting, and for persevering in the face of my dorky comment system.

  30. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    I love that email idea too. That's exactly what I love about blogging and the whole “pub” concept. The blogger might be the one who starts the conversation but pretty soon others jump in and share things and there are good ideas flying around all over the place. Now, if we could just get someone to buy us a round :)

  31. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    Really, Karen, you need to learn to lay it out there and tell us what you really think. Haha.
    Seriously, I love that you shared what you did because the things you mentioned hit me the same way and likely a lot of other people too. This is turning into one heck of a “what not to do” lesson for all of us. And it all comes back to treating readers and other bloggers the way we want to be treated.

  32. Ms. Freeman May 8, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I try not to unsubscribe too often as I know as bloggers we sometimes can get into a slump, so I try to stick with my favs and give them a chance.

  33. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    As a newer blogger, the “slump” factor isn't something I had even thought of to explain how bloggers get so far off track. I suppose writer's block, having a hard time being patient for growth, and personal issues can all factor in. I might be wrong, but I think participating in a community with readers and other bloggers would go a long way to help a person stay on course during the rough times.

  34. Chris Guthrie May 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Hopefully that last one isn't aimed at me lol. I can think of a couple posts I added in some humor in my screenshots showing how to properly configure W3 Total Cache and a CDN. I remember for the CDN I said that you should give the zone label something like “Chris Guthrie is Awesome” lol…

    In any case I think you make some valid points. I'm surprised to see that you find people that post too frequently as a reason to unsubscribe though…

  35. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Well, Chris, you are pretty awesome :) And humor definitely does not trip my unsubscribe trigger! It's funny how posting too frequently turns me off. The only place I seem to tolerate it from is The Infopreneur because the posts/videos tend to be short and sweet. Otherwise,I just can't keep up with lots of posts from the same person day-after-day. It makes me feel overwhelmed and behind on my reading and I don't like feeling that way.

  36. Mike Roosa May 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    I really only unsubscribe when I see someone that rarely posts. If it's been 2 months since a post then forget it. Also, I try to go through and clean up my subscriptions about once a month. Otherwise, I end up with a ton of posts that I never read.

  37. virginbloggernotes May 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    When I was going through my little unsubscribing frenzy I ran across some blogs that haven't posted in a long time. I kept them because I really liked their style and hope they get back to posting, but I wonder what happened to them? Blogging is strange that way. You can get used to someone and then *poof* they're gone.

  38. Walter May 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    If a blogger has no interesting to say, it triggers me to unsubscribe. Frankly, it nice to read from someone where we can learn a lot. :-)

  39. virginbloggernotes May 9, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    Yes, sometimes I can tell when a blogger is just popping a bunch of words on the page so they can post a lot. That's not too valuable from this reader's perspective :) I'd rather they take an extra day or two between posts if they really don't have anything to share.

  40. Kim | Money and Risk May 10, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    My worst hates are affiliate sites with tons of ads in the body of the post and keywords highlighted for other ads. There might be good information on the sites but I can't stand wading through gobs of ads in order to find what the post is about. My time is just too precious.

    I've only started reading blogs within the last 6 weeks but I've already developed intense dislikes of certain things. Bloggers need to think like business people. Listen to the customers and make the reader experience exceptional.

  41. farouk May 10, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    that's a very important topic, thanks for sharing it Jean :)

  42. virginbloggernotes May 10, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Your “my time is just too precious,” statement is something we'd all do well to remember when we sit down to write a post. That's definitely a universal feeling among readers and no one is going to tolerate that feeling of having their time wasted for very long.

  43. virginbloggernotes May 10, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    You're welcome. It's not a pleasant subject but I'm hoping that by taking some time to think about it we can avoid a few of those unsubscriptions. Thanks for stopping by!

  44. Mark Dykeman May 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    You've touched on the important things, I think.

    In my case, I recently unsubscribed from a blog when I finally clued in to the fact that another blog had virtually all of the same news stories. I just kept the one that I liked and respected more.

  45. virginbloggernotes May 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    That brings up a good point though. There's only so much news and so many topics to write about so if we want to stand out from the pack we've got to find a way to make things feel unique to the reader.

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