You've put hours into building your Christian blog. You've published a handful of posts. You've set up a subscribe form (or optin) and are ready to start connecting with all the subscribers that are going to come.
And……NOTHING! Your site has been live a few months now and you still don't have any subscribers!
Is this thing even on? Do they not like my site or my content?
The truth is that getting people to subscribe to your blog isn't as simple as just throwing a form on your site and waiting for readers to line up to join your list. Effective list building involves 4 major components that many bloggers often overlook as part of their blogging strategy.
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How to Get Readers to Subscribe to Your Blog
I remember setting up my first subscriber form on my first blog because I just knew that subscribers were going to start rolling in! To say that didn't happen is putting it nicely. Not a single subscriber. Not one! So I can definitely relate to your frustration and disappointment.
Getting readers to subscribe to your blog requires you to have a focused BLOG plan that includes:
- Having a clearly defined target audience.
- Writing Content that is optimized for SEO and satisfies a search query.
- Researching your target audience to see what they need.
- Publicizing your optin in a way that gets them to click.
Know Your Audience
The first step in getting people to subscribe to your blog is to have a clearly defined target audience (and know what they need). If you've been following Kingdom Bloggers for any amount of time, you might be tired of me always talking about part. But this part is the most crucial piece to building a loyal and engaged audience.
As a Christian blogger, you probably read various other Christian blogs in some of the blogger groups that you are in. As you are reading these other blogs, do you sign up for all of their email lists? Most likely you don't. Why?
Because you are just browsing but nothing about them really spoke directly to you. Nothing made you say “I want more of this.” You most likely read the post, maybe left a thoughtful comment, and maybe even shared it on social media.
When you've taken the time to hone in on a particular target audience, you'll be able to write content that speaks directly to them so they'll want more of it.
Your Content Must Satisfy a Search Query
The second part of getting people to subscribe to your blog is to get the right people to your blog in the first place. This is accomplished by writing content (directed to your target audience) that is optimized for SEO and satisfies a search query.
This way, your content will show up in search results for those who are literally looking for it.
The key to getting people to subscribe to your blog is to get people to your blog that are specifically interested in what you write about. When they type a question into Google and your post comes up in the search results and they visit the post, they will be much more likely to want to follow you.
If the majority of your traffic comes from other bloggers (from blogger Facebook groups), these readers are, for the most part, not your target and therefore won't be interested in following you.
SEO involves learning how to write content that people are actually searching for and learning how to properly format your posts for search engine crawlers to be able to index it.
Create an Optin They Need
The third part of getting people to sign up for your blog is to offer them a really good reason to do so! Seriously! Simply saying “Subscribe to My Newsletter” may get a few subscribers here and there, but it won't work on the majority of readers.
Think about how much spam you get in your email each day. So do your readers. If you want them to give you that coveted email address, then you need to demonstrate that your content is going to add value to their life.
A great optin will be something specific to your target audience and what the general purpose of your blog is. I once came across a Christian parenting blog and the only optin she had was a “Download my Start a Blog Checklist.”
While this particular thing makes sense for me to offer here on Kingdom Bloggers, this particular Christian blog wrote content to help moms with toddlers with general “mom” stuff. While I may have signed up for it, I unsubscribed as soon as the first “mom stuff” email came to my inbox!
What you offer your readers as an incentive to join your email list needs to truly be an incentive. Not something random. It should be something well thought out that your readers will be really excited about having but that also directly ties into the overall purpose of your site and carries over to the weekly emails you'll be sending out.
Some ideas include a checklist, an email devotional, access to password-protected content, an e-book that you've written, a free course, etc. Really, there is no end to the ideas of what you can offer them. Just make sure it is something they need and want.
Read: 16 Content Upgrade Ideas for Christian Bloggers
Make Your Optin Visible and Appealing
The fourth (and final) part of getting readers to subscribe to your blog is to make your optin visible. You don't want to be super-annoying with it but you do want to make sure readers have ample opportunity to see it and act upon it.
It is important to invite readers to sign up in more than one place and in more than one way. When adding multiple optin forms to your site, don't make them look all exactly the same. Change up the look a bit (different image, different text). You can also create more than one optin to see which one converts the best.
- Above content widget – this is probably the most visible place to put your optin. If your theme has a widget space before the blog feed, add your optin form in that space. This way it will display for both desktop and mobile readers before they start scrolling the content of the post. You can see my SEO Checklist optin at the very top of this post.
- In-Post Form – This is a form that you can add between paragraphs or at the very end of your post. This one often converts well because it is in the direct line of reading for your visitors.
- Sidebar Widget – This is a great option as well but doesn't convert well for mobile viewers.
- Popup or Slider – When using a popup, ensure you have the timing set to where it doesn't annoy readers. You might also need to disable it for mobile viewing because they aren't always mobile responsive.
- Hello Bar – This places a thin line across the top of your site to entice readers to subscribe.
It is important to have multiple opportunities for readers to subscribe to your blog. This doesn't mean putting the exact same form/offer in multiple locations. This means creating a few different “optin offers” as well as the different forms. If you have 5 forms all offering the same optin, it will be really hard to see why they are or aren't signing up.
You can offer have a single “general” optin that might just ask them to subscribe to or follow your blog. But after that, you'll want to create a few different optin offers that are more specific to the categories of content you write. Then you can add the post-specific optin to those categories of posts because they'll most resonate with the readers on those pages. Remember, the optin should have some relation to the content they are reading!
Turn Those Visitors Into Subscribers
As you can see, getting people to subscribe to your blog isn't just something you can casually expect. I can't stress enough just how important it is to take the time to really decide who exactly you are writing to and to do the research to understand their needs. People don't just subscribe out of randomness. They need a reason to allow you into their inbox.
What you offer them must be something that will add value to THEIR life. It can't just be some random thing you came up with to give them for free. The more you know your audience, the more easily you'll be able to come up with ideas for the things that can really help them.
This is the foundation for building an engaged email list. Once you've given them something they can truly use or need, they'll be anxiously awaiting your emails!
If you are still struggling to figure out exactly what to create to build your list, I highly recommend List by Number from Suzy Whitford. This course helped me when I first got started.