My Personal Healing Philosophy on Unsubscribes
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD.
You were having a great day.
The sadistic elves at MailChimp have gleefully dropped that little message in your inbox.
You know that one that jovially informs you a reader has unsubscribed from your blog?
If you’re like me you might temporarily feel crestfallen.
You may be asking yourself, ‘Is my blog that bad?’
Or maybe you get defensive instead.
Even mad, because the person who unsubscribed is a friend, colleague or mentor.
I’ve spent time at all those emotional bus stops.
In fact hoards of us have. It’s common to even feel ashamed when people leave your list.
Especially in the beginning.
The ironic thing is, unsubscribes are good for your blog and your business.
Eventually, they won’t phase you.
One day you’ll probably start culling your list yourself; happily banishing people who don’t ever open your emails.
But for now, it may feel terrible.
So let’s look at four ways to feel better and even benefit when people unsubscribe from your blog.
4 Ways To See Blog Unsubscribes That Will Make You Feel Better
1. The Failed Relationship/Fancy Macaroon Way
It’s good if someone unsubscribes because that person was not your ideal reader anyway.
You want your blog subscribers to be folks who are active, engaged and excited to hear from you right?
And if they aren’t, it hurts, but we have to let them go in peace to make room for people who want to be on board.
It might help to picture the whole unsubscribe scenario as a failed romantic relationship.
If you’re dating someone and they don’t call you back anymore, is it a good idea to endlessly dwell on what you think you might have said, done, or wore that “pushed them away?”
It’s best to gather up your dignity, hold on to you, and let go of them.
And walk on.
Because soon enough you’ll stumble into somebody who celebrates you, not tolerates you.
Someone who knows you’re as a fine and fabulous as a stack of fancy French macaroons.
The same is true for your blog readers.
As my boyfriend always told me once when someone unsubscribed to my blog:
“Si uno se va, llega dos.” (If one person leaves, two more are on their way.) And he’s right.
So keep your chin up, because the same holds true for you.
But if you don’t believe me, try the “It’s Not About You” way.
2. The – It’s Not About You – Way
Many people unsubscribe for reasons that are hardly personal.
They may never have even paid enough attention to what you write on your blog for it to be about you.
Many people just freak every now and then because they have too much damn mail in their inbox and they can’t focus on the important stuff, like making art.
Maybe they unsubscribed because they want to casually follow you on another platform like FaceBook, Feedly or WordPress instead.
But if you’re trying your best to help readers, and you’re not always pushing them to buy stuff; the reason someone in Pacoima unsubscribed today is none of your business.
In fact, if you’re using MailChimp, why not change your notification settings, so you don’t get informed each time a person unsubscribes? That’s what I did.
As marketing maven, Beth Hayden writes: “As long as the overall numbers are going up (even if it’s slow going), and you’re retaining more people than you lose, you’re on the right track. And when unsubscribes happen, don’t weep — rejoice.”
(If you want to read about the financial benefits of unsubscribes for larger lists see Beth’s article.)
OK, but how ’bout if it is personal?
3. The – OMG It Is Personal, But It’s Still Okay – Way
What if readers unsubscribe because you’ve actually offended them?
Umm, I’ve done it.
Let’s just say, not everyone thinks I’m funny.
Last year I sent out what I thought was a humorous story-based article I wrote on, The Importance of Letting Go of Approval for Artists to my email list.
The only thing was the post was originally entitled; What Your Underwear Style Says About You As an Artist: Especially if the Back Half of Your Dress is Accidentally Wadded Up Into Them.
My long-time readers are used to my titles. They like my humor.
And actually, the “underwear post” ended up being one of the most well-received posts I’ve ever written.
Except for the unsubscribes.
Who did I lose?
A few new, innocent, shocked subscribers who saw the title, and instead of clicking over to the post, pounded on that unsubscribe button.
Did that hurt?
But I recovered. And about three weeks later I realized that people who were offended by me being me probably were never going to truly enjoy future posts on my blog.
In this way, unsubscribes can serve as big, valuable clues that point you toward who you do want to write for.
Unsubscribes can encourage you to serve your ideal audience; your readers that cheer on your best, (often riskiest) work.
But, What If It’s a Friend Unsubscribes to My Blog?
What if it’s your friend who unsubscribes?
Oh yeah, that stings.
The thing is though, your friends and colleagues who don’t blog, are clueless to the fact that you get notified when they unsubscribe.
So they aren’t trying to send you to therapy.
This brings us to the last (and most evolved) way to see unsubscribes.
4. Finally, The Carousel Way
Your readers aren’t supposed to stay subscribed forever.
If you are doing your job as a creative blogger, your readers will be growing, changing and eventually taking flight (unsubscribing.)
If you get an unsubscribe from someone who has been active and even commented on your blog frequently, it hurts.
But why not choose the high road and see them as having learned what they needed to from you?
Now I see the meaningful blogs we read as carousels. Here’s why.
Our journey reading a good blog is a carousel ride that can restore, inform or inspire us.
But only for a metaphorical, fleeting, magic summer.
The circus is supposed to leave town.
We don’t want to be sending out marketing blasts to our mailing list when we are 90 years old right? We need to grow and change. And we can allow our readers to grow and change too.
So that said, why not silently thank our un-subscribers for riding with us and wish them well on their continued journey? Why not raise a glass to them, and toast impermanence while we’re at it. Because as Thích Nhất Hạnh says:
“We have to nourish our insight into impermanence every day. If we do, we will live more deeply, suffer less, and enjoy life much more.” — Thích Nhất Hạnh
What do you think?
How do you handle unsubscribes? Let me know in the Comments below.
If you blog you might like these Charmed Studio Posts:
Humor is so important to hold on to our sanity as artists/entrepreneurs. Read about an underusing artist who got the importance of using humor to maintain equanimity and lightness of being through it all– Beatrice Wood:
Beatrice Wood: What No One Tells You About Her, Why She Isn’t Famous & How She Can Make Your Art Life Blossom.
This post is dedicated to subscriber Michael Shook who has helped me so much by supporting my riskiest work. My thanks go out to him in honor of the birthday of his favorite jazz legend, the immortal Charles Mingus.