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How to Get 2500 New ‘Subscribers’ to Your Blog Overnight (and Why I Don’t Really Care)

Posted By Darren Rowse 5th of August 2008 Pro Blogging News, RSS 0 Comments

Every 2nd blog about blogging today seems to be writing about a video showing how to get 2500 subscribers overnight using a Netvibes accounts and an OPML file with thousands of copies of your own feed in it.

I’ve had a lot of people email me to ask what I think about the technique. My response:

1. It’s not surprising to see that it’s Possible – I’ve seen a few bloggers play with this type of technique over the years.

2. It’s an empty Achievement – so your feedburner button is a few thousand more tomorrow than it is today – but ultimately all it means is that you hacked it – no one new is reading your blog.

3. Do something that Matters – Expend the energy doing something that draws in real new readers. Network with other bloggers, write some quality content, write a guest post for another blog, make your blog stickier…. do something that matters

4. Social Proof? – Yes, having more numbers in your feedburner counter might convince a few extra people to subscribe (social proof) but what happens next week when feedburner closes the loophole and suddenly your regular readers see that you’ve just lost a couple of thousand readers? Is there such a thing as reverse social proof?

5. Risk? – I’ve never really been into ‘evil’ tactics – partly because I just don’t get into them but partly because when you deliberately do something to abuse a service that is provided to you by a company – sometimes things come back to bite you. I’m not sure if Feedburner (owned by Google) would take action against people trying to inflate their numbers – but do you really want to find out?

Want to know how to really build the number of subscribers to your blog?

OK – lets get back to blogging shall we?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Heh, this was featured at John Chow’s blog too.
    Probably going to be patched soon since everyone blogs about it.. I don’t even want to try. =P

  2. When Feedburner patch their hole, subscriber numbers will drop and the next thing is people who subscribed also unsub as soon as they know a sudden drop in the counter. social proof both ways

  3. “It’s an empty Achievement – so your feedburner button is a few thousand more tomorrow than it is today – but ultimately all it means is that you hacked it – no one new is reading your blog. ”

    Exactly! I still can’t understand why people buy into these ‘scams’. Content is king! (or queen in my case). :)

  4. There is such a thing as a ‘tipping point’ for blog readers. Maybe adding a few thousand fake readers gives people the impression that your blog is worth following. Then, by the time you reach a few hundred thousand followers those early fake readers won’t really matter. Techcrunch loses or gains 100.000+ feed subscribers a day sometimes and nobody cares much.

    My point: abusing the system might be very interesting for SOME bloggers.

    Me, I would rather focus on ‘good karma’ ways to improve your blog.

  5. Great post on that. Its the old rule: what goes around comes around. ;-) I agree with you on putting more effort into the own blog and folowing your strategies is much more worthy then hack a feedburner counter.

  6. I used to display my feed count. While I’m still very interested in the amount of subscribers I have I no longer thing it’s necessary to display the count number. I hope I have something interesting for readers that gets them to subscribe. I don’t want an empty number just for show.

    Unfortunately there are sites out there that measure a blog’s success based on feed counts so it could be somewhat useful to inflate your numbers. But as you mentioned, I think this kind of tactic only comes to bite in the end anyway.

  7. I think it’s a usless hack.

    I could see how it may make people think your blog is great and they should subscribe but at the same time – it’s lying. Lying to the people that are – for the most part – trusting there is truth in your written word.

    An inflated feed count just seems petty and stupid to me.

  8. I really can’t see the point of this at all. Vanity perhaps, or working on the lemming-like sensibilities of potential readers to subscribe because everybody else is? Call me a snob, but I want readers who can think for themselves :)

    My stats are still in double figures, but at least they are real and and help me gauge how well I’m doing, which hacked figures wouldn’t.

  9. Well here in the Philippines, we believe in something we learned from the Indians, “bad karma” it will surely hit anyone trying to be a fraud or doing some evil thing.

  10. I totally agree with you. Inflating your RSS feed is unethical and will do nothing but give your blog a false status of just numbers. What we really need is TRUE readers of our blogs. I may only have under a hundred READERS right now but I would rather have true readers than BOGUS numbers.

  11. I know.. I saw the technique on other sites and thought to my self, “what’s the point of is? I don’t get anyone new at all.”

    People who did this are obsessed with statistics and not quality of writing.

  12. This is old stuff really. A lot of people have been cheating on their feed count for years already. Quite surprised to see that it is back in the spotlight.

    Similar with what you have said earlier, I believe that cheating and hacking only create more problems in the long run. Just stick with whatever we have and work on it. Besides, there’s nothing wrong or bad about having zero or low subscribers.

  13. Thanks for writing this… I can explain this better to my clients now. I personally don’t pay any mind to such meaningless ‘scams’. What matters is that your audience is targeted to what YOU really have to say.

    Donna Payne ~ The Web Coach

  14. “You can’t shine s**t.” -My Uncle Bob

    If your blog has poor content or just sucks in general inflating your feed count isn’t going to do anything for you except for making you look like an idiot.

  15. i never knew about this technique – very shady indeed

  16. People who try to inflate their feed figures like that are not going to have success in the long run.

  17. Even if it only took thirty seconds to pull off, I wouldn’t waste the time. It’s like having somebody else go to the gym for you. What’s the point?

  18. I guess my question would be what’s the point? Like you said, what happens if the loophole gets fixed? What did you really accomplish even if they don’t fix it? Maybe you can now charge more for advertising…which really…would be fraud, because the advertiser is paying based off of the “numbers” you represent on your blog.

    It’s shady but hey, some people like shady…I’d rather not mess with it.

  19. Someone should write a blog that tracks nothing but gimmicks and spamming that hurt the credibility of blogging.

    If you want to increase traffic, one of the best things to do is get on Twitter and start following some of the people you like or have something in common with. The ProBlogger Social Media Love In is a good place to start (search this site for it).

    Most people will follow you in response and as a result they will check out your site. Make sure to do the same. Thank them for following you and try to start a dialogue by making a sincere comment along with your thank you. Even if they don’t go to your blog every day, they will pay attention to your Tweets if you sincerely keep up with them which can lead to visits to your blog down the road.

    I did this and increased my traffic by over 200%, made some connections that lead to having my posts/blog featured on other sites, discoverd other great blogs, and best of all, I’ve gotten to meet and converse with some incredibly interesting people and talented bloggers.

    I’d rather have low traffic numbers and feel good about the fact they are honest than to have inflated numbers that mean nothing and ultimately will get me no further than where I was when I started.

  20. If you do this you are lying to yourself and everyone else. Foolish strategy and a terrible way to build credibility.

  21. If you even *consider* this lame-ass hack you shouldn’t be blogging in the first place … and it’s quite likely you won’t be down the road.

  22. I’ve never put a FeedBurner counter on my blog. To me, it’s an interesting statistic, but no measure of my blog’s success.

    I count comments as that measure, real communications with my blog’s readers.

    Anyway, as flaky as FeedBurner counts have been lately, I might have 100 subscribers one day, 0 the next, and 200 the next!

  23. I think ’empty’ pretty much sums it up.

    It’s kinda like sending flowers or cards to yourself at Valentines….

    ……I’ve obviously never done this…

    ……..well, praps once…..maybe….

    But you get what I mean.

    Feedburner, Lijit, etc are interesting tools but if it was all about visit counts there’d be a number of interesting/distracting blogs that would no longer exist.

    On that note……back to the bloggin ;0,

    Nice one Darren

  24. Complete waste of time if you ask me.

    Some people just don’t wanna work for it.

  25. I’ve never understood cheating. How can it feel good to win when you know you didn’t deserve it? Personally I don’t care how many people use my feed. I want them to come to my blog, not read my posts in their reader.

  26. this is the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard of. those aren’t subscribers, that’s an internet glitch. people who do this probably have terrible blogs and can’t get any subscribers the real way — which means that even if it looks like they have thousands, they’re probably not getting any real new readers.

    plus, also, what blog has 2500 subscribers and only 1 or 2 comments per post? your readers will know that something’s fishy there.

    (on a side note, i did find that placing my (honest) number of subscribers in a relatively prominent place has made my subscriber count grow faster — which is great!)

  27. Well you can always create a dummy RSS image subscriber on your blog with dummy numbers anyway

    So it’s kinda pointless. It’s different knowing that there are “only” 60 people reading your blog, rather than 1000 dummy subscribers

  28. Is this “doping” for bloggers? Sounds like it!

    Seems more satisfying to win or attract readers honestly and with authenticity.

  29. Meh….tactics like these don’t really do anything for me. What is the point of inflating your numbers just so you can see your feed count go up – you know they are false, so who cares?

  30. Thanks for the great post. I always am amazed that people need to resort to these tactics.

    If you are generating false readership why bother, I rather have 20 or 50 loyal readers that are interested in what I have to say.

  31. Playing with the numbers like that put two of a blogger’s most valuable assets at risk: credibility and trustworthiness.

  32. Wouldn’t it be easier to just make a fake feed counter and put whatever number you want in there than go tot he trouble of doing this? That is, assuming all you care about is a big, fake number.

  33. I’m really disappointed that people will use this.

    This week I released my new eBook and I already increased my e-mail subscribers by 400%. Now I don’t want to advertise that because I don’t want people to think I am just using this hack.

    This hack takes the value out of a number that means SO much to so many honest bloggers. I hope Google fix this soon!

  34. Thankfully I think we can all safely say people who use these tactics will never succeed in the blogging world.

  35. There is nothing more sinster than that. My feed has been seeing a contstant increase in the past 3 weeks thanks to good content ideas coming up and some optimization for feed links.

    But i think its the desperation of getting counts that drives people to do these stuff.

  36. Again, and like many others, completely agree. I heard about it and I honestly just couldn’t understand the point. My 18 subscribers are just fine as far as I’m concerned! As long as they actually get some value or find some interest in what I write! Mind, I have no aim to monetise in any way so there’s no point in me trying to fake figures!

  37. Why would anyone want to do this? What real gains would someone make? Possibly a few extra subscribers because you have tricked them into thinking your blog is more substantive than it is?

    Dirty tricks.

    And as others have said, it will come back to bite you.

  38. There’s also a manual process you can use by subscribing by email with gmail. You can simply put [email protected], [email protected], etc. and continue subscribing. Once you accept the subscription, it counts as a reader – whether they actually open the feed or not.

    Here’s my 2 cents: The owners of blogs that use these tactics should be sued for fraud when they are found out. Rates are set by the number of readers in these counts and when the counts are artificially elevated, they should have to pay back all the money they’ve stolen.

    Beyond that, they’ve also stolen NEW customers because people relate the high subscriber counts to it being a popular blog – even when it sucks.

    I really enjoy watching my counts increase organically. I’m proud of the number of subscribers I have and know that they’re real (outside of the few “+” customers that I tested the gmail hack on).


  39. I didn’t know about this technique…Anyways I am not going to use it…If I do I am sure it will come back to bite me.

  40. Doh didn’t know about this. Missed my chance.

  41. I dont think this will last too long.

  42. Meh. Never liked shortcuts anyhow. It’s too easy to get caught out, and then you ruin your entire reputation.

    Although trying it out on a blog with nothing but ‘lorem ipsum’ suddenly sounds tempting, just as a gag. A new ‘lorem ipsum’ post daily just to keep it up, right?

  43. You know, it’s when you’re starting to focus on stuff like artificially inflating your subscribers count that you really should know you’re headed straight to Faildom as a blogger.

    People who succeed at stuff tend to put their focus on what gets them to where they want to go, and not what makes them simply a p p e a r as if they’ve gotten there. They leave stuff like that to the flakes. The ‘fake it ’till you make it’ technique is hugely understood and misused, and obviously embarrasingly prevalent in the blogging community.

    I’m getting that feedburner hack for my new blog, though. I just, um, kinda wanna get a *cough* head start, if you know what I mean. Hey, it’s not as if it’s going to hurt anyone, right? Right?!??!??

  44. i agree too, what goes around comes around, thanks for yours info

  45. I love comment threads where everybody simply repeats what the last guy said in slightly different language! Very enlightening.

    The “easiest” way to radically and uselessly increase your subscription count is to get included in the automatic subscription for your category for some major reader. That can lead to tens of thousands of subscribers who aren’t actually reading you.

  46. It sounds like you cheat in your exam to get a good mark but you don’t really qualify. Sooner or later, you will get it back. In school, if you get caught, you will be kick out of school or have a bad remark on your report card. If you get caught by google, google will shut down your account. Advertisers put ads on your blog will get excuise not pay you or even trace back what they pay you before [I guess].
    Not worth it!!

  47. Darren,

    Has the “social proof” of feed counts ever been split tested? I’ve avoided posting my feed count because I think counters look a but tacky, but I’d be curious to know if there’s any real evidence that higher displayed feed counts actually correlate to accelerated subscription rates.

  48. I had never heard about this technique (probably because I don’t read many other blogs about blogging) but I agree it sounds tacky. I think it’s great that you also write posts advising bloggers what NOT to do…that can certainly be as much of a help as advising us what TO do!

  49. Tactics like this might work for a week or so but nothing can replace quality content. And any new readers you gain from the fake numbers aren’t going to stick with you long without it. I’m proud of the modest number of subscribers I’ve gained since deciding to put the time and energy into my blog that it deserves.

    I look at people who use things like this the way I look at people who steal art and claim it as their own. When people compliment them on their success do they not feel like completely talentless frauds?

  50. Yeah,you are right.What’s the use of this all? Ultimately they the fooling themselves.Content is the king,right?

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