“Hi darren! you could perhaps write a post on weather or not one should display the number of rss subscribers even though you don’t have that many. Personally I think displaying them is a sign of honesty and those who don’t… I get the feeling of trying to be something they’re not.”
PS: I’m sorry but I don’t remember who asked this – if it was you shoot me an email and I’ll include your link.
Thanks for the question. It’s actually a topic I’ve been asked about numerous times and something that I’ve heard completely the opposite argument to – ie that bloggers shouldn’t show their feed subscriber numbers because it’s arrogant.
So – is it arrogance, ego and boasting or transparent and honest?
Ultimately it’s up to the blogger to work out for themselves and in my opinion either option is a completely valid decision.
I personally show my feed counter here at ProBlogger but don’t on Digital Photography School (update: I’ve now started following my feed counter on DPS too).
I originally left them off DPS because I didn’t think that I’d end up with as many RSS subscribers on that blog as here at ProBlogger due to the nature of the topic here appealing to a more RSS savvy audience. Instead I wanted to draw people more to the email newsletter subscription option. In fact it’s been quite a while since I even checked the Feedburner numbers on the DPS feed.
So has not showing the feed counter at DPS slowed the feeds subscriber count? Let’s check the numbers:
That feed is now sitting on 20,602 subscribers – not bad for just over a year of blogging on that blog (this graph runs from the end of April 2006). The big jump in numbers was when they started counting Google Reader subscribers for the first time.
So how does it compare to a blog like ProBlogger which has been showing it’s feed subscriber numbers for years (I don’t even remember when I first started doing it). Again – lets let the figure tell the story:
As of today ProBloggers subscriber count is sitting at 24523. The total is higher than that of DPS, but the graph above started in February 2005 – 14 months longer than DPS.
A few reflections on my experience:
You can grow your Subscriber numbers with either method
While it could be argued that showing your number might speed up the subscribing process I think that the above graphs do prove that not showing your stats doesn’t mean you can’t grow your numbers.
One of the main reasons that I hear people giving for displaying their feed counter is that it shows new readers coming to your blog that you’re a credible and authoritative voice in your niche. I’m not sure exactly how much this is the case but I have heard feedback from quite a few ProBlogger readers who tell me that the reason they first subscribed to my feed was because they saw so many others had and thought that I must know what I’m talking about (most of them even stuck around – so maybe I do!)
One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed about the feed counter here at ProBlogger is that I have a small group (I think it’s small) of readers who like to tell me what my numbers are. While I assume that they know I can see it, they email me when there’s a leap up or a fall down in numbers. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there’s something about knowing that you’re part of a bigger thing than just yourself that seems to draw people in and give them a sense of belonging and excitement.
Animation and Drawing the Eye
Another reason that I like the Feedburner counter is that it’s not static. Not only does it go up and down each day when updated – but it has a little animation to it that I suspect draws the eye of readers to it. I like it because it’s subtle – yet noticeable.
Small Subscriber Numbers and Counters?
The question I’m always asked is – ‘should I reveal my subscriber numbers if I don’t have many’? It’s a tough question and I think there are good reasons not to – however part of me is beginning to wonder if it really matters? Be proud of your blog – celebrate the handful of readers you have (and each one you gain) and let your ‘lower’ numbers drive you to bigger and better things – whether you reveal them or not.
But then again – this is just my experience. What do you think?
Do you reveal your feed numbers (or your actual blog stats for that matter with a public stats package)? Why or Why not? Has it made any difference?