I Lost my First Subscriber

Try as I might to not let things bother me, every once in a while, something creeps in and blam! I get obsessed and can’t let it go. I lost my first subscriber recently, and it really got to me.  I want to put this in perspective.  I have 8 subscribers to my “newsletter” of which I’ve only done 5 so far.  I try to send out a brief update of what I’m up to every two weeks on a Friday. 

A few months ago now, after I sent my newsletter, and sometime over the weekend, one of my subscribers unsubscribed.  It was a direct reaction to my newsletter.  Duly Noted.  I have to admit that my newsletter deviates from my normal writing here, and the subscriber had joined indicated that they liked my writing.  I may have written those a little more hastily than my normal hasty blog posts.  No matter why it makes me automatically question what I’m doing. 

Which is crazy.  I haven’t focused on building a list, I just have a simple call to action at the end of each blog post.  There’s no value add as of yet that I’m giving to my subscribers outside of an additional view into my life every two weeks.  But to have someone unsubscribe, to me, was like someone stopping me mid-sentence.  “Please stop, I don’t want to hear anymore,” is what I heard.  I’m dying to know why they felt the need to leave.  Was it me?  Did I offend?  Did I do worse than offend and bore?  I sure hope not. 

Vanity confirmed

I’m also pretty spoiled.  I had two subscribers reach back out to me with very kind words about my blog and about my writing.  One said that they get a lot of emails but always read mine.  That’s the kind of small thing that keeps a guy going, you know?  I wrote a while back about questioning whether I write for validation.  Losing a subscriber, and the ensuing mental storm that followed, I can now confirm that I do not do this solely for me. I want people to like my work.  I don’t think that’s such a vain endeavor, do you? 

But a blog and an email list are very personal choices for a writer.  If I could only but interact with my favorite writers through their blogs.  Some I can, and I need to. I’m reading a book by C.J. Boyack, who follows me here, and I really enjoy his writing.  I need to make sure I reach out and let him know.  I have to assume that at least some part of other writers are motivated by the same feelings I have.  Good work needs to be commented on.  I’m probably a few months away from starting my first book because I don’t want to create something hastily.  But when I read a fellow writer’s work who’s also a blogger, I get pretty excited.  I see a path forward (which I also wrote about recently).  And that keeps me motivated. 

What do I do now?

But it doesn’t get my long lost subscriber back.  What’s the appropriate etiquette here?  I suppose I’m just supposed to let it go. But should I send flowers and apologize?  Should I grovel?  Beg?  In all honesty, and joking aside, I would love to know why.  It’s always possible that this person just finally got around to realizing that they get too much email and simply cleaned house.  No ill will intended.  But my mind won’t dwell on that possibility now, will it?  Not me.  I’m going to assume the worst and beat this horse.  Wait, just one more whack.  And another. 

It has, however, made me realize that I need to put more focus into my newsletter/emails.  I only sent one every two weeks, but they need to be something interesting.  The last one was definitely not my best work, and I deserve to lose all of you for that.  It was rushed because I wanted to keep it on time rather than delay and really put some time and effort into it. My next one is due in a week, and I need to put honest thought into it.  I also had fewer comments during that time than normal and that starts to screw with your head as well.  Could these two things be connected?  Duh, of course, they could be. 

As I flip through topics I’ve come up with, I’m bound to find those that resonate and those that do not.  The recent ones have not resonated as well as others.  My writing system posts seem to do well.  My salsa posts are the bomb.  They kill all my other work.  I’ve found my true calling.  But I haven’t written one in months, even though I continue to slather salsa on my food daily.  I’ve said this before, it’s rare that a writer gets to see their favorite work get the attention they feel it deserves.  And the stuff that does get the most attention has us scratching our heads.  If this wasn’t the case, all publishers would predict success.  They don’t.  We humans are a funny group to map out.  It’s also why AI (artificial intelligence) doesn’t scare me much.  We will be able to automate repetitive tasks, but that’s about all.  Have you ever gotten a Netflix recommendation that sucked?  How about an Amazon one? Sure, there are recommendations that are dead on, but there are also ones that are completely off the mark.  We do things for illogical reasons.  It’s hard to program illogical.  I know, I try. 

Change is the only stable thing

The other posts that have done best are my posts about talent and some about my writing.  But other than that, the likes and reads are pretty similar, honestly.  Nothing close to viral as of yet, not that I’m really after viral. I’ve never been one of the popular crowd, so I can’t imagine one of my creations being so, either.  But with the extended reach of the Internet, I do believe that I have an audience out there.  I just don’t think I would ever be able to command millions of readers.  Not without working a lot of my shit out first.  Like why that one subscriber decided to leave me.  It was two months ago, but it still bothers me.  It still concerns me, and I wish I knew what to do about it.  But more than that, I wish I could just let it go and move on to the next.  I’ve since killed off my newsletter until I have something of value to add – so it’s dead for good, most likely.  I moved it to once a month and didn’t do the one at the end of the year.  I’m pretty sure those 8 people left didn’t even notice.

That’s OK, I’ve noticed – and I haven’t forgotten about you.  I just don’t have much to add that isn’t already being said here.

Thanks for reading. Please subscribe here – feel free to leave a note in the comments! Please?? C’mon, I asked nicely!

Photo by Jeremy Vessey on Unsplash

9 thoughts on “I Lost my First Subscriber

  1. I’m biting, I like a big chunk of your work. Your honest. Really. Don’t dwell on that one you lost. I have a very stiff neck from trying to make a blog of my own. Spending 9 hours a day trying to navigate things you suck at is not at all good for the neck and shoulder muscles. If your writing were an apple, I’d be half way down to the core by now. Wish I could comment more, but I’m too much of a social media sucker to give up any of the 30 groups I’m in. I really, really loved what you said about sad stories though. I’ve been mulling that one over. My cranky stories on Medium do so much better than the ones where I am happy. I agree with you that we all love sad stories, they resonate much better. You may have made me tweak my writing style a bit there. And, that is impressive. Is that enough of a bite for you Iain?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, as always, Therese. You’re one of the 8, and the whose emails and comments I have in a special folder that I read when I’m feeling especially self-conscious about my writing. Thank you doesn’t even come close to explaining how I feel about it. I could be a social media sucker, too. But at some point, I just wanted to focus on my writing. Even though I hear advice now that writers should be watching movies, I haven’t even let that back in, and I really want to. It’s been a strange year-long adventure, and I feel I’m not much farther along than when I started. But I have started, that’s the important part.


  2. We all go through that — most of us all or lives. And it doesn’t stop. I tried complimenting three people at work a day .. that didn’t go far. I tried inviting and going to activities I liked hoping to find like minds there. None of it really went anywhere. You have to just love yourself and laugh at yourself and hope you are contagious.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure its a cure. I’m 66 and that demon still teases me. Most times a glass of wine or a happy ending movie or my favorite music knocks the bastard off my shoulder and back where it belongs. For a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I usually don’t follow emails because I don’t spend a lot of time in there. I prefer to pick a name of the bloggers I follow and sit and read all their writings. Don’t fret about losing followers…make sure your content is real and useful and the rest will come. I always stress quality over quantity. It’s really true.

    Liked by 1 person

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