Jul 21 2007

Subscriber Count Chicklet – What’s your magic number?

Published by at 6:38 pm under blogging,Feedburner


I do a lot of blog surfing. This is partly due to maintaining the top 100 blogs list, the bumpzee community and being part of blogging communities like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog. A lot of this surfing is “hit and run” – a quick visit to check the credentials (i.e. is it Australian, is it likely to qualify for the top 100, is the comment from a reputable blog, who’s that linking back, who just joined my community – that kind of thing).

A hit and run blog-by would typically go something like this:

  1. arrive at site, note overall appearance
  2. check Alexa rank (displayed on my SearchStatus toolbar)
  3. quick glance for an RSS feed reader subscriber count chicklet
  4. quick glance at categories and archives to determine the nature and extent of the blog
  5. check out the “about” page
  6. check out home page (if not already there) and Page Rank

Of course this list can vary a little depending on the purpose of the visit, but generally it’s something like that. And granted, not everyone would approach a new blog in the same way.

What interests me, is what motivates people to display their RSS subscriber count via a chicklet?

If you saw a feedburner subscriber count as displayed at the top of this post, would it give you the feeling that the blog is a worthwhile place to be?

What about these? (amazing what you can do in a few minutes on photoshop)

Feedburner 2 Feedburner 2 Feedburner 4

(I reckon it would be an interesting social experiment to put up a bogus feedburner chicklet with a really high count & seeing what difference it makes to the subscriber rate. NOT that I’m about to try it of course, that would be a big no-no, but it’d be interesting….)

But hey, maybe I’m just being a blog snob.

I don’t base my decision to subscribe to a blog on existing subscriber numbers, but I would have to say that a higher number gives a blog more credibility, in my eyes.

In case you’re looking for it, I don’t display my subscriber numbers. I’ve toyed with the idea, but I guess I have a “magic number” in my head as to when I will. Darren posted recently about this quandary – RSS Feed Counters – Should you Reveal your Numbers?

But I’m really interested in what you have to say.

  1. Do you display your subscriber count? If not, do you intend to?
  2. At what number did, or will, you display?
  3. Any other thoughts you have on the topic.

I’ve also decided to conduct a poll (my first one – assuming it works o.k). I’ll publish the results in my weekly roundup, so it’s open for 5 days.


26 responses so far

26 Responses to “Subscriber Count Chicklet – What’s your magic number?”

  1. Leighon 21 Jul 2007 at 9:21 pm

    HAHA cheeky, I saw the top one, and thought WOW, Meg really has that many subscribers…way to go LOL

    I am a bit of a numbers junky, being from a forum background where numbers say everything about a site. Funnily enough I don’t pay too much attention to the sub stats on blogs though. I will even less now, the thought had not crossed my mind that people could “fix” LOL.

    I can be impressed by and admire the subscription stats but either I like the site and it’s content or not, how many others like it doesn’t overly affect me.

    To answer your other questions, No I don’t show mine..like you mine isn’t at the magic number yet. But I don’t have a clue what that number is yet.

  2. Megon 21 Jul 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Leigh

    I don’t imagine that I’d ever get to that number – but they say you should have images in your posts, and the pink IS pretty 😉

    I’m not implying that people do “fix” their chicklets. And you can pretty easily check whether they’re real or not.

    I daresay most of the Aussie blogs I subscribe to don’t display their counts, and agree you either like the content or not. I’ve unsubscribed from blogs with thousands of subscribers, because the content just didn’t appeal any more.

    Thanks for your comments, glad to know I’m not alone with my “magic number”.

  3. Lavenderon 21 Jul 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Nope, I dont show mine either – yet, and I havent decided on a magic number. Where Ive seen the count displayed, it hasnt influenced me either way – if the content is there, I subscribe – and if its not, Im outta there. But I do admitt that higher numbers (hundreds +) do impress me. If I ever achieve those numbers, Im likely to give in to the temptation.

  4. Snoskredon 22 Jul 2007 at 1:54 am

    I did once have it there but the number was so depressing I got rid of it. I don’t think I’d put it back unless it was fairly high.

    I’m not even sure all of those chicklets reflect reality unless everyone is using that kind of feed reader – at least they didn’t till feedburner offered the combine it all into one feed thing. When I installed that in my rss thingy (yes, I am great with technical terms, aren’t I!) in blogger, my subscriber count grew by 600%.

    Yes, I am currently in shock over that but that has nothing to do with the technical term suckiness, that’s always there.. :)


  5. Megon 22 Jul 2007 at 11:18 am

    Hi Snos

    I know what you mean about having 2 feeds – that happened to me on my old wordpress.com blog.

    If you’ve only got one feed, and you use feedburner to “distribute” your feed, then I think the numbers are reasonably accurate, as it does pick up all types of feed readers.

    Having said that, I hate the way the Feedburner subscriber numbers fluctuate so widely. I’ve lost over 20%, only to have them all return a day or two later, but it leaves you thinking “was it something I said”?

    I notice this happens on other blogs too. Andy Beard, for example (because it’s a prominent chicklet it’s hard not to notice), has gone from around 1,200 to just over 1,000 and then back up to over 1,300.

    600% improvement – that must have given you a boost :)

  6. Thomason 23 Jul 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I haven’t made the leap to using Feedburner for my blog. I just use the typical RSS feed that is available from WordPress. WordPress had a feedcount for RSS but they took it away. I was bummed because in any given day, feeds were half my site visitor numbers.

    I guess I will have to get with it and take a look at feedburner so I can better track these numbers.

  7. Thomason 23 Jul 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Sorry I didn’t include this in first post.

    Your initial criteria for checking a site is interesting. I never would have thought to check the metrics of a site. I am not sure if I I will try this method, but it is interesting to see how others evaluate a site.

  8. Megon 23 Jul 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Thomas

    I remember when I was on WordPress.com, there was an issue in that I had two feeds – my site one and a feedburner one, so the feedburner didn’t accurately reflect the number of subscribers in any case. I can now redirect my old feed, but I don’t know if they’ve added that to WordPress.com yet.

    I do remember that the WP subscriber stats never appeared accurate.

    Re: the way I evaluate a site – I think it’s pretty much evolved from maintaining the top list. Mind you, I’ve always been a “numbers” person. Of course, I do judge the content on its own merit – I don’t need numbers to tell me that :)

  9. Andy Beardon 23 Jul 2007 at 6:10 pm

    For me 300 was the magic number when I first displayed mine, it just seemed to be the right time.

    It is easy to just use someone elses if you want to cheat, no need to use photoshop

  10. Megon 23 Jul 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Andy

    Did you notice any increase in the subscriber rate after that (assuming you monitored it that closely)?

    “It is easy to just use someone elses if you want to cheat, no need to use photoshop”

    But then I’d have to hunt down a pink one 😉

  11. Duncanon 23 Jul 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I’ve put the numbers details on a few sites, but took them off all but one thinking that anything below 100 was discouraging. The figure on http://www.duncans.tv is based on the collated results from Feedburner, combining all the different ways people subscribe.

    The RSS figure does go up and down. Weekend figures are usually down – lots of people obviously surf at work. If the site goes offline, even for a day, people appear to unsubscribe or stop checking pretty quickly.

  12. Megon 23 Jul 2007 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Duncan

    I can’t work out why it would go down on weekends though? If they’re subscribers then they wouldn’t unsubscribe just for the weekend. I must be missing something!

  13. Duncanon 23 Jul 2007 at 11:11 pm

    I believe the figures change based on people accessing their RSS readers.

  14. Vladon 24 Jul 2007 at 10:22 am

    I displayed mine from the very first time I burned my feed. But as Andy Beard mentioned, you can cheat and display some one else’s. I think anything about 200 impresses me.

  15. Megon 24 Jul 2007 at 10:41 am

    @ Duncan – oh thanks, I didn’t know it worked like that.

    @ Vlad – thanks for stopping by, and also for the link to my SU guide. I had heard that you *could* cheat, but I thought it was pretty easy to get caught out. NOT that I would even think about it – that would definitely be bad karma!

  16. Vladon 25 Jul 2007 at 2:08 am

    I am not sure why any one would even consider showing someone else’s widget. You can check it very easily anyway. The only number of readers that mean anything are those via Bloglines as far as any paid review/links buying is concerned. I noticed that only about 5% of my subscribers do so via Bloglines.

  17. Blog Strokeson 25 Jul 2007 at 3:21 am

    This is the first blog I’ve ever run through FeedBurner. It’s really just a test for me, and I started displaying the count at zero, now a couple weeks later it’s up to ten, though I’ve noticed it can fluctuate.

    I still don’t tend to notcie other people counts at all, I subscribe based on the content, and generally if a blogger can get me to comment a couple times I subscribe.

    None of the options really seem like a fit for me so I didn’t vote, but I hope this comment gives you a feel for where I’m at on the issue. I’d be just as impressed with your blog at 2 subscribers or 10,000.

  18. Vladon 25 Jul 2007 at 9:43 am

    @Blog Strokes

    Dan, do you really need to make me look so shallow? lol

  19. Megon 25 Jul 2007 at 10:07 am

    @ Vlad – yes I don’t understand the use of bloglines as a metric. I’d say it would have to be skewed in favour of really old blogs, whose subscribers have since moved on to Google Reader (or others) but left their bloglines account intact. But maybe I’m wrong about the extent to which bloglines is still used. And I suppose in the absence of feedburner stats – that’s all there really is.

    @ Dane – hehe I had to edit your comment because you left the “o” out of “count” 😀 I do understand where you’re at. I think you’re very brave starting the count at zero, but it *is* a new blog.

    Thanks for your comments.

  20. Blog Strokeson 25 Jul 2007 at 11:05 am

    Need is such a strong word, Vlad, 😉

    Sorry about that Meg, I promise to incluode and extra ‘o’ in this post to make up for it. That was an unfortunate misspelling indeed.

    I don’t know how brave I am really, might just be a little challenged mentally. But really for me the whole feedburner / subscriber chicklet is an experiment. I’m pretty sure i would honestly just forget to check on that if I weren’t seeing it every time I load the blog. I’m really interested in seeing the progression of the subscriber base. It’s one of the few things I’ve never really measured, simply because it’s not easy to measure.

    You know, it occurs to me, that using a bit of css, you actualy could do a pretty good fake of one of those things and convince a number of people that the more obvious methods would not fool… Wonder if there’s a salable service in there somewhere…

    I’m kidding, put that bat away.

  21. Megon 25 Jul 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Dane hehe :) Just a thought, I was just checking through your blog & notice you have some great WordPress “how to” guides & posts about security. Do you think a “how to install a WordPress upgrade” would be useful? I could use one!

  22. Blog Strokeson 25 Jul 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Actually it’s high up on the to do list. You aren’t the first to ask me that question. I’ll be sure to let you know when I’ve got it hammered out.

  23. Megon 25 Jul 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Great, thanks (I’ve subscribed by the way, so I’ll get it by RSS)

  24. […] 5. Update on my Poll […]

  25. goldcoasteron 28 Jul 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I did vote a few days ago and it looks like the vote outcome hasn’t changed.

  26. Megon 28 Jul 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Goldcoaster – it does appear the “it’s all an ego trip” was the most popular response. But it’s interesting feedback that 39% of responses fell in the 300, 500 and 1000 category. 21.7% in the 500 or 1000. Seems I could be holding off displaying the chicklet for a LONG time (if ever)!