1000 subscribers milestone

At 100 subscribers I was wondering if it ever gets to thousand. At 500 I noted that I am halfway there. Strangely at 1000 I barely cared enough to notice.

Amount of subscribers is typical things to obsess over, but is number worth that?

What subscriber isn’t

The word subscriber itself is misleading. It brings up picture of dedicated reader, waking up with the sole idea of checking if his favorite blog wrote something.

Maybe some do. Not many.

What subscriber is

Subscriber is probability that someone’s software is requesting your feed. Amount of subscribers is vague average of such feed requests.

What is perceived as person is really a decision by some person to subscribe in the past. Then it’s all software.

What software brings to the table

It is curious that feed formats add very little on top of content. Bulk of actual subscription experience is formed by software.

Here is breakdown of my subscribers, according to FeedBurner:



Before you wonder – Twitter is extra, added by me. It is topic for a separate post, but technically it does get blog entries to subscribers (a little less of a statistical entity there, but only a little).

Now look at that pie.

  • Google Reader is massive. When I hadn’t yet made piece with its existence and that terrible over-engineered interface I was in shock when I first saw this pie (smaller at the time, but just as round and with roughly same proportions). Many readers just pick path of least resistance – mainstream (equals casual) no strings attached service.
  • Twitter is curious here. I have no remote idea why bulk of those people follows me. As for conversations I tweet most to LiquidWeb, my hosting provider. It is dump and dying idea that Twitter will replace RSS, but it seems people like to use it as such (follow and forget);
  • Newsgator and Bloglines are like dead already?.. Are those slices hordes of zombie subscriptions?
  • FriendFeed. I got an account there in dumb fit of I-am-geek-and-should-have-all-that-social-presence-and-stuff. 11 (eleven) visits from there this year. I do not know why people subscribe over there but that is surely not to read posts.
  • Firefox (and Opera just below cut-off line) – browser are massive, feed support is not spectacular but as easy as it gets. Doesn’t seem to matter for subscriptions for some reason.
  • FeedDemon. Seriously? The thing is packed with spectacular functionality and syncs with Google Reader. Barely above cut-off?


When I was writing this I wondered if I am coming as ungrateful. These are my subscribers after all, readers that made an effort and commitment.

Well, keyword is readers. I learned to care about people to whom my content is interesting and useful. And I learned to not care about numbers, that are just that – numbers.

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  • Seelenwahnsinn #

    It's a milestone nonetheless. Congratulations. And hey, I just remember I had to post a reply about the site's new design. I have it on my to-do list; I actually remember opening the blog post and starting to write a reply, but I must have stopped halfway through for some reason. Well, what else can I say? I'm part of the Google Reader's subscriber and actually AM a dedicated reader (though I rarely reply). As for Twitter, I follow just because you share (or used to share, I don't read my Twitter timeline as often anymore) interesting stuff. What's the next milestone? 5k? ;)
  • Rarst #

    @Seelenwahnsinn Thanks. :)
    Well, what else can I say? I’m part of the Google Reader’s subscriber and actually AM a dedicated reader (though I rarely reply).
    Didn't say that is mutually exclusive. :) Subscription is an awesome tool, but as any tool it can be both vital and waste of time.
    What’s the next milestone? 5k? ;)
    Nah, this is probably throwaway milestone. As per post - not too interested in number anymore. As for stats overall blog is currently in slow growth mode... Happy about growth of course, but staring at slow part put in numbers is not healthy. :)
  • JeeMan #

    This website is part of my morning routine. Through Firefox, I open up FreewareGenius, Rarst, Dilbert, xkcd and a couple of other sites to check for new content. You are a part of my day! Not all articles are of interest to me, but most of them are. I think it is a good thing you do not care about numbers, but on the other hand, it is a sure sign that at least, some people read what you are writing.
  • Rarst #

    @JeeMan High praise and thank you! :) Sorry that posts are far from daily lately, but better that than weak and forced out content.
    I think it is a good thing you do not care about numbers, but on the other hand, it is a sure sign that at least, some people read what you are writing.
    It's not that I don't care at all... But some numbers are less meaningful and important than others. Take FriendFeed slice of that pie. In theory that is 60+ dedicated readers. In practice that is under dozen visits a year. It isn't as rational to care about number that has mixed and confusing meaning behind it. PS I will post next week some numbers about effect of theme change... I had a hunch it will turn out as it did... but still those are going to be interesting stuff to share and discuss.
  • Relequestual #

    Awesome good work! Numbers are important, but also not important. Numbers show you are respected by more than a few people, and not a waffling idiot =] Numbers aren't as important as engagement, depending on what your aims and goals are for the site. Keep up the good work and I'm sure your readership will only continue to grow
  • Rarst #

    @Relequestual Maybe but this specific number seems to have little connection with reality.
    Keep up the good work and I’m sure your readership will only continue to grow
    Thanks, so far so good. :)
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  • Damian #

    I use Google Reader and I think I can explain why it seems to be huge in your stats - you came up in their (I think) technology pack - I had not encountered your site before this. To be honest most of the packaged suggestions turned out to be pretty useless and I dont even bother checking them now but it was your content (useful) and writing style (fun - please dont take that the wrong way!!) that made me stick with you. As for why Google Reader and not another I use the minimalist greasemonkey script as I only ever add a new sub and use j / k to scroll through. Its part of my Google account and so its pretty simple and convenient for me.
  • Rarst #

    @Damian Google Reader's percentage was pretty much same in earlier days of the blog. But it's a possibility... Not a first time I hear about someone discovering me via Google Reader. I should probably look into if I can somehow track that in Analytics. I wonder how many techies actually use Google Reader as-is. :) It seems one of the most popular web apps to hack parts from with user CSS, scripts or whatever.