Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Small Steps…Giant Gain! Blog Follower or Blog Subscriber—What is the Difference and Does it Matter?

It’s time for another, Small Steps…Giant Gain! post.

Today I want to clear up an issue many are confused about—the difference between a blog Follower and a blog Subscriber.

Often times the two are used interchangeably. They are NOT the same, and beyond that, one is extremely valuable and the other less so. It's also likely that the two numbers differ greatly. For example, I have 137 followers on Google Friend Connect and well over 400 subscribers. But before we go any further, here are the definitions.

A Follower
This is unique to Blogger sites and looks like this:

If you wanted to become one of my followers, you'd click the join this site icon. Then, if you have a Google account with a picture, your face shows up on my blog. It’s nice to see that people like my blog and this is a way to see that others like my blog.

Also, if you’re familiar with your Google Reader, my blog shows up there. But, and this is critical, those who follow my blog this way do NOT receive any kind of email notification when I post something new on my site.

A Subscriber
These are people who sign up to get notification of new posts on my blog through their email account or through RSS. The most common way of doing this is through FeedBurner. This type of sign-up looks like this:

These people are infinitely more likely to visit my blog on a regular basis. And beyond that, they're willing to have my notifications clutter up their inbox. In these days of email overload this is a BIG commitment.

Bottom Line
While there’s nothing wrong with Google Friend Connect, I still have it on my blog, it’s important to make certain you also have a place for people to receive notifications through email and RSS. These are your subscribers and, when a publisher is looking at your platform, these will be the numbers they’re interested in.

Now it’s your turn to share your experiences with following and/or subscribing to a blog. Do you have any criteria to decide your level of commitment?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Edie,

    Thanks for the clarification. I subscribe to your blog and several others. The subject matter and its relevancy to my current situation definitely determine my level of commitment. Many of the blogs I read allow you to follow them on bloglovin' and so I just get one email from about eight different blogs to browse through instead of eight separate emails. I believe networkblogs will let you do that do or something similar. It makes life so much easier when your addicted to so many great blogs. :)

  2. Edie,

    Thanks for clarifying this. Some may think many know this, but not long ago I didn't. I always look forward to your posts all week, but especially on Tuesdays.

  3. Great clarification, Edie! I like the email subscriptions, but am finding that I use Reader more because it's so quick and easy to catch up.

  4. I actually prefer to BE a follower because I don't like having the emails cluttering my inbox. But I'm consistent with the blogs I visit, so it works for me. :) But good to know what to aim for for our own blogs. Thanks, Edie!

  5. Thanks for the clarification, Edie.
    Also, my web guru told me Google was getting rid of the Google Friends widget in March. Had you heard this too?

  6. So how do I discover how many people are subscribers to my blog?

  7. Like Lindsay above, I prefer to be a follower because my email is crowded enough. I do try to regularly check my Google Reader. But I'm glad to know the difference here. :)Thanks!

  8. You are so wonderful at explaining things I need to know in a way I can understand. Thank you Edie!

  9. Thanks, Edie, for the explanations. I had always wondered what a Blog Follower was in comparison to a Subscriber. You cleared up the confusion for me!

  10. I've begun to Unfollow Blogs I am not committed to. Reading them is taking too much time away from writing. That said, I like the Subscribe option and know nothing about the Reader function that was mentioned.

    I enjoy the connections and the great advice, but it's a challenge to find the right Balance.

  11. Thanks for helping us all stay on top of all things techie! :-)

  12. Hey Everyone! Please forgive me for not answering all the comments in a more timely manner. Balance is definitely a day-by-day process. :)
    Thank you for stopping by, I'm glad to get some perspective on how you keep up with blogs. Here are mines.
    I follow as a courtesy.
    I subscribe when I want to read the blog.
    Also, just because a blog notification shows up in my email doesn't mean I read it. The biggest determining factor for me is the subject line... or in the case of a blog, the title.
    Blessings All - E

  13. Great Edie! And can you explain what subscribing by RSS feed does? Thanks!

  14. I generally follow. I have some sites in an RSS feed, but I don't like emails that tell me someone has posted, and it's one of the big things I don't like about Wordpress blogs. If I can follow and see the person's blog in my blog list, I'll visit once a week or so. If not, I often won't go back.

    But then, I've never done things the way the crowd does. :)

  15. In that case, I'm very honored to have you as one of my subscribers. ;)

  16. I tend to follow as a show of support (I'm horrible with my g
    Google Reader). I subscribe my email so I can read the posts. I don't read all of them, but do my best to be social.

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this, I always wondered about that... so it is definitely better to have more subscribers... but is it also good to have a lot of 'members' so when people visit your site they see that you have many followers?

  18. Can anyone please tell me if you know, how to know who your subscribers are, or at least how many? I made a blog for my brother who recently passed away, and have been so hurt that no one seemed to have subscribed yet. I thought this was the case by looking under "followers". SO I see I was wrong, but how do I know if and who has subscribed by email? Please, any info to share would be greatly appreciated. X

  19. Thanks for the clarification! Wordpress tells me I have 2 followers and well over 3,000 subscribers! To be honest, I think most--if not all--of those subscribers are fake, but hey, I could be wrong! Thanks again for helping us out on this.

  20. Thanks for explaining 😇
    I added the subscription button today on my blog. This year I am going to blog a Lot 🤩