Antibodies for Losing Subscribers

Every month, David Dobrik loses 40k YouTube subscribers. He also adds 200k a month. But the number of people who unsubscribe still stings him.1

It’s hard to shake the fear of losing followers.

I started this blog as we were packing up our Chicago apartment two years ago. Elizabeth was taking a year off to backpack around Asia. I had a wedding in Philadelphia and then was flying to meet up with her in Cambodia. A blog seemed like a good way to post pictures and stories.

From the beginning, my parents, siblings, and a few friends subscribed to my blog. 8 people. I loved posting and getting replies back from my family. I never submitted posts to HN or Reddit or anywhere else. Who would care? Lots of people have been to Thailand, I thought. A year later, I still had 8 subscribers.

One day, I woke up to a New Subscriber” Mailchimp email with a name and email address I didn’t recognize. I had no idea how they found my blog. Surely it was a mistake. Why would they be interested in pics of my laptop?

I hesitated to post for a week. I’d caught a subscriber and I didn’t want to lose them! After days of agony, I published something new. I refreshed Mailchimp a dozen times to see if they unsubscribed. They didn’t. I posted again the next day. They were still there.

The fear of losing followers is an insane thought. What’s the point of having subscribers if you’re scared to email them? Yet each time I get an influx of subs, I get this nagging thought: Oh your next post better be good.

Posting publicly doesn’t come naturally to me. I maintained a blog in college, but deleted it after I ran into a Reddit buzzsaw.2 I also deleted Twitter and Instagram because consuming but never producing content was bumming me out.

I used to think the cure for the fear of losing followers was to never post publicly. But the opposite is true. Being prolific is the best antibody to the fear of online reprisal.

The main upside of posting a lot is that it’s impossible to predict what other people will find interesting. I’ll labor over ideas for days, and then nobody cares. Other times I’ll go from blank screen to published in 30 minutes and get lots of replies.

The secondary upside is the more you post the more you’ll connect with people. We all love hearing stories and new ideas. If somebody’s annoyed, they’ll simply unsubscribe. Ask David Dobrik.

  1. I’m working on writing up this moment in my/RageChill’s history. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say about it.

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