‘Did you turn it on?’ The mystery of the missing subscribers

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Once upon a time, I bought a toaster oven at a large discount store. When I tried to bake a potato, I turned the temperature dial to 350 F. Nothing happened.

Yes, the plug was in the wall. Yes, the outlet worked for my coffee grinder. So, I concluded, the toaster oven was defective.

The Customer Service rep kept a straight face. “See this knob here?” she said politely. “You have to set it for toast or oven.”

Oh. I guess I was toast.

I remembered this story every time I experienced a sudden drop in subscribers to my Career Freedom Ezine.

My first thought was, “They don’t love me!” Should I rush out and hire a web designer and perhaps a high-powered, high-priced specialist in web marketing?

My second thought was, “They can’t find me!” Maybe I need to hire a search engine specialist to manage my keywords.

Fortunately, each time, a reader wrote in to say, “I tried to click on your submit button and nothing happened.” Or, “I tried your ‘subscribe’ address and got a ‘DOES NOT EXIST’ message back.” Or, “The link to your subscribe page is down.”

When I put together my new site, writinglady.com, I left off some code on the subscribe page. The part where people click to submit requests, to be specific.

Sometimes my HTML software adds characters to links that create cute “404 NOT FOUND” messages. Once I accidentally deleted my own email address when forwarding to a new ISP.

If you find yourself thinking, “This will never happen to me,” you haven’t owned a website very long — or you’re exceptionally meticulous and I want to know how you do it.

The only thing worse than making your own mistakes is hiring a web designer or virtual assistant who does all the work — and then goes on vacation to Fiji just before you uncover a killer error. Hey, they’re human, too.

These days, I check the obvious first; it takes awhile to figure out what should be obvious. I reward everyone who calls attention to a blooper. And I pay it forward: when I see a broken link, I now advise the webmaster, no matter how busy I am.

I’ve been there.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant. Your Next Move Ezine: Read one each week and watch your choices grow!

‘Did you turn it on?’ The mystery of the missing subscribers
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