Why I Love It When People Unsubscribe From My Email List

Here’s why it’s a good thing to lose subscribers and followers

Andrew Macrae
3 min readMay 8, 2020


Street art showing a child letting go of a heart-shaped balloon
Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

You nurture your baby email list like a clucky mother hen. You cheer every new subscriber.

You draft and re-draft your posts, preview after preview. You edit and edit and edit. You press send and hold your breath.

Then the inevitable unsubscribes come, each like a dagger to your heart.

What did you do wrong? Why don’t they love you? You worked so hard. You made it just for them, and they’re unsubscribing!

Relax. Take a breath.

Losing subscribers is a good thing.

But before we get to why, let’s first unpack the reason it hurts so much.

Why unsubscribes and unfollows hurt

No one likes rejection, and losing subscribers and followers feels like rejection.

But there’s something else going on here: a cognitive effect called loss aversion.

The idea, first articulated by Kahneman and Tversky (1979), is that “losses loom larger than gains”. In fact, in a later paper, Kahneman and Tversky (1992) show that losses might be twice as powerful psychologically as the equivalent gain.

To offset the negative emotional impact of one person who unsubscribes, you need to find two new subscribers to replace them.

The trouble with loss aversion is that it can mess with your head. It can lead you to irrational conclusions.

Here’s why, rationally, it’s good to lose subscribers.

Why I love it when people unsubscribe

Intuitively, you want more people to subscribe to your list, right?

Well, not really.

You want more of the right kind of people. You want readers who love your content.

A narrow, deep audience of passionately engaged fans is better than a wide, shallow audience of blasé…



Andrew Macrae

Freelance writer and editor. Sign up for my newsletter about writing, freelancing and whatever is worrying me https://tinyletter.com/Andrew_Macrae