Tuesday, August 27, 2013

on judging blog success

I've been getting some of the blogger blues lately... have you ever felt like what you're doing isn't enough? There's always another blogger who is funnier, has more followers, gets more comments, is making money from her blog, and then there's me, just doing my best to write in this space five days a week. Some days, I wonder why I do this, and if I should just quit and use my time for something else because I'm never going to be as good as whoever looks the best to me that day. And then I realize how stupid that is. How my worth as a person shouldn't be affected by the number of followers or comments because that's not why I started blogging in the first place.

I know he's a cowboy, but he seems Heisenberg-esque to me. I think it' the hat.

If you're new here (Hi! Welcome.), I started blogging to make friends in my city. And if I do say so, I am doing a great job - blogger friends turning IRL friends or text friends in just a few months is so fun - but like many women people, I always want more. I think it's great to constantly push yourself to be better, but where I am finding fault with myself (and with a lot of bloggers in general, it seems) is wanting to do all the things better all the time. If I may say something good about myself without bragging, I think I do as good of a job as I can at building relationships with anyone who wants to leave me a comment. I always respond to comments, normally with multi-sentence emails. I do my best to follow back or at least see what you're about, and if you use blogger and you're a no-reply comment blogger, then I leave a comment letting you know. Getting to that third email is essential - you leave me a comment, I respond (or vice-versa), and if it goes nowhere, then we haven't quite built a relationship. But sometimes, that third email passes from "I'm answering you because I'm polite" to "I'm emailing you to get to know you" and that's where the blog friendships begin. My goal was relationship building, and if I had to give myself a score, it would be a solid B+... leaving ample room for improvement.

Thanks, Jess!

My problem is that I have started to lose focus of my goals and wanting what other people have. You always see blogs with thousands of followers and hundreds of comments and I wonder what I'm doing wrong. Are my posts too long? My photos too low quality? Why don't they all like me? And then I see sponsored posts (we're only talking about the ones done well here - you guys know which ones I don't mean) and I wonder - how come no advertiser sees me? I like making money! But then I wake up and remember that no amount of comments or sponsored posts are going to make me feel like I've "made" it. There will always be another blogger "better" than me. As there should be. So many other women put so much more time, money, and effort into their blogs than I ever will that they deserve it!

Hate is a strong word but I still find this funny!

Last week, Forbes came out with a list of the Top Websites for Women in 2013. I started going through the list and found several blogs I had never heard of so I clicked over. I was expecting sleek design, loads of followers, and more comments than any blogger could realistically respond to. What I got were small blogs with unique voices just talking about life at the time. Two to three comments per post. Approachable blogs with likely small and devoted followings (like this one). Very few comments, but they were on the Forbes list, y'all. That's legit! So I had to ask myself - what would I rather have - a spot on the Forbes list or loads of comments? The prestige of being called tops by a national publication or fifty of my peers leaving comments, from the heartfelt to the cursory (let's face it - we have all left a "that's so cute!" comment with nothing more at least once) - either would be fantastic, no? Or I could be a blogger review site who rakes in the cash but whose blog lacks the personal touch that I so enjoy sharing with you guys. Nothing wrong with that, but would I feel successful?

You can buy this cute print here.

I guess the short answer, and the one we all know, is that comparison is the thief of joy or whatever pinterest has been saying. Blogging success is relative to the wants and needs of each blogger. I can say that I get so bummed out when bloggers that I like stop letting me into their lives in favor of reviewing products that don't seem to fit into their lifestyles or when each post is tagged with a sponsored segment at the end. On the one hand, I would love to have a thousand pairs of eyes reading what I have to say every day. On the other, could I really keep a relationship with them? The higher those numbers climb, the more I open myself up to being judged and ridiculed (also? The greater the chance of making another good blog friend. You can't just take the good, though). I started this blog to form connections. I had lunch with Rachelle yesterday. Sara and I have similar senses of WTF and exchange emails almost daily. Sweet Joey has become a text friend, Heidi is my long lost sister, and I get to experience BlogElevated with Bre and Miranda. There are more great blog friends, but I have had one-on-one contact with these over the past 24 hours so I am a very, very lucky girl. And, by my own, self-imposed standards, a very successful blogger.

But, for the record, I won't turn down a spot on the Forbes list in 2014 and if more eyes check out this page, I'll do my best to get to know every one of 'em.

What makes a blog successful to you? Do you ever have trouble maintaining your focus?


19 comments:

  1. I feel pretty much exactly the same. I stopped even looking at my page views just because I used to get discouraged and wonder why they weren't higher. I sort of just let it go and like the fact that I have regular commenters who I have gotten to know and who regularly read, and then when I get comments from someone who randomly followed or found me elsewhere, I love it.

    Blogging is such a weird dynamic, because you get people who are super successful IRL and then we feel like blog failures because we don't have tons of readers, comments, etc.

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  2. It's one of those crazy obsession things for me where I'm constantly checking stats... do I really care? I'm not sure.

    I get really excited when I have a new follower, but I don't let myself get upset when my page views are down for the day. I love getting comments - it's the best part.

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  3. I might look at my page views if a post I write gets a lot of shares. If not, I honestly never look at them.

    I always hope to strike a chord or spark a conversation with someone, and I also want to just put it out there for myself. I like having the space to write.

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  4. I hate to see you get discouraged because I wish I could post as much as you do and get as many comments as you do! I'm lucky to post once a week. It's just the rhythm I can handle right now. I want to interact with more bloggers, but I know I need to put myself out there more. You are taking all the steps you need to to make this blogging thing happen: commenting on others' posts, sending out personal emails and snail mail, and coming up with great content. You should be proud of yourself! :)

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  5. Don't change a thing about your blog, it's perfect!! I do have similar feelings about my own blog at times.

    This week in particular my views and comments are very low... but I remind myself I'm blogging for fun and for me.

    I've had a few offers for sponsored posts, and ignored them. And I've been glad I did... because when you see 10+ blog posts in your news feed of everyone reviewing the same company... you don't really feel like reading them or commenting on them. And I don't want my blog to go in that direction. (although I do agree, the money would be nice!)

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  6. This is so great! I was feeling like I should just stop blogging yesterday because clearly I'm never going to be a big blogger.

    My "numbers" have stayed the same for two months while everyone else talks about how they are growing daily. Then I realized even the 35-40 visits I have a day result in some great comments and awesome connections so who cares if I'm never "big" I'm building a community and making friends!

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  7. I think it can be easy to get caught up in the game of comparison. I blogged for YEARS before I ever became "active" in the blogging community. Within months of discovering the community, I noticed everything about my blog changing and I had to reel it in. Everyone always says to jus "blog for yourself," but you know that's almost impossible. Just stay real. That's the only advice I can give. It's healthy to want to grow and become better--otherwise we'd all suck at everything. But getting too caught up is not what it's all about. This was a great post! And I definitely love the friendships I've made from blogging!

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  8. that comparison quote is my jam!!! i am really bad at that sometimes, whether it's my blog, or my life in general. good news is it's dumb of us to do haha and we should probs just stop it.

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  9. I love reading your blog! And even though I don't comment every day, I do read it almost every day :) BTW, we need to do lunch sometime in September. I am demanding it!

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  10. i love blogs where the readers are real, honest and interact with their readers; after all, isn't that why we blog in the first place? i k now that some people are awesome at it; funnier and more clever but i love my own blog because i document my life and if people happen to come along for the ride, then let's enjoy it together!

    I recently added my bloglovin follower count just to see and i don't even care that i'm not in the hundreds. for the longest time, i had no idea how many followers i had via GFC; i knew i had a band of loyal readers and i worked hard to ensure that every reader who left comments knew that i read each one and i responded to each one and i made damnn sure that i visited their blog as well.

    don't change your blog at all!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  11. What a wonderfully written post.

    I just started my blog a few months ago, and like most people starting out, I vowed to not look at statistics or compare myself to others. I wanted to do this blog for me, and to meet some other fabulous ladies. Now, 3 months later, I find myself comparing my blog to others and am really working hard to shift that focus. This is for FUN! I do it as a hobby!

    It's reading such great posts, like yours, that make me want to continue to blog so I can keep being inspired and keep connecting!

    All that to say, I love your blog and can totally relate to your post. :) xo

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  12. This is such a great post and I think every blogger can relate (at some point or another). I can't wait to check out all the other bloggers you mentioned :)

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  13. This post is so relatable. I love how your posts are always so real. And not like "keeping it real" and being rude about things just for the sake of "telling it like it is." haha! Even after blogging for less than 6 months, I've had those same feelings of inadequacy. In fact, in my first-ever post I used that same comparison quote. It's also refreshing to see other bloggers commenting on this post that they feel the same way. As for the Forbes list, it makes you wonder how the winners are chosen :) Keep on doing your thing just the way you are. And you get much props for blogging 5 times a week!

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  14. I personally love your blog and don't want you to change a single thing!!

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  15. OMG those eCards are the best.
    yay for getting past the polite emails :)
    i only really look at my page views because they are on my dashboard. i have no blogging goals. i like that i have met great, like-minded women through blogging. i LOVE that some live in my city. it's always odd to me when i get a tweet or facebook post like "omg i love your post" and i think "well why the hell didn't you comment" lol.
    and then the other day my mom was like "my boss in the netherlands was telling me about your blog post yesterday."
    so basically i'm an international blog celeb. :) but in real life i would like just one good post to go viral and some free swag from time to time.

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  16. like probably everyone, i struggle with this all the time too. and obviously... i just took a month away from blogging just because i didn't know if it was worth it, should i be spending my time doing it, why-am-i-not-more-successful??? amazing. but really, i do it for me. i love the idea of it as a hobby, love taking photos, love writing down words. i would love to get better at the relationship-building part, but i'm sure that can come in time.

    and i love that e-card!!! i laughed out loud. and almost spilled my coffee.

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  17. Girl, I totally get you on this one, and comparison is something I think I struggle with. It does always steal my joy and make me feel bad about myself. To be honest, I hope my blog never "makes it" I don't want to be popular. I feel like if I had a bazillion followers there is no way I could give them any quality part of myself. I'm perfectly content having fewer friends that I can be genuine with over a million friends who I don't even know their last name.

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  18. I think every blogger has felt this way at one point or another! I know that I have had sponsored posts, made some money, and have a few loyal followers - but I still feel the same way you do! It's funny...I get so many friends IRL commenting on my "blogging success" when I feel like I am not nearly as successful as I "should be" at this point. I think we get so immersed in the blogging world that it can be tough to look at your success from the outside. I give you an A+ at making blog friends, btw ;)

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I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!