Its been five years for me with this blogging thing. I have read my share of articles and opinions on why certain blogs have more followers than others, or one has more comments than the other etc… I have been on the same side, looking at my stats and wondering how come mine are so different from other blogs. I have felt the same feeling of questioning myself and wondering what I should be doing that I was not. The truth is, I have learned and still am learning about things that can benefit my site or draw a certain crowd. So this is a legitimate concern.
However, after five years of this, I recently discovered something that has absolutely changed the way I view my site and truthfully every site! I have made a discovery that, at least for me, is brand new and not talked about much, if it is even well understood. I am not convinced that what I am about to suggest, which potentially affects all of your blogs as well, is even common knowledge in the blogging world. I stumbled on it while pressing in over and over, looking for things I may be missing out on to promote my site.
What I am about to say has the potential to be quite controversial. but I firmly believe nobody will be able to disprove my theory. If everyone who reads this takes what I am saying and weighs it with their own circumstances, I am convinced the end results will be very much in line with each other. Now I want to be honest about the fact that some of my findings were birthed out of my total frustration with my lack of growth during certain seasons and seeming inability to move as fast as some other bloggers.
I really went over and over many times the same old information until one day it just clicked in my head that I had part of the answer to why some blogs are so very much more successful growth wise than others. Not that they are any better or worse, but just a reason that finally made sense to me. The news I am presenting here can make each one of us stop and reconsider what our passion is! What we write about. Why we write about what we do. I even remember one day I wrote a post that I had spent much time researching, and expected it to be well received in my community of bloggers. However, to my dismay, it was just an “average” post in my book. You know, 10-20 likes and maybe a comment or two. Whoopee, right?
Something happened around that same time, though, that brought it all full circle for me. That something was my stumbling upon a blog post on the feed about training dogs to do house tricks and healthy eating habits for your mutt. But then, as I neared the end of the post, I saw this enormous number that appeared on the last line of the post where comments also go. Yeah, it was this number like 469 or something. I must have read that 3 times just to be sure but it sure was 469 people gave their props for the doggy master and doggy diet expert. Now, in all fairness, I was just coming off of a post that I spent several hours researching, an hour and a half writing ( I think I may have even edited that one!) and I was feeling a tad low with my 20 likes on a very important topic for all of us humans, but even lower when I caught the 469 for the doggy dynasty.
Here is what I realized then. People in general simply do not wish to deal with the hard stuff that life has dealt. People in general like to have their ears caressed when reading a blog post. They do not want to be confronted with all the harsh realities we are facing in real world, non-doggy life. Grown ups who are well-educated and should care about certain issues like human trafficking, or pedophile priests, or crooked politicians are more than willing and even likely to skip the post about a crisis we, as a society, has to deal with and instead steer their eyes towards soothing material. Its true!
This is not just what my team writes about or what we deal with in mental health, child abuse, and addiction, but it was my own blog that awakened me to the idea of what was happening. I supported my theory by checking with other bloggers and looking at all the different numbers and it proved to be a working theory.
Here is the main point of what I found. People like me, who tend to deal with sad, even troubling issues much of the times seem to have this common thread of a lower amount of followers and not as many takers in general who even want to face these issues much less spend time thinking through them in a blog post. That seems to be a fact across the board. However, the amazing thing I discovered was that my smaller group of people were participating in, liking, and commenting on about 35% of what we published. Now I don’t know if you ever check those stats but recently I read an article by a very successful blogger who I believe said he sometimes had a 1-5% participation rate when it came to his huge audience actually liking or commenting on his topics. So to see 35% consistently and look back over the years and see it never dropped below 20%, was amazing to me. It told me something that we all need to be aware of. The numbers may not line up on the same side with all bloggers in the same categories. But the numbers are there most times just distributed in different places. In my case, I realized I had a slightly more intense crowd who did not mind getting their hands dirty in some controversy. Therefore, what I was not seeing in overall total followers, I was making up 10 fold in active engagement with my posts.
So, for all of us who blog, we need to start making sure our perspective is accurate. It simply is not likely, on any given day, that a human being with all the problems we already have, would rather spend 20 minutes ingesting some bad news about abused kids, rather than totally avoiding it and thinking about the fact that Rover can roll over. The one is simply much more stressful than the other. So none of us should discount one bit of our efforts writing based on simple numbers alone, but on the whole picture.
Many, many times I have read posts written by bloggers who are very disappointed in how slow their blog has progressed, in comparison to some others. Now it is easy for me to see that most are likely missing out on some part of the value in their work because they follow the popular way of measurement which typically is “How many followers you got?” That usually leads to depression. What if, just for one day, the question went like this, “Hey, what percent of the viewers of your posts actually care enough about them to “like” them or comment?” A much different way of thinking is born. And I am willing to bet that the question could be asked in many more ways that I have not even thought of.
But we as bloggers are followers in that sense. We want what the writer over there has. Yet truly we have no idea, unless he makes us privy to his stats, just how important those 26,000 followers were this month, because he never bothers to look past that and dig into the statistics that WordPress provides. Such as, how many of those people even took time to click “like” out of 26,000? Remember, this is not an “either or” scenario. I am discussing meaning that one type of stat is more important than another. Heck, do you think if tomorrow I found out a way to add-on 5000 followers to my crew, that I would not be running to do it? Of course I would. I want that, too.
We need to stop trying to fit our blogs into ‘cookie cutter’ molds that all line up a certain way. I will close by sharing something that happened my second year of blogging. It was a lonely time. I think I was paying family members 5 bucks to comment on a post just to get some action…lol – it was awfully depressing for me. And then I got an email from a lady out of this country. She was suicidal and an addict who had decided to take her life and truly also believed God was waiting to escort her to hell for being an addict in the first place. Rough, rough situation. Even with 20 years under my belt in social work and counseling, i could not prepare for that. Fortunately I did not have to come up with any miraculous words from my therapy book. You see after she told me in the email, from another country, she had decided to take her life, there was a “but”..”
She said “But then I read your post on faith and addiction and how you were where I was and how God never left you and you made it out, so I decided to keep on trying.” I think it was her and maybe a friend I had asked to read that post on that day. I only had a few dozen followers or a 100 whatever. Not many reading much of anything. But I will tell you that after that night, I knew that if nobody ever read one word of my writing again in history, those two years of dark and slow blog growth were well worth all of it and then some.
Never, ever question how your work, your efforts, are paying dividends. Hey, the facts are, folks, that some people get paid in the form of thousands of new followers pouring into their site each month, or maybe constant re-blogs and praise on almost everything they put on paper. It could be something they are not even aware of like in my situation with the suicidal lady. Be assured that what you are doing is not in vain. The cards have a way of landing a different way all the time and we do not always get to see how. If we are fortunate, we get a glimpse at some point. Even if you do not, never ever stop putting on paper what your heart is screaming to your brain all the time. There is a reason.
Stay with your first love. Don’t worry about the next guy. I can tell you from experience that you may never know the value of your work on this earth. But from experience let me also be the one to tell you it matters, to someone. Sometimes it matters a whole lot!