How to Be a Successful Blogger (and some thoughts on Baby Sperrys)

7.24.2013


Once upon a time, I started a blog. 

The upon a time to which I am referring is May 2010, and my blog had a different name back then. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what I was going to write about, and no idea who would ever want to read anything I wrote should I actually decide what it was I wanted to write. 

I remember one of the first blogs I ever started reading. The blogger had 100 followers, and I had 10. I know that's an oddly specific thing to remember, but I know because I made a comment to her about how I had a tenth of the number of followers she had. 

I couldn't imagine having--pause for effect--ONE HUNDRED followers! Everyone in the world was reading her blog! I was sure of it.

So I continued to write and sloooooowly built up to the triple digits, and I was so proud of myself. (I feel it's necessary to mention that in the time it took me to gain those 90 followers and reach 100, Amy had 1,000+. So basically I was right back where I started where she was concerned.) 

Shortly after this momentous occasion, I met a girl at church through a friend of mine. We discovered that we both had blogs, and when I went to her blog for the first time, I noticed that 1) she is hilarious and we were meant to be friends (which we are now and I love her) and 2) she had SO many followers! 

Two hundred and ninety-six, to be exact. SO MANY. Again, oddly specific. Maybe I should rethink my editing career and become an accountant. 

I couldn't believe how many followers she had! Amy's 1,000 followers was one thing. That was someone who lived in another state whom I didn't really even know all that well. But this. This was someone I knew in real life. And she was famous! Famous, I tell you!

Three years later, and I've finally realized that anything less than 1 million followers, give or take a half million, is nothing. With all the billions of people out there writing blogs and articles and books, you're not "big" unless you're JK Rowling. (Btw, what is up with her publishing under a pseudonym? Craziness.) 

Here's the truth.

There's always going to be someone bigger, someone prettier, someone fancier. Someone who wears makeup better and has cute dresses from Anthropologie. Someone who runs 9 days a week and posts fabulous pictures from their trip to Somewhere Exciting while still managing to raise Cutest Baby Ever who wears cute baby sperrys and never cries. (Who has the money to buy $80 shoes that their baby will grow out of in like 5 days?) This person also bakes cherry pies every night and then takes pictures of said pies with her fancy camera, which she claims she "doesn't know how to use."

And there are going to be those bloggers who, on their one-year blog anniversary, say, "I just love how much my blog has grown from where it was a year ago." They have three thousand followers. IN A YEAR. That happened.

I've seen lots of blog posts about how to get followers (because that seems to be a popular topic), and they're all pretty much the same: 

Have a professional blog design. 
Take pretty pictures. 
Be yourself. 

Okay. You know who writes these posts on tips to gain followers? People with huge followings. It's all well and good to "be yourself" when you average 123 comments per post. What about when you're lucky to get 2 comments? Does that mean people don't like me as much as they like you? It feels that way sometimes.

I think that kind of advice is great and can be helpful (I DO notice blog design first thing), but it won't guarantee you fifty new followers a day. And really, being yourself on your blog isn't or shouldn't be about numbers or comments or about being funny all the time or happy every day.

I have a confession: it bothers me when bloggers apologize

They apologize for not posting that day. (who has time to post every day?)
They apologize for posting "late" (what does that even mean???)
They apologize for posting something that's not happy. (you mean you're not happy every day? *mind explodes*)
They apologize for not posting a picture. (okay, you really should post pictures, though.)

I'll admit that I've done this. I apologized once for posting too many running posts. 
Why? Who even cares? I'll talk about running if I want to talk about it, and you all can hate me, but who will win in a race? Me. I will. Probably. Unless you're fast.

If you feel the need to apologize about anything you do on your blog (besides maybe calling out specific bloggers to tell them they suck) then you're not blogging for you. 

I would say that I'm a successful blogger, and that's not because of numbers. In terms of numbers, my score on the success meter is less than a monkey's IQ. But I'm successful because I've worked hard to create a place I enjoy coming to every day. It's something I'm insanely proud of because only I know how freaking long it took to figure out how to make a blog button and how many hours I spent designing a header and figuring out how to change the font for my pages at the top. Too many hours I'll never get back, yet for some reason it was worth it to me.

This is a place where I can be excited and share disappointment. A place to write down memories of moments I'd otherwise forget. (Like my grandpa's tie. My family still laughs about that one.) This is a place where I can practice writing, which is something I dearly love, even if I can't actually get my act together to write a book. (And I might never get that act fully together. I run out of creative plot ideas right around the time my characters should actually start doing something. And you can forget about interesting character names; they're all named after members of my family.)

I've made friends. Actual people I want to meet in real life because I honestly think we'd get along and have interesting conversations.

So.

Here's the bottom line: Your blog should be a place you want to come not a place you have to come. And if you want to come to your blog and write, and if you like what you've written, then you're successful. Finding ten or one hundred or one thousand people who like what you write too is just icing on the proverbial cupcake. Or, maybe sprinkles on the cupcake. And if no one but your mom reads, then you're bringing your mom some joy, right? You'll get points in your heavenly crown for that, at least. Kidding. That's not how it works.

So.... now I guess I should apologize for how long this post was. 
NOT.

I'm not sorry. You have your one picture, so either comment or move along.

Also, hi, Mom!

Is blogging "success" something you struggle with too?

46 comments:

  1. omg do i love this post. agree, agree, agree. sorry I didn't post today- guess what- no one cares!!!!! and yes being "big" doesn't really mean much because everyone has a different idea of what big is anyway! it just has to be something for you. you have to like it for it to be successful. seriously fave post from you.

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  2. LOVE this post.
    And RE: the posting late, I NEVER realized you were "supposed" to post in the morning. I have almost always used Bloglovin' so people's posts just popped up whenever they published them.

    Also, completely agree with you on the shoes. The most I've spend on shoes for Quinn was $10. And she even owns two pairs of Chucks.

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  3. Love this post! Whenever I feel like my blog is becoming work, I realize it's because I'm trying to keep up. Right now the biggest thing going on in my life is my pregnancy and if most (or all) of my posts end up being about that, well then it is what it is. My followers are slowly growing but I have formed relationships that are amazing and my mom always thinks my posts are the best.

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  4. Love this, love you. Your blog is one of the few where I will actually read the entire post because I love your content. Even if you don't post a picture with it! (gasp!)

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  5. lol at "runs 9 days a week." most of the time I long to be a blogger who gains 3000 readers in a year. I'm still not at 500 followers and I've been blogging consistently for just over a year, so I totally feel you on this post!! I wish I could be satisfied that my blog is something that makes me happy, but yet I still long to make it big!

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  6. well, I only have like ten people who regularly read my blog, which is really discouraging when I'm supposed to be "building a platform" for my novels. But I guess it's my own fault for rarely posting and not saying anything funny like you. I should have you post on my blog about writing and editing, and then everyone will want to follow me to see what you have to say! :P

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  7. it was for a bit a struggle I had wanting to be a successful blogger then I got over that because what does it matter how many comments I get per blog post, what does it matter the number of followers I have as long as I stay true to who I am and not represent someone other than me then I feel like I am being successful.

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  8. Haha that was such a wonderfully honest piece of writing...I have long since given up on the dream of being a massively successful blogger! I write now for my own satifaction more than anything! Thank you for this little piece of validation that, not being the best is just fine :)

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  9. When I first started blogging I had somehow convinced myself that I would be the next big thing - but I didn't put in any effort and I was way in over my head. I mean, what the hell is a no-reply blogger anyway? What's a link-up? Why are there so many alliterations in titles!
    I kind of backed off for a bit and just realized that hey, this is my place and I'll just be me, post a few things, share about my life and get on with it. And what do you know - I have a small following, but a lot of great new friends that I can't wait to meet someday.

    Totally love this post - I am way over the typical grow your blog post anyway.

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  10. "You know who writes these posts on tips to gain followers? People with huge followings."

    this. GOD. this. and I know it shouldn't be about the numbers but now you have one more :)

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  11. Love this! I totally get everything you are saying. Yes, it's hard for me sometimes to not get a lot of comments or gain lots of followers. But, my blog is mine and something I'm proud of. And, I have "met" some of the nicest people through blogging.

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  12. I love this post, I do struggle with growing my blog as well as finding a voice that's me. I have 11 whole followers and it seems like I might never even reach 50 but I keep going for those 11 people and myself!

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  13. Amen!!
    I started blogging in 2007 and gained a couple hundred followers. I loved it. Then suddenly I had a strong feeling to make my blog private. I included a lot about my location and personal aspects. Now, my husband and I started our running blog, and I expected the same turn out, but it hasn't been so easy. However, I have realized that I need to do it for myself and not others, and it makes it south better.
    Loved the post!

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  14. Yes yes and yes!

    I get random people I don't know telling me they read my blog, but I hardly have any followers. Followers really don't matter (unless of course you have a million, like you said). I love blogging and I'll probably keep doing it for a long time. Will I ever make money off of it? Um, no. But will I love coming to it and writing everyday? I hope so!

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  15. I Love this!! I'm one of those bloggers who have been blogging forever and can't believe how some skyrocket to 1k+ and others do not. Like me!! But I stick with this thing because I truly love it. I love writing. I love reading about people. It's fun. I also hate it when people apologize for things like posting their weekend update on a Tuesday. What? Who cares.

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  16. This is a great post. I have definitely apologized in posts before or worried about what the people who read my blog thought about something out of the ordinary, but you're right. If those things are happening then I'm not posting for me. Your advice is all great! And I'm glad that you write your blog for you. I think I'm almost to the point of writing my blog 100% for me and not feeling like I have to fulfill certain points along the way (like having a picture or sticking with a certain topic).

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  17. Loved this! Even without a picture :) I love your blog, and these are some of the reasons why I do. It's obvious you blog for you, and write about things that inspire you. Some blogs it's obvious they just want to make money and have 10,000 followers. I like to blog for me, as a creative outlet because I don't get that in my 9-5 job. Keep up the good work!

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  18. Me blog is all about me staying on track and on target and meeting great friends online who support me to. If it grows it grows, but I am not super worried about all that stuff.

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  19. I absolutely LOVE love this post! I'm a recent Blog Designer and new blogger. You have answered all of my fears and encouraged me to stop putting on so much dang pressure. Thank you!

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  20. SO great and true!!! I sometimes get sucked into feeling that way, but then know that really it's unlikely that I will have a huge following because I don't post regularly. And I don't because I don't want to. And I'm really okay with that.

    I don't know if I've ever apologized, but on the times I've thought about it it's honestly for me as well. There are times and events that I want to blog about and don't get around to, that I look back on and wish that I had, so issuing an apology on my blog is just acknowledging to myself that I missed it and that it's ok. Not that I think I have, but when I go back to blogging once or twice a month like I am now, I definitely want to! :)

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  21. I clicked over here from someone's Tweet of this and I'm so glad I did! I love all if this, especially how you pinpointed my exact insecurities. 'they have HOW MANY followers?' Then I think about how the rest of the world doesn't know and could care less that this little blog world even exists, and I feel better about writing for ME.

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  22. i love your sas!! so true lady. success is creating a place that you enjoy! i may never have over 1000 followers and i am okay with that!

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  23. Thank you for posting something real about blogging success! That's what keeps me reading your blog- you don't sugar-coat, you talk a lot like the kind of people I keep as friends. Thank you for giving us small bloggers hope!

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  24. As a new and confused blogger this post is great! I think being honest with yourself and just enjoying the process is the best method. :)

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  25. This post was both hilarious and true. Definitely blogging for myself these days and it sure feels good. I actually was pretty tickled that my mom comments on my blog every now and again. You are right though all blogs will grow differently we have to embrace that it's all a part of the blogging process.

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  26. Love this post. As a relatively new blogger (almost 3 moths!) this was very refreshing to read! Thanks for posting this.

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  27. I'm supercalafradgalistic glad we're friends. For real. You held my baby while I wiped puke up off the floor today. That's hardcore friendship.

    This was a really great post that I hope lots of bloggers read, because it's right on. And I'm not just saying that. GOOD STUFF.

    In unrelated news, the ad that pops up under this blog post is titled Doggy Poop Removal - Sign Up Today For 9.95 & Be Poop Free By Tomorrow. Fast & Dependable.

    SAY WHAT? I can be poop free tomorrow for only 9.95?! That's one cheap colostomy.

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  28. I really, really love this post. I've been blogging for about 7 months and I look at blogs that have been around for 3-4 months with over 1000 followers and it makes me sad. Then I remember that I really love my blog and having a space that I can ramble about anything I want and then I'm completely fine with it. As long as we love our own blogs, that's what's important, right? :)

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  29. Thank you so much for a great post and amazing advice! As a baby blogger with not much idea of what she's doing yet, it was invaluable to me!

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  30. Love!! Do I love new followers? Duh, who doesn't? But is my world going to shatter if no one reads my blog? Nah. And I do well to get 3-4 posts a week haha. Keep being you! :)

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  31. SOMEONE put on their sassy pants today! :) Love it. (And by sassy pants I'm assuming they're the green ones & documenting that color can change a life... maybe a stretch but I'm sticking to it.)

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  32. haha i LOVED this post- we share the exact same thoughts! i remember being SO excited when i hit 100 followers and thought it was so cool. i still think it's cool, but when you think of blogs like A Beautiful Mess you feel so tiny! Which leads me to nod my head in agreement to your point on how there will ALWAYS be someone better than you, so you should just stop comparing! There's nothing you can do but grow and come into your own, so there's no point of obsessing over the people that already got there.

    And amen to the whole stop apologizing. I'm sure no one is miffed that you didn't post 5 days in a row -_-

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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  33. thank you!!!
    i think other blogs with regular posts, great pics, etc make me look like selfish-snob-kind of writer. you explain me perfectly.

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  34. I love love love EVERYTHING about this.

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  35. You're spot on about apologies. There is literally no one sitting around being offended that you posted late. Unless you're the Pioneer Woman. And then you shouldn't care about the weirdo stalking you.
    You make me want to start up my blog again. I miss writing. Hm.

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  36. Great post... And look at all your comments!!! Hehe. It definitely is something i struggle with but everyday I am learning and this post has been great! x

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  37. Just found this post and your blog and I LOVE it. Thank you so much- now you have a new follower. :)

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  38. This is great! Most days I'm thrilled to get a 'hit' that isn't some sort of vampire site. I've got to figure out what these sperrys are. Am I getting old or what?

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  39. Funny. I was just fussing about my blog this morning. All three of them. Two of which I deleted a while back because I failed at them.
    Great post. I needed it. :)

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  40. I just discovered your blog, and obviously I'm a few months late in commenting on this post but I love it! Its so true, and I feel the same way most days. I'm lucky if I have 2-5 comments per day, and other bloggers that are "famous" to me have like 200 comments. Its unfathomable.

    Thanks for the resources and encouragement! :)

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  41. Little late ont his band wagon, however, I can't agree more. I watch people grow huge numbers and I think well why isn't my blog doing that... but at the same time I am not writing for the numbers. I like to interact and at first it was about the numbers to be honest. But now I am writing to keep track of my travels, learn about and from other people, and be a part of a community that is on average very welcoming! I don't need to bake pies, or run 9 times a week. I'd rather bake fries & run once or twice to work off the fries I baked! Love this post, really!

    xo. Kailagh

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  42. This is why I love Pinterest, because it basically serves as a time machine to pull up awesome things people have written that I might have missed. I love this post! I think it would resonate with so many bloggers. I'm sure even people with giant followings compare themselves to others, because all of us know that we can grow and that where we are will never feel 100% perfect. Learning to define success on your own terms and recognize your accomplishments (even 2 comments felt like a big day to me less than a year ago!) is the key to blogging contentment.

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  43. I LOVED this post!! Thanks so much for sharing Amanda and I completely agree with everything you said. Also you had me literally LOL at some of the things you were saying (especially about the apologizing part) so great!

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  44. I can't even remember what I clicked from what webpage to get here, but I am sure glad that I did!
    I am laughing so loud at some parts that my boyfriend is asking me to 'keep it down' because he's watching a movie.
    Your writing is wonderful, sassy and honest. You have just gained a new follower.
    All of this is true, and I think it is easy as a new blogger, old blogger, wherever you are on the 'blogger scale' (which really only exists in our own heads) to get caught up in the numbers. And when I look at some of the blogs I follow that are 'successful' in some terms, I think that yes, I could do that but it wouldn't be me. Thankfully there's a little piece of internet out there for all of us.
    My favourite line in this whole post 'my score on the success meter is less than a monkey's IQ' - still laughing at this.
    Oh, and sorry about about the long novel like comment :)

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    Replies
    1. So glad you found this post! Thanks for the comment :) I think this post still resonates with me, and it's been a year ago since I wrote this. But it's so true. It totally just exists in our own heads.

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