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Blogging Pause for Thought

The meaning of #235


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

If you’re reading this anytime up to about a week after I post it and you should happen to glance down to your right you might just spot a little badge in the sidebar.  It says Tots 100 on it, and it says #235 underneath it. If you’re reading more than a week or so afterwards it probably just says #wellthatwasafluke but we shan’t dwell on that right now.

Because as un-English as it is to admit it, and possible un-feminine too, I am really proud of that little badge and that little number.

There seem to be two stereotypes of how bloggers in general respond to the whole question of stats, rankings, followers and all that sort of thing.

The first would be the crazy obsessive; glued to the stat counter, aggressively pursuing Instagram followers, churning out content that has been SEO-ed until it’s complete nonsense, or even worse, to the point of being utterly bland, fixating over every last place up or down the charts; each place gained celebrated like it’s the first conquering of Everest, each place lost mourned in tears, wine, and then an outpouring of derision against the whole system on the nearest available form of social media.

The second of course is at the other end of the scale; the professionally disinterested.  They may display a badge, but they’re not in it for the rankings, in fact they rather look down on anyone that pays too much attention to statistics, they’re in it with a higher purpose, it’s all about the love of writing, or taking pictures, or coming up with gorgeous recipes, or letting the world know exactly how we should be parenting our children.  They long for the good old days when bloggers were bloggers and there was none of this commercialisation nonsense. It’s the “if you build it, they will come” attitude on steroids.

I am of course wildly exaggerating, but then that’s what stereotypes are for. But I also suspect that anyone who’s been in the blogging community for a little while has seen an echo of one or both in real life, though most of us fall happily (and a little more sanely) in the middle.

So I wanted to shout out for the middle and to try to explain a little of just why that number makes me happy.

For me my blog is purely a hobby.  It has very occasionally made me a little income (I know, I’m a complete sellout!), and I’ve been pleased to accept invitations to a couple of events and to review a handful of children’s products, but I don’t rely on it for my livelihood, or use it to support a business, and I could walk away tomorrow without having to wonder whether I was jeopardising my family’s future.  And for me that’s a privileged position, and one that I’m thankful to be in.

So why, if I’m not trying to earn my income from blogging, if this is purely fun, with no targets, no appraisals, no gold stars, and no obligation to do anything with a pretty looking ranking, why does it matter what my stats say, or where the mystery that is the Tots metric places me this month? What am I going to do with it anyway?

Well obviously I am womanfully trying to resist the temptation to print the badge, laminate it and wear it as a pendant at all times, and after I’ve done that I’m wondering whether it would be overkill to write a very early and inaugural Christmas newsletter to all my nearest and dearest to tell them, with a big photo of the badge naturally, and a little PS, “oh and the baby was a boy!” (yes, yes it would!).

But beyond that, I’m not going to do anything with it. It isn’t about to springboard me into being the next American-style mega blogger, and it’s not going to change how or when or what I write about (well apart from this one blog post but then I promise to leave the subject well alone!). I don’t feel the need to do something off the back of ‘making it’ to #235 that I wouldn’t be doing if I were ranked at #2235, or wherever the very bottom of the Tots happens to fall and it isn’t a signifier that I’ve ‘made it” as a blogger/writer/photographer/any or all of the above.  I ‘made it’ as a blogger the very first time I pressed publish, and I continue to do so every day that I write.

So it would be easy to agree, to say no, it doesn’t matter. But while it may be true to say that it doesn’t matter to anyone but me, it would be a big fat fib to say it doesn’t matter at all.

Why does it matter? It matters as a result, not as a cause.  It matters because it means that I’m not shouting so silently into the abyss any more. And when I do there are people that shout back.

It matters because through blogging I have found community, a whole group of people who have similar thoughts on the merits of hand knit socks, the requirement that there always be cake in the house, and the joy of taking a gazillion and one photos of your children; and because within that community I have found people I consider my friends.

And it matters because I’ve found my way there by being me, by pulling together all the random jumbled thoughts in my head and letting them loose into the world, and the result is a collection of ideas and memories that feels very true to the real life me, and that I am proud to have written.

And that one littleish number? It tells me that you like to read what I write; and that’s more than I could ever have asked for. Well that and it tells me you all spent August stalking me to see if I’d had a baby.

So here’s to the middle, to loving your stats just because they make you happy, and to place #235; may whoever has you next month get just as much pleasure out of it as I’ve done!

*The picture incidentally is just because I love it; fountains playing through the sunshine on a lazy Sunday afternoon!