Blogging Pause for Thought

What is blogging success?

09/12/2015

Space for the Butterflies - why blogging is like knitting a jumper

Travelling this summer forced me to step away from the Internet.  It severely limited my ability to blog or process pictures or edit video or promote myself or anything beyond a little bit of blog reading and some playing on Instagram when the connection was strong enough.

I knew it was a good thing because before we went I was worry wondering whether if I disappeared for three weeks all my hard work in making my blog into something I’m really proud of would vanish in a puff of smoke, and that’s a sign of getting perilously close to the point where the blog, and more importantly the stat counter, is running me rather than me running the blog.

And of course when I got back my stats had taken a hit and I took a good jump down the Tots100, but not by as much as perhaps I had feared. But more importantly, I was quite relaxed about it, because much as I love my Tots ranking, it’s not my measure of success.

I think we are by nature and by nurture programmed to strive for success.  The conditioning of early childhood tells us to do our best and tells us what best would be; first in the running race, an A in your exams (or probably an A********* by now!), but I think it’s an inherent quality too, after all, who knows a child who wants to learn to ride a bike badly, or learn ballet so they can give it up age 12 without ever going near a stage, or play football, but only to back garden standards? They want to be brilliant; to ride until they run out of road, to dance across the world or play football for the team of their dreams, though whether ability can keep up with ambition is a different question.

The difference between the two though is clear even from those examples; the external motivation is competitive and success can only come where someone else does not succeed – there can only be one winner of the running race, there are only so many As to go round – but the internal motivation is entirely a creature of self – to be able to ride my bike really well doesn’t mean that no one else can ride their bike, in fact, if we let the analogy go galloping off into the night, it’s actually friendlier if someone else can also ride their bike really well, it means we can go exploring together.

So what does that mean for us as adults and as bloggers?

Well I’ll get to blogging in a minute but first I want to talk about knitting.  Because success in knitting is really easy to identify; it means the jumper/socks/hat/blanket fit.  It’s the right size, it’s the size you intended to make, it doesn’t have any mistakes in it that you would notice from the back of a galloping horse and you have absolutely and definitely not started knitting the back to the sweater, done some decreases for waist shaping and then inexplicably knit on, increasing gently as you work the sleeve cap on the top to make a weird third sleeve/back hybrid that will never block into any of the shapes you actually need to make an item of knitwear for a human.

Success in knitting is tangible but it’s also personal. It’s never a success because it’s better than your best friend Annie’s jumper. Even if she used the same pattern and even the same colour of the same yarn, the two aren’t comparable because they are handmade and because they were handmade for different people.  You might be the technically better knitter, and hers might be riddled with dropped stitches and “creative lacework additions” but if yours drowns her it’s not a success as a jumper for her, no matter how beautiful your stitchwork.

And I think the same is true and should be true in blogging.  Our blogs are handmade.  We might have specialist help when we need it but the vision and somewhere between most and all of the words and pictures are our own, and that means that, like jumpers, they’re not ever truly comparable, nor can you subject them to a linear measure.

Given enough time and a decent internet connection it would be easy to significantly boost your stats, to play the right game with the right platforms to whoosh you up the ranking systems, but it’s an empty exercise.

True success in blogging has to be determined by a standard that’s personal to you, not by an imposed standard.  You aren’t a success in blogging because you do X many more collaborative posts than the next person, or get above Y position in the Tots100 or even win Z award, they all come because your blog already is whatever you decide is success; a side effect, not the definition.

And that means that we’re not in competition with each other.

I don’t want to turn my stat counter off and I am very proud of things like my Tots score, whatever it may happen to be at any one time, they are actual numbers on a page that tell me that more people read than just my family and the occasional colleague (hi guys!). My measure of success though is when I can see that a post has resonated with someone, or sparked a discussion, or made someone laugh or just feel less alone – and there’s no finite capacity for that.  Success, but on terms where everyone can be successful, that sounds like a pretty good result to me.

 

 

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  • Katie @mummydaddyme 09/12/2015 at 9:06 am

    I really love this post Carie and it was just what I needed to read to be honest. For a long time (as in years!) my blog was a hobby that took up a huge portion of my time, where I recorded memories of my children and learned to love my creative side, and taking lots of photos. I have memories that I would never have captured if it wasn’t for blogging and I am so thankful for that side of it. I never set out for it to be a way of earning money and for a long time I turned down most of the brand/sponsored things I got offered. (and I still do) But recently I have been offered things that I would just be utterly crazy to turn down and while I am so grateful, it has made me question my own success and whether this is what I originally set out to do.
    Like you say success is such a personal thing. Our blogs are so personal and therefore we are very protective of them, I must admit I am struggling at the moment with how I go forward with my blog and also the implications for my children too.
    But what I do know is that success is personal to us and we should never be in competition with other people. For the most part I have found the blogging community to be really supportive, so lovely in fact, and I hope that continues to be the case. Thanks for writing this, it has definitely made me have a think this morning. xx

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:13 pm

      You’re welcome – and I think there’s an added level of complexity when blogging becomes your main source of income, not least because you’re inventing a job that has only just started to exist!

  • Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) 09/12/2015 at 12:38 pm

    This is a lovely post. The only real success in blogging that I care about is that my posts are read and that they resonate with people. Everything else is nice, but it doesn’t matter. Definitely room for everyone and nice for everyone to be able to go riding together.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you lovely – that’s a great measure of success and I agree, loads of room for everyone 🙂

    • Eve 12/10/2016 at 3:05 am

      This forum needed shkniag up and you’ve just done that. Great post!

  • Yanic 09/12/2015 at 12:52 pm

    Good post my friend… I’ve always admmired peple that blog for profite or for traffic, affiliated links and all it requires. I’ve always just blogged as a way of having an open conversation with people that are like minded. I consider it a visit with a friend. So for me, if I dissapear for a few while I figure stuff out or I’m elsewhere occupied, I know my friends will understand.

    My measure of success is my degree of satisfacction with the connection I make, does that make sense?

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:26 pm

      That makes perfect sense to me and it’s a lovely measure of success 🙂

  • Doris 09/12/2015 at 1:23 pm

    Conductor Benjamin Zander has given a speech that I consider to be brilliant on giving an A. If you have any pocket of 14.10 minutes, please have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTKEBygQic0

    And I couldn’t agree more with you, or him.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:26 pm

      Oh I will hot foot it over to watch – thank you 🙂

  • Mandycharlie 09/12/2015 at 4:32 pm

    I know I have dawdled along in the blogging and Internet world so my viewpoint is probably not relevant but my measure of success is simply writing it all down, some months are more successful than others! I don’t have any great aspirations to inspire or resonate with anybody, I just enjoy using the medium and one day, in a few weeks, months or twenty years I’ll read a post I wrote and I won’t remember how many hits I received or where I was in a league table, I’ll just remember that moment in my life and everything will come tumbling back, hopefully full of joy. And one day my children will want to read my blog, they don’t at the moment but they will and I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing (and photographing) for it. To me, this is my big picture.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:29 pm

      Your view is totally relevant – that’s half of my point, blogging isn’t something dictated by massive American mummy blogs with a gazillion readers a minute – it’s as much about writing for the future versions of the boys – and yes they will love it!

  • Annie, Fable & Folk 09/12/2015 at 6:36 pm

    Perfect, just perfect Carie x

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you lovely 🙂

  • Helga 09/12/2015 at 6:48 pm

    …and this post resonated with me!
    Thank you, Carie, I often had similar thougts.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:30 pm

      you’re welcome – thank you 🙂

  • Natalie @ Little Jam Pot Life 09/12/2015 at 7:59 pm

    Loved reading this Carie. I think it’s so easy to compare sometimes but when you think outside the box and with the bigger perspective, it’s what you feel in your success that matters. We’re all from different life situations, backgrounds, abilities, and I think if we are in tune with our goals then that’s all that counts. Blogging is something I absolutely love, but also feel like I’m a little lost with it sometimes ( a lot lately!) it’s easy to get disheartened, but then again when I think rationally, everyone is at their own pace and I think if we strive with all our might, have patience, things will piece (knit together) in due course. Fab post X X X

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:31 pm

      I think when I get lost it’s because I feel I should be doing xyz and I can’t or it doesn’t interest me or I’m just not intrinsically motivated to do it and then it all feels conflicted and odd. For me, stepping back and reassessing where I’m going has always been the answer 🙂

  • Katy 09/12/2015 at 9:21 pm

    Well here is a measure of success – this post made me burst into tears. It is absolutely the best post I’ve read in ages and I just adore you. You are so right about it all, we cannot compare ourselves or our blogs. Just brilliant hun xx

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:32 pm

      Oh sweetheart don’t cry! No crying!! But thank you very much for the compliment 🙂

  • Julia @ Rainbeaubelle 09/12/2015 at 9:39 pm

    This is such a great read and it is clear that so many others are thinking the same, or at least wanting to read something like this as a reminder! It is hard, I love checking my stats and seeing how popular a post is, and lately I have been feeling a bit off about it all as things aren’t going as well as I would like. This week though I have had so many comments from people, real people, who say they love my blog ad what i write and that it has helped or inspired them, and that has made it all worthwhile! xx

    • Mini Travellers 09/12/2015 at 10:10 pm

      I really really love this! Thanks for making us all think.

      • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:36 pm

        You’re welcome – it’s an interesting one to contemplate isn’t it 🙂

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:34 pm

      Thank you very much lovely – I think that because stats are so very there and easy to access that it’s easy to let your true success indicators fade into the background. Maybe the answer is to be more supportive of each other, to reach out across the Englishness and say how much something has made an impact – do as you would be done by and all!

  • Alice @ The Filling Glass 09/12/2015 at 10:24 pm

    Great post! I really like your knitting analogy. And definitely when you get the find that your post resonates or prompts someone else to think, it feels satisfying.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:37 pm

      It does indeed – so much more so than stats or anything like that 🙂

  • Emma T 09/12/2015 at 10:27 pm

    Everything you write is so true. With a competitive nature and perfectionist, it’s so hard to just want to be good for myself but also compare other blogs. But ultimately I’m proud of my blog, it does what I wanted to in the beginning, and I hope that’ll be continued once N gets older.

    • Carie 09/12/2015 at 10:38 pm

      Ah yes, I have to reign in my inner competitive spirit – it’s too fond of stats!

  • You Baby Me Mummy 09/12/2015 at 10:57 pm

    So true, I always think of the saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ when it comes to blogging. We are all on our own journey and we can’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. Fabulous post xx

    • Carie 10/12/2015 at 7:34 am

      It’s the whole “I will not compare myself to strangers on the Internet” quote isn’t it – and life’s much happier when you don’t!

  • Stephs Two Girls 09/12/2015 at 11:09 pm

    Best post I’ve read in a long while! We are all individuals, and should be happy with what we are achieving regardless of what anyone else is doing. It’s always a bit sad to see people upset at going up or down charts, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I feel a tinge of regret at not doing better/having more time too. You’re so right though, we should just love our own work and be happy for others too! x

    • Carie 10/12/2015 at 7:35 am

      Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Izzie Anderton 10/12/2015 at 9:31 am

    I loved reading this! It’s easy to get consumed by all the stats but as long as you’re happy blogging nothing else should matters.

    • Carie 12/12/2015 at 11:52 pm

      True indeed – thank you 🙂

  • absolutely prabulous 10/12/2015 at 10:21 am

    Good lass. Well said! Nuff said.

    • Carie 12/12/2015 at 11:53 pm

      Thank you – and thank you for the post you linked to on Twitter – I loved it!

  • Amber 10/12/2015 at 7:24 pm

    You are one of my absolute favourite bloggers in the community, writing one of my absolute favourite blogs. Just FYI. Will post more sensible thoughts on this when slightly less exhausted, possibly in the morning. x

    • Carie 14/12/2015 at 10:52 pm

      Aww you’re very sweet – thank you lovely 🙂

  • Vickie 10/12/2015 at 10:17 pm

    I really needed to read this post Carie. I’ve been in the blogging doldrums lately as my readership has sort of dwindled away with my change in content.

    I’d always said that I wouldn’t get bogged down in numbers but it’s hard not to notice the reduction when you don’t have a particularly high readership count to begin with. But you are so right, it’s not about figures or rankings. I need to remember that I have this amazing outlet for writing about my passion for creating and I’m not going to stop writing just because no one is reading.

    • Carie 14/12/2015 at 10:53 pm

      I know what you mean – when ever page view feels hard fought for it’s hard to let go, but I know it’s better when I’m not caught up in stats 🙂

  • Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations 11/12/2015 at 10:06 pm

    I love this Carie… Just love it! And I love the comparison with the jumper… You are so very right!!!

    • Carie 14/12/2015 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you very much lovely 🙂

  • Suzanne 14/12/2015 at 1:01 pm

    This x 1000 Carrie. What a refreshing read and probably something I need to read ad infitum! I think it’s easy to get sucked into this comparison game, especially in blogging. I love your last paragraph. So true. I think I will never leave Tots or completely ignore my stats but I look less and less often these days and I LOVE interaction the most. x

    • Carie 14/12/2015 at 10:30 pm

      I think there’s a balance to be found – I love Tots, I don’t want to leave it, it’s about making sure that it stays in the right place in my priorities!

  • Colette B 20/12/2015 at 3:55 pm

    Great post. I’m so very proud of my blog & the things it has achieved this year (including a high tots ranking and an award) but I’m all the more proud that people want to read my writing and it gives me a purpose. I think at this time of year we are all keen to take stock & consider what the next year will bring – and not comparing our “success” to others is a great place to start.

    • Carie 20/12/2015 at 8:29 pm

      Thank you – I think it’s too easy to knock awards and rankings etc and they’re not the problem, it’s just how we respond to them and prioritise them that I think makes the difference