10 Questions To Determine Your Blog’s Success – Despite What The Numbers Say

jaws4242Tips & Tricks40 Comments

Guest Post By Marta Parlatore of Baby Blues & Rock ‘N’ Roll

How many Likes does your blog’s FB page have? What is your weekly reach? How many shares on that meme you sweated over? How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many subscribers, fans, clicks, hits, shares, comments? What number can best describe your blog?

I started blogging because of my love of words, not numbers. It was my way to siphon off the massive engorgement my son’s birth caused in my creative system. Sometimes, bloggers launch their websites with a clear business plan in mind, but I believe that the vast majority of us starts like I did – because we want to tell our story, connect with like-minded people, and get serious about improving our writing. Soon, though, it becomes clear that it’s impossible to reach an audience without some form of social media, and whenever our numbers stay much smaller than those of our blogging colleagues, it’s difficult not to feel like we are failing.

My blog is small. No, wait. My blog is MEGA SMALL, which means I have in a month the number of page views a smallish blog averages per day. Some days I have zero hits on my site, I count 14 blog subscribers, and less than 250 followers on Facebook. A couple of months ago I faced the decision whether to pay for another year of hosting and web domain, or give it all up because my numbers were so small no-one would ever notice if I disappeared from the Interwebs.

Or would they?

10 Questions To Determine Your Blog's Success - Despite What The Numbers Say - Beyond Your Blog Guest Post By Marta Parlatore

Fortunately, before I pulled the plug on a year of work, I went back to the reasons why I started blogging, forgot for a moment what others were doing, and looked at my own achievements: how my blogging commitment had influenced my writing and my life in general. Once I started asking the right questions (questions that did not refer to numbers), it turned out I am running a very successful blog and deciding to give it up would have been downright foolish.

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Here are 10 questions which will tell you if you are running a successful blog, despite what the numbers may say:

1 – Are you consistent? If you set your goals and seriously strive to achieve them, if you manage to write regularly, show up at the keyboard no matter what, and pour out a new post even if you feel empty, this is already a great achievement.

2 – Are you challenging yourself? If you push yourself out of your comfort zone, if you write about themes that are difficult or emotional, if you explore forms and approaches that are not your standard template, then you are enriching your skills more than you suspect.

3 – Are you true to yourself? If your blogging journey is, in fact, a way to find, uncover, pull out your true writing “voice”, this is one of the most precious gifts a writer can give to themselves.

4 – Is your blog making you grow? If your thinking is becoming sharper, if the themes which are important to you slide out of the fog and crystallize themselves clearly, if you become less scared of the keyboard and more able to just sit and write something complete, it means you are in the process of becoming a more accomplished writer.

5 – Are you having fun? If every time you hit “publish” and see your work go live you experience an excited thrill, if whenever you come up with ideas for memes, photos, infographics you feel like a kid at craft hour, if your blog fills up your life with a sense of play it means you are already winning.

6 – Are you improving your writing? Writing is an art that needs to be exercised. The more you do it, the better you become. Look at your early posts and then look at your most recent ones – has your writing improved? Are you more proud of what you have been writing lately? If the answer is yes then you have great success under your belt.

7 – Are you making connections you treasure? Whether it’s with your readers, your followers, or other bloggers, the sense of community and being in touch with a responsive audience is priceless. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few people, as long as they are true.

8 – Do you know yourself a bit better? Many great thinkers agree that the only way to understand the world is through searching our own soul. Some go as far as to state that our only goal in this life is that of getting to know our true selves. So if writing your blog is allowing you to meet the person you really are, then you cannot be doing it wrong.

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9 – Has your blog made your life better? If you are feeling more confident, bolder, if thanks to your writing you feel closer to other people, your mind is more open, you become more kind and relaxed, then it means that the time, resources and effort you are putting in your blog are paying off with something that no money can buy.

And if you really, really can’t stop obsessing about those numbers,

10 – Are they increasing, even if ever so slightly? No-one ever said that if it doesn’t happen fast, then it’s not good. Also, if there is one universal truth about a successful creative process, it’s that each one of us has her own path, tempo, and direction. Writers are like snowflakes, and snowflakes should not be preoccupied with how many likes they get. They just have to shine.

MARTA - portraitWriter by calling, Filmmaker by choice, Mama by surprise, Marta still dreams of becoming a Rock Star, one day. Till then, you can find her at nap time drinking yesterday’s coffee and blogging at Baby Blues & Rock’N’Roll about how she dreams of going back to a life of Sex & Drugs. Her work has appeared also on Elephant Journal, Bonbon Break, Role Reboot and BLUNTmoms. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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40 Comments on “10 Questions To Determine Your Blog’s Success – Despite What The Numbers Say”

  1. Absolutely loved this, Marta. My blogs have opened a lot of doors for me, and few of those doors have to do with numbers or popularity. But my whole creative life has benefited from the regular writing I do to keep them going. This year I’ve finished three books, and all three started with the blogs. Hooray for your candid thoughts on blogging.

    1. Thank you Cathryn! These thoughts are what keep me going, because sometimes it all feels like flying blind, or singing my best song to an empty room, this blogging business. And when (almost) no-one reads you it’s hard to keep believing that all these efforts are worth it. But they are, I’m sure! And your heart-warming response to this piece is the best proof!

  2. Great post, and so true! The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

    After a summer away, I almost didn’t come back. Like you, I figured no one would notice if I disappeared. Then two things happened.

    First, I fellow blogger wrote an article that linked to my blog as one of her sources of support and inspiration as a writer. I almost cried. That nudged me to try coming back.

    So I wrote a “come back” post … and got the most comments I’ve ever gotten, all supportive, “glad you’re back” messages. That’s when I realized, I do impact others … they really do notice!

    Are my numbers big? No, and they grow so slowly that I have to look away and remind myself: the impact is there and the numbers will follow. Just practice and believe.

    1. Absolutely! Also, our writing improves much faster (and reaches our readers much deeper) when we do it because we love to do it, rather than because we want to achieve something, as in a form of success. Writing is so much more of a spiritual practice than we think, and it does have a heart of magic. Thank you for your lovely words and your support!

  3. This is so wonderfully validating. I’ve never understood the numbers or kept track of them, but the writing is fun and I love it, and the connections have been life-changing 🙂 Thank you for this post.

    1. I firmly believe that “FUN” is – or better, should be – the operational word. Our writing gains so much in quality when we focus more on having fun while at it, than when we are concerned with what kind of result are we going to reach with our post. I think it’s so important not to forget this! Thank you for your encouragement, it means a lot! 🙂

  4. Loved this! As a fellow small time blogger, I found these questions super helpful and thoughtful. They gave me some food for thought and also a much needed shot in the arm. Thank you! : )

  5. Great perspective, Marta! Thank you! I was in a dark place last month, beating myself up over numbers in SPITE of the fact that all ten of these things you mentioned are happening. I was focused on all the wrong things. Taking the pressure off the numbers, and focusing on the joy of words and people and message has changed everything, and brought back the joy.

    1. Me too! To be honest I wrote this post because I myself need to constantly remind myself that the numbers are not the reason why I write. Of course it’s hard sometimes to put your heart in a post, publish it and then see that basically no-one reads it. But that is not the point! A good friend of mine (also a writer) always says that “stories do not unwrite themselves” – once it’s written it’s there, it’s an asset, it’s like a finished painting in your studio, or a good bottle of wine in your cellar. I believe that when the time will be right, the right people will read it. Best of lucks! 🙂

  6. Dear Marta, I have read your post over and over, what a beautiful gift to receive. I had not looked at my blog with very kind eyes lately, and your words reversed my perspective. Of all the truths you share, #7 hit home. I have met so many incredibly generous and vibrant women these last six months – thank you for reminding me that those connections and friendships are priceless. Thank you for saying out loud that it isn’t all about the numbers. I know I will read your words again and again, such good stuff. Wishing you and your family a very joyous and peace filled Thanksgiving. I am very thankful that you shared your wisdom and words of encouragement.

    1. Dear Terri, thank YOU for your generous comment and the warmth in your words. I am beyond happy that my thoughts can motivate or encourage anyone to keep doing what they love without the pressure of having to be anything, or achieve any number. I believe that a creative, open mind is the only real weapon we have against the brutality we so often encounter in our world. Trying to push us (artists) into fitting a certain standard or fulfilling someone else’s expectations is going against that creative power, it’s putting out our flame. So, revolt! Love yourself and do what you love, that’s the most powerful thing you can do, even if no-one knows it.

  7. This is a great post and has made me feel like an enormous success! Some days I am disappointed by the numbers but when I focus on what the writing does for me, I feel so happy and fulfilled. I have had a lot of success over the past 11 months since I started my blog, have made some awesome new friends, and had opportunities to shine! Thank you for Marta for reinforcing what is truly important about sharing ones voice through writing.

    1. Thank you Molly for your kind words! I also believe that the quality of our personal life improves so much when we focus on enjoying the process, rather than comparing our results to everyone else’s. And at the end of the day, isn’t it all that really matters – to live a good life doing what we love?

  8. Thank you!

    I so needed this as I have been strongly debating the fate of my site. Your points are spot on and I realize now that no matter how many times I think about leaving my site, I can’t. It has helped me grow as well as so many other women. Sometimes I think I just need a reality check and quit trying to be something I’m not. Embrace the Community I’ve built. Thanks again!

    1. You are more than welcome Brenda! I am only happy if my piece made you come to such conclusions about your work. Keep at it, chin up, and don’t let the bast.. ehm, the NUMBERS get you down!

  9. I LOVED this, and completely agree…
    “Many great thinkers agree that the only way to understand the world is through searching our own soul.”

    I really enjoyed this post.
    I think it’s easy to get caught up in what success looks like (money, popularity, etc), and of course those things are important if your blog is a business. However, even in business, things can take time, especially if something is built on a solid and organic foundation.

    I also feel that even if the numbers aren’t what we’d like them to be for the time being, you really never know when the right post – at the right time can make a positive impact.

    I’m a contributor to mygirlyparts.com and I read Brenda’s recent post…which is why I’m here reading yours (and about to share it when I’m done commenting).

    So you really never know who is reading and what may transpire. I feel there is always an Intelligence that surrounds us and responds to us, even if there isn’t any physical evidence to prove it.
    That, to me, is what defines Faith.

    1. Thank you Dana for your thoughtful, generous comment. I also have quite a spiritual (albeit not religious) approach to my writing and it is for readers like you that I do what I do. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to share your kind words!

  10. My blog is only a few months old. At this stage, I’m mostly playing around with it. So far, the post with the most likes is a little poem I wrote about a potato that looks like a fish. (True story, with a photo included! :)) I am also using the blog to promote my new book. No, the potato is not in my book, but it does have some silly song lyrics.

    I have made some connections with my fellow bloggers. Most of the blogs I follow are focused on books and writing, but not all. I like to read about a variety of topics.

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  13. This really was such a great way to look at success, because all too often the numbers are what dictates how successful we feel. What a creative way to turn everything on its head!

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  15. I agree with all, but the problem is when you start trying to monetize like offering ads on your site, then all those advertisers want to know what your numbers are. And then they better be high or you’re not going to get the ad. 🙁

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  18. Like everyone else who has commented, I really loved this post, Marta! I actually was just reminding myself of this last night to refocus on why I am doing what I am doing – and it’s not about the numbers on social media, that’s for sure! Thank you for this validation!

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