How to Be a Successful Blogger
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.
Amy from A Good Life was one of the first blogs I ever started reading. She 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.
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. Like this girl. (And continuing my love for this girl.)
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.
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?