In Response to Gettin’ Nothin’ But Stat-Sick

Journal or Computer

Journal or Computer

One of my favorite blogs is Imperfect Happiness. In case you don’t remember, I’m a bit of a stalker. She somehow writes daily for well over a year, consistently thought-provoking posts. Her mind is incredibly facile as she can move easily from recipes to book reviews to philosophical extrospection and navel gazing.

My comments on her blog sometimes grow epic in length. And sometimes they become their very own posts.

In Gettin’ Nothin’ But Stat-Sick, she poses the question that I believe haunts many bloggers. How much to do we define our blogging by our stats? If no one reads our posts, does it matter?

So, please read her post, leave her some comment love, and then, if you feel like it, come back here and read my response below.

Thank you for writing this, CJ. I think you are struggling with what the 99.99% of bloggers (no reference to OWS) go through often. We put much of ourselves into crafting these posts and for what? It’s hard to write for writing’s sake when they appear to go into a vacuum.

But your words don’t go into a vacuum. And it’s not the “if a post falls in the forest and no one is there to read it, does it make a sound?” issue. Every single one of us tiny bloggers matter. Your voice is unique.

Blogging embodies what we each hold within ourselves at every moment: we are both a miracle and mundane. We are a speck of nothing in the universe, but without our speck something that never was before and never will be again would never exist.

We matter. Both for our nothingness and for our immense importance.

Once you’ve got enough posts written you begin to get this idea through each post. It’s important while it is being written and posted, but then what? Does it cease to be important except to those accidentally popping by on their endless quest for free pron? Is the one you poured your heart into more meaningful because 30 people read it? Does Bok Choy become less pleasurable to reflect on if no one reads what you write about it?

Blogs create a huge body of work from talented writers. It is a brave thing to put all of this out there, knowing that you will not be the same person who wrote that in a month or a year, yet letting it stand. Over and over again.

I learned a lesson from your experience when your post broke the big time on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed. When my own post was featured on BlogHer. I didn’t check my stats until a week later. Mine was a fluff post and not representative of the majority of what I write. There was a spike in views, then nothing more. I’m not mainstream and I don’t really want to be. The popular kids attract a lot of haters. I’m happy writing my own quirks out and, for me, that rarely means a recipe or a top 10 list (of course, now my brain will probably decide to rebel and I’ll be able to write only in list-form for the foreseeable future)

As I’ve mentioned to you before, I rarely check stats because I know I’ll tie my ego to my writing and I will become unhappy. I don’t check to see how I compare to others. And I don’t worry about whether a post I care about gets any eyes or not. (Although, this is changing a bit as I move into the realm of PR, but not without me resisting it.)

Making money from your blog is when stats can matter. I respect the different viewpoints on the importance of stats for those who do make money from their blog. If you need to prove that you are getting enough eyes on your work to accept advertising or promotional pieces, etc, then you do need to know about it. If that is a goal, then the SEO optimization rabbit hole of research is waiting patiently for you.

I think that as long as you don’t compromise your voice and your integrity, this is fine. People can tell when you’re shilling or being inauthentic and they won’t come back. At least, that’s the theory. But, I don’t think anyone really knows. And if someone doesn’t agree with me, that’s fine too. Compromise away. I’m not the moral bloggy majority.

It’s up to the individual blogger to decide what they want their blog to be. There isn’t a limit to the number of blogs or readers for blogs. There’s something for everyone. That’s both its great strength and great weakness.

Really, I care about comments. For someone to take the time to write something in response means the world to me. Those connections are the only reason I blog instead of journal. If I didn’t receive comment, I would still blog. I’m driven to do it. Blogging is in my blood now, even on the days I think I should pack up shop, delete it all, and disappear without anything left to show I was there.

Sometimes, I wish I could disable page view stats so I wouldn’t be tempted to look. When I do look, the ones I concentrate on are what people search for and which posts keep being recycled by viewers-aside from all the pron and weird ones thanks to my non-seo friendly titles that I will not optimize because my titles are part of my expression. Those hits matter to me because it probably means I should write a follow-up post, if there’s more to say.

And with blogging, there’s always more to say.

Here are some bloggers that have more to say:

What do you have to say? Are your stats important to whether you read or write a blog? I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

25 thoughts on “In Response to Gettin’ Nothin’ But Stat-Sick

  1. I love this post (just discovered your blog). I am a barely known blogger who generally doesn’t give two hoots who is reading or not reading. Frankly, the moment I start caring I start writing inauthetic drivel – at least what I write at present is real me (from my perspective, even the drivel me is worth more than a fantasy me!).

    Why do I blog? Because I like to write. Because I love words. Because I can… If I start blogging to please others then somebody please shut me up! I have done so much in my life to please others and even now I am extricating myself from the remains of that pattern in ‘real’ life. I am not going there in blogland, I can tell you!

    So now I blog away with less and less caution each day and its marvellous! Hah hah, maybe if I was better known I’d be saying different!

    Anyhow, thanks for the post and the arising thoughts – your wisdom is much appreciated. Lily.

  2. I really enjoyed connecting with Imperfect Happiness (thanks for that!) and hearing your thoughts about stats and blogging. Stats make me squirrelly. For awhile, I checked them too often. Now I try not to check them at all, unless a sponsor requires me to. I kind of hold my breath and cross my fingers as I wait for the page to load.

    Sometimes I wish I were more “professional” and consistent in my blogging. When I moan about that, my husband’s always standing by to ask me why I would continue doing anything I don’t have to that makes me miserable, which is a good question. So it’s worth keeping blogging something that you enjoy, since it’s unlikely you’ll earn a bunch of money from it anyway.

    But that’s not really about the point of comments and stats, which is, at its heart, connection, yes? We want to feel heard. I do wish every blogger did. I wish I could read and comment more than I do. I appreciate every single comment and tweet that interacts with me, so I imagine that’s a pretty universal joy for bloggers, and I try to pass it on as I can. It must feel sad to be such a fine writer, with a consistent blog, and yet not be chosen as popular for mysterious reasons, as CJ at IP seems to feel.

  3. Pingback: The Existential Importance of Blog Stats: A Response to a Response « Imperfect Happiness

  4. Okay, so I’ve been trying to think of something to say in response. I’ve got a lot of thoughts swimming around but none that seem coherent when I go to write them down. But I didn’t want any more time to go by before I commented here, so while my little one nurses to sleep, I jumped on to say thank you for posting on your blog about my blog. I really do love that.

  5. As usual this is a wonderful way to look at things! I always enjoy your blog so much for this reason. Sometimes i get fixated on stats and then I think why? I had thought about monetizing my blog but then I realized that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. I want to write to share our experiences to help others and to get support from other parents. I think every blogger has to decide why they blog. Thank you for the reminder that stats don’t matter but I am always glad to share my info and connect with readers :)

    • Thank you, AspieSide. That is a very good point. I’ve written a few “where I’ve been and where am I going with this blog” posts, but I haven’t really mapped it out. I’ll need to think about that.

  6. amazing post, beautifully written as always. I have to agree I care less about quantity and more about quality. Do I get excited when a post gets tons of view, sure but I get MORE excited when a post gets a comment or 2 left on it. My posts usually average about 100 views and I am ok with that, that’s a large number to me. You mean 100 people actually took time to read my ramblings, awesome! haha

  7. Great question. Stats motivate me to a certain degree. I primarily started writing for me – and for my family. Then it grew to wanting to share information with other mamas about green living and natural parenting. Then it kept growing to wanting to start a part time freelance writing career… so I have several motivations. When I feel like slacking, looking at stats can inspire me to get going again ;-)

  8. I’ve been blogging at the same URL for 10 years now and I admit to holding a decent amount of self-worth in my numbers.

    It frustrates me sometimes to take a brand new blogger, design for them, work with them, and within a month they get 3x the amount of stats I do. It makes me wonder what am I doing wrong? Why am I failing?

    I think part of it is because I do take anything techy or online related super seriously.

    • Thank you for commenting, Sarah. One of the things I like about the techy side of blogging is that there is always more to understand. It is constantly evolving because it is what we all make of it.

      I don’t know, though. I feel happy when someone else achieves success. And having a hand in that would help me enjoy it more. But, I understand asking those questions as well. I suppose it comes down to how you view traffic. If it feels like there are a finite number of readers that everyone has to share, then it can feel frustrating. If it feels like there are more readers out there than can be imagined, then it can feel more like an opportunity.

      I’m not trying to suggest how to think about it. It is interesting to hear all the perspectives. I’m not certain there’s a way to figure out hy some people break it big and others do not. For a few, you can point to a singular voice or talent or originality. For others, it can be downright puzzling. I just don’t know how often it’s not more apples and oranges than apples to apples. Each blog and each blogger is so unique, even if it doesn’t seem so.

  9. At first, I really worked to get my stats “right”. I joined all kids of hops – Facebook likes, Alexa rankings, leave a comment, and GFC follow hops were my main goal. The thing is, I started to realize that I was working more on that than I was on just writing what I want. Yes, I check my stats about once every two weeks. Yes, I get a little thrill to see “good” numbers. No, I don’t freak out if my numbers are “bad”.

    While my giveaway posts get a larger response, I get the best comments and feedback on what I call my “real” posts. LOL: In fact, the past couple of weeks, I have had more review/giveaway posts than “real” ones (thanks to overextending myself) and I really felt like apologizing to my readers!

    • Thank you for this perspective, Alicia C. I’ve never really understood blog hops. So, I appreciate hearing from you as someone who participated in them. I’ve been dithering about review/giveaway posts as I’ve been approached by more PR and a few of them are actually things in keeping with my blog. I actually look to your blog to see how the balance is done well. Neither “real” posts or review/giveaway posts seem to clash and I think it comes down to your clarity of voice and transparency.

  10. Awesome question. This is something I try not to get caught up on, but I do find it interesting that some of my least favorite posts get the most hits.

    And posting every day for years………thats crazy talk :-)

    • Thank you for commenting, Taureanw. That’s been the same for me. Does that mean we’re at our best when doing what we least enjoy?? Ha!

      I think it means perhaps that the usual unconscious constraints put on our writing are removed when we focus on the least favorite things. Or perhaps, the least favorite are the most appealing to the majority, which has value if not necessarily flavor.

      And yes, everyday for November about knocked me out. Imperfect Happy must be a robot.

  11. I blog so infrequently that I’m surprised I still have readers. *shrug* I do like that every post tends to get a comment or two nowadays, but back when I started my blog, I knew no one, and so I have about 1 comment/year for the first couple of years.

    Um, What I actually wanted to say: I like knowing that people read my blog, but since I’m not out to stir discussion or anything.. I don’t really need much more than I get. If I wanted more discussion, I’d have to post a lot more!!

    • Thank you for this perspective, Mendylady. I question the theory behind blogging frequently. Perhaps that’s valid for certain types of blogs or certain types of posts. I have all the blogs I enjoy in my reader, so I never miss a post (unless I choose to.) If you’re relying on search hits or referrals, then I guess it matters. Also, at a certain point quality can’t be maintained. Some people can do it daily. Some people need weeks between posts. You can even look to the huge blogs to see there is not right way. Hyperbole and a Half. She posts once a month, if that. But, she’s huge and writing an honest to goodness, advanced book. The Bloggess churns out hilarity daily. I have no idea how either of them does it, but they have found the right posting schedule for them.

      I think a lot of people look to the old print media model to make sense of how often you should post. But, there’s a reason magazines are going digital or stumbling in denial of their demise. Blogs are for individuals and they don’t need to capture the market to succeed. That model is long dead and the successful pr firms are the ones that have figured that out.

      This means quality content, according to the writer’s temperament. It also means some posts will be duds and you can’t figure out which. Or maybe you can, I don’t know. The point is that there is no right or wrong to blogging.

      With the exception of giving more than receiving (if you can) and dodging grammar police!

      • Perhaps what I mean is that if I wanted more discussion, I’d need to post more than somewhat general updates about my children. ;)

        I’m content that right now my blog is more of a space to let family who live far away see snippets about my kids than anything else, and that I take my more active participation in larger discussions to other peoples’ blogs or (*gasp*) Twitter.

    • And furthermore (Apparently my post wasn’t long enough because I’m still prattling on) it doesn’t matter how big or little a blog is. If you judge by spam comments, I am extremely popular. I <3 my regular pron spam followers ;)

      Once enough people outside your circle start reading, you get the rude, crude, and lewd people. Those people who either forget there's a human being behind the words or are deliberately cruel. Who wants that? I suppose some people don't mind. But, I'd rather connect with people who honestly want to connect. Neither spammers nor cruel commenters foot that bill.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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