Blogging: it’s (not) all about the stats – fine fettle

Stats. They’re just numbers, but they can get we bloggers a bit excited.

This excitement with stats is natural: we all want to know what we write is read by others, that our ideas have merit, and that our content has value. Numbers are an objective way of measuring this.

The trouble is, like any obsession, a fixation with stats can lead to trouble.

We might have spent ages on a post that we think is absolutely awesome, but not nearly as many people read it as we would like (or think it deserves). It is can feel so disheartening when that happens.

Conversely, we might have a post that goes far and wide, viral even. While that might be the Holy Grail for many bloggers, it can make some feel uncomfortable for various reasons – whether it is the content, or the weight of expectation of the next post having to live up to the viral one.

All this focusing on numbers can mean we are distracted from why we started blogging in the first place. It can make us start to compare ourselves to others, worrying about whether we are in the right ‘niche’, whether our voice is loud enough, whether what we are writing is utter crap – in short, it can make us start to feel really bloody miserable.

We all have enough stress and worry in our lives, and what is the point of adding to them with something that is supposed to be fun?

I would argue that life is too short.

Whatever your motivation for starting your blog, going viral probably wasn’t one of them.

A comment during the ‘Can blogging change the world’ session at Blogfest really resonated with me: going viral is not necessarily an indicator of impact. I take that to mean that a million people might have read a post, had a giggle maybe, but if it is something that they forget two seconds later it has had little enduring impact on them. We all need a few minutes of escapism of course, but on the flip side if only one person has read your post but it makes that one person think, or say ‘phew, me too, I thought it was the only one’ that, to me, has a value that is far greater than the viral post.

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While having a post go viral would probably be an ego boost, I personally would prefer to write posts that have an impact on people. My blogging about Hugo is aimed at raising awareness of issues that are important to me, meaning I do care about stats because any awareness raising campaign that no one read would be pretty rubbish. I also like to track where my traffic is coming from, so I can make sure I focus my attention on those channels to reach my readers.

If I could have a post that went viral and made them think, that would be amazing. Sadly, there is no formula for a post capturing the public imagination and going viral (and the person who comes up with one would undoubtedly be a gazillionaire in no time).

I am astounded at the reach my blog has had and that so many people read my posts on mainly sad subjects. However, while seeing stats increase is satisfying, what makes it worth it for me is the comments I receive. Readers have told me that posts have given them comfort in their own baby loss; that they have had the courage to share for the first time a photo of their baby who had been born sleeping; that I have written feelings about baby loss that they had been unable to articulate.

No one likes to feel that they are alone in their feelings. Bloggers have a great power to help readers feel ‘me too’! It’s not just the posts that you might say are more serious in tone that can do this – the funny ones about the trials and tribulations of parenting can do that, too.

So, the stats are important, but they are not the be-all-and-end-all.

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Knowing that people read your blog is brilliant. But if a blog post you have written helps even one person – whether to know they are not alone in their feelings about something, to help someone think differently, to make the perfect chocolate cake, or whatever – that is a great gift. I have no doubt that each and every blogger has at least one post like that.

So, the next time you feel your stats don’t reflect your talents, try to hold on to that thought before you feel down on yourself – and help keep yourself in fine fettle!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

30 thoughts on “Blogging: it’s (not) all about the stats – fine fettle

  1. Susanne Remic says:

    Couldn’t agree more. And the posts I care about the most are the ones that get the most comments, perhaps because the passion is there… whatever it is, knowing that I am talking to at least one person in every post I write makes it worthwhile, even if that oner person is me x x x x

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  2. Honest Mum says:

    You are so right, blogging should be fun.

    Blogging is my full time job so I must keep an eye on stats and growth as it’s integral to my business but it’s not the be all of it either and actually PR’s are smart and they look at the blog as a whole, the quality, the engagement, it’s so much more than numbers.

    My style blog proves this. I only post there once a week really, sometimes twice but brands like collaborating because they believe in it’s value and quality.

    I say continue being yourself, write from the heart and everything else follows. My main focus is caring about what my readers think and feel more than anything. I want endorse of advertise products or services I don’t love and would use myself and the stuff that drives me is my own personal non advertised content.

    Plus, I feel the same, if only one person were to read a post I’ve written (thanks Mum) my job is done-the arts are there to be shared, and are not just for the creator be it blogs or radio plays, but how many they actually reach doesn’t effect the power of the cultural and emotional transaction. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Stats definitely have their place – I completely agree, write from the heart and the rest will follow. Value and quality, like you say with your style blog, can be better than quantity. It’s the engagement that is crucial, too. Thanks for commenting! xxx

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  3. Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork says:

    Very, very true! I think it’s impossible not to think about stats as a blogger, but I do agree with you that the “me too!” comments are absolutely priceless. I started my blog just to have a place for myself to empty my brain and camera memory card on, but I do love knowing that something I’ve written actually resonates. Even if it’s just with a few people! Thanks for the reminder not to attach too much meaning to the numbers x

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I agree, it’s impossible to ignore stats entirely, and no matter how well or otherwise the stats are doing, it’s worth remembering the pricelessness of the ‘me too’ comments. You’re very welcome, thank you for reading and commenting! xxx

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  4. Jenny @ Let's Talk Mommy says:

    Perfectly written post for me this week as I am a little obsessed with numbers and stats recently and only because I had the biggest month ever and more than I ever had before recently and then I fell back down to normal ville as I call it. I don’t know what made it so popular but its not anymore and I often keep peaking thinking maybe I will go back up there and I don’t. But you are so right great advice I need to take it all in for sure. Thank you. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Happy Holidays #sharewithme

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Oh lovely, I think we all get like that with our stats – mine fluctuate a lot. I have a very good ratio of comments to views, and I think that’s better to focus on than millions of stats (though that would be fab because my message would be everywhere!). Your blog has a lot of love from people Jenny, please don’t lose heart xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Charlotte says:

    I’ve just come across tour blog for the first time and I’m already a fan, everything (well everything I’ve read so far) is so well written and genuine.

    I completely agree with what you’ve said in this post. I regularly have to remind myself that it’s not about the numbers (although it’s nice when a post is popular) as its easy to get a bit down if they’re not great or if I see other blogs doing a lot better. I’m sure a few people would be surprised to hear me say that the numbers aren’t the most important thing, given that I publish a monthly update telling everyone exactly how it’s all going, but the most important thing to me is to write posts that I would want to read and that I can be proud of and fingers crossed they’ll be popular too. Even more important that that though is spending time with my family and if I have a bad month for numbers because I haven’t had the time to put in then so be it.

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Aw thank you Charlotte, I’m really touched! I think it’s human nature to want to do well, and to compare ourselves to others. However, our blogs are so unique it’s like comparing apples and pears. We’re much better to write about things that are relevant to us, rather than for stats – if it resonates, the masses will come.

      That’s a fab attitude to have – family time is much better than good stats.

      Thanks so much for commenting! xxx

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  6. Becky says:

    Totally agree with this Leigh, it’s so easy to let your mind focus on stats, rather than what you actually enjoyed writing about/creating in the first place. Whilst it’s nice to earn a bit of cash from my blog, i’d much rather a few people enjoyed it and came back for more, rather than lots of transient people who never return again! It’s nice to write a blog post and feel you’ve inspired someone, or have helped someone going through a similar thing x #brilliantblogposts

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      It’s a lovely feeling to get a comment from someone to say how much they’ve enjoyed a post, or that it’s helped them. Stats have their place, but we shouldn’t let an obsession with them get the better of us. I’m with you, I’d rather a few people read my blog and returned than lots of fleeting readers. Thanks for commenting! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. thenthefunbegan says:

    I think we all recognise this tendency to get wrapped up in the stats but you’re right, there is a whole quality/quantity argument going on – and, for example, like Tarana at Sand Between My Toes says, there isn’t much point in gathering Facebook ‘Likes’ by making it a condition of entering a competition you’re running, etc, because those ‘likes’ mean absolutely nothing in terms of engagement. Engagement, for us, means making a connection with your readers and that’s what I need to remember sometimes too. Xx #sharewithme

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Absolutely, numbers do not equate to engagement – and the latter is far more meaningful. As bloggers, we share our lives with the world, and we want to make a connection with our readers. We can all get our knickers in a twist about stats sometimes but I do my best to remember that resonance is the most important thing. Thanks for commenting xxx

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  8. Sara (@mumturnedmom) says:

    I’ll admit that I find it hard sometimes not to look at my stats, but as someone else commented, I always hope to see growth, progress. But, it isn’t why I blog, if it was I’d very quickly get bored and stop. I blog to write and remember. The wonderful community has been as added bonus x #sharewithme

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Oh yes, if we blogged for stats, we would lose heart and soul and surely people would stop reading as a consequence. Far better to write about what you fancy. I completely agree, the community is a huge bonus xxx

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  9. bettyallonby says:

    I think we’re all probably a bit guilty of turning into stat monsters (especially when the TOTS scores come out!!). I use them as a way of measuring growth rather than “success”; I suppose I like to see that my blog is “going somewhere”. I’m not in it to make money (just as well 😉 ) so I just like to know it’s getting more visits now than 12 months ago and that gives me a push to write and share more stuff.

    Anyway, what I was going to say before I went off on a ramble was I wholeheartedly agree with the “me too” element of blogging, whether that be a person sending me a message via FB to tell me I helped them or me reading another blog and thinking “Yeah, I feel like that as well”.

    xx

    #sharewithme

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Haha yes the Tots scores release can be a bit of a frenzy! Using your stats to measure growth rather than success seems a really good way of doing it – it’s a good motivator, to make sure you’re progressing.

      Completely with you with the ‘me too’ feeling of blogging – it’s an amazing feeling whether you’re reading someone else’s work that resonates with you, or whether someone has given you feedback about a post you’ve written.

      Thanks for commenting xxx

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  10. Louise says:

    A great post Leigh – I occasionally find myself getting down if my stats aren’t going in the ‘right’ direction and then I have to take a step back and remind myself of why I started blogging in the first place (which was mostly out of pure enjoyment of writing and wanting to record family moments) Discovering a whole community of lovely bloggers and their fab posts has been an added bonus! 🙂

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  11. mummyshambles says:

    Excellent blog with your points well made.
    I see a lot of people get hung up on their stats and I don’t get it…if a blog post makes one person smile or nod & say, “I get that”, then I’m happy. I blog for me but I do like to get feedback.
    Your blog touches so many people. It’s a heartbreaking subject but I think it’s a great benefit to those in the same situation. X

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Absolutely – feedback is great. I guess we want other people to read our work, otherwise we’d keep a private journal. However, getting hung up on your stats is unhealthy – resonance is more important to me.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I’m heartened that it is helpful to others xxx

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  12. Tim says:

    Absolutely spot on, Leigh. Stats tells us quantity of interaction but not quality. They’re important for if you want to deal with PRs and advertisers because views equals eyeballs, but it’s no reflection on how good your writing is. A lot of my best posts – ones which I like re-reading and which have resonated with others – have barely cracked three figures, whereas I’ve had posts which have had ten times as many views which have been popular but which I know to be pretty mediocre efforts. I’d take one heartfelt compliment over a thousand page views any day.

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I agree, Tim – one person saying they enjoyed what I have written is so valuable. Numbers can give us validation, and as you say they’re useful for monetising your blog, but they really do only show part of the picture of how your blog is performing. Thanks for commenting! x

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