A few years ago, back when I was just getting into blogging, there was a trend going around where book bloggers would “reveal” their stats is a big post with overwhelming graphs, numbers, and analysis. They always prefaced the post talking about how uncomfortable it felt and how unusual it is to talk about stats. So I always kind of thought statistics were kind of SECRET, and maybe a big deal.
But I’m on my third year as a book blogger, and I find that I continue to just … not care. Y’all, this is a hobby*, and I refuse to treat it as more than that. I’m here to make friends, not get followers.
So how do you do it? How do you keep from obsessing about something that may seem so important? Well, I’m not an expert. But I do have a few ideas to throw out there that may help.
*This post was written for hobby bloggers, not professional or semi-professional bloggers. Those people should please ignore all the remaining content.
1. Numbers don’t mean anything
This is the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Followers, likes, views, they don’t mean anything. Again, louder for my friends in the back: NUMBERS ARE LITERALLY MEANINGLESS.
Let me clarify with an example. I was reading an old-ass post yesterday, a post written back in my first few months of blogging when I had maybe 200 or 300 followers. That post had 29 likes. I went back and looked at some of my posts from last week now that I have over 2,500 followers. Between 25-35 likes, each and every one. I don’t pay a lot of attention to my stats, but I notice views for individual posts just because they’re there. Consistently for the last three years my posts average about 60 views in a week. I am constantly getting notifications about more followers, but my views and likes stay the same. Why?
Because these numbers don’t actually tell you ANYTHING. How many followers you have doesn’t indicate how many people are actually reading your posts. Since the WordPress Reader allows people to like your posts without even opening them, that doesn’t either. I don’t know how views are tabulated, but I don’t think that they’re super accurate either based on what I’ve heard from other bloggers. Y’all, these numbers mean nothing.
If you really want to judge the popularity of your blog, I suggest looking at comments. It’s not the perfect way to tell, but it’s the only thing that seems to actually reflect reality.
2. Set a vision for your blog
I mentioned in my introduction “I’m here to make friends.” That’s been a recurring theme in my content this summer. I was very intentional early on in my blogging journey to make a vision, a purpose for this blog. My vision was simple: Create a space to talk to friends about books.
Your vision for your blog may be different. You may envision a blog that makes money, or is influential, or can catapult you to a bookish small business. Your vision may be related to expressing yourself, or to having an aesthetic blog, or to write award-winning reviews. I don’t know your vision. But you NEED a purpose. And that purpose will determine the importance of stats to your blog.
My vision is about making friends. How many views my blog gets this year will have NOTHING to do with whether I feel socialized and like I’ve made friends. That’s why it’s so easy for me to not care about stats. Your vision may require good stats, but for most of us it’s not the most important reason we’re here. Most of us are here to have fun.
3. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers
I’ve been blogging for three years. Some of my blogging friends have been around for closer to a decade, while others haven’t reached their first blogoversary. OF COURSE we have different stats! Some blogs focus on a certain genre or age range, and those genres tend to have tight-knit communities that lead to “better” stats. Other bloggers, like me, blog about whatever, so OF COURSE our stats are different. Some bloggers post daily, other bloggers post once or twice a week. OF COURSE our stats don’t match.
“Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers” is maybe the most common advice given to new bloggers, but usually it’s because of (valid but) touchy-feely reasons about being yourself and finding your own voice. But y’all, have some sense. Comparing yourself to a blog that is different than yours in any way just isn’t logical.
4. Think critically before you start a spreadsheet
Remember those stat-reveal posts I talked about that were so popular a few years ago? Almost every one of them graced us with an obsessive, type-A spreadsheet to help the blogger track their stats over time. Now, I’m never going to hate on a good spreadsheet. I too enjoy some great conditional formatting and pivot tables! But before you start a spreadsheet, ask yourself if this is going to improve your blogging experience.
If the main objective you have for your blog is to have a fun hobby or to make friends, is a stat-spreadsheet really going to help with that? Or is it just going to lead to you tying your self-worth to how many likes you got that day? Is it really going to lead to an improvement of your stats through careful analysis, thought, and planning, or are you just going to feel bad when the numbers don’t do what you want?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t start a spreadsheet. I AM saying that you should make sure that a spreadsheet aligns with the vision you set for your blog. That a spreadsheet will make you happy in the long-term. And if it won’t, skip it.
5. Have fun!
I know that sounds obvious, but seriously. Which is a better way to spend your Thursday evening, obsessing about your stats, or reading your friends’ super fun blog posts? If you’re here to have fun, you have to make the choice to do so.