Let’s Talk About Numbers…

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As I spend more and more time in the online world I have noticed that there are quite a few little spats that break out between various people. It isn’t often that I have had to deal with quarrels – I’ve been lucky in that there are only one or two incidents where others have been so offended by what I have written that they launched personal attacks. However, there was a little Twitter spat that appeared on my feed this morning that seemed to be about copying posts and stealing followers. The final tweet, before I’m assuming that people started getting blocked, was simply: “You can f*ck off with your 200 followers.” This made me smile – it highlights perfectly what I feel the social media world represents – it’s all about the numbers. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I see ‘Follow me on bloglovin’ I need three more followers to make it to thirty’ appear on my Twitter feed.

I arrived in the blogging world extremely late, only starting my own litte blog in April 2013. I’ve never hidden the fact that Suzie81 Speaks was a personal project – I was experiencing quite a difficult time in my life and as writing has always been therapeutic for me, blogging seemed to be the perfect solution.

For the first few months I wrote and pressed the publish button as often as I could, with no expectations. I discussed every little thought that entered my mind, I included photographs of my daily life and I started to get to know other members of the same WordPress community. Over time, my little space of the Internet grew – I purchased my own domain name and spent a lot of my free time talking to interesting and entertaining people, reading posts and customising my site. I was (and still am) immensely proud of my achievements – every award and every milestone was shouted from the rooftops of the online world and my personal life – because they were completely unexpected and a wonderful addition to the act of writing in itself. Lots of other bloggers do the same… and why not! Such achievements deserve to be celebrated! A lovely bloggy friend of mine recently had a second one of his posts go viral, and I’m really pleased for him – he has a fantastic blog and deserves every success!

I get lots of emails that ask for blogging tips and request reblogs of their own sites. However, most of those emails discuss the same thing: my numbers. How did you get those numbers? How can I get those numbers?

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Let’s talk about those numbers shall we?

I’m a self-confessed stat obsessive. In sixteen months I’ve had just over 250,000 views and gained over 7,000 followers. 90,000 of those views have come from one specific post that went viral on Facebook in the UK earlier in the year. Again, I am very proud of those numbers, in my little world they are amazing, and I bore The Bloke about them on a daily basis. However, in the blogging world they are minuscule. Tiny. Over the summer I have received between 400 – 1000 views a day, but during an average working day it is about half of that.

I spent a lot of time looking through my list of followers, and discovered that hundreds of them are from blogs that haven’t been updated since last year. I know of quite a few people that I personally follow that are currently having a break from blogging after experiencing burnout, and there are a few who still continue to read and comment despite not writing anything themselves. While the numbers may suggest one thing, the traffic that I get is considerably less.

Of the 7,000 followers, nearly 2,000 of them are from my Twitter account, and a large percentage of these are the same people that follow my blog. I have nearly 100 people on Tumblr, and over 100 people on Facebook. Again, these are predominantly made up of the same people from WordPress. The rest on Twitter are people who, like myself, enjoy participating in the many hashtag wars that take place and have no real interest in reading my blog.

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In essence, there are about fifty people who regularly read, comment on and promote my posts. They are incredibly supportive and they care about the well being of those within the online community. These are people who maintain their own highly entertaining blogs, which I thoroughly enjoy reading. Of those fifty people, I have email conversations with five of them, and I have just one on my personal Facebook account. While I love the little buzz that I gain from seeing an unexpected spike in my stats, it doesn’t compare to the comments that are left daily from these people. They make my day, even if I don’t always have time to reply to them.

 

So, instead of questioning your number of followers, you should be asking yourself about the quality of your posts and your ability to engage your readers. Blogging is an ongoing and lengthy process, it takes weeks, months and even years to build up a community, and you are not going to gain thousands of followers and millions of views by simply pressing the ‘publish’ button. Regardless of your blogging goals and ambitions, you should be looking for quality, not quantity in your posts and the followers that you gain from it, and also in the blogs that you follow yourself.

And to those fifty, thank you… X

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

90 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Numbers…

  1. I stopped getting about the new follower notifications when I realized for every one “real” follower, I get about ten spam accounts. I have no goal to hit a certain number because the number alone is meaningless.

  2. Very good break down on numbers vs “numbers”. Rara did a similar post (probably before you started blogging) that went into percentages of followers vs. regular interactions, but I can’t remember where she got the figures to compare to her stats.

    Thank you for being one of my fifty! (No, I haven’t counted, but that sounds like a good number to have πŸ™‚ )

  3. I feel the same about the unexpected but welcome pleasure of seeing my numbers spike, it’s fun! I also check my numbers daily, though I have nowhere near your numbers! I think I am also very okay to not have a million followers because I enjoy interacting with the people who view too. I’m very isolated here and having thousands of followers but not one like or the occasional “I understand” comment, would make me wonder if I am just blathering to a wall! This post is a good reminder quality over quantity! (Oh btw totally taking advantage of this but, do you have any choral music games your classes enjoy? There is a murmur I may be switched to band and chorus instead of music! *slight terror of the unknown* )

    • I agree – the comments are the thing that make it interesting, even if I don’t always have the time to reply to them all! I had a look at choral games, but aside from the usual rounds I haven’t really got anything that I think would be of any interest… How is your first week back going?

      • Because I was on maternity leave last year at the end, I am recruiting to pieces for the band. I am hoping to get another 20 kids to join again, but it all depends.

        Besides that, I have been making posters and trying to make my classroom behave! We start Monday and yesterday I found out my 60 min classes are now 90 minutes! Gotta think about how to fill that time in!!!

        So I guess… Good but challenging first week! (Oh and I was voted Department chair for the arts and PR courses so that’s fun… I think)

      • Did they not tell you about the lesson times in advance? That’s really bad – how are you expected to plan for that in just a few days??? Congrats on the department chair!

      • Because they are crazy. What’s going on, I believe, is when we taught 70 minute periods (60 min class time 10 minutes to and from their classes/ bathroom time) we technically did not have enough instructional time to warrant a planning time. So they had us tutor. Well now that we’ve bumped up to 90 minutes they HAVE to give us planning. The computer won’t let them schedule us without it. Problem is, where we live, they don’t think the arts need time to plan. They gave us 30 minutes after school for that which is our own time. Doesn’t count, and they tried to do that again. So Either they go back to the old schedule just for us or, it’s time to suck it up and give us our time!

        Also where we live, because our classes are meant to “give the real teachers a break,” because you know all I do is color in coloring books all day, they don’t think these last minute changes will effect our planning much because, we don’t do anything.

        Apparently. People.

        It’s all good, we’ll figure something out. Last minute as always.

      • That’s disgraceful – I get several hours of PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time as part of my timetable each week, although this is seen as a free lesson and there are often meetings put into these hours instead. Most of my planning takes place in the evenings and weekends though…

      • Yeah last year I had demand departmental meetings during school time and we got it- during lunch. We eventually got it moved but I was like, really take our lunch?

        It’s still nice to have time during the day to grade things or make copies. πŸ™‚ but yeah teachers have to do that at home work too, or nothing Would ever get done!

      • Ever. Cause there is just always something else to try or another way we can teach a concept… And the sheer number of kids we see and papers to grade, people ask me if I invent stuff over the summer… I take a break from paper work over the summer!!

  4. I recently told another blogger that I try not to pay attention to stats. The only time I’ve gone to the stats page is to see where followers and fellow bloggers live. Otherwise, I try to pay more attention to writing first, reading others’ posts and having “conversations” second. That’s truly the fun and rewarding place for me.

  5. You sure it’s not all about praying that obsessive TV fans who don’t read your posts closely enough will make your posts go viral???? πŸ™‚

    I definitely agree with what you said. I just wanted to add that the numbers do make it fun to watch, though, and it is nice to see that one’s work is reaching a large audience…

  6. This is a great take on “the numbers.” I too am a little obsessed with my stats, but I enjoy comments much more, because that is what keeps me blogging. While looking at the numbers and watching them grow can be fun, creating content worth reading is what matters.

  7. I agree completely. I pay no heed whatsoever to numbers. I have a core group of very loyal and regular readers and that has made a huge difference in my continuing to blog. I love to write but it is also lovely to be read and to know people actually choose to read what I write and some (maybe only a few) look forward to the mush I write.
    It is often the newer bloggers who are fascinated by numbers. I am blogging eighteen months now and have accepted my limitations which gives me freedom.

  8. I really liked this. I just started a blog, mostly to be therapeutic for me, but would love for others who may be dealing with something similar to see it. For me though I do it not everyday like a lot of bloggers, but when I feel like I actually have something to say. Though hopefully I’ll have something to say at least a few times per month.
    Anyway thanks for this, it helps me, as I am super new to this “world,” not feel like I have to be doing things a certain way (or amount of time) for it to be of value.

  9. Wait… you mean I’ve been reading this blog and you’re NOT going to tell me how to get a bazillion new followers? I’m actually going to have to think up new stuff and write about it? There’s just not that much out there that… Oh, wait. I still haven’t written about the face of Jesus (or maybe it’s Gandalf) appearing on the Glasgow Ikea men’s room door. Saved.

  10. Hi Susie, I think the reason your stats are so high in such a relatively short period of (blogging) time is simply because you write the way you like to read. Which is brilliant, of course.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about my Blog’s stats. I value followers and readers who appear to be genuinely interested in my blog’s content. I certainly do not value people who “follow” my blog for the sake of having me checking out their blogs and hopefully (for them) starting following them, when is plain obvious they haven’t even bothered to read any of my posts. I give you an example, has it happen to you that within less that 5 seconds (yes, seconds) of you publishing a new post you receive notifications of new “Likes” and “Followers”?! It has happened to me and I always wondered how on Earth did that person(s) had time to read what I just published? Of course they didn’t. They are just attention grabbers or should I say “followers grabbers”. That’s why when I see someone’s personal blog with thousands of Followers, I always feel suspicious about it and, normally, don’t follow it myself because the potential to be undervalued as a reader is quite high. It’s just another number added to whatever thousand number they already have.

    Quality, doesn’t come with quantity. It comes with freedom of therapeutic expression (as most of us seem to be doing when blogging). There is no freedom with stats obsession.

    I wish you well. You write well indeed.
    Natalia

    • Thanks so much Natalia! I don’t often pay attention to likes, because I can get lots of views and comments and yet very few likes, or I see someone liking a post literally seconds after I have posted it. I think the difficulty as your following grows is the ability to interact on a personal basis – I get lots of comments that I sometimes don’t have time to reply to, but I read every single one…

      • Hi Suzie, you’re welcome and I thank you too for taking the time to respond to my comment. Indeed, I agree with you about the more followers one has the less personal interactions exist. If that’s good or bad, I guess it depends on what type of blog one aims to have and the importance of it in their lives.

        Anyway…. may you have a fab week after this long bank holiday weekend here in the UK! πŸ™‚

  11. …and here I am… just coming up on your 50th “like” for this post. You’re welcome. Hahaha! πŸ™‚ Seriously, though – there’s a reason you have attracted such a large following. Quality is key. I’ve got just under 200 followers having started this blog in May. Of those 200 I have roughly 20 that comment and interact regularly, and they are wonderful! What cracks me up is the “like” that appears within 10 seconds of posting 600 words. Uh huh. Of course they read it… πŸ™‚ Great post, Susie. As always! Cheers – Mother Hen

    • Thanks very much! I have a small group of followers that do the same thing – I’ve written an 1800 word article and they’ve liked it after a few seconds of posting? It definitely works at that 10% of followers I’ve discovered are the ones that interact more…

  12. This is such a sweet post with such an important message. It’s so easy to drown in numbers and let yourself be discouraged. In some instances, discouragement will lead to frustration making people aggressive and mean. This blogging stuff is not easy. I worked for a multinational FMCG, responsible for some of the biggest brands in F&B… That was a cinch compared to blogging! I really enjoyed this post.

  13. How true, Suzie, my namesake, so to say. I love your heart felt posts. They really warm the heart. I find blogging cathartic too.
    But agree totally with what you say- its easy to like people- many times people like you in order for you to like them. Do to them as you would want them to do to you.
    But comments matter- it means someone has actually read and feels something pulling within, so much as to want to write a few lines to you- give the personal touch.

  14. Hi Suzie, I only discovered your blog recently when Ronovan at RonovanWrites interviewed you.
    I haven’t read all that you have written, but the recent posts I have read are well written and written in good plain English, which is what I like. Mind you, the fact that I have dyslexia could be the reason why I engage far better with blogs that are what I call ‘write friendly’.
    As for the numbers game, yes I was obsessed with them to begin with and many of my followers have never commented on any of my posts, let alone like them, but my key core readers have kept me going and I am now absolutely enjoying writing whereas the numbers obsession has long left the building.
    Thank you for a very interesting post.

    • Thanks Hugh! I think my writing style has developed over time to be more conversational for a few reasons: 1. I grew up in the North of England and we tend to be down to earth, and 2. I don’t actually know enough big words to make me sound more intelligent! I, pleased you enjoyed the post!

  15. You know, the numbers thing doesn’t really bother me, except the ones on the scale. I think it’s because of posts like yours and others that I read as I was getting prepared to launch my blog, which I just did in March of this year. I knew/know that it takes time and, hopefully, that’s something I have plenty of. I’m much more about quality than quantity.

    I see people with 35k followers on Twitter and I think, why? What’s the point. And how can you even hope to actively engage with that kind of “tribe” otherwise known as about four cities in Iowa. I have 400-some followers on Twitter and I haven’t had one day when I’ve been able to get through all the tweets. How can I get to know people when I can’t even read 140 characters of their life.

    My theory: When you get too big, your engagement feels like it did when it was just you spitting into the wind, hoping to hit someone with your slobber other than yourself when the breeze switches direction—cold, distant and lonely.

    • I totally agree Kelly – thanks so much for your comment (and i love the slobber analogy!) I think the numbers on Twitter could possibly influence the number of views a post receives, but the followers have to be avid readers that are specifically following you because the enjoy what you write. Really, to be effective the following needs to be in the hundred thousands. I agree about the level of engagement that correlates to the number of followers you have – as my following has grown i have found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the amount of comments that I receive and wonder if my readers think that i am being ignorant. I’m not, I’m just busy, but I find myself writing a simple ‘thank you’ in response instead of getting into discussions like i used to as I just don’t have the time…

    • Thanks! A hashtag war is where a prompt is given using a specific hashtag, such as #BadHogwartsClasses and people response with their funniest possible answers, like ‘Hexual Education.’ it’s all about a play on words and can get quite funny (and surreal)

  16. Sensible advice, Suzie. I don’t use social media for my blog – and I don’t look at my stats at all (unless you count the times I check my Spam file for lost comments and a good laugh from the bad English I find there on occasions). I hope you’re enjoying your holiday!

  17. Pingback: Numbers | Among the Whispers

  18. The numbers look good and make me feel like I’ve accomplished something when I see the numbers are “good” today, and not so good the next. I decided to quit worrying about it. I’d rather have 5-10 faithful followers than 100 who just clicked follow in hopes of a return follow. Thanks for being one of my 5-10! πŸ™‚

  19. Suzie, I was nodding my head throughout this one, for sure. I like to look at the numbers and often wonder about them, but the most important parts about blogging are community and relationship. When we’re putting ourselves “out there,” I think we are attempting to make connections, not just write for writing’s sake.

  20. Great post, Suzie. I know what you mean. I started my blog in 2006 on the need to write and try and mend a broken heart. In the meanwhile my blog became so much more. Personally I still struggle in understanding how some see blogging as a race on numbers (or whatever it may be that people use to compare each other).

  21. Great post girly! not sure how I missed this.

    I used to be stat obsessed, ok maybe I am still….a little…..ok maybe I check my stats a couple times a day, but I stopped obsessing over the follower stat because it was bumming me out. Hahaha

    Now I focus on what posts are a hit within the blogosphere.

  22. I enjoyed your post a lot. I am a new follower and didn’t know about your blog’s history. It’s wonderful to see how so much good has come out of a hard time. These replies have also been enjoyable to read, especially your responses. I think you’re a great writer and appreciate all the time it takes to reply to every comment (not speaking from personal experience!). Personal connection: I was born in the industrial north, too!

  23. Suzie, your blog is very genuine and engaging. That’s why you have so many followers. i love reading your blog but admit that some weeks my life is just plain nuts and I read nothing in those times. Haven’t been able to post anything in a month either. I so admire your perseverance.

  24. A day with anyone reading my blog is a good one. I doubt numbers were the motivation for anyone’s compulsion to start a blog so I’m sure what drives this. I blame Facebook, I do most things. The best blogs I read have a smattering of followers. That’s often the way eh.

  25. This is so very true – I’ve come round to the opinion that a few regular blog “friends” who comment/and I comment vice versa is much more valuable than followers who are either spam or follow with the expectation that I follow back (but that I have little in common with).

  26. I also found this helpful and interesting. Thank you for reposting it on #ArchiveDay. I don’t worry too much about followers, either on Twitter or on my blog; that seems to mean very little. What I do obsess over is visitors and page views, and whether I am doing enough promoting of my posts to grow my audience over time. Given some of the things I’ve read about page views and bounce rates, it’s not at all clear that these mean much either, but I know when I began to blog weekly, and promote posts on Twitter, hashtag memes like #MondayBlogs and #wwwblogs and #ArchiveDay, these stats grew. If I hadn’t promised myself a social Sabbath on Sundays, I’d be tempted by #SundayBlogShare as well.

    What I worry about with the hashtag memes is ending up in an echo chamber of reciprocity – you read me, I read you; you retweet me, I retreat you. If you want to both be loyal to people whose work you like and who like your work – AND discover new writers – and readers – you can spend all your time being “social” and have no time left to actually write… I don’t blog for therapy, but I do blog for insight, and to improve my craft. Social media has been incredibly helpful in developing an audience, as well as introducing me to some great bloggers – but I’ve yet to figure out what is “good progress” is and (given my own obsessiveness) when enough is enough. Any thoughts?

    Paula

  27. I couldn’t agree more! I have practiced ignoring my stats for the most part. I am sure it would be wise to pay closer attention. I’m more interested in interaction and comments. If I get a lot of comments on a post that is more meaningful to me than hundreds of views.

  28. Thanks for this post. I’m almost obsessed with numbers and it dont seem to be doing good- Now I know my next strategy- write engaging post and engage also! I think I’d like that more than numbers.

  29. Suzi, I know this is an ‘old’ post, but I appreciate it so much. My focus has become my writing. What lasts for me. If it lasts for me, I figure it might last for folks out there who are helped by it. I get a big charge out of email and comments about how something helped someone. As long as the views keep happening, I’m happy! No matter who they are or how often they’re able to visit. Your writing has inspired me to just be myself. I think I’ve finally found my voice and my groove–for now!
    Gratefully,
    Elouise

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