For those of you who read my blog regularly or who are bloggers yourselves you’ll know that it’s awards season at the moment in the bloggy world (think less floor-length gowns and red carpets and more badges and uncomfortable vote pleas). I was lucky enough to be shortlisted in the Readers’ Choice category in the BritMums BiBs Awards (Brilliance in Blogging).
The next step was to attempt to become a finalist – when ten became five. Unsurprisingly I tripped up on this step (much like I do daily on stray bits of washing that populate our stairs) and didn’t make the final five in my category of fabulous bloggers.
Firstly it falls on me to say a great big THANK YOU to anyone who did vote for me. I’m sorry I couldn’t make your vote count a bit more.
And after the guilt (there’s always guilt!) came freedom – no more pressure or scrutiny. Not that I consciously knew I was feeling ‘watched’ until I had a dream – the BiBs judges came to my house for assessment purposes (naturally) and they were extremely disappointed that the fudge I had given them on arrival was not homemade – my chances were over. Ah yes, the classic fudge dream. Hmm.
So apparently it meant more to me than, in waking hours, I thought and so of course I felt disappointed when the list was announced – a surprisingly flat feeling of disappointment given how unsurprising it was that I wasn’t a finalist and how surprising it was that I was shortlisted. Keeping up?
I mean it’s not going to define my life or anything – but it did made me question my blog a little. Oh whatever, a lot – we’re bloggers, questioning our blog is what we do.
My starting point was to develop an ambition for the future – that if by some miracle I was shortlisted again in anything I want to be surprised that I don’t make the finalists, I don’t want to be the wildcard. I then realised how actually unambitious this is, as it posits that I’m still surprised to be shortlisted and I’m still not making the finalists!
So then I started to think that maybe I should be a bit more in step with the ‘blogosphere’ – it took me four months of blogging to join Twitter; over a year to join Facebook; I’m not on Instagram, Pinterest, BlogLovin’, Stumbleupon, Klout. I don’t check my stats – and this isn’t a noble enterprise this is simply self-preservation. I don’t Buffer things or Hoot Suite anything; I don’t fire my crowd and I certainly don’t Ooomph. I became a Huffington Post blogger almost a year ago…and have submitted the grand total of two posts. Tots100 rankings, Parent Blogger Leaderboard, Mozs, DAs and PAs – they fizz around in the air around me – I know they exist, but I don’t feel they have any relevance to me.
And so, shockingly, in my post-BiBs ‘shop bought fudge’ induced state of mind, I almost concluded I was never going to be successful blogger unless I got myself engaged with these things but…oh seriously just the thought makes me sink. I just don’t have the time, or interest. It’s the ideas and the writing that fire me not the stats. And I wonder where it stops – there are surely infinite measures of success in every walk of life – we can’t all measure up to all of them. Surely picking a few yardsticks that are personally important (creativity and enjoyment for me) and measuring yourself against those are what defines success?
Hurrah! The question was nearly put to bed…but not quite – the question, much like my toddler, was demanding an extra story, some more milk and a different duvet. So I turned to a handful of my fellow bloggers – people who in my eyes are most certainly ‘blogging successes’ (in their own ways and whatever that means!) and asked them:
‘what does blogging success look like to you?’
Silly Mummy at R is for Hoppit: If people genuinely enjoy reading what I have written, that is success, and the most important thing. However, inherent in that is wanting people to actually see and read my posts, so exposure and views must be an aspect of success to me too.
Ellen at Babies, Biscuits and Booze: I feel successful when I am proud of what I have written and can look back on my ‘virtual memory box’ knowing that I have recorded important moments in our family life. Obviously knowing lots of people have visited your blog is amazing but it means more to me if a few people have read my posts and actually taken the time to comment because they felt something – whether that’s amusement, empathy or sentimentality.
Catie at Diary of an Imperfect Mum: I feel that I have been most successful and I feel most proud of my blog when people have commented that a post has helped them or they have remembered and been inspired by something I have written. To know I have helped one person feels amazing!
El of The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback: I am lucky that I am so terrible in Maths that quantifying blogging success in terms of numbers will never be my strong point. Blogging success, to me, comes in the form of that 1 person, not related to me in anyway, who has enjoyed reading my nonsense so much that she somehow finds the strength to reach out to me and for the third donut, without guilt. Blogging success is making people see things in a new light, or your readers making you see things in a new perspective, and then sharing donuts together because your reader is now a friend. A blogging life is too short to be wrapped up about numbers, it will always be about community and friendship for me.
Katie at Mummy in a Tutu: I think blogging success is a very individual thing. Some people see it as a post going viral, some people see it as page views and getting as many people as possible to your blog and whilst both of these things are nice, I am not sure for me they are what blogging success actually is. When I happen to glance at my phone and see just one comment on my blog that says “Thank you for sharing” or “So glad I’m not alone” or I randomly get tweeted with sometime like “I really really enjoy your blog” or simply the feeling of, well, relief sometimes when I hit that publish button. The feeling that the words I never knew I had been holding inside of me for 5 minutes, a week or even years are suddenly released out of me and a tiny weight is released. That is blogging success. Whether people read my posts or not at the end of the day isn’t important. The success is… I write them.
Franca at A Moment with Franca: Personal fulfilment should be your first measure of success. For me, being part of a community which is supportive both emotionally and in helping me learn has been important on my journey to becoming a successful blogger.
Sassy at Thinking Out Loud: My aim is to spread awareness of all types of disabilities: whether that be physical, mental, cognitive, sensory or any other disabilities or impairments that there are in the world. Being able to spread people’s message, and have people talk more openly about disability instead of seeing it as an elephant in the room, or something that must not be talked about is a taboo subject I would like to challenge.
If I can spread the message, share peoples’ stories, and invite the public to talk openly, while making some friends along the way, that to me is success.
Min at Single Mum Speaks: I guess for me, blogging success is defined by what you want to achieve. Everyone has different goals and ambitions for their blogs. For me personally, my ultimate aim is to write a book, and I see my blog as a way of giving me a platform to get people interested in my writing. I’d also like to write for other publications, both online and print media, so blogging helps me to do that.
I suppose if I was to imagine myself as “successful” at some point in the future, that success would involve me being seen as a bit of an authority in my niche-basically an authority on being a single mother by choice-and writing freelance for a number of different publications and websites, as well as having had at least one book published. For me, that would be blogging success.
Tim at Slouching Towards Thatcham: I’m different to many in that I have no real interest in monetising my blog, so success for me is not measured in terms of earnings or Tots rankings or page views. Those metrics are important to many bloggers and I’m not saying they’re wrong but that’s not how I define personal success.
For me the definition is more internally focussed: am I continuing to stretch myself as a writer, and do I still enjoy it? Well, I’m still going strong after nine years, so I must be enjoying it. And I’m definitely stretching myself: in addition to my standard content I also host the weekly Meet the Parents podcast, I write and perform parody songs and I also create spoof radio adverts. I love the variety and the challenge of doing these – I think I’m probably one of the more diverse parent bloggers around – I feel I’m still improving as a writer and people respond well to my content, so that’s ’success’ to me.
So there you have it – a variety of perspectives and for me a conclusion. My question about blogging success is well and truly put to bed (for now!).