There’s been a lot of talk lately about book blogger jealousy, competitiveness, bitchiness etc. Parajunkee did a great and helpful post on How to Grade Your Blog. It’s a great post because it provides invaluable advice on how to gauge your success. But it also reminded why the whole thing is bullshit and how much of your time can be chewed up worrying about stats and figures.
My basic philosophy is that I am grateful if two people follow me and one of them is my Dad. My mom doesn’t read my blog but she reads Smart Bitches Trashy Books which means, you’re on my shit list Sarah.
But I understand the kind of fame that comes from two regular readers isn’t enough for most bloggers. You’re passionate and enthusiastic. You want to succeed and do well. I understand. That’s why I’m so attracted to you.
Thing is, becoming a successful blogger is like transforming yourself into a magical unicorn through the process of consuming pure alcohol and shitting rainbows – which is amazingly painful because rainbows are a bitch to shit. Not that I’m speaking from particular personal experience or anything. But what I’m saying is that it’s hard and somewhat rare for a blog to get really big, but it also may not really be worth it unless you particularly like destroying your liver and having a more intimate relationship with a colour spectrum than most are comfortable with.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been there. I’ve sat down each day to check pageviews and obsess over why some days were better than others. I’ve pumped out content after content with the hope that something will hit. Through a variety of experiences, I want to impart the sacred, mystical knowledge that this process is complete bullshit, it’s probably not good for you and it’s probably not good for your blog. Here’s why:
1. Pageviews are crazy and you can’t actually control them
Pageviews are like a tumultuous, unhealthy relationship. You know it’s not right to keep coming back to it. You know some days it’s going to leave you emotionally drained and exhausting. Yet you still do. And now, my friend, is the hard part. If this is what life is like for you, if you feel emotionally drained and exhausted tracking your pageviews from day to day then it’s time for a change.
Break up with your pageviews.
At the end of the day, you never really can know what’s going to be a hit and what’s not. Sometimes Steph and I are like, “Shit! We have this awesome ARC! Everyone’s going to want a piece of this!” and it gets almost no entries. Other times we’re like, “Let’s give a random box of shit away on the blog. You know, all the books we weren’t even interested in reading.” And ALL THE PEOPLE will enter. We’re left scratching our heads in utter confusion. Same for a response to articles. You can’t MAKE people come to your page. You can’t make them sit up and take control of your brilliant blog with your fantastic content. You can’t make all your hard work translate into an audience. The sooner you come to grips with the fact that you can’t really control pageviews – only nudge it one way or the other, the better off you’ll be.
2. You’ll probably end up pushing people away
So you go on a date with this great guy. He seems really sweet, he gets your sense of humour, he makes you laugh, and you think you might want to meet up with him again. But then he does something weird. He keeps asking if you like him, or is there some way you would like him more. Could he be different? Should he do his hair in a different way? Would that make you like him better? “I like you just the way you are! Relax!” you say, but it’s not enough. He texts you, reminding you to check out his facebook page because he posted something funny. “I was going to,” you text back. “Just… later, okay?” He’s weirding you out. You like him, you just want him to play it cool a little. Get out of your face, stop asking for that validation. Eventually, you’re sick of being pestered and feeling like you have to bolster someone else’s ego for them to make it through the day so you break up with him and get on with your life.
See some parallels? Of course it’s hard when you’re not getting hits or comments on a review or article. We’ve all been there. And you’re putting your heart and soul out there. You want to know that someone is at least watching and appreciating your effort.
Resisting the urge to fixate on pageviews gives you a chance to back up and judge success by different means.
3. What is popular is not always your best work
So you’ve decided to follow my sage advice and give up an obsession with pageviews. That used to be how you measure if a post is successful. But think about the logic there.
More views = A better post.
More comments = a better post.
But this is not what actually happens. Particularly with pageviews. Pageviews doesn’t measure quality. It measures the interest people had in the topic/book etc. Comments is the same thing. A better review might get more comments but this is, once again, not indicative. There’s a lot of reason that people may not read or comment on a review based on quality.
They may have been interested in the subject based on a tweet or a couple of lines, but then get bored or lose interest due to poor quality, meaning they’re less likely to return in future. Even if they see something else that sparks their interest. They’ve lost faith and it’s harder to pull them back in and get those return visits.
But consider this – if you stop caring about pageviews and instead focus on improving your writing, technique, honing your style – then consider that people who are not otherwise that interested in the book/topic, may be more inclined to check it out if they have come to expect a level of good quality content.
Then you can start learning how to phrase titles and intros that catch people’s attention and reel them in.
4. They won’t love you for you
Love is fickle. Popularity can’t be guaranteed. Public opinion can be a bitch. The bigger you get, the more pressure is on. Think about that. One wrong move, one stupid thing said and suddenly the tide is against you, and what can you do?
There’s no such thing as universal love. Ah! Tough truths! Think about that mystical unicorn you want to become. There’s going to be people who disapprove of your liquor habits and the distraction your rainbow excrement causes to small children and animals. “But I’m a magical fucking unicorn!” you scream. “Can’t you just love how fabulous I am?” Nope.
No matter how magical you are. And, I mean, you ARE magical. Never doubt it.
All I’m saying is, consider if it’s even worth it. It’s okay to want to be loved. But not to be loved by everyone, because that will never happen. So why don’t you just aim to impress the people who already love you, and let more come to you at their own pace?
5. It doesn’t change anything
Life does not get better, happier, more fulfilling. You’re chasing 300 pageviews a day, then six hundred, then a thousand, then 1800 then 2500. No matter how many pageviews you’re chasing now, if you don’t stop chasing them then you never will. There will never be enough. You won’t get to a point where you decide, “Yeah… now I’m successful.” You’ll always be looking for more. Higher stats, more comments, more entries to your giveaway, a stronger social media presence. It doesn’t end. We get around 1,800 pageviews a day but we stopped caring a long time ago. Sometimes we’ll have a week where we get over 2,000 every day. Other weeks will be closer to 1,500. But when you don’t care, then those down weeks don’t affect you. And if you keep on just doing what you’re doing then your pageviews will probably go up without your assistance.
Getting lots of pageviews doesn’t suddenly make you a better blogger, or more respected. It just means people say less shit to your face. It may get you a few more ARCs but I can assure you that those ARCs start to weigh you down. It doesn’t make life easier, it doesn’t make you more satisfied. The need for recognition becomes a bottomless pit that you can’t fill. So why bother?
In the end, even if you become a successful blogger, this really doesn’t translate in the real world. “I’m famous on the internet” is not a line you want to break out at a party, unless you want to be severely embarrassed, I assure you. Whether you get 5,000 pageviews a day or five, you’ll still be that weirdo that spends waaaaaay too much time on the internet. And the truth is, that’s okay, because you’re OUR weirdo and we love you. But any dream life you’re imaging comes with becoming a successful blogger is just probably not going to happen.
Ultimately, just remember that this is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be about connecting and sharing and experiencing other book lovers. Recognize your inner unicorn. Even if nobody else does. You’re fabulous. Your contributions are. There’s no need to go flashing your magical unicorn around in a way that’s every bit as sleazy and illegal as that sounded now that I see it written out like that. If you still want to, fine. You shouldn’t let anyone else dictate who and what you want to be. But just remember that drunk unicorns are simply not as fun as you would expect.