Successful Blogging

What does success in blogging mean to you?

It’s a question that I ponder every now again, usually as a result of some missive from WordPress that suggests something that I should do to increase my traffic.

Is successful blogging really just about numbers? When I join in with the photo challenges the number of hits my blog gets rises. Is that success – random people looking at a picture I have posted? Some just paste a link to their own blog. That counts as a hit and a comment but hardly suggests they have lingered to see and appreciate what I have written or photographed.

I notice that some people visit and like my blog after I have visited and liked theirs. Politeness? Quid pro quo? Hardly an endorsement of my writing. If I like a hundred posts and those hundred like mine back because the bloggers think that is what they should do, it doesn’t make my post better.

Pictures of my cat also bring in the likes. Now, I agree that MasterB is the most beautiful cat alive, and my heart swells with pride every time someone says something nice about him, but cutting edge, it ain’t.

I don’t always have time to browse as many blogs as I’d like. I am way behind with some of my favourites; Writing From the Edge, for example. Some blogs I followed for months or even years I don’t read any more. I am sure they are still good, but I am reading other stuff.

WordPress talks about retaining readers. Some blogs retain me, I retain some readers. But I am here for pleasure, not to make a living; though if anyone would like to discover me and pay me millions, please don’t be shy.

Tonight, I browsed through posts I wrote a few years ago: worries about Mother; Cat’s last months. I am so glad I have those records, reminders of what happened when, the fears, the challenges, the lows, the highs. The support I have received through blogging from people I have never met at some of the most difficult and demanding points of my life has been more than significant, a wonderful, incalculable and sustaining warmth; yet in the success by numbers reckoning, it doesn’t begin to register.

So I think I should like WordPress to reconsider how it defines a successful blog. Quality in writing, in readership, and in what it brings to all parties, whether those numbers are big or small should be one of the measures.

But the main criteria should be in relation to why a person has begun to blog. I consider my blog a success because I wanted to write about people, places and situations that matter to me; about my new experience as a boat owner; about my mother’s dementia and my changing relationship with her. My blog has provided me with a space where I can write and reflect on these things. It is also been a space where I have fun, let off steam, post pictures. That others read and enjoy what I write and post is an added bonus. The fact that they read makes me try to express myself more clearly, and their comments help me to understand my feelings and, especially when things have been tough, to know that mine is an experience others recognise and empathise with.

I was amazed when my mother was dying how many of you tuned in each day and sent me your thoughts. It was both humbling and strengthening.

Ultimately, my blog is for me. A space where I can write and store memories. As such, my motive for starting it and continuing it is selfish. If we only validate our posts by the number of people who access them we could end up only writing to please an audience. That sounds like work to me, and if my blog becomes work I shall need something else for downtime.

This may sound pretty incoherent, so please add your reflections too, and maybe we shall all end up with a clearer idea of why we have this urge to write and share.

45 thoughts on “Successful Blogging

  1. Hi.
    ‘So I think I should like WordPress to reconsider how it defines a successful blog.’ – I don’t quite agree with that, because WordPress has a whole different point of view than you do. They are a company. They make money this way. The more people use their blogs and get traffic, the more money they make. So that is success for them.

    I do, however, agree that ‘success’ depends on your goal. Straight forward. It seems like you have reached yours. Asking wordpress to change their definition of success for you, however, might be a bit ‘unfair’ (not really happy with that word, I hope you know what I mean) because they have an entirely different goal.

    Love the fact that you took the word apart and had a good think about it. I try and do that with as many words as possible because I LOVE details 😛 and also because I hear so many people say things without any meaning behind it. It causes me to take them less seriously, so I wanted to change that in myself.

    Congrats on being a successful blogger! 😀

    • Good point. I should perhaps be saying that I think we should not be defined by WordPress’ interpretation of success, but have own aims in mind to think in terms other than numbers. Does that sound right?

    • Hello – my name is Margekatherine and I linked to your blog from Lucid Gypsy. I enjoyed reading your post and agree with many of the posters about what makes a blog successful. I think writing about things that matter to me and getting comments (rather than Likes) is like getting a real letter in the mail instead of a text. It’s tangible, came from a real person and there is a connection. Like you, the photos that I displayed often got TONS of views, likes and interest but no connection.
      Lovely post, thanks for your thoughts!

      • Hi Margekatherine, I’m Jo. 🙂 I completely agree!! A comment says so much more than a like. I always try and encourage people underneath a blog post with a call to action. That has worked pretty well considering that this site hasn’t been up for long. Maybe try that if you’re not already doing it?
        Glad you liked the posts! There are more to come!
        I will go have a look at your blog now 🙂

        • Hi Josefine, what do you mean by “That has worked pretty well considering that this site hasn’t been up for long. Maybe try that if you’re not already doing it?”

        • I mean the calls to action have worked well. I prefer people writing comments over liking. So at the end of every post I usually say something like: Please Comment, Share and Like Below. With the comment first. You can say something else, but simply having a call to action at the bottom of each posts, gets you more comments. 🙂 I have gotten a good number of comments even though the site is rather new. I’m hoping it has something to do with those calls to action 😛

          I just had a look at her blog, and she is doing it and also getting a good number of comments.

          Does that make sense?

        • Not sure. It sounds as though your aim is to get comments.
          What I was saying is that a good post is not good because of the number of comments it receives. There That to me is the numbers game. So a good number of comments means what exactly?

        • Interesting point! It’s not really my aim. I do prefer it over likes though, because you get to know people a little and they are no longer just a face in a square box 😛 A good number of comments…. would say to me that it is an engaging blog post, which is usually a good thing! 🙂

        • Hey, sorry about dropping that line glad you liked the posts and there are more to come. I was a bit distracted and didn’t check where the comment was coming from. Thought it was on my site. But I still meant everything else I said about the call to action! 😛 haha

          Too much chemistry study can sometimes make me a little less functional! Sorry. 😛

      • Thanks. I often just click like, particularly if there are a lot of comments already on a post, and sometimes because I have little time.
        Again, I gave up on some challenges because the comments were fairly meaningless, lots of fulsome praise when the post was pretty average. I think it is often hard to judge whether a blogger does want constructive criticism or simply lots of admiring comments. This may have to be the subject of another post… 🙂

  2. There are so many “types” of blogs being written – every kind of expression possible – and that is what I believe blogging is all about. Tight, coherent, interesting writing of all types, photos that entertain, insights into the world around us or even babbling, talking animals in the huge world of pet blogging – it’s US expressing ourselves in our own way. Freedom of speech at it’s most creative. Traffic, hits, numbers have never meant anything to me and never will. It’s the friendships and the fun. I’m not out to change the world or the way people feel about it…..although I admire those who take that on in this day and age. I’m content to talk about my life, my cat, and our collective senior years. It satisfies me and hopefully a few others.

    Hugs, Pam

    • You have hit the nail on the head, Pam. It is about self-expression. I know you have a big following and your blog is mostly fun, but you also use it to raise awareness about animal issues and I suspect reach people who the charities miss.

      • I hope so Isobel…..I love your blog and of course hearing about your ginger boy but feel I’ve gotten to know you through your writing. Interesting how we can learn a lot IN the lines as well as in between them isn’t it?

        Happy Sunday

        • Yes, it is. I definitely count you as a virtual friend, and Sammy is a love. You are a great advocate of rescue animals, and I hope your blog has made people think twice about buying a kitten when there are so many cats needing home.
          I keep missing your Tuesday challenges which I really enjoy.

  3. As you know, I have several blogs & they all offer a different opportunity for me & hopefully my readers. I have some who read everything I write. Others who visit just the one blog. I blog because it keeps me in touch with the world. I’m nosey so like to have a little insight into the lives of others.

  4. Pawsum posty. Altho’ wees not know how all dis be figgewed ouy, wees also fink wees be succesful cuz weez havin’ fun and meetin’ lots of wunnewful people.

    Luv ya’


  5. Just ticked like, I visit blogs that make me feel something and to learn. I suppose that’s also my aim when I blog, I like the idea that someone smiles, laughs or cries as a result of visiting me. I hardly watch any TV, it’s so repetitive. Lucid gypsy began after I’d finished a creative writing course, as a way of keeping going, but photography is another passion that tends to take over because of the quick results 😊

    • I have notebooks around, some dating back years, that I have used as occasional diaries.
      I am interested in how blogging has made me more disciplined about recording events.
      Oh your comment ahs just reminded me that Fargo is about to start! Like you I watch very little television. I should like to watch more, but somehow, apart from a fairly regular date with Channel 4 News, it doesn’t seem to happen.
      BTW, I love the header on your page at the minute.

      Oh no, Fargo finished last week! I missed it as I had a friend staying here for a few days.

      • Yes, for me it’s a way of recording days out etc. My header was sn out the car window near stone henge shot! Hope you can catch your programme on i player. Have a good week ☺

  6. I think a successful blog is in the eye of the writer. I’ve struggled with that question and finally settled on that as an answer. When I interview pets with special needs it helps the pet parents talk about their pet’s condition and get the word out. 98% of my blog is pet interviews, the rest is reviews of pet products. I share the stories of hope and love. That’s what keeps me and the blog going. 🙂

    • So that would fit my criteria of why one starts blogging in the first place.
      It is very easy to get sucked into the numbers game and to satrt believing that the greater the number of followers/likes/comments/hits the greater the blog.
      Another blog I love, where the writing is superb, is I don’t get the impression a whole heap of people are reading it, but it is very good page.

      • I would honestly say do it because you want to. A lot of pet bloggers get wrapped up in trying to make money or having giveaways. I’ve tried both neither worked, the experience humbled me greatly and I realized I’m not writing for me, I’m writing for the pets to make them as important to others as they are to their families.

  7. Would that I could “like” this post a hundred times… You perfectly summarize the personal rewards of blogging. It is too bad that the view of WordPress (and the Intergoogle in general) seems based on hits, shares, subscribers, tweets, pluses, etc., but what makes it worthwhile are the connections made with the people–however many (or few) there may be–who truly read and have a response.

    • Yes, connections are key. I have met a couple of fellow bloggers, and exchanged emails with a few more. What a miracle the Internet is that we can find friends in different corners of the globe at the touch of a button. I am often put off by busy blogs with loads of comments and likes. They can seem impersonal. My favourites, the ones to which I give my greatest attention, tend to be in blogging backwaters. Maybe it is that backwater that gives them freedom.
      I hope they don’t consider themselves blogging failures when their numbers don’t match up to WordPress’ image of success.

    • I have just recommended that a friend who is feeling geographically and hence socially isolated start blogging. At its best, it can be a wonderful experience with sudden connections and shared jokes, thought provoking, entertaining and an insight into other people’s lives that confirm a shared humanity.

  8. Pingback: Blogging Up the Wrong Tree | Outward Hounds

  9. Hmmm. Isobel I started reading your blog because your words that made sentences into paragraphs and then stories/posts soothed my anxious mind. I find peace here. Your writing makes me want to concentrate on every word and so my brain settles down and enjoys my visit here. Then of course pictures of MasterB popped up and I do enjoy him very much. But it really is about your words. My blog.. I have lost my way. Started out as a photography blog with just a few words and lost the motivation to pick up my camera. Life has gotten in the way. I would like to feel the enthusiasm and satisfaction and/or fulfillment you write about in your tenth paragraph. I have been blogging since 2003 and I might just be blogged out.

    I enjoyed this post and the comments!

    • Thanks Pix, I am glad you are still enjoying it. According to WordPress, a successful blog (and yes, I am writing this from memory, so I may be misquoting it) is built by targeting your audience and writing on set subjects. Having a brain, I have various interests and my attention gets grabbed by a variety of things. I loved joining in with challenges for a while, and I can see that some bloggers use those challenges to structure their blogging week.
      I don’t want to do that, so I suppose my blog is a bit flighty. Or flaky, depending on where you stand. Much as I love the challenges, they are a bit of a straitjacket, and being able to post what I want, no matter what day of the week it is, matters to me more.
      I guess if I were just looking at it as a discipline to blog every day, I might feel differently.
      I love your blog, and I find it a very peaceful place, though I am totally intimidated by your level of house cleanliness!
      Now about to count to see what my tenth para says. 🙂

  10. I suppose I have wondered the same as I’ve seen lots of people with far more hits than me, and my readership numbers these days are paltry due to “natural wastage”, I guess, because as you say people drift off with better or just “other” things to do. In the old days finding others and having people find your blog seemed far easier. Although I also agree I write for myself because they’re (mostly) personal stories I want to extract from the swirling ether and get down on paper for posterity.

    • It is quite easy to boost your numbers, should you have the inclination, by joining the challenges. It is also a good way to discover other bloggers who you like. But the downside, as I see it of, of these challenges, is that there is a lot of quid pro quo liking, and it the courtesy visits you make in return are time consuming.
      I rather like the intimate atmosphere on your blog, where I recognise the names of those who comment regularly. They are the bloggers who I then check out. A blog with lots and lots of comments is somehow impersonal. I still enjoy finding blogs by new people. However, I comment much less than I used to – time again.
      I was quite startled to get a request from someone recently asking me to visit and like their blog. That seems to defeat the object of getting honest critical feedback to me.

  11. I tried blogging, but found that I am not much of a writer. I am a reader. So my preference is for blogs that tell stories. Stories of trips, vacations, life, why you baked that cake, who came to visit, what your cat/dog/pet alligator is doing. I don’t want to read lectures or preaching, and am not big on just photos or recipes, so I stick with the blogs that tell stories. That is why I read yours. It’s has nothing to do with the popularity of the blog, but whether I want to go back and find out what comes next.

    • Thanks Lisa. I think of the blogosphere a bit like having a choice of magazine articles at my fingertips, and depending what mood I am in, I look for different articles.
      Like you, I am a reader, and when I see there are new posts on blogs such as Lorely’s which I mentioned in my post, Janh, Outward Hounds, or Scroobious Pip, I always feel a nice anticipation of having something good to read (usually with pictures) when I am ready.

  12. Hi Isobel!
    I’m not a blogger and I hardly follow two: yours and that of another friend. Yet, as you may have noticed I am not a regular reader and I have missed most of both of you entries this last year. Now I am already starting to catch up with you.
    I would say successful blogging is that one that makes the author fullfilled by the fact of writing/posting about her/his thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc. and sharing them with her/his readers. Feedback probably encourages more sharing.
    If you are happy with your blogging activity, then it is successful, I think!

    • I think that is right. For me it is recreational. I don’t want it to be a chore. It helps me clarify my thoughts, put down what has been happening, be a bit silly and make connections with people from around the globe I shall probably never meet. Amazing!

  13. I think you sum it up best when you write, “ultimately, my blog is for me.” I agree with you. I write what I want to write about, share, etc…and am happy with my small village of friends from the blogosphere. Cheers!

  14. First your header is an excellent photo. Draws me in. Plus, over time I would read about your travel, going to see your mother and the things you were able to enjoy with her, even as she declined. I read her memorial tribute, the story of her incredible life and shared it with many friends who have experienced ” mother loss”. Also,The poetry link. Our deceased Fred and your dear cat smelling the flowers is a connection across the ocean. Sympathy for the experience of per loss is something we have shared. I don’t always click like or write a comment but I feel we have connection, Isobel. Last week when Christine of dadirridreaming blog passed suddenly, she had written a comment on my blog just the day before ( had written comments since 2011) I felt pangs of loss- for her words, her photos and a true connection even though we never met in person ( she lived in Australia)
    Yesterday I hit the five year anniversary on my blogging efforts and was taking stock myself. Wondering what to do next.
    It seems lately I have been getting more spam on my blog, not always receiving word of fellow bloggers posts from WP. I am not sure where I am going with the blog but I am trudging on and hope to continue to be part of your blogging community.

    • Thanks for this Ruth. Yes, I feel a connection to you too, depite the fact that i don’t comment a great deal on your page, but you are part of the family I know here on WordPress.
      Too tired to write more tonight, but you hva ehelped to clarify my thoughts.
      Sweet dreams.

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