I suspect we’ve all got them—those nagging little blogging insecurities that chatter at you from the back of your mind every once in a while (or more regularly). While we probably all have them, none of us talk about them. After all, they’re not the kind of thing that’s very pretty. But maybe we should talk about them and give them a bit of an airing out.
The clear visibility of stats of all kinds on WordPress makes perfect fodder for insecurity; you can’t avoid them if you try. Early on in my blogging journey I decided I didn’t want to get caught up in stats, so I rarely checked my stats page. That’s still the case. But there are so many other places where stats will jump up and slap you in the face.
If you’re reading posts in the WordPress Reader, you can immediately see how many followers the person has and how many likes they have on a post. You don’t want to look at it? Too bad, so sad. As soon as you go to click the like button, boom, you have to see who else has liked that post. It wasn’t always that way; you used to have to put a little bit of effort to see all the likers. I hated that change when it happened, and I still do.
So, what might people having blogging insecurities about?
There are multiple areas that can be potential triggers for insecurity and comparison to others. The particular mix for a given blogger will likely depend on their personality, where their blog is at in its evolution, and what their blogging goals are.
I think a common one is to doubt the quality of one’s own blog, whether it’s the ideas or the style of writing. Sometimes bloggers will say that they’re not sure why people would want to read their blog. There isn’t some objective standard for what makes a good blog, so there’s the risk of letting shoulds take over, telling you that your blog should be something other than what it is.
This is one area that hasn’t been an issue for me at any point in my blogging journey, at least as far as I recall. I’m content with my blog, and that’s good enough for me. Plus I have no interest in changing what I write about or how I write.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that follower numbers are a reflection of blog quality. From what I’ve seen, that’s not true at all. Some people, by a combination of luck and strategy, manage to grow quickly right from the start. For other bloggers, it’s a slow process. Once you research a certain follow threshold, things start to take off and followers start randomly showing up. A big chunk of those followers will be spammy. But there are many factors that influence blog growth, and quality is only a small one.
Just because a blogger has a large number of followers doesn’t mean they don’t have insecurities; there are plenty of other things to feel insecure about. I’m quite content with my follower numbers; my insecurities lie elsewhere.
Views, likes, and comments are all areas to potentially feel lousy about. The particular mix of inadequacy will likely depend somewhat on what stage of growth your blog is at. For newer blogs, it might be a lack of comments that are a trigger. But even for larger blogs, there’s room to feel insecure, especially if you start comparing your blog to other blogs. Comparisons will manage to bite you in the butt every time if given the opportunity. While you can’t compare views, likes and comments are right there in your face.
One thing that’s been bugging me lately is the ratio of likes:views. It’s normal for only a fraction of the people who look at your posts to click the like button. Lately, I feel like that ratio has been dropping on my blog, and for most posts it’s less than 1/3 of viewers who click like, or sometimes closer to 1/4. I think part of what bugs me is that I can’t explain it; I have no way of knowing what’s going on for that 70% of people who look but don’t click like, and there’s no possibility of finding out.
Who’s not reading your blog
There are many reasons that people can stop reading your blog. One of the common ones is that people are taking a blogging hiatus. But sometimes, you can see that some of these bloggers are still around. So what’s the deal? One of WordPress’s glitches that pops up every once in a while is that it will randomly unfollow people. If WordPress has randomly caused Blogger X to unfollow me, Blogger X doesn’t realize that unless they happen to notice that they haven’t seen posts from me for a while. It’s awkward, because there’s no way of knowing if it was a WordPress glitch or Blogger X just decided to stop reading.
Because WordPress shoves it in your face who’s liking people’s posts, you can’t really help but see who’s reading other people’s posts but not yours. I get sucked into that trap sometimes, yet it was never an issue back when you had to put that tiny bit of effort into finding out who liked a post. Damn you, WP!
Something that’s come up repeatedly for me over time is that a lot of the mental health blogs that I’ve read regularly never read mine, or at least as far as I could tell. I certainly don’t expect that every blog I read should read mine, but when it’s in the same niche and there’s no return engagement at all it feels a bit weird. This tends to ebb and flow over time in terms of whether it’s nagging at me or not, and it’s more likely to come up during phases when a lot of my readers are non-mental health bloggers. I used to be reluctant to unfollow mental health blogs, but then I figured if it was going to bug me, then I’d be better off unfollowing.
Feeling impressed by other bloggers
It can be easy to compare what someone else is doing to what we’re doing, and frame it all within our own context. But it doesn’t work that way; we all have different skills and things we struggle with. While you’re feeling impressed by one aspect of someone else’s blog, they may be thinking there’s no way they could manage to pull off what you’re doing on your blog.
I’m guessing that most of us have an “easy” type of post. By easy, I mean the kind of thing you can get into a groove with, and cranking out that kind of post is relatively low effort. My easy and your easy may be entirely different; your easy might be my difficult, and vice versa. And what someone easy is may not be obvious.
Whether you share art, music, poetry, your thoughts, what happened in your day, or anything else, there’s most likely another blogger out there thinking damn, I wouldn’t be able to manage that with my blog. Some people have a hard time publishing once a week, while others have a hard time keeping it under five a day. Different things are easy and hard for each of us.
Another key thing to keep in mind is that people have vastly different amounts of time to spend on their blog, depending on what’s going on in the rest of their life. Someone with a partner, five kids, and three animals, plus a full-time job, is going to have a lot less time for blogging me, who has nothing else to fit into the day but some guinea pig cuddles.
What to do about it?
For me, the most important thing is to just keep bringing it back to purpose. I suspect that, at least for most of us, the purpose isn’t about stats or comparisons. It’s about something greater that we get out of it, whether that’s the therapeutic value of writing, a sense of community, or whatever else. When my own securities start nagging at me, it often has to do with inadvertently getting side-tracked from my purpose, and I need a bit of a course correction.
It can also be helpful to try to focus on what you do have with your blog, such as readers that you regularly interact with. Because the people you do interact with will always be far more important than the people that don’t.
I think it’s also useful to recognize that you’ll never be the only one having blog-related insecurities. It’s part and parcel of the blogging experience, even if no one feels comfortable talking about it. But I think talking about it can help; I know my little niggles have settled down simply after writing this post.
Do you have any blogging insecurities that you’d like to share?