Some people think blogging is just a case of writing a post, hitting “Publish” and waiting for the views to come rolling in. Actually, it’s a little more complex than that.
When you start a blog, you enter a crazy world where everyone talks about metrics and ranking and DA and Moz and a billion other bits of jargon that wrapping your head around seems almost-impossible. Most of these are ones that you’ll pick up as you go along, but for some time there’s been one aspect of blogging that anyone who wants to be anyone in the blogging world needs to know about, and fast.
There are numerous “top bloggers” charts out there that encourage you to stick their badge in the HTML of your site, so they can measure your success and pit you against other bloggers in a weekly or monthly chart, so you can see where you stack up. Some help to put you in touch with PRs for review and sponsored post opportunities, some seem to just do it for the hell of it. The overarching message from all of them is that your position matters.
But does it? No-one strips you of your blogging rights if you aren’t in the Top 250 for that month. No-one tells you you’re not a good blogger if your ranking has dropped this week. I’ve never been asked for my ranking by a company; they’re far more interested in how engaged your readership is. That isn’t something you can measure in a monthly chart.
The tide seems to be turning on these chart systems, and people are leaving in their droves. I can see why. The inevitable outcome of these charts is that they breed competition. Rather than simply measuring who has the most hits and the most followers, it is extrapolated into “who has the best blog?”. Bloggers lower down the chart see the higher bloggers as either their idols or their enemies, rather than their contemporaries. You can’t measure how good a blog is on Google Analytics.
I joined these charts, but I’ve never really been obsessed with my ranking. I do okay on them, but I can’t say I furiously refresh my browser at the start of the month or week to find out if I’ve risen or fallen. When I’m writing posts, I don’t think “this will do wonders for my stats and my score”. For some, being low on the charts can be really disheartening. People consider giving up blogging, because they believe that so much store is set by this arbitrary chart position.
Unless you are blogging with the intention of making money (which is where stats do matter, understandably!), the worth of your blog is not measured in numbers.
Someone getting in touch with me and telling me that my blog has helped them won’t appear on any chart, but it means so much more than a ranking. You could offer me ten thousand views on a blog post, or one view from one person who reads it and changes their preconceptions of young parents, and I’d choose the latter. When someone says, out of the blue, “I loved your blog post” or “I love your blog!”, Id take that any time over the top spot on a rank system.
You started your blog for a reason, and I highly doubt that reason was because you wanted to be on top of a chart. That reason is why your blog is important and your voice matters. You’ve set up your own little corner of the internet because you have something to say – so say it! Don’t worry about whether the post will get lots of views or improve your rating or have an impact on your Klout score. Think about the anxious first-time mum, sitting awake at 3am, feeling isolated and lonely and convinced that she’s the only person in history who has felt this way. Think about her reading your post and realising that she isn’t alone. Think about the dad who has so much to say, but believes that blogs are just for mums, and instead bottles his feelings away. Think about him reading your blog and realising that dads blog too, so he sets up his own, as an outlet for his thoughts. Think about the impact your post will have on that one person; an impact far more tangible than ten thousand clicks from strangers who read, click “Like” and move on to the next blog.
No-one in blogging is your competition. We’re part of a wonderful community that supports and celebrates each other’s achievements, no matter how big or how small. The impact of blogging cannot be measured by a number on a screen. The real impact is how it makes someone feel.
I asked some other bloggers about what, in their opinion, makes a blog “good” or “successful”.
Emma from Emma Reed: “I am not fussed about their numbers, I just want something that is interesting to read, well written and engaging. However, this comes down to personal choice so one blog I enjoy may not be another person’s cup of tea. Numbers mean nothing to the actual reader/follower”.
Samantha from North East Family Fun: “I think a good blog is one that isn’t afraid to show their personality and share a bit of themselves in their writing – something that’s very engaging to read regardless of page views/number of followers”.
Erica from The Incidental Parent: “I follow blogs with a writing style I enjoy and that covers subjects that matter to me or make me laugh”.
Jon from The Money Shed: “I’m always of the firm belief that traffic will come with time and good content and having a badge on your blog to show you are part of a particular ranking table isn’t going to change any of that!”.
Victoria from Mummy Times Two: “For me success is about the number of people I touch, the Mums who message and say my blog has made them feel a little less alone. That is what keeps me writing”.
Danielle from Someone’s Mum: “It depends who is judging and what the purpose of the blog is. Writing well is at the core of everything I do. But I make my living from my blog and so I do have to care about the other stuff to a certain extent”.
Sarah from Digital Motherhood: “I think it depends what you want to get out of it. If you want to make money and be seen then stats matter. If you want to to write as a hobby then stats don’t really matter!”.
Rachel from Coffee, Cake, Kids: “A good blog post might not be the most beautifully written one, but one where someone has clearly put effort and time in it. I’ve read blog posts which have been written for the sake of being written and there’s no love or passion about what they are doing. If I can tell a blogger is only writing to try and make money, to me that is not a good blog”.
Rebecca from Becster.com: “For me, a good blog is one that is enjoyable to read and one that keeps me coming back for more. I don’t care about rankings”.
Nyomi from Nomipalomy: “Good for me is where the personality of the writer shines through. Where you are often left thinking ‘I want to be their friend’. I also think a good blog needs to have a good design and good photography. A successful blog generally has all these things. It has good page views and lots of repeat visitors. It has good comments showing it has meaning to its readers.”
I think Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine sums it up for me when she says: “I think a good blog hinges on the writing. I won’t stay and read something that doesn’t engage me. Am I successful? Well I’m not in the ranking scheme, but I have won an award, but I don’t make money from my blog (very often) so it would very much depend who you asked! To be honest as long as you enjoy doing what you’re doing and it achieves your aims, whether that is making cash or bringing a smile to your mum’s face, that is enough”.
What do you think makes a good blog? Are rankings all they’re made out to be?