Whether you like it or not, blogging is all about numbers, or it is if you are trying to make a living from it. It’s about how many page views you have, unique monthly visitors, social media following and your DA. Whilst I can kind of understand the first three – if someone is going to pay you to write something or send you something to review, they want to make sure it reaches the biggest audience possible, and I kind of get the DA thing (how authoritative your domain is, for those none-bloggers reading this), the one I will never understand or agree with is a ranking system.
I recently left a blogging network that ranks its members and publishes the chart each month. I left for more reasons that just the ranking system, but as soon as I took the badge saying I was number xxx off my blog, I felt strangely free. It made me realise just how much a stupid badge, a stupid number, a stupid rank, was affecting my blogging confidence.
There were several thousand bloggers in the network who make up the chart. I hovered around 120ish to 180ish for the past two years, dipping into the top 100 for a month or two, before slipping. Every month, as soon as the chart updated, I would frantically check. If I went up, great. When I went down, it chipped a little bit of my confidence away. Why was I going down? Wasn’t I good enough? It’s a ridiculous way to think because the way the system works (which I don’t really understand, to be honest) if someone else has a really good month, it can push you further down. Whilst most ranking systems are like that, it can never be used as a way of telling how good someone is.
My main issue? It did not, in any way, measure the quality of someone’s writing, or the engagement with their readers. And that is the most important thing when it comes to blogging.
I’m pretty sure it would be almost impossible to rank someone on quality of writing, because that is a pretty subjective thing, and I also know that should a system be possible, I would slide right out of the top 200, top 500, probably even top 1000, because, whilst I’m an ok writer, I’m not brilliant and there are so many beautifully written blogs out there that are so much better. In the main parenting blog ranking charts, these bloggers are not in the top 100, or even the top 250 sometimes. They’re lurking much further down because rather than pushing giveaway after giveaway or creating a massive social media following, they’re concentrating on making their writing and their blogs beautiful. I know that one of the only reasons that I managed to get so high was because of a high social media following. That’s after almost four years of blogging, so a relatively high number of followers is to be expected. The months where I had competitions running, which obviously increase my page views by up to 100% at times, were the months I ranked higher. There are many, many bloggers in the top 100 that deserve to be there. They are beautiful writers, have beautiful photos and beautiful blogs, and work incredibly hard on their blogs. I am, in no way, minimising their success and saying they don’t deserve to be there because they do. What I am saying is that it can be incredibly easy to manipulate your position. Running lots of giveaways, whether the prize is bought by yourself or provided by a brand (I have no issues with bloggers running giveaways, I occasionally do it!), follow threads (again, no issues with it – I’ve done it!), and so on.
Being ranked, being given a number to tell me how good I am based on how many followers I have, had begun to take the joy out of blogging. I was constantly comparing myself to others, trying to emulate them in order to rise higher in the charts. The saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ had never rung so true. I’m not the best writer, but I am a bloody good blogger. I do not need a badge on my blog to verify that. The fact I have readers coming back to read my blog every day, emailing me when I haven’t posted for a few days to check everything is ok, that I am able to make a decent living and support my family, that I have people saying that they enjoy what I write and that it has helped them – that’s what matters.
It’s easy to say as a relatively established blogger, but if you’re new to the blogging game, don’t get hung up on your position in a chart that means very little. It won’t get you more readers, you won’t have brands queuing up to work with you just because you’ve cracked the top 250 or whatever. Concentrate on writing content that your readers enjoy, concentrate on doing something you enjoy. If you want to monetize and make a living from it, concentrate on the stats that your hard work and writing can influence, not the stats that can be manipulated by someone else.