Home > Blogging, Death > Success, no matter what numbers suggest

Success, no matter what numbers suggest

6,100 people follow this blog. My stats page tells me so.

My stats page also tells me that only a few dozen people read my posts regularly.

My most visited posts this quarter was “Rara sends her love,” which got lots of visits through no magic of my own.

After that followed “You are capable of changing them,” “my bulimia / my beautiful body” and “The Church of Sunlight through Trees.” Each of these posts was viewed a little more than 100 times.

Am I a successful blogger? I could drive myself crazy trying to answer that based on the numbers. So today I asked myself during my seemingly eternal commute: What was the moment you felt most successful blogging?

I could answer that immediately, with two equally important moments:

To me, both these comments said: You are listening, and you are listening well. You are learning how to hear people even when they can’t find the right words.

Their comments told me so much more about whether I’m “successful” than a bunch of numbers sitting idle upon a screen.

I suspect my blog is too melancholy for day-to-day reading by most.

That it’s best read in times of loneliness or heartbreak.

You know what?

That’s beautiful.

I don’t need to be read by everyone, everywhere, every day.

If I am read by one person whose grief seems insurmountable, and that person finds the briefest glimmer of hope from my words

(as I have found hope, connection, and respite from theirs),

then I have been successful beyond my wildest dreams,

no matter what any number seems to imply.


How do you measure your success?

  1. June 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    The numbers? Bah! I look at them once in a while, but they’re meaningless. (As are the number of followers — I have many more followers than actual readers!

    Your blog, like mine, is about whatever you happen to want to write about. And that works for both of us.

    But it feels good for you. And you have made me laugh and cry. That’s what a good blogger does. That’s how I measure success.

    Money would be nice, too …

    • June 29, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      You, too, have made me laugh and cry. When I heard SCOTUS’s Obamacare decision last week, you were the first person I thought of as I smiled at the news.

      On that money bit? If someone were to say, “You don’t have to change a single thing you write, and you don’t have to include any sponsored links or sell your soul or anything like that, and I will pay you to blog because I love reading you that much”? I don’t suppose I’d worry too much about feeling successful, I’d be too darn excited to think upon such abstractions.

      (You’re right about the wanting, BTW? Why can’t I want to invoke my funny bone more often?! Aaaah, but it’s all good! ♥)

      • June 29, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        What a nice thing to say about the Obamacare decision! Thank you. That story is really close to my heart. And folks shouldn’t just have to die because they can’t afford treatment in the richest country on earth. Oops. How did I get back on my soapbox.

        Yeah, I wouldn’t want to have to give up my principles… But it would be nice to get paid for what I love …

        • June 29, 2015 at 7:35 pm

          Hee. I appreciate it. I’m glad that you switch between making me laugh and making me seriously consider what-ifs.

          I think there’s a good chance my mom would be alive if she hadn’t feared losing everything to treat herself. By the time my younger sister did talk her into seeing a doctor, it was far, far too late. And so, when I think of my mom, and my medical practitioner friends who see people being treated for stage 1 cancer instead of dying to stage 4 cancer, oh man … man, am I grateful. So grateful.

          • June 29, 2015 at 7:44 pm

            YES! Many kinds of cancer ARE treatable — so are so very many illnesses. When I see these Repulsicans saying “just go to the ER” I want to do serious damage. You only go to the ER when things are unbearable. It makes me so angry. They all have good health and/or good health care. And so of course, the rest of the world doesn’t fucking matter.

  2. June 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    You are one of my most favorite bloggers, for what it is worth. Thank you for writing.

    • June 29, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      I almost, almost linked you. I couldn’t find a way to make it natural. “I am jealous of this lady!” I wanted to write. “She writes short posts that capture life so amazingly, and has so many people engaging with her. I will probably never have that, but I sure do love reading her posts.” Even when I was so tired I couldn’t imagine visiting WordPress, I’d google your blog and read it every day because your honesty–whether cheerful or contemplative–made me feel a little less alone. I’m a little jealous, but I’m a LOT glad that you’re out there writing. Thank you.

      • June 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        Ok, here’s a secret. I’m jealous of you! Always have been. You are a much better writer. You have had much broader life experiences. You have taught me a ton about love. YOU are amazing! 🙂

        • June 29, 2015 at 7:55 pm

          So are you!!! (I sneaked here to say this while Li’l D pees before bedtime, after spending 10 minutes explaining to me his zombie attack escape plan. Aaaaah, but he is his dad’s son!)

          p.s. ♥ ♥ ♥

          • June 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

            Zombie attack escape plans are important. I want to be on his team. 😉

          • June 29, 2015 at 8:57 pm

            I’m gonna tell him that tomorrow morning! That’s just the kind of magic that gets him up with a minimum of grumbling. 😉

  3. June 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    The same, Deb. If I manage to bring relief to ONE person through my writing, I see it as successful.xx

    • June 29, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      I know from surprising, passing comments that more people are moved by words than the numbers would ever suggest. So though they might not have the words, though the people you’ve most moved might not know what to say to you, or how to say it, I know they are out there. I know that I have read your raw, honest words in the wee hours of the morning and wept, knowing that others are out there reading and taking solace knowing they are not alone … no matter how much they might feel like it. ♥

  4. June 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    You are one of my faves and I have to agree! I measure success by the way people respond to my writing. Having people tell me thank you for inspiring me and finally someone gets what I am going through! it Is the best compliment I have ever been given and one I never expected!

    • June 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Hear, hear! I used to comment on almost everything I read. Now, since Littler J, I have less time and keep comments to when I truly have something to add. And yet I find I am so grateful for comments, which give me insight into internal worlds I’d never otherwise see. Every word someone doesn’t have to write but chooses to share is a gift, a bridge between us that is all the more precious for being offered freely … just because. Blogging is a beautiful thing, and you are a beautiful lady!

  5. June 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Success=connecting with others. Whether it’s one person or one hundred (ha!), finding someone whose journey intersects yours in such a way that you can form a connection means a lot more than numbers.

    • June 29, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      I totally agree about the connection. That’s what sold me on blogging, twenty years ago. That’s why I think I come back now … now that I have a better sense of what connection is, beyond “SOMEONE IS READING ME OMG!!!” (That was how it was at the beginning. I’m glad it compelled me to keep writing, and also glad to have a better understanding of connection now.)

  6. June 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I’ve never thought of your writing as melancholy. Yes, sometimes – maybe often – you touch on matters of sadness … but you leaven it with much joy, and wisdom.

    • June 29, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      I’m glad to hear that. Thank you. I know I’ll sometime post and think, “Ugh! That’s three gloomy posts in a row! I hope my next one’s stick figures and silliness!” If it is, great. If not, I feel a little itch of sadness. Why couldn’t it be something more mirthful? There was a better balance between mirth and melancholy when I began this blog. Then again, I wasn’t as engaged writing it … so had I kept going the way I was, it wouldn’t exist now. I’m glad it followed a path different than expected. (So, too, with my life overall!)

      • June 30, 2015 at 8:13 am

        I wish I could “engage” as deeply as you do. There are things I want to write about, but sometimes just thinking about them makes me ache – and it’s important to me, for MY blog, not others, to find a balance between discussing and storytelling, and between laughter and seriousness. If I can’t find that mix, it doesn’t get written – or, at least, published. And meanwhile there is SO MUCH ELSE to do, always!

  7. June 29, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    I think what makes my blog successful is it has helped me immensely in my own personal growth. It has helped me to work through my feelings and emotions. I’ve met other talented writers and people I call true friends through it.

    It has also helped me to develop a love of writing.

    • June 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Your definition of success mirrors what I feel about my favorite blogs: they’re ones that’ve helped me, whether with laughter, making sense of things, or both. That’s true whether I’m reading or writing!

      I’m glad to hear blogging has developed your love of writing. I know my love of writing would never have existed but for journals. 🙂

      • June 29, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        I am not suggesting you are doing this, so don’t take it as such, but I have seen blogs where people write articles complaining about the number of followers or viewers they have. I always reply, if you want more viewers, then get involved. Write quality material. It will attract people. Visit other blogs and follow them and leave meaningful comments.

        For those people, if you are writing to be “popular” then you aren’t writing for the right reasons.

        My most popular writings are the ones where I have opened up the most and shared true feelings and emotions. It resonated with people.

        • June 29, 2015 at 9:13 pm

          Hear that. My first couple of Freshly Pressed posts were ridiculous pieces I wrote in 15-20 minutes apiece. I was sad those were the ones that got the attention. My later two Freshly Pressed pieces were ones that came straight from the heart … the things I’d want people to read and know as who I am.

          Today I actually got the report card that inspired the first of the latter Freshly Pressed posts. I held that slip of paper in my hand and wondered why it’d seemed so very heavy a year and a half ago. Relieved of expectation, it was just a little piece of historical reflection. I like it that way, just as I like writing what I feel like writing … because there’s something I have to learn through the process, no matter who does or does not read.

          • June 29, 2015 at 9:15 pm

            I have not had that honor yet. Wow 4 Freshly Pressed pieces? Amazing! Congratulations!

            The other thing that irks me are comments where it is like “Good job – will you read my blog?” or “Come read my blog please.” Very juvenile. Again, if you want more readers, write quality material and leave meaningful comments that are not hollow as a means to attract attention to yourself and away from the writer’s work.

          • June 29, 2015 at 9:16 pm

            Yes! Though I’m hardly on my FB page anymore, the most prominent comments are “S4S”? (Share for share?) I am so, so happy to share, but it’s stuff that moves me … not tit-for-tat, you know?

          • June 29, 2015 at 9:22 pm

            Yes, well put. I think there are a lot of followers that follow in the hopes you will follow them – as you discussed earlier “empty followers.” I follow a lot of blogs and I can’t read everything but I do try to make a little time for each of them, comment, and such. It creates real relationships.

            I recently had a personal loss as a beloved pet that I had for 17 years passed away. When I posted a tribute, I was not surprised to see many of loyal readers and friends immediately comment and even email me with encouragement and support. It felt great.

            I don’t have as large of a following as you, but my following is one of the larger blogs in my little “circle” if you will. Not always, but sometimes I feel some of the “blog awards” are a means to target larger blogs in the hopes that their momentum will swing people their way. The “look-at-me” comments follow the same suit.

            Again, as I mentioned, the number of followers I have is not what makes my blog successful but for the readers I have accrued, I worked very hard to earn their respect by posting quality writings. Please don’t mooch off my blog as a means to draw attention to your own. Being that your blog has been featured on the Freshly Pressed, I am sure you run into that often.

  8. June 29, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Numbers, schmumbers.
    It is about connection. Which you have. With bells and whistles.

  9. June 29, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I don’t pay any attention to the numbers, but over the four years that I’ve been blogging, I do know when someone who has “always” stopped by is missing even for one day. And when someone I don’t yet know stops by for a visit I’m just glad to meet them. The measure of my success is in how much enjoyment I receive from the others who stop by. A year ago this week a favorite blogger passed away. I have thought of her, and now her family, so often throughout this year that I have surprised myself. When it comes to regular reading, I think one of the problems that I have is simply time! I regrettably miss posts all the time and only wish I could get an earlier start on reading. When I first started blogging I posted at least three times a week, and now I hope for three times a month. But if I posted more, I couldn’t read others, and right now that’s more enjoyable. Those are my personal statistics. I don’t pay a bit of attention to the other numbers. I haven’t looked in months…and now you have me thinking maybe I should at least take a peek. 🙂 Love your blog…and I don’t miss too many posts, I’m quite sure.

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      I, too, miss many posts, not for lack of wanting to read them but for lack of time! I’m away from home 12 hours a day, and then doing chores and child-tending another couple hours outside that. With the other moments I have left, there’s no telling until I’ll get there what I’ll do with them.

      I used to feel so guilty about not doing better keeping up. Now I feel closer to comfortable that I am keeping up as best as I can, and thinking of folks with love even when I’m not reading their every post.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. ♥

  10. June 29, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    In blogging, for me, success is through having a good group of people who regularly engage. Which I do. The stats are less crucial.

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Hear that.

      Most the time, the stats don’t matter to me, but I occasionally get in these moments where I wonder, “Why did all these thousands of people follow without interacting on a single post?”

      Today I’m back to feeling mellow and peaceable about it all, but I’d wager the lovely words here are a part of that. (Usually it’s a few days at least that I’m pensive about it all.)

  11. June 29, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I subscribe to a number of blog posts per email – if I don’t click through to WP or wherever they’re hosted, I assume I don’t count in their stats. Maybe some of your followers read via email or some other reader and also don’t feature?

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Many of mine are hidden after 100 or 200 words, so that someone would (generally) have to click the link to read the full post. Sometimes I do wonder if the stats are completely accurate. For example, I’ll have 20 people ask me about some particularly scintillating post (HA!), but the states will only show 9 visits. I do wonder … !

  12. June 29, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Ok, this may be a little embarrassing, since I’ve been following this blog constantly from about five years and I’ve never introduced myself *scratches neck*. I just wanted to say that, even though I use a feed reader (so I’m not sure my views show up in WordPress stats), I’ve never missed a post since I started. For me, your blog isn’t “too melancholy for day-to-day reading”. It’s exactly the kind of day-to-day read I need, because it makes me feel connected to another human being — it’s not like I know you personally, which I don’t, but it reminds me that someone out there is reaching out to others through her experience (which is, by the way, vastly different from mine). I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that this thing you do is incredibly important.

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Oh! I wish I’d re-read this first thing this morning, so I could have called upon it when writing to a friend how her good fortunes with people aren’t luck but the result of her loving, articulate vulnerability. Thanks to her, I feel connected, and that connection because of how human she is is a great solace when I’m feeling closer to numb. You express this so well.

      I’m so grateful for you saying introducing yourself and saying this. I visited your blog to see what there was to see, but will have to return again ready to translate.

      Again, I thank you. Your words brought a smile to my heart.

  13. nicciattfield
    June 30, 2015 at 12:58 am

    I think your blog is honest. It deals with life, grief, live, relationships, struggles and courage. I always admire your honesty.

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      Thank you. I admire yours as well. I’m glad to see you posting again, a bit, even if I don’t catch each post as it goes live.

      A few of my girlfriends used to read my blog and then stopped because it’s too depressing. I’m glad to see that’s preference, not some universal truth.

      • nicciattfield
        July 2, 2015 at 12:05 am

        I think preference, and part of a journey as well. My brother died, so your posts on grief and regret offer deep understanding for me. We’ve been moving house, so I was away awhile, but back again now. It’s lovely to hear from you!

  14. June 30, 2015 at 5:58 am

    I enjoy your blog a lot and it’s one of my favorites (if not my favorite) to read. I used to blog a lot myself, comment, but it seems like when life is more difficult for me I go into silence on both fronts. Your posts always resonate for me and when you started bringing back old deleted posts I’d click on the link and I ended up occasionally at a dead page. So, I’d use your search engine to type down the title of it and luckily then it would find it. Anyways I thought I’d comment too to say I love your honest style of writing and your blog posts before going back into the shadows again. 🙂

    • June 30, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Seeing your name made me so happy. It seems like it’s been forever since I saw it.

      I’m so, so glad to see you hear, yesterday/today, and to read your words particularly. I’m also glad to read your words on my deleted posts. I’m torn between leaving them up with today’s date a little longer than I have been so far and immediately re-dating them, knowing they’ll be found if/when need be. I still have at least a couple dozen more, which I’ll probably post once a day instead of three or four at a time like I was before. Today I was thinking about an old Christmas/Hanukkah post, having talked with my youngest sister about visiting home soon (and thus having “home” in the forefront of my mind).

      You know what? I think I will. Thank you so, so much for peeking in and saying hello. I am so glad to see you, and will always be glad to see you, wherever that is. ♥

  15. cardamone5
    June 30, 2015 at 6:31 am

    I only have two hundred followers, and my stats dwindle with each post (I suspect because I comment less on others’ posts, and people have drifted away but not stopped following.) That’s fine by me. What I care about is, like you, that my posts reflect an awareness of and empathy for other people. When I get one comment that says they feel like I understand or my post meant something, then that’s all that matters.

    BTW: I love your posts. They are honest, but positive.


    • July 1, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Thank you–for taking the time to comment, for commenting, for continuing to share your posts. I am moved by them, and try not to miss any … though sometimes life means I miss one here or there, missing your posts means missing out on that very same sense of connection–of being a small part of something much larger and sweeter, not really a lone entity in the universe–that drives me to stay here. Much love.

  16. June 30, 2015 at 6:57 am

    The only times I honestly felt “successful” blogging? When I get those genuine comments saying stuff like “I just spewed coffee all over my laptop”. When I know I made someone smile or laugh, the rest is pretty meaningless overall. I may have lots of followers, but only a hundred or so read each post. My “views” have never climbed up to match my followers. Which is good because I still feel like I write for a small devoted crowd. (because I do!) By the way, you always manage to get to the heart of the matter with beautiful writing. You’ve made me tear up many, many times. Whatever it is you do, it’s working.

    • July 2, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      I think this post was part inspired by seeing one of Victo’s posts. She had 100+ likes; it’s rare for me to have that many views, that ridiculous, overinflated subscriber count be darned!

      I like how you describe this: “I still feel like I write for a small devoted crowd.” Sometimes I post things and then wonder what I was thinking: BUT THIS IS GOING TO THE WHOLE INTERNET! The small group of people who feel like community to me feel like a buffer from the sometimes-terribleness out there, and I am so, so grateful for them (you!) and that.

      You should know that I grin whenever I see your name, real or handle, or your picture. Over the years, your words have built up the expectation that whatever you’re writing, whether humorous or contemplative, I’ll step away from the computer feeling more thankful and connected to life, the universe, and everything.

      “Whatever it is you do, it’s working.”
      Ditto that. I’ll forever be grateful your words of thanks started FTIAT. ♥

      Happy weekend, ladfly! Sending much love.

  17. June 30, 2015 at 7:27 am

    “You are listening, and you are listening well. You are learning how to hear people even when they can’t find the right words.” I love this! Success INDEED.

    The measurements of success for me [I aim for at least one of these with each post]:
    ~Am I getting better at saying the things I feel are important to say? (Blog as a rehearsal space for life.)
    ~Am I having conversations and building relationships with other bloggers whose words matter to me? (Blog as *actual* life.)
    ~Am I getting better at remembering the things I want to remember — and not, the things I don’t? (Blog as PTSD recovery work.)
    ~Am I coming across as a complete, coherent, fully human person? And if so, who does she seem to be when *I* read her words? (Recovery, recovery, recovery… 🙂 )

    Thanks for your comments on my “Brave” post, btw. I’m planning to respond; it just may take me some time. I need to let that pain sit untouched for a spell.

    Happy day to you!

  18. June 30, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I certainly enjoy your posts and read them when they flash up in my reader. I am not sure how good a reflection that number of followers is in terms of who is currently reading the blog. It’s like maintaining customers in a business. We do need to keep working on the business as well as in the business. If you are just writing for yourself and to have a close-knit community perhaps the numbers don’t matter but I have had one of my key readers who I saw as a close friend just disappear. All those people who dabble in blogging and then stop still show up as followers even though, really they’re not. I think to be a more accurate reflection, a follower should require more than just clicking on a button once.
    I have just reach 20,000 views at long last, which I’m stoke about and I have about 500 followers and about 50 views a day up to around 100. These started adding up and making progress so even though those numbers could be higher, I’m happy. I write about serious stuff and have long posts so I won’t have the supposed “success” that someone has who just posts photos but I do hope that I’m making a difference out there. I have a great community and I love what I have. Thanks for being a part of that xx Rowena

  19. June 30, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Whether funny stick-figures or thought-provoking introspection, you write well and from the heart, and that’s what keeps your faithful followers, like me, coming back for more.

    As to the numbers – I can’t say I don’t care, but you got it right. It’s the people you care about, the community of bloggers and readers who GET you, that means the most.

  20. June 30, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Deborah, thank you for the timely reminder that if we can just touch one life, we have made the world a more blessed place. So many times we focus on results and not seeds planted. And I had to laugh at your comment about your material being too dark for some. Sister, that’s where the true motivation comes through because we all live an existence that is filled with sorrow and grief. And anytime someone can assist us in finding joy, even if it’s just letting us know we are not alone) amidst that very human condition, we have triumphed<3

  21. June 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Success? In a way, I suppose I do write for successes of sorts. I write for the benefit of my being and other beings too, not so much for the boom of blogging. I think I’m successful when I write in ways that open hearts and minds (mine and the reader’s), ways that create connection.

    But Oh! how consistency in creating and connecting eludes me.

  22. June 30, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I remember when I was younger I prayed to be able to help one person. Now I would like to help more. You’re right, we do this for ourselves and hope to make a difference. Blogging is a way to exercise our writing muscles as well as a way to remind ourselves what matters to us (thus what we blog about). If someone responds great, if not, well there’s always tomorrow!

  23. July 1, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Your pieces have depth, and as readers we can relate to what you write about. That is success. The fact that you allow us to connect with you on a deeper level is success.

  24. July 1, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    You are loved, appreciated. You are brilliant, mostly because you provide insight into pieces of life that many of us need.

    Am I successful? I don’t know. Sometimes I think I touch hearts, sometimes I make people think. Other times, I don’t do enough and wish I did more. Most times I wish I reached more people, I think my voice might be worthy. But am I successful, nah. Am I glad I do it anyway? Yes, because through blogging I have built a community I value hugely.

  25. July 7, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I would rather have ONE person read me (truly READ me!) than the thousands that push a “like button” and only “stop by”! As a “writer of humor”, I sometimes wonder if I’m ever getting through to anyone and then I get an email from someone that tells me that they laughed until they cried! I think it’s just what people can “relate to” that makes a post “readable” or not, so I just take my friend’s suggestion and “write for MYSELF”….too hard for me to figure out who likes me and who doesn’t ….I’m just happy that people who aren’t related to me, actually READ me!!! 🙂

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