The Numbers Game: the Obsession with Stats & Follower Counts

Friday, January 10, 2014

Now that 2014 is underway, I have personal resolutions as well as blogging resolutions that I have to work towards. However, as I was working towards my goals, I came across a relevant Teen Vogue article about fame as well as a Refinery 29 article about how fashion blogging is changing.

How are these two articles relevant? There’s a lot more pressure for fame in blogging. I know I’ve felt it over the years and I know that I’m not alone.

Renee Lorentzen, the author of the Refinery 29 article writes, “But, today, the term "blogging" means something entirely different than it did a few years ago. Especially, when taking the lure of fame, fortune, and freebies into consideration. ‘Blogging used to be about being honest, sharing what was on your mind, and offering something different than the magazines,’ Darling [co-founder of Blogcademy] adds.”

While book blogging is less glamorous than other types of blogging, such as fashion or life-style blogging, there are still perks. Advance-reader copies, the ability to meet other bloggers and going to industry events such as Book Expo America.

And like other types of blogging, there’s an increased pressure to achieve in blogging, through various types of follower counts, including Twitter and Goodreads, and statistics. When did blogging become so complicated?

In the Teen Vogue article, Yalda T. Uhls, a senior researcher at UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center, “young people are aspiring to fame more than anything else.” Bloggers aren’t immune to this either. While fame may not be their immediate thought when it comes to blogging, isn’t fame expressed through follower counts and Google Analytics statistics?

In the same Teen Vogue articleit also says, “When your self-esteem depends on how much the world loves you, or retweets your quips, or Likes your Instagrams, or views your vlog, you're at its mercy.” Don’t I know it. I’ve spent countless hours thinking of blog posts that would appeal to readers, thus gaining more hits. Is this necessary? Not necessarily.

So for 2014, one of my blogging resolutions is blog more for myself. Blog about what I like and stop paying so much attention to statistics and follower counts because at the end, this is my blog. I hope to bring in more original content that stays true to me as well as relaxing a bit when it comes to blogging. After all, numbers are still numbers. Why become fixated on them? 

What are your 2014 blogging resolutions? What are your thoughts on the need to be famous and the overwhelming pressure to perform as a blogger?


  1. Love this!

    Firstly, I am so fascinated in general but just HOW different other niches of blogging are.I just saw a beauty blogger on a DR PEPPER commercial, they get huge DEALS and are spokeswoman for things. I follow a food blog who makes a HUGE salary each month off her blog and I'm like HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN FOR BOOK BLOGGERS?!?! haha not really but kind of. I think a lot of it does come down to the fact that book bloggers are pretty much willing to accept "free books" as compensation for blogging so pubs will never have to look at us as a costly investment like other industries see bloggers and pay premium to get themselves on their blogs. Also, books are probs not as expensive as the other things people are blogging about :P But that's a topic for another day. Even MORE pressure to perform when you are getting paid to do it I suppose.

    I love your resolution! I think this is so important! I've been doing this for a little over 3.5 years and I have to say I've gotten really disillusioned by the numbers game and sick of it. Sick of what it has turned some aspects of blogging into. I realized pretty early on that no matter what number achievement I could hit that it's really easy to never be satisfied. With numbers and things that are measureable there is always room for MORE and the desire to measure that. We can always see numbers and know someone with more or know that we could gain more. It's a vicious cycle and I'm glad I saw it early and decided that I wanted to make sure I rooted this experience in something that wasn't so fluctuating and fickle (because let's be real numbers are). I really stopped caring about the numbers and focused on the things that made me feel "successful". Those are different for everyone but for me they are things like -- getting a person to read a book I recommended, someone LOVING a book I recommend, someone connecting personally to a review or a post I wrote, getting an email from someone about how my blog impacted them in some way (things like loving a book or a new genre or a teacher who started using my Review On A Post It as a vehicle to get HER classroom to summarize what they read and sent me a picture of a HUGE WALL of post-its.) These things have been more substantial for me in making me feel successful and feel way better, for me personally, than achieving a # of followers or page views.

    I'd say I have a lot of Twitter followers but let me tell's not what makes me happy or cheer up on my "bad" days where I feel like I suck at blogging. Numbers are not what will make you feel happy and awesome. I can feel lonely and uninspired and not so great about all this and I've never looked at my numbers getting a warm and fuzzy feeling. Things that do? The connections I've made, someone tweeting me about that they loved that a book I got them to read is one they LOVED can turn my day around, sweet emails from readers that are personal or that are just a "hey I loved this book. thanks!" or an email from an author who is so gracious about my kind words.

    So, in summary of my long ass comment, I think bloggers set them up for unhappier blogging when they focus SOLELY on the numbers and let it affect them. Sure! Numbers are good and useful and helpful but if they become an obsession and what you put your blog's "worth" will NEVER be happy. Even if you get 10,000 followers you will always want more and can still feel unhappy and hollow about it all. Be mindful of your numbers but don't let them run you! I've become a happier and BETTER blogging when I truly STOPPED caring about that stuff and let myself focus on what I love and the things that make ME happy..not what drives people and ups my numbers.

    Great post lady! I love your mind set and hope you are able to really LIVE this out in your blogging!

  2. As we've seen many popular bloggers come "famous," get book deals, etc., there is a great deal of pressure to produce great content that can launch you to whatever's "next" -- for some. Many bloggers write for themselves, for the pure fun of it, and that's where I try to stay . . . but I do agree that the impulse to gain hits/followers/etc. can be strong, and sometimes just as a personal mission or goal. I try to remember that I started writing because I love to write, and if I don't feel like posting? Well, I don't. I'm not getting rich off my blog and have more books than I could read in a decade, so why do it if not because I enjoy it? There's no right or wrong way to blog, I think -- just find what feels good to you!

  3. Well I care about my stats, but not because higher stats = more free stuff (books) or anything like that. Above all, I care about the content on my blog and I really try to put as much effort into that as possible. But I keep an eye on my page views because I do want my blog to keep growing and expanding and getting better. My blog is like my baby. And you always want your children to grow and be the best that they can be, and that's how I feel about my blog. I just keep an eye on my page views as a way to measure that, I suppose.

    I don't really care how I compare to other bloggers or to publishers, I just keep an eye on it as a measure of personal success, and that works okay for me. :) For a while I went through a phase where I WAS comparing myself to others, and that totally sucked and could be a downer. But now that I focus on it purely for me and my own achievements, it works. :)

  4. OMG I KNOW, RIGHT? Fashion/lifestyle blogging seems so lucrative these days with all their various collaborations left and right. I do agree with you that being paid to blog probably adds more pressure since there's a huge chance that they'll lose followers who'll see the payments as selling out. Blogging becomes so precarious then.

    The teacher who started using post-its in her classroom must've been made you so happy! :) I think things like that make you so much more grateful about blogging and realize that you have an effect on others than numbers/stats ever can. Numbers can't make you feel warm and fuzzy unlike the messages from real people. I think I'm smiling as I write this, hahaha.

    AND PRETTY MUCH AMEN TO YOUR WHOLE COMMENT. Too bad it's not a teddy bear because I'd totally hug it (and you, too). Thanks for the compliment, too, Jaime!

  5. True words, Meg! I think there can be pressure/stress in anything that we do so sometimes we need to put things into perspective and figure out what makes us happy. :)

  6. Definitely! I know how you feel about your blog being your baby since it's something you created and put time and effort into taking care of it (much like a baby.)

    I like your idea of comparing achievements to yourself, not others. It's something that I still have trouble doing, not just related to blogging but other things as well and I'm happy that your comment reminded me to improve on it as well. :D

  7. Alice this is what I'e started doing and it feels so good to just post things that are true to yourself and that mean a lot to you. My view on things is I will attract the followers that are interested in MY content. While I do look at followers, they aren't THAT important to me because blogging is a personal thing for me...

  8. Yep! I totally agree with your viewpoint! It's very positive and true. :)

  9. whilst some of my new year's resolutions did involve increasing my follower stats, I see it as part of the wider growth of my blog, that includes engaging with other bloggers, consistency in my posting, and posting more than just plain reviews, which can result in a boring blog. In turn I hope to engage with more people - including publishers and readers - and therefore hope that I get better exposure for the smaller, less well known authors I read.

    After the flurry of the new year posts, and the matching readers, I am currently back to my planned posting rate of every-other-day. Yes my stats have dropped accordingly, but I'm still getting people finding posts I wrote months ago. I am curious to see where the stats bottom out

  10. Leigh (Little Book Star)January 20, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    I was definitely in that jealousy phase when I was about 2-5 months into blogging. I remember during my first month I was super excited about blogging and figuring out what ARCs were and book tours, etc. Then when my blog turned about 2 months (maybe 3) until it was about 5 months old, that's when I started feeling jealous. It was mainly on stats and ARCs. I felt like no one liked my blog and I thought if I was doing anything wrong. But soon, I realized that I should just chill and that stats isn't what book blogging is about. I feel very happy and proud that I changed, and that I don't really care about stats anymore. I don't check it like 5 times a week like I used to during my early book blogging months. For ARCs, I can say I definitely changed a lot too. I'm no longer jealous of other bloggers. In fact, I LOOOOVE seeing other people's book hauls and all the books that they received, even ARCs. I'm happy that I changed for the better as a blogger because a jealous blogger is just bad...

  11. I think it would be difficult to really not care AT ALL about stats. I mean, we do write our posts to have them read, right? I think I'd be sad if no one ever read the things I posted on my blog.
    But then again, I think it is incredibly important to not let the stats BE your blog. If one person alone is reading whatever you have written, that's better than no one reading it, yes? And if you (I mean it in the general sense) get 5,000 followers or some big number like that, there is always someone who is going to have more. And then instead of blogging meaning something, it means numbers and I think it would turn into a vicious cycle of jealousy and stress. Which is not what it's supposed to be about.
    And plus, numbers don't always reflect meaningful followers. Out of my followers, the people who comment and interact with me are the generally the same group of people. So stats aren't always indicative of a blog's popularity, anyway.
    I think the most important thing is to love blogging, because when you stop loving it, I think all the enjoyment is gone.


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