In my last post, I talked about why I love blogging, but still think that blogging is a little bonkers. It was inspired by a simple question that I got asked over the holidays, “How are you doing with your blog?”. The whole thing got me thinking about how to measure blogging success, how to grow your blog, and whether that’s even important unless you want to make money blogging? It also forced me to think hard about where I want my blog to go.
The tricky thing is that most blogs start out as hobbies. Few of us start with a goal to make money blogging. Instead, we’re passionate about something, and we feel like writing about it. Simple as that. If we have any goals at all, they’re usually unspoken, and relate to self-fulfillment, rather than things like unique visitors, page views and ad revenue.
When I started this blog two years ago, it was simply a hobby and a creative outlet. I never had any goals other than a way to save my sanity while being home with my children. I was hoping that my blog might be interesting to more than my husband, parents, and two sisters, but I had no real expectations, and I certainly never gave a second thought on if or how I could make money blogging. (Hey, I brainstormed blog names with a doodle pad and a smelly marker. No joke.) I can honestly say that, back then, I was naive about the whole world of professional blogging.
For a business-trained MBA like me, that’s total crazy talk, I know. I’m a planner, for goodness sake (capital ‘P’ and lower case ‘p’). But honestly, I just started writing. In those first months, I remember almost falling over when I had more than 100 visits in one day, or when I reached my 100th ‘blog follower’. I never imagined either of those numbers ever climbing into the thousands like they have!
If the measure of success is by personal fulfillment – which was just about the only ‘goal’ I had back then – it’s easy to say that my blog’s been successful. When I started it, it was a way to satisfy my need for creative and intellectual stimulation. I had 1-year-old twins at home, and a 5-year old who’d just started half-day Kindergarten. I’d left my more-than-decade-long career as a strategic marketing planner in an ad agency to be home with them for a couple of years. I truly wanted to be home with them, but it left a void that was once filled by my work which I loved. The creative activities that went into developing this blog – decorating, writing, photography, and web development – helped to re-energize me on the days when the crying was incessant (I mean theirs not mine, although there were days like that too, lol), and when the laundry pile was too high to face. It was exciting to build something new.
So I guess that means that the next time somebody asks “How are you doing with your blog”, I should tell them, “It’s been fabulously successful!” Right?!? Only, guess what? I won’t. And the reason that I won’t is because the standard success measure for a blog isn’t self-fulfillment. It’s a numbers game. Even though the person asking the question might not care, or for that matter even know, about things like unique visitors and page views, the fact is that I know those standard benchmarks exist. For better or worse, that’s how blogs are judged.
But, here’s the thing. Success based on those numbers is a relative thing. And, as the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. There are blogs in my niche of home decorating which have been around for years, and which have grown into true media powerhouses in visitor traffic, followers, and reader engagement. I follow many of them and maybe you do too. (You’ll find a few of my favorites in my right sidebar, under ‘Inspiration’!). I’m in awe of what they’ve achieved! But I can’t and I don’t compare my blog’s success to those superstars. If I did, I’d be – like Hank Williams Jr said – crying tears in my beer, lol. Instead, I try and learn from them, and use them as examples of what can be achieved by providing inspiring and helpful content.
So, if success is relative, and if I didn’t set any of my own quantifiable goals in the first place, determining blog success based on numbers is difficult. Yet, there are certainly things I feel proud of….
- I’ve kept up this gig for over 2 years now, despite having a million other things tugging at my time and energy.
- During that time, I’ve posted over 300 times; and managed to crank out 125 of them in 2012.
- My blog has been visited close to a million times since I write my first post.
- These days, pages on my blog are viewed a couple thousand times daily (give or take).
- I have an ‘audience’ of about 3500+ lovely people who, to use blogging terminology, chose by their own will to ‘follow’ A Pop of Pretty, through RSS and my blog’s social media. (If you are one, I thank you!)
- My blog closed out 2012 under the #100 mark on BlogTopSites which ranks thousands of blogs in the area of Home & Garden based on traffic. That’s about 100 spots higher than where it was at the end of 2011.
- I’m humbled to have projects featured on respected decorating sites like HGTV.com, Better Homes & Gardens, Apartment Therapy, and on some of the largest home decor blogs.
- Legitimate brands have contacted me to participate in partnerships, and I’ve taken on a handful of these projects, working with Krylon (spray paint), Weldbond (adhesive), Posterjack.ca (photo-to-canvas), and the Canadian retailer Future Shop (Best Buy), where I blog about furniture and home decor.
- I get near daily requests for media kits to advertise on A Pop of Pretty. (While I’ve added some space in my sidebar for some affiliates and ads, I’ve yet to create a media kit or to organize myself well enough to accept advertisers in a big way.)
So what does all this mean? Well, after 2 years of blogging, I’m at a crossroads. Is this still a hobby, or should I have a plan (with real-numbers-type-goals) for my blog for 2013? In 2012, I attended Haven 2012 in Atlanta, the first ever conference for home decor and DIY bloggers and enthusiasts. I was hoping it might help me decide which route to take. But I’m still in a holding pattern!
Both options have their advantages and their drawbacks. Continuing on as a hobby means I can remain oblivious to the “business of blogging”, without the pressures that come along with it. I can blog when I want, and not really care about the numbers game. While that all sounds nice, it also means that I should probably spend less time blogging, and focus back on earning income from my chosen career.
Then there’s this little thing called “opportunity cost”. Given that my blog is already established and on a decent trajectory, then shouldn’t more income-generating opportunities be explored? And, if I’m putting the effort into creating this content anyway, isn’t it wise to “monetize” my blog – as blogging terminology goes – by taking on more advertisers and sponsorships? Should I aim to turn it into a means of at least part-time income?
So many questions, right? You didn’t think I’d have the answer, did you? Oh how I wish I had one! I’ll continue to think on this in early 2013, but, in the meantime, I’m sticking with the status quo. For now, I’ll remain on the fence, and blissfully straddle the divide between hobby and business. I’ll continue blogging about diy decorating projects, room makeovers, wreaths and diy wall art, and shy away from any questions that relate to blogging success!
If you’ve made it this far into this now long and rambling post, thanks for sticking with me. You rock!
Until next time,