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Are they Milestones, Scores or Hurdles?

I think bloggers might be the most self-critical people I have ever met. In some cases monitoring our own progress can be a great thing, I expect we have all worked with people who we wish would have cared more about their own performance! But when we routinely beat ourselves up, something has to change.

Look around the forums and blog posts of struggling bloggers. Have you noticed how many ways we compare and grade ourselves?

  • Comment count
  • How many Adsense dollars we make
  • Do we attract private advertising?
  • Affiliate commissions, even the name “super affiliate”
  • Google PageRank
  • Monthly “Uniques” and page views
  • Technorati #100
  • Subscriber count
  • Digg votes

You can probably think of more but you get the point πŸ™‚

If you are feeling like a loser because of any single metric, stop! This is not a competition where you have to keep a score card. Metrics are there to help, not to make you feel bad.

All too often people start to blog because it is fun, then start to feel sad when they turn it into a popularity contest. I have even started to see the same thing happen on StumbleUpon where people are comparing how many stumbles they have made, how many friends they have, etc.

Consider why you are blogging. What made you start? What keeps you blogging?

Select metrics that help you towards that goal, keep doing things that make the metrics improve, and do not lose sleep over them.

Most of all, enjoy the process.

Blogging can be difficult enough without adding unnecessary pressure πŸ™‚

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Comments

  1. Milestones are reached by jumping lots of hurdles.

  2. Milestones are reached by jumping lots of hurdles.

  3. But they are easier to jump when not weighed down by performance anxiety πŸ™‚

  4. But they are easier to jump when not weighed down by performance anxiety πŸ™‚

  5. I measure myself by whether I’m the first commenter on a post. Clearly today, I’ve failed. Not sure if I can go on anymore …

    In all seriousness: Very good post, and I think you’re right. But it is very difficult not to get caught up in these things and of course, for many of us, these metrics translate into income earned. And that’s a real measure we all have to monitor if we want to pay the bills.

  6. I measure myself by whether I’m the first commenter on a post. Clearly today, I’ve failed. Not sure if I can go on anymore …

    In all seriousness: Very good post, and I think you’re right. But it is very difficult not to get caught up in these things and of course, for many of us, these metrics translate into income earned. And that’s a real measure we all have to monitor if we want to pay the bills.

  7. Agreed but by focusing on trends rather than beating a score we can keep working on what matters πŸ™‚

  8. Agreed but by focusing on trends rather than beating a score we can keep working on what matters πŸ™‚

  9. Agree wholeheartedly, trends are the key. Are you moving forward? That’s the thing.

    Consider the recent kerfuffle when Feedburner oopsie-dropped Google Readers from its stats for a day, and then again a few days later… never mind the normal day-to-day fluctuations in subscription numbers according to whether or not all subscribers turned on their computers… Too many variables out there to worry too much about any one specific number.

    Upwards and onwards! πŸ™‚

  10. Agree wholeheartedly, trends are the key. Are you moving forward? That’s the thing.

    Consider the recent kerfuffle when Feedburner oopsie-dropped Google Readers from its stats for a day, and then again a few days later… never mind the normal day-to-day fluctuations in subscription numbers according to whether or not all subscribers turned on their computers… Too many variables out there to worry too much about any one specific number.

    Upwards and onwards! πŸ™‚

  11. Good pep-talk Chris.

  12. Good pep-talk Chris.

  13. My mantra these days is:

    Blogging is a concert, not a competition.

    Comparing yourself to everyone else’s performance and metrics is misplaced energy — fretting and scheming and comparing and getting hung up on numbers and data… that’s not moving forward along YOUR path.

  14. My mantra these days is:

    Blogging is a concert, not a competition.

    Comparing yourself to everyone else’s performance and metrics is misplaced energy — fretting and scheming and comparing and getting hung up on numbers and data… that’s not moving forward along YOUR path.

  15. Great reminder, Chris. I definitely started blogging for fun when I focus on these metrics too often it starts to feel like “work.”

  16. Great reminder, Chris. I definitely started blogging for fun when I focus on these metrics too often it starts to feel like “work.”

  17. Chris,

    It’s funny that I just finished emailing Adam at MonkatWork (whose site I found via your blog, thanks!) about a similar situation that I am in right now.

    I found myself putting undo pressure on myself to make money online. Now, I would like to generate some income but i found that it was interfering with my approach.

    For me, I think it is much better right now to focus on providing valuable content and enjoy the process and have fun with it.

    Thanks Chris,

    Mark

  18. Chris,

    It’s funny that I just finished emailing Adam at MonkatWork (whose site I found via your blog, thanks!) about a similar situation that I am in right now.

    I found myself putting undo pressure on myself to make money online. Now, I would like to generate some income but i found that it was interfering with my approach.

    For me, I think it is much better right now to focus on providing valuable content and enjoy the process and have fun with it.

    Thanks Chris,

    Mark

  19. One thing I never forget is why I am blogging. I am blogging to promote my internet company. That’s it. No other reason. When I look at results, it is just to see if the effort is paying off.

  20. One thing I never forget is why I am blogging. I am blogging to promote my internet company. That’s it. No other reason. When I look at results, it is just to see if the effort is paying off.

  21. This is well worth saying. I only started blogging this year, and all the metrics and social networking tools were initially fascinating and the numbers seemed like a challenge. It didn’t take me very long to relegate them to their proper place. They’re exhausting. In the end, although I like to see the trend going up but the real value for me comes from the effort I put into the content and the relationship I have with my readers which evolves over time.

    I write a personal blog, and it’s not monetized, so perhaps that is a luxury some others don’t have, but I think it’s nice to be excited by having your subscriber numbers move into double figures and not be bothered when Google changes its algorithms.

    Probably the most important metric for me is keeping an eye on the bounce rate, which, rather than feeling like a rejection, encourages me to try and stay on top of the SEO stuff so I’m not wasting people’s time.

  22. This is well worth saying. I only started blogging this year, and all the metrics and social networking tools were initially fascinating and the numbers seemed like a challenge. It didn’t take me very long to relegate them to their proper place. They’re exhausting. In the end, although I like to see the trend going up but the real value for me comes from the effort I put into the content and the relationship I have with my readers which evolves over time.

    I write a personal blog, and it’s not monetized, so perhaps that is a luxury some others don’t have, but I think it’s nice to be excited by having your subscriber numbers move into double figures and not be bothered when Google changes its algorithms.

    Probably the most important metric for me is keeping an eye on the bounce rate, which, rather than feeling like a rejection, encourages me to try and stay on top of the SEO stuff so I’m not wasting people’s time.

  23. This is the reason I subscribe to your feed. I returned to blogging after taking a much needed month long break, to find my stats on the bottom of the pile, (although oddly enough traffic went up). At one time I was in the top 1000 on Technorati- now I don’t even measure. I had more people comment while I was on a break than I do now that I’m posting. To be honest I was considering stopping because yes, it has turned into a competition and it’s due to the “small bloggers” chances of monetization. But, after reading this post, I feel better. I started blogging for me. If others feel as if they need to be the best on the playground, then so be it. Maybe a change of attitude will improve my writing and content.

  24. This is the reason I subscribe to your feed. I returned to blogging after taking a much needed month long break, to find my stats on the bottom of the pile, (although oddly enough traffic went up). At one time I was in the top 1000 on Technorati- now I don’t even measure. I had more people comment while I was on a break than I do now that I’m posting. To be honest I was considering stopping because yes, it has turned into a competition and it’s due to the “small bloggers” chances of monetization. But, after reading this post, I feel better. I started blogging for me. If others feel as if they need to be the best on the playground, then so be it. Maybe a change of attitude will improve my writing and content.

  25. I have been blogging since August and only recently have I stopped worrying about all the things you mentioned. I’m definitely enjoying myself more and taking a step away from looking at those stats/numbers has actually even given me some additional ideas on making my blog better.

    As a new blogger, I try not to focus to heavy on all of these and just focus on writing good posts and improving my writing.

  26. I have been blogging since August and only recently have I stopped worrying about all the things you mentioned. I’m definitely enjoying myself more and taking a step away from looking at those stats/numbers has actually even given me some additional ideas on making my blog better.

    As a new blogger, I try not to focus to heavy on all of these and just focus on writing good posts and improving my writing.

  27. I focus on blogging, and try not to focus on comment counts or anything… but that doesn’t mean I don’t check my technorati, alexa, and feed count but I don’t let it get to me.

  28. I focus on blogging, and try not to focus on comment counts or anything… but that doesn’t mean I don’t check my technorati, alexa, and feed count but I don’t let it get to me.

  29. then why are you having two Feed counters in one single page?

  30. then why are you having two Feed counters in one single page?

  31. @Jen – Exactly, in fact your comment inspired me to write a post today πŸ™‚

    @mark – Thanks πŸ™‚

    @Slade – Agreed. When I used to go to a certain gym all the guys would compete for how much weight they could lift etc. When I talked to them they would insist they were there for their own health. I think people work against their own goals with competition in many walks of life.

    @Jamin – Yeah and it isn’t just in blogging, people try to score points or compare in all sorts of ways and it just sucks the fun right out of it πŸ™‚

    @Mark – I ruined my enjoyment of photography by trying to be perfect and also by trying to sell stock photographs. In the end it stopped being fun and just another “job” so I quit. Now I am trying to get back into it just for fun πŸ™‚

    @Advice Network – Perfect way to look at it. Focus on providing value to readers that helps work towards your goal.

    @cerebralmum – It’s funny though when you do focus on creating great content and enjoying it, the other metrics tend to fall into place πŸ™‚

    @Beth – Focusing on your own readers and creating the best you can do is more fulfilling anyway.

    @greg – Of course I like having my rss count and I look at analytics, the key is not to be ruled by them and to not feel bad when other people have better “scores” πŸ™‚

    @Thomas – Great, see them for what they are, dials on a dashboard, not sticks to be beaten with πŸ™‚

    @kher Cheng Guan – For the same reason I put subscribe links everywhere they will be seen, to get people to subscribe πŸ™‚ My goal with this blog is a loyal, engaged and growing readership.

  32. @Jen – Exactly, in fact your comment inspired me to write a post today πŸ™‚

    @mark – Thanks πŸ™‚

    @Slade – Agreed. When I used to go to a certain gym all the guys would compete for how much weight they could lift etc. When I talked to them they would insist they were there for their own health. I think people work against their own goals with competition in many walks of life.

    @Jamin – Yeah and it isn’t just in blogging, people try to score points or compare in all sorts of ways and it just sucks the fun right out of it πŸ™‚

    @Mark – I ruined my enjoyment of photography by trying to be perfect and also by trying to sell stock photographs. In the end it stopped being fun and just another “job” so I quit. Now I am trying to get back into it just for fun πŸ™‚

    @Advice Network – Perfect way to look at it. Focus on providing value to readers that helps work towards your goal.

    @cerebralmum – It’s funny though when you do focus on creating great content and enjoying it, the other metrics tend to fall into place πŸ™‚

    @Beth – Focusing on your own readers and creating the best you can do is more fulfilling anyway.

    @greg – Of course I like having my rss count and I look at analytics, the key is not to be ruled by them and to not feel bad when other people have better “scores” πŸ™‚

    @Thomas – Great, see them for what they are, dials on a dashboard, not sticks to be beaten with πŸ™‚

    @kher Cheng Guan – For the same reason I put subscribe links everywhere they will be seen, to get people to subscribe πŸ™‚ My goal with this blog is a loyal, engaged and growing readership.

  33. Hi Chris,
    It is great to see a blogger of your status promoting this sort of message. I think one of the pros AND cons of blogging is that the metrics are so easy to obtain and utilise. In all of my previous jobs in the “real world” my performance measures were much harder to pin down! Whenever I suffer a “stat attack” I think back to the first comment I ever received (that wasn’t by my mum) and marvel at how far I’ve come.
    S.

  34. Hi Chris,
    It is great to see a blogger of your status promoting this sort of message. I think one of the pros AND cons of blogging is that the metrics are so easy to obtain and utilise. In all of my previous jobs in the “real world” my performance measures were much harder to pin down! Whenever I suffer a “stat attack” I think back to the first comment I ever received (that wasn’t by my mum) and marvel at how far I’ve come.
    S.