Two years of blogging
I have been blogging here on WordPress for just shy of two years now, and I’ve learned a great deal along the way, much of which I’ve tried to share with my readers.
As I was getting my feet wet in the waters of the blogosphere, I came across bloggers marketing themselves as blogging gurus and making their livings off of inexperienced bloggers hoping to increase their subscriber numbers.
One such guru who’s very active on WordPress claims that he can help new bloggers reach 5,000 subscribers in six months. Many months ago (certainly more than a year ago), I asked him to share some success stories of clients whose blogs had accumulated 5,000 subscribers in six months, and he skirted my question. In fact, his website(s) don’t show any proof of the success(es) he’s had in helping aspiring bloggers achieve this milestone.
Anyway, I started wondering how long it would take me to arrive at 5,000 subscribers here at The Skeptic’s Kaddish; and now I have my answer: it’s taken nearly two years (~23 months).
Two pinches of salt
I think it’s important to celebrate blogging milestones, and, as I’ve written in the past, none are more obvious than our subscriber counts. I am profoundly thankful to all of you who take the time to read my poems and reflections; and especially to those of you with whom I’ve developed warm, substantive relationships with in our exchanges.
Still, as proud as I am, and as moved as I am, I’d like to put the number 5,000 in context – because I don’t really think it’s something that’s worth aiming for… Rather, it’s something that should come about naturally over time, as we continue to write and enjoy the process for our own sakes.
Pinch of salt #1: Meaningful interactions?
If I had to estimate, I would say that only 1% of my subscribers post comments to my blog on any sort of regular basis. That’s ~50 people.
For me, those ~50 people provide me with the emotional support to continue writing and publishing my poems. I am incredibly thankful to them – they give me strength and confidence in my writing that I’d never before imagined.
Still, let’s consider those numbers for a moment. Let’s assume that ~4,000 subscribers represents ~40 and ~3,000 represents ~30 regular commenters. Is the experience much different when I receive feedback from ~30 commenters, versus ~50? Not really, I’d say.
In other words, while 5,000 is a nice round number (and it seems impressive, as some blogging gurus suggest in their marketing pitches), it doesn’t really signify a dramatically different blogging experience than 4,000, 3,000, or even 2,000 subscribers does.
I would suggest that 1,000 subscribers is a more significant milestone than 5,000. Again, this is an arbitrary number (as are all numbers), but it represents a solid following and translates (in my estimate) to ~10 regular commenters who support your work.
Yes, it’s true that most of us bloggers quite reasonably want to achieve some minimal presence in the blogging ecosystem (because most of us want others to read and appreciate our words); but after a while, the increasing numbers of subscribers don’t signify much in terms of our lived experiences.
Blog subscriber counts primarily become convenient numbers to highlight as milestones.
Pinch of salt #2: Who are those 5,000?
The second pinch of salt underlies the first pinch. So, for the sake of honesty and transparency, let’s talk about who those 5,000 subscribers are.
Of course, there are many subscribers who read my blog and leave me ‘likes’ to express their appreciation for my writing. It’s hard for me to know exactly how many fall into this group. However, it’s also abundantly apparent to me that there are plenty of people who have subscribed to The Skeptic’s Kaddish that never even look at it.
I. Subscribing as a way of seeking attention
Plenty of people will subscribe to your blog for no other reason than to gain your attention. Many such individuals are selling products and services. They’re merely subscribing to drive traffic to their own blogs, and they never actually read any of the blogs they’ve subscribed to.
In fact, the more subscribers your blog has, the more likely this becomes.
II. Subscribing and then going inactive
There are also many, many people who create new blogs, subscribe to other individuals’ blogs, and then give up on blogging altogether, leaving their blogs defunct.
Again, I don’t know what percentage of subscribers tend to fall into this category, but it’s no small number because most people who launch new blogs don’t actually stick with them for very long. Some get discouraged, some get bored, and some simply move on to other life projects. This is all perfectly normal, but it bears keeping in mind when talking about our subscriber counts.
Stay tuned: All-new writing prompt
As a thank-you to all of you lovely people who bring such light into my life, I will be launching an all-new poetry prompt in the near future, which will be somewhat different than most others that I’ve encountered.
I’m not going to say much about this until I announced it, but, as a hint to those of you who may be curious, I’ll just say that it will be a community- and partnership-oriented prompt, not entirely dissimilar from my ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative.
Again, Friends, thank you so much for your support and kindness. You truly bring immeasurable happiness (which is not a milestone that I can put a convenient number on) into my life, and my new, upcoming prompt will be an attempt to give something back to our shared writing community.
Let’s write poetry together!
When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.–Ben Harper (b. 1969)
Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!