Last Tuesday, I took some videos of myself talking to my camera about the current situation I was in. I had seen fitness Influencer Sinead Hegarty look back at old videos she took of herself at her low points and feel accomplished at how far she’d come since then. When she took the videos, she didn’t know what the future had in store for her or if life would get better. Her life has changed drastically (for the better) in such a short amount of time and she found it so fulfilling to be able to look back at the ‘old her’.
So while I was sat at my desk in my flat, six hours into writing blog posts at 1am, I decided to take some similar videos. I asked myself a lot of questions about where I was currently, what I wanted for my future, what I was fearful of and why I was spending so much time on my blog. My blog was the main reason for taking the videos as I was starting to question why I spent so much of my time on it. What would it get me? What benefit would it have for me in the future? Would I be better off spending my time on something else? I was spending every spare minute I had on my blog, neglecting university work, the gym and looking for a part time job. But what if it’s all for nothing?
Then I saw @PR_Place‘s challenge on Twitter to the PR students taking part in #bestPRblogs and I thought, What apt timing! The challenge was to look at how we measure ourselves and our blogs. Is it through views, followers and comments? How do we measure the outcome of the time invested in our blogs? The time spent blogging issue was the biggest flag for me as it was what I had just been questioning myself, a week ago.
November is 'measurement month'. Here's a challenge for our active #prstudent #bestPRblogs community. How do you quantify the time spent blogging? Do you count followers or comments? Growing influence? Can you identify doors that opened as a result? #ROI
— PR Place Insights (@PR_Place) November 5, 2018
In this post, I’m going to look at why I spend so much time on my blog, how I measure whether that time is worth it and what results I’ve seen that make me keep coming back to my blog so often.
Why do I spend so much time on my blog?
Not one day goes by that I don’t check in on my blog. Either to look at how many views I’ve had that day, to publish a post or to sit and write for hours on end.
When I think more and more about the time that I spend on my blog, I remind myself that it’s only a hobby. Do most people spend this much time on their hobbies? I’m not getting paid to write on my blog but I spend every spare minute I have doing so. I’m worried about the university work that I’m not prioritising, the length of time I’m sat in the same chair not moving and the time that goes by that I won’t get back. But why do I do it? Why do I spend all of these hours in front of my laptop screen staring at WordPress post templates?
I do it because I love my blog. I love writing, creating new posts, brainstorming new post ideas, new series ideas and trying to help other people through the blog posts I produce. When my views increase each month, when I receive messages and emails from readers, when brands approach me to work with them – that’s why I do it. I can see my blog growing. I want it to grow even more, so I spend as much time as possible trying to make it as good as I can.
How do I know it’s worth it?
How do I know that all this time I’m spending on my blog is worthwhile? I’m not going to lie, I do focus a lot on my views. Especially my monthly stats. I always try and improve upon the previous month’s numbers and love to see it grow. I look at the same months across previous years to see how far along my blog has progressed. The numbers have grown so quickly and I’m so thankful for each and every view. I set myself targets each year to reach a certain number of overall views. This year’s number that I set in January was incredibly optimistic, but I’m set to reach it this month. Target setting always makes me work harder and gives me something to work towards.
I don’t dwell too much on the number of comments I receive on my blog, as more often than not I will receive comments on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and not on the actual post. I love feedback and I especially love how many comments I have received on my acne post as I am humbled by the readers that can relate with me or tell me that I give them hope for what they’re going through themselves. A comment every once in a while perks me up a little, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of my blog.
Let’s get into followers. I try my best not to be too concerned about follower numbers as I’m not an ‘Instagrammer’. My Instagram is personal and it’s not for posting adverts or promoting products. I post pictures of my friends, family and brunches, but mostly of my nights out that I probably shouldn’t. I’m not too bothered with growing a following on Instagram as I’m more focused on my blog and creating a website that I’m proud of and that can be of use to the reader. It’s easy to fake your following number on Instagram, but it’s hard to fake blog views and visitors.
What makes me keep going?
Keeping my blog relevant and up-to-date with good content makes me want to keep going the most. I want my site to regularly provide useful content that keeps readers coming back to check on what’s new. I love writing new content and spend most of my time doing so or thinking of what I could write about. Although, knowing people are reading my content also keeps me going. Seeing my views increase month upon month definitely gives me that extra motivation to keep producing content. It’s all about #content.
The feedback I get from my posts and comments I receive are also huge reasons as to why I keep going. When I get emails from people that have made use of a blog post or tell me that they found something helpful or even to ask me for advice – that keeps me going. I love knowing that I’ve at least helped one person out there. It makes me feel like I’m doing what I set out to do.
A new factor that also keeps me going is the opportunities I have recently been receiving in the forms of brands approaching me. Big brands are emailing me to write blog posts for them and I am still quite shocked that they want to work with me. But in a way, it shows me how much my blog has progressed and grown since starting two years ago. I would love to keep working with brands on my blog, and I always make sure that I only say yes to products or services that would be of use to my audience and relevant to my brand. You won’t see any constant ad-space on my blog because that’s not what it’s for. I didn’t set out to make money from my blog. I just want to help as many people as possible and to have a space on the web for my own thoughts and opinions.
What’s the end goal?
This was something I asked myself last week when taking the videos and it had me a little panicked. What is my end goal for this blog? What do I want to accomplish with it? I had to keep reminding myself that this blog is a hobby and more than likely will never be my full time job (as much as I would love it to be). Right now, I don’t really have many future aspirations for my blog because I don’t know what I want from it.
If my blog is only a hobby, then why am I spending so much time on it? What’s the point? I love my blog so much which is why I spend so much time on it, but I need to start trying to find a balance and only spending a specific amount of time on it without neglecting too much of the rest of my life.
I’m so, so grateful for the amazing opportunities I have received and am currently working on because of my blog and this is one of the reasons I want to spend 24/7 on my blog, but it’s only going to make me see it as a chore. I’m going to try and spend more time on myself, the gym and those university assignments I have but still check in on my blog from time to time. I’ll be taking a full week off from my blog at the end of this month which I’m stressing about but it will still be here when I get back from America. It’s going to be hard to leave my laptop at home, but I’ll hopefully come back with lots of new ideas and a fresh perspective.
At present, the videos I took of myself will never see the light of day. In six months or more or maybe even less, I want to be able to look back at them and either say, ‘You were right to question it all, because it is a waste of your time’ or ‘Look how far you’ve come since those videos! How glad are you that you kept going!’ – I’m hoping for the latter.
Is this blog worth all of my time? I’m still unsure. I’ve reaped the amazing benefits and made so many connections, but will it stand to me in the long-term? Who knows?
sabguthrie | Scott Guthrie says
Only you can answer that question, Orlagh.
I follow Anne Handley’s advice on why I keep at my blog. Anne’s smart. She’s the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, and argues that everyone should blog (even if they don’t publish) because writing is thinking (and everyone should think).
For me writing forces thoughts out into the open. Articulating ideas imposes a structure on them. Sharing this writing invites feedback. It helps us to think through the argument, to get up, walk about and to look at the issue from a different vantage point sitting in a different seat. To be prepared to back up our point-of-view.
The discipline of writing and holding up that writing for public scrutiny through sharing is potent. It’s scary, too. I try to follow another piece of advice now when I publish: ‘good is good enough’. I try not to agonise about making the copy perfect. It just has to be good and next time it has to be a tiny bit better. But, for me, there are diminishing returns in making the copy perfect. Writing for magazines, books and on other people’s platforms is different. There I try to make it as perfect as I can.
On my own blog I follow Voltaire’s advice: Great is the enemy of good.
Keep on keeping on, Scott