Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Follower Count
Late Wednesday night, I took a somewhat hurried photo and posted it to Instagram in order to get my photo of the day in under the wire. I'd spent most of the evening working on Nerd News, and it wasn't until after 11 that I remembered I needed to find (and photograph) "something that started with a." Hey, I thought, upon spotting the large C&M we have hanging over our living room window, ampersand starts with "a." I chose a filter, added the requisite hashtags and hit post—and then went to bed.
Upon waking in the morning, the unusually large number of Instagram notifications (and tagged comments from a few friends) led me to realize that my photo had been chosen as one of the Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day "Fab Four," which, if you're not part of the project, is a post of of four favorite photos by Fat Mum Slim blogger Chantelle. It is a huge honor (in my opinion) to be chosen, and it led to a pretty heavy increase of traffic to my Instagram feed.
Why am I telling you this? #humblebrag Other than being super chuffed about being chosen and excited that I've gained a few new Instagram friends—plus the fact that I like sharing this kind of thing with you—it got me thinking about something I've struggled with since the dawn of my blogging career: how to find Internet fame.
Internet fame is both fleeting and in the eye of the beholder. Someone I might think is Internet famous could be a complete nobody in a circle different from mine. But when I think about Internet celebrities in the blogging world, I think of ladies like Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge and Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess. These are women who have turned their blogs into businesses and brands, and good on them for doing so. They have thousands of fans and followers. I will never reach that level of celebrity, nor do I really want to. (I am much too reliant upon a day job to truly dedicate myself to becoming a full-time blogger.) But the little devil on my shoulder, even while knowing that I'm not aiming for the heavens, likes to whisper doubting thoughts in my ear. (What a bastard.)
When I first moved to Blogger nearly three years ago, (if you're interested, you can find my very first C&CC post here—apologies for the broken image and formatting issues ... one of these days I'll clean up all 700+ posts—and take a peep at my former blog here), I had the Google Friend Connect (GFC) widget prominently displayed in my sidebar. Every day I checked it, hoping that the count had gone up. And I was often disappointed that it hadn't, or hadn't enough. I anguished over the fact that other blogs that were around the same age as mine had hundreds of followers, while I had many, many less. Was I not entertaining enough? Was I too nerdy for my own good? (I KNOW. *GASP* is right.) What did I need to do to bring more people into the C&CC fold?
This struggle went on for longer than it should have. Although I kept posting what I wanted to post, and what I hope my readers wanted to read, I constantly considered altering the way I wrote or what I wrote about to better fit the "popular" blog mold. It all felt very high school, like I was trying to wear pink on Wednesdays when I really wanted to wear red. Somewhere along the line, I decided enough was enough. I've never been very good at fitting into a prescribed mold.
And so, I removed the GFC widget. There hasn't been a day since that I have regretted the decision. It might sound silly, but removing the widget helped me take back my blog—and my blogging confidence. Of course, I know exactly how many people "follow" me on GFC, and I still often think about ways to expand my audience, but not having the number front and center on C&CC homepage has helped me to realize that I'm here for the quality, not the quantity. The people who read my blog—yes, you—are total quality. You like similar things to me, you appreciate my often lame attempts at humor,you're not afraid to start discussions, and you stick by C&CC even when I need to take the occasional break.
This blog and the community it has helped me create might not be the most popular one on campus, but there's no one else I'd rather eat in the cafeteria with.
When it comes to blogging, April has, for the past few years, been a month of retrospection/introspection. This April 29, this silly blog turns 3. (Mark your calendars!) I'm planning some changes, in both design and content, and am taking to heart the comments you made in the recent C&CC survey. One thing mentioned was that you liked to see more personal posts, and I hope that the above is a good start to me opening up with you. If there's every anything you'd like to see more of, specifically, let me know.
P.S.—Happy First Contact Day! (Check out this 2011 obsessed. post on the subject for more.) Here's a silly GIF to make up for all those