April 05, 2013

Being Internet Famous

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 TL;DR words above.


  1. Three years on here? Crazy. Even crazier is I vaguely remember your Wordpress blog. If numbers make you feel better just consider that you've expanded your employee headcount by 100% since then.

    Internet fame is a fickle mistress (just ask Emily; it has constantly eluded her, but mostly because she doesn't try very hard). I know all about making it big online and the long fall that sometimes follows. That's why I had to stop doing my blog. It got too big, too fast and I couldn't handle the pressure, and--

    What? Why are you laughing? This is serious. Thanks, jerk-friend. I was just trying to relate to you and you laugh in my face! That's fine. I guess I'll just never share the secret to blogging success with you. (hint: It's Ninja Turtles).

  2. Yeah, internet fame is weird and fleeting, and fore sure any of us who have the gumption to create and write for a site want it to some degree, but really just amounts to chasing our own tail. For folks who have turned their site into their livelihood, well, they win. For the rest of us it really has to be about a passion for doing what we do regardless of comments, RT's, likes, and the rest of the goofy hoopla. Also, Wes is dead on. The secret is Ninja Turtles. And the 80s. ;)

  3. Amen to all this! I will admit to still looking at my traffic stats and follower counts, but not *nearly* as much as I used to -- you know, back when I cared about having a big following. Truth is, the handful of followers I do have are, in my opinion, of the highest quality -- and quality over quantity is true and awesome. I wouldn't trade my tiny, close-knit blog community for massive silly internet fame and free shit for the world.

    Blogging is such an interesting but weird thing. I twist myself in knots sometimes trying to decipher trajectories and motives and plans and questions and blahblahblah, and then I just throw my hands up and say "JUST KEEP IT FUN." Because once it's not fun - once it's really work - it becomes an entirely different animal, honesty goes down the drain, goals change to superficial ones, and it's just another big boring fashion blog in a sea of fashion blogs or whatever. Borrrrrrrrrrrring.

    Also, while it's cool that Elsie Larson and all those big names in blogs can make their living blogging, that's like 0.00001% of blogs. (Also I think her DIYs are just plain silly. Just sayin'...)

  4. whoop whoop!! Three years!! Can't wait to see your new ideas for the blog too!

    As for internet fame, I totally agree with Wesley - it's insanely fickle. With the move from GFC I've found that I've deleted most of the "big boy blogs" off my feed in favour of more reader-interactive blogs like CC&C.

  5. When I saw that this morning, I squealed, "That's Mandy's Ampersand!!" hehe.

    Very cool. :)

    Of course, you aren't AS Internet Famous as The Real ReTweet/ The Boy. We all can't have a webcom character named after us. ;-)

  6. Ugh yes this! There are some blogs that I flip through almost like a magazine, but when it comes down to it, there are only a handful that I think I truly get excited to see a new post in my dash from, and it's usually more to talk about a post and interact than just skim it.

    I'm never going to make a living from my blog alone, but I do enjoy writing and talking and helping others in this crazy community :) No one else in the cafeteria, indeed!

  7. Wow! Happy (almost) 3 year blogiversary! Good on you for having a healthy mindset when it comes to your blog/fame. And, may I say how impressed I am that you have kept up continuously with the posting, etc. Sometimes it's hard to find the motivation, when you don't see the follower count increase much, but it shows how much you love it by how dedicated you are. :)

    On Thursday morning I was skimming through my Instagram feed and saw Fat Mum Slim's Fab Four post, as always I looked at the pictures, thought they were awesome, and continued on, only to get a few more photos down and have a deja vu moment when I saw your ampersand. Yay for you!!! :)

  8. Good points, all. :) And, unfortunately, I remember very little of the 80s. Dang my cruddy memory!

  9. Oh, I still look at them too, but it's nice to have them not staring me in the face.

    I really like your point about reminding yourself to keep it fun. It's hard sometimes, but that really is what I try to think about as well.

    And yeah—her DIYs can be super silly. But I suppose everyone needs to take inspiration from somewhere? :)

  10. Thank you, Fiona! And I've done much of the same with my move to Feedly. Trying to be a better blogger in the sense of reading and commenting more necessitates fewer blogs to try to keep up with.

  11. Skimming like through a magazine is a very good way of describing it! And I'm glad we're part of the same community. <3

  12. Thank you, friend. It can get hard sometimes, but I've found that setting a calendar helps. However, when I eventually have kids, I'm sure all my lists and guidelines might go out the window. ;)