The Numbers Game
This past week I read a really inspiring post from a new blog I recently started reading by Maxie McCoy. In “What are you Measuring,” Maxie reminds us that we are not measured by numbers, but rather by moments and by love. A few of her brilliant words:
You’ve got a credit score. Letters by your name. You’ve got 140 character bios. And super sassy business cards.
Bullets on a resume. Figures in your savings.
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They’re the things you have. Things you’ve built. Things you’ve worked toward. But they aren’t your essence. Your being. Your magic. They aren’t you.
She goes on to list many more important things that can be measured and concludes:
Measure your life with love. Of others. Of you. Measure with joy, from deep and lasting support. Measure it in what you give. Measure in what you feel. Measure only from your heart to your soul.
This manifesto (Always Measure In.) reminded me of the following post I wrote in 2009, which I have edited and updated for re-posting today.
I feel it is still as valid today as when I originally wrote it:
In 2009, Megan of Velveteen Mind wrote an outstanding post that I *still* refer to on the meaning of numbers in the blog world. In “Internalizing the Statistics: I Bet You Think This Song Is About You” Megan talks about the controversy that is the numbers game in the blogosphere.
Before I get into what she wrote, I wanted to remind you of something else she wrote that I feel is worth repeating over and over.
At Blissdom09 she uttered the most unforgettable words which have stuck with me since that time, I came back from my first blogging conference and mentioned these words, here is an extract:
...about blogging without obligation vs. blogging with discipline. I think the most important thing is this: OWN IT.
I wish I could say that those are my words, but they aren’t. They come from Megan at Velveteen Mind, an empowering woman who blogs the way she wants, when she wants and about what she wants, and as a reader of her blog you know that is what you are going to get because she has set those expectations. That is what is key. If you write it and it is interesting, they will come. After that, you just need to let people know your pace and don’t apologize for it…own your blog.
How powerful is that? I seriously think about printing that out and taping it to my monitor all the time. Those words have guided me over the past years and I keep them close. I also share them with other blog friends when they feel they aren't “doing it” right. There is no right or wrong. There is what works for you. Don't lose sight of why you started a blog in the first place. It should be for pure pleasure.
So now back to 2010 and the other Megan Jordan sound-byte that is worth rejoicing in, or as she closes her posts with “relish” in. In that post she wrote:
You are not your stats.
You are not your little stats. You are not your big stats. You are not your ignorance of stats.
I encourage you to read the rest of her post here.
Another early influencer in my blogging career was Liz Strauss. She also spoke about numbers at another conference I went to a few months later in the spring of 2009, SOBCon 09. I blogged about it, but have pulled this extract:
…she said many things that struck me, but one in particular: numbers don’t mean anything until you label them.
Stop and think about that for a minute.
How true is that!? The importance assigned to numbers is purely subjective. The implication being decided by the person who is receiving or interpreting the information. I love that!
People focus on numbers a lot. What’s your traffic? How many comments do you get? How many books have you sold? But – but – but – in comparison to who? Under what circumstances? With how much investment? It is all subjective, that requires a unique perspective.
Don’t worry about other people’s labels. Focus on you: decide who you are and what you stand for and stick to it, be genuine, and most of all…be nice!
I wanted to do this post because I think from time to time we all need reminders that we are more than just a number.
We are the sum of ALL our parts.
How about you? Have you been a victim of the numbers game?
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What a sobering post. Thanks. I needed that 🙂
I love looking at my stats. When I started blogging, these numbers were very important. At the moment, they are fun to watch and I can see what is attracting people but that’s it. I blog because I like, it, I need it and it’s fun. If people read, fine. If not, well, bummer but it’s okay. While looking for ways to get more traffic, I finally went from taking to sharing and giving. Voilà.
Thank you for this, Andi. I spend way too much time worrying, worrying, and more worrying. My new editor wrote me today to say how much she loved my new manuscript. My immediately reaction was, how can I trust this person; she’s obviously not qualified to edit my work.
That is too sad. So, reading your blog is like a magic carpet ride. LOL. Seriously, you’re a darling girl! And you love French things. Yay!
@Terry, sounds like you get it. This community is all about karma, giving to get 🙂
I used to check my stats obsessively–several times a day. Now I hardly check them at all. I do look at my subscriber numbers, mostly to see if they are going up. I want to know that I am connecting with my audience, so if my subscriber numbers dropped in a big way, I would assume I did something to run every one off the farm, so to speak. But it’s very freeing to just write for joy and not for stats.
So inspiring, thanks! I’m too new to the blog world to be concerned with #’s yet, but now I know what no to do in the future. 🙂
I didn’t know you when you were not showing your photo, but now I can have a picture in my mind when reading your blog. My first interest was that se share a love of “Frenchie” things. I live in London and have a love affair with France. It would take less time for me to be in Paris, than to travel from NYC to Boston! I used to go there for long weekends, and on summer vacation for 2 to 3 staying in farm gites. Sixteen months ago we took the kids for to Paris for 5 days, renting an apartment right near Notre Dame. Cheaper than a hotel! I felt like a local for almost a week.
Enough about that. I was also engaged by your topic of numbers. I do look at my stats occasionally…it ‘s interesting to see which posts got the big surges in visits and which one were obviously not so interesting. It’s my blog, it’s got my name on it, so I have to be real. However, I have wondered at times if people find my blog really boring. I blog about things that interest me, mostly about the issues around infertility. How it affects your self-esteem, your relationship, your focus. What’s new in the fertility industry, both locally (UK) and internationally. How to keep going. What kind of support you need. I get very few comments; 0 – 2 on average. I will continue to write anyway. I love it. I would probably love it even more if I knew someone was reading it besides my parents.
Lisa (ICLW #34 – Your Great Life)
Really great stuff, Andi. Sometimes, I obsess, but less and less all the time.
We Asians have always been a victim of the number game. Since young, we try to get good grades so parents will not be angry; when old. we try to earn big amount of money to prove ourselves to strangers.
@Mai, I hear you, I have a lot of Asian friends so I know their “pain!”
I think we have all been a victim of this, whether it is a credit score, a test or a scale. Thank you for sharing.
I agree. For whatever we do, the numbers always seem to matter.
I can’t tell you how long it has been since I looked at my stats. I probably should check once in awhile. I might even take my stat counter off because I just don’t care about them any longer.
@Terry, that is fantastic!
This is a great way to stay motivated. I love how positive all of these mantras are.
@ToughCookieMommy, it is refreshing to see people who are really positive and want to share that positivity with others!
I think we’re all guilty of paying them too much attention at some point. It’s so freeing when you don’t worry about it anymore.
What a great reminder!
I got caught in the numbers game a couple years ago and lost the reason why I blog and many other activities. I learned the numbers really don’t mean anything if you are missing from the scenario.
@Debbie, so true! If you let the numbers drive you, you lose yourself!
This is such funny timing that I read this now, Andi, as I just got off the phone with another blogger and we were discussing just this. Being true to ourselves and what WE want on our sites, vs what the numbers say. It’s just a matter of choosing, that’s all. Great post and thanks for the reminder.
@Christina, I think it is something we struggle with all the time in blogging, I know I do!
I always think content is better. I hate it when we get chosen by advertisers because of the numbers. I have been working a full time job as a Quality Assurance Analyst and that has been my mantra in life – Quality over Quantity.
@Eileen, I agree with you 100%, I think the smart brands know it is not always about the numbers, and other brands will eventually come around!
As a blogger you tend to value your work with number of comments, number of visitors, number of followers on social media. It can get discouraging if you need time for yourself and then suddenly your numbers take a dive. I’ve cut myself a break because a lot of people still visit the site and find my words meaningful – there is no way to measure “helpfulness” or the inspiration you can give to individual readers.
@Murissa, so true! Helping one person is reward enough!
Thanks for this, I definitely tend to measure myself by how much I have accomplished in numbers, and I’m so much more than that. Thanks for the reminder.
@Janel, you are welcome, everybody – including me – needs a reminder from time to time!
Saw this quote and it made me think of this post again – “The whole idea of “breaking through” is such a crock… If you do nothing else, build a religion around this one fact… You can feel relevant, you can imagine that you somehow matter in the larger scheme of things, you can commit to being a force in the world, without hitting some arbitrary high score or crossing some imaginary threshold of popularity.” — Heather Havrilesky
@Murissa, that is a GREAT quote, thanks for sharing!
Numbers are good to brag about, but it takes a long time to build those numbers the right way!
Thanks God I’m not a victim of this games.