Do you ever read a post that inspires you so much, you just need to write your own thoughts? Well, that’s how I felt after reading Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane‘s post on blogging engagement. Her discussion was raw, honest, eloquent and needed. It’s something I certainly connected with on a deep level. So much so that I wanted to write about my own experience with blogging engagement–particularly the complex and complicated emotions that result when it feels stagnant.
So, thank you, Marie, for the inspiration! Everyone, please go and show her support by following her blog and engaging with her content! She’s a wonderful blogger, writer, creative, human and friend who deserves the world!
What Is Blogging Engagement
So, I agree with Marie’s original definition she provided. She described it as the quantifiable: “I mean engagement on the blog itself. This can include: likes, comments, shares on social media…”
And that’s what I’ll be talking about here, too, because it’s what I can see. But not only see, but also compare (with myself, not others!), evaluate and set goalposts around. Yet, in many ways, it’s not something I can always control. The amount of work I put into a post does not automatically mean that it’s going to be reflected in my stats. (Often, the posts I love and am most proud of flop statistically. 😅)
There are many factors that tie into blog engagement, some of which I don’t fully understand.
What I do understand is the human element. And that I agree with how Marie is feeling: this overwhelming sense of…am I just shouting into the void? Does anyone even care what I’m writing about? Can all of this work really amount to such small amounts of tangible response?
Let’s dig into the numbers themselves and see what I mean.
Honest Talk: Looking at the Numbers
Now, none of us are surprised when I hype up Kal @ Reader Voracious‘ spreadsheet. It’s how I actually track my blogging engagement, though I also use Jetpack and Google Analytics via WordPress, too. (Though, I won’t lie: don’t really understand the Google Analytics too much, quite yet.) All the graphs below are taken from said spreadsheet.
So, let’s look at a few main categories to see what the engagement with my blog actually looks like.
Overarchingly, my views each month have been very sporadic this year, as you can see from the chart above. For comparison, last year, I had six months with over 800+ views and 3 months over 1000+ views. This year, out of the nine months we’ve had so far, I’ve had five months over 800+, but only only over 1000+ (last month).
So, I had roughly 9,500 views in 2021 and am at currently almost 8,000 views for 2022. Views seem to be roughly the same, overarchingly!
Comments and Likes
This year, I’ve written 97 posts (!!) and have an average of 13 likes per post and 5 comments per post. With the chart above, you can see that discussion posts, book blog topics and personal posts do the best consistently on all three categories. My allyship series is the weakest (😔) and my writing posts are subpar. That makes me really sad, because those post mean a lot to me, you know?
Yet, when I compare the number of followers I have with the average blogging engagement, it feels…not enough?
Let me explain: right now, I have 948 followers (wow, thank you). I started the year off at 921, so I’ve gotten 27 new followers this year. But, as you can see on the graph above, from May through September, I didn’t gain any new followers and stayed at 945.
All of this together paints a picture that I wish I liked looking at a little more: one where I’m definitely putting out content, regularly, yet the engagement levels seem far disproportionate to what it could be, given the follower count (which leads me to question how many of those followers are bots or just completely disengaged).
My Relationship with Blogging Engagement
So, you may be wondering: what’s the point of all of this?
Well, like two peas in a pod, I’m feeling similar feelings to what Marie described in her post. Despite being the proudest I’ve been of my content, going self-hosted, creating a new blogging schedule and choosing to write content I want to write; it feels like the engagement levels aren’t matching. And, while they are staying consistent, it isn’t growing. And, as someone driven by forward momentum, I’d really like to see growth. It’d be validating, rewarding and exciting.
The “why” this is happening, I think Marie described really well already. Blogs are hard to compete with, in terms of social media. And, as someone who has no instead in Bookstagram or BookTok, and can barely keep up Twitter (and has the interactions to reflect that), I’m not present in those scenes. And honestly, trying to please the Algorithm gods is just fucking exhausting.
Like others including Marie have mentioned, too, after going self-hosted, the engagement dropped. Why that happens, I have no idea, but it is reflected in my engagement levels. I feel like I’m just now, almost two years later, recovering from that drop.
But, what I’m struggling with the most is, again, that human emotional response. I am very grateful to have grown to where I’m at (the first like, six years, I would be lucky to get 20 views a year–this is not an exaggeration). Now, I can get that on one post! It’s amazing! I’m very grateful!
Yet, I think I can be grateful of where I’ve come, yet also be disappointed that I feel my growth is currently hiccupping. These complex emotions don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Putting all of this together, honestly? I’m just…a bit bummed. I am a big believer that you shouldn’t play the comparison game, nor put your worth into stats!! It’s toxic and only hurts your soul.
Yet, I do feel like I am doing everything “right” in my attempts to grow a thing that I love. And put a damn lot of amount of work into. I have a consistent schedule. I promote on Twitter (prolly not enough, tbh, as promotion and I still struggle). SEO optimization is being utilized (though, again, something I could prolly learn better). I blog hop and engage with others (not so it’s reflected back on my blog, but because I genuinely enjoy supporting other bloggers. However, if you don’t engage, it’s hard to expect engagement to come to you).
Yet, at the end of the day, my engagement is a bit stagnant. And I think I just have to live with that.
HOWEVER: if you do have some magical tips or something I am just completely missing, I wouldn’t turn down hearing your advice. 😅
But, I also wrote this because I wanted to let you know, if you’re struggling with your relationship with your own blog’s engagement, you’re not alone. You already have two people in your corner, from me here and I think it’s safe to say Marie, too. And, judging about the resonation from her comment section, I think this isn’t an uncommon experience.
So, don’t forget: it’s okay if you’re not where you want to be, engagement wise. Focus on what you can control, let go of what you can’t and don’t compare. It doesn’t serve you, anyway. 🖤
Patreon | Newsletter | Editorial Services | Twitter | Instagram | Kofi
Really love this post–it’s so true, sometimes it does feel like you’re just writing into the void. I always try to come back to the reason I started blogging in the first place: I love putting my passion for books into words!
Thank you *so* much, Holly, your comment meant to much to me (even if it took me almost a month to respond). That’s a great reason to blog, absolutely!
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says
It’s gotten harder and harder for me to engage with the blogging community lately. I blame time, but I do think a general sense of blogging fatigue is at fault as well. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight mentioned in her 9-Year Blogoversary post recently that she sometimes feel like she doesn’t have a lot to say anymore, and I’ll confess that I’ve fallen into that trap too. I love my blog and the community I have from it, but I do feel like things are changing and it gets harder to stay engaged the longer you do it. Still, there are always new horizons around the corner, and I hope that I will find new inspiration soon!
I think time (or lack of it) and blogging fatigue are massive factors, most definitely! I hope you find new inspiration soon, too, or peace if you need to step away from it for a while. No shame in taking breaks, either!
K.M. Allan says
“Focus on what you can control, let go of what you can’t and don’t compare. It doesn’t serve you, anyway. 🖤”. An excellent summary of your post and feelings, and something I needed to hear today as well. Thank you. We’ve all felt this way as bloggers and writers and I’ve found the only way to deal with it is accept that it is what it is and that we can only do our best. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but as long as you’re still happy to put in the work, that’s good enough most days.
I definitely agree with you!! I think in October, I was definitely in the latter camp of, “why is nothing working out!?” but I’m feeling not too shabby about it at the moment. It definitely ebbs and flows!
Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies says
Interesting, thoughtful post! I don’t have any magical tips 🙂 , but I agree that it can be tiring to put effort and time in and not see a change in engagement. That said, I’ve stopped paying as much attention to stats over the past few years. I enjoy writing and posting, and appreciate whatever comments and interactions I have, and I’m okay with not having huge numbers. I think an active social media presence is key for bigger numbers, and since I have no interest in Booktok, BookTube, Bookstagram, etc, I accept that my reach will remain limited.
Lisa, I swear I just need to learn from your wisdom. I’m definitely not as badly attached to stats as I used to be, but sometimes, I do get down in the dumps about it. I hope to adopt more of your mindset!
I think everyone is struggling with engagement! I’m pretty sure the views I can expect on a discussion post have dropped in half from, say two years ago, and most of those viewers won’t comment. Why, I’m not sure.
I’m also not sure why going self-hosted would matter. I do find it difficult to comment a lot on blogs where I have to keep typing in all my info on each post, and I have found myself commenting less when people move to that system. But as long as I can easily just use my WordPress login to comment, I don’t see the problem.
It’s sorta sad (yet relieving) that this is definitely not just a me problem, that’s for sure! Though I hope your discussions improve–I always love reading them!
Honestly, I have no idea, either. I just know that I took a massive hit for the first like, six months after I went self-hosted, and a few other bloggers reported the same. Not sure why or how, but I do find it fascinating.
Know that feeling of putting your heart and soul into something and not hearing people go “yes!”. Stats only confirm what you already know there.
And no silver bullet here – hell I could probably learn a thing or two from you about growing what I do – but plenty of “woof, I feel that”.
You know what, sometimes, “woof, I feel that” is exactly what I need to hear. Right there with you, Peat.
I really loved reading your thoughts on the topic and I’m so happy I could inspire you to share your own experience, as well! <3 I get the feeling of frustration when we see that we're not growing, a bit stagnant or even decreasing in engagement over the years. I'm not going to lie and say that I am over it, because I will forever feel sad about it, but I also know that I am to blame. I'm prioritizing my writing more than blog hopping, which feels selfish but also important to me and that could be a reason why I'm not getting the same engagement than I used to. It's one of multiple reasons. I also feel like social media and people losing patience for comments and reading long blog posts, can be at cause here, unfortunately. All we can do is keep on going and writing things we're proud of, thats what matters! 🙂 <3