Saturday, 28 June 2014

Who decides what a 'successful' blog is anyway?

This week it has been announced that Instagram has been added to the mysterious calculation that Tots100 decides makes you a successful blog or not. It also uses backlinks and all sorts of things I don't really understand as I am an IT fool. There has been an influx of followers to my account and to be honest? It bothers me not. Good on them I say, they are playing the 'blogging game'. If I click back and see they have some nice photos I will be sure to follow. If they don't? I won't. Simple as that.

It has got me wondering lots about what makes a 'successful' blog? What makes a person's blog 'better' than someone elses? And for that matter? Who actually cares bar the bloggers themselves? I made it into Tots100 top 500 this month for one hour. One hour! I was rabidly excited and told everyone, even phoned up my parents. Then dropped back out again as some of the other blogs were 'miscalcuated'. I was sad. And embarrassed. But? I now know not to trust the stats until at least a week after they have been published. And to be totally honest my parents had no clue what I was banging on about but seemed happy as I was happy about it.

Screw you stats! This is what it's about. Our personal triumphs!

A blog is a very personal thing and I think we should all calm down and think about our blogging triumphs as personal as well. Tots100 Top 50? Well done! Front page of Mumsnet? Brilliant achievement! Touching another parent and making them feel not alone? Equally brilliant! Getting some nice freebies for your children. Amazing! And after going to BritMums Live I can say - making new friends? For me this was utterly priceless. Blogging is meant to be fun. For me blogging was meant to be a laugh. And I find myself worried about stats and figures and readers and what people will think if I post everyday or post once a week.

So I am taking a stand and saying "F*ck It!". Blogging for me is not my career, it has offered up some amazing opportunities and I am lucky enough to say I have been on Mumsnet front page, twice. My husband was featured on CNN after a journo liked my blog and I am currently Netmums blog of the week. However, I am not in the Tots100 top 500, I don't have the most twitter followers, or Facebook likes, or 1000 instagram followers. My YouTube channel? Has 15 subscribers. And I think one of them is me and one is some weird porn site. I am proud of my successes. I love hearing from work colleagues that their friends sometimes read my blogs. I like getting the odd email from people saying I make them laugh. And when my kids watch the daft vlogs I make and scream with excitement - oh that is aces!

So screw you stats. I still will be part of Tots100 as I do think they offer fantastic advice, champion some truly amazing writers in their top 100 and their blogcamp was brilliant. I just won't be waiting for the results to be revealed. But I promise you this; I will only comment on blogs I want to. I may post four times a week or once. I will only retweet tweets I want to and if your photos are crap on Instagram? I will not be following. So get taking some pics of cute dogs covered in bunting asap. Then? You will have my undivided attention.

What do you think? How do you judge your success as a blogger? 
Do stats make it fun or stressful?

65 comments:

  1. I hope you'll get a debate on this... The inclusion of Instagram spurred me on to open an account, which I had been thinking of doing for ages, but I still haven't even worked out how to follow people!

    As for the Tots itself, I was lucky enough to join near the beginning, which always helps. However I can't get to the blog camps, and even when I *ahem* make it into the top 50, I'm ignored by a lot of bloggers. Probably cos I do cover special needs a lot, but people in the real world seem to like the blog, and that's enough for me.

    I do enjoy reading your blog and all the others I've discovered through #archiveday xx

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    1. See you achievement is out there. In the real world! Which most of us would love to be popular in. We should celebrate what we are all good at. We are all good at different things. And believe you me if I was top 50? I WOULD SCREAM ABOUT IT! xxx

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    2. Ha! I'd say it's only temporary as I had a very good month in May :)

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  2. Phew! A bit of perspective. Good on ya. And awesome work on netmums!! Xx

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  3. Stats make it both fun AND stressful! I love that I'm in Tots100 top 100 and finalist in MADs, but I've never been a Mumsnet blogger of the week. I know that I have regular readers who enjoy my posts and that's the best thing for me :)

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    1. Exactly - your successes are amazing. Just different from mine! We should just judge ourselves but it's all been made a bit hard. It's not just about writing is it? We should celebrate our own little brill things xxx

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  4. I actually have a post about this kinda carry on sitting in my crafts. I find myself putting my blog down on a regular basis because I have never been featured on mumsnet front page or been acknowledged in any way, and I can't help but check stats a lot, and I really shouldn't. Very difficult not to though sometimes :(
    Brilliant post anyway hinny x

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    1. So hard hun! I do it. I have just tried to stop so much. I think as long as you have some people who read it, whether it be your family or friends or just you hub. That's all that should matter xxx

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  5. You obviously love writing your blog. I love reading it - like many others. Blogging is very personal so how can you put a measure on that? As long as you keep enjoying it, who cares on it's "rating"?!

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    1. Ah thanks! I shall try not to get bogged down! xxx

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  6. A very good post that sums up how I feel.

    Ultimately success depends on whatever *you* define it as. For those trying to make an income out of blogging, I appreciate that it's necessary to try to game the system as much as it is about providing good content. (Funnily enough, the blogs I often see at the top of all the usual ranking lists I tend not to read, as so many of them have just become production lines of reviews, search-friendly features etc.)

    I'm okay with people doing that - it's just not me. What I really dislike is people affecting an air of nonchalance when in fact it's pretty clear they're playing the game. If people are going to do it, be honest about it.

    For must of us, though - me included - it's nice to see our follower counts and our visit numbers increasing. It's a nice little ego boost to know that people read and occasionally are interested enough to comment on what I write. Is it going to be the difference about whether or not I'm happy as a blogger? No. It means much more to me for one of my wife's friends to tell her that something I wrote really struck a chord or made her cry than moving up 100 places in such-and-such a ranking ever will. But that's just me.

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    1. Like we discussed over twitter earlier. Obv it would be amazing to be higher and those who are higher do a fantastic job. It's just their work is different to what we do. It's not my job. It's meant to be fun. I am not going to try and celebrate my little achievements and not focus on those huge massive things that I doubt I shall ever really be able to obtain. My Mom said the other day, her friend, had a friend who read my blog! That was ace! That's what I plan to focus on now xxx

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  7. I say each to their own. There seems to be quite a lot of comparisons and opinions about bloggers and 'best ways', but blogging is a personal thing. Personally, I find stats neither fun or stressful, simply useful. They're a guide, and being in the top 100 does bring me more opportunities, which I'm very grateful for, and more engagement with people, which I love. I think you have the right attitude, in that you blog when you want, say what you want and engage with whom you want - as it should be, as it's your blog! To write it, you need to enjoy it, don't you? Liking this post :)

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    1. Yes you do very well in Tots and that is because you work very very hard. So that defo reflects that. I think I am defo going to do what I want and not worry so much about other people think. It is hard though. As each month you can get a bit deflated but onwards and upwards! xxx

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  8. I am lower in the Tots 100 this month than my blog was the month I started it and had two posts. Which makes so little sense that I, like you, shan't pay any attention to it any more for score reasons. I bloody love your blog, so don't change it or be discouraged!!

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    1. Ah thanks! No that doesn't really make sense does it? I don't really understand it at all but there defo must be some sort of calculation. I'm glad you like it! xxx

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  9. I have stopped bothering with the Tots100 - ranking 1850 will do that to a person! :-) If I get under 1000 I think I will be freakishly excited! Do I take this as a sign that I am a crap writer? No, just crap at the SEO game - I have no real idea and I don't have the time or motivation to be bothered with all that right now as I'm not in it for the money or the freebies (at this point anyway - never say never!). Look at the top five blogs in the Tots100: We've got a blog which is all about several charities which hit straight at the heart of any parent, a blog which specialises in children's book reviews, a blog written by a professional journalist, a blog which specialises in recommending developmental activities for babies through to children in Year 12 and a blog which specialises in vegan and vegetarian cookery. At least one of the top ten is written by a professional blogger (not sure about the status of those top five) and I'd be very surprised if any of them also have an unconnected day job and very young children. Its impossible to compete when its not a level playing field. I guess it's the blog awards (the nominations for which come from ordinary bloggers) that really mean a lot more than this in terms of success for me - being chosen to read a post at Britmums, having a post go viral or get picked for the NetMums blog of the week like yours has :-) Obv none of that has happened to me either but if I'm looking for a personal measure of success then those are the things I want to aspire for X

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    1. Defo - each success needs to be seen as an individual thing. The parents in the top 100 doubtlessly work their arses off so totally deserve their bit of success but I'm like you. I am focussing on other bits of success. Like I would love to write for another site. And be nominated for an award would be amazing. I also love it when friends said I make them laugh. It is easy to get bogged down in stats. And I bet I still look each month. I just need to focus on other things. It just feels a bit hard when I do try really hard but because I'm not good at the game I don't succeed as well! (oh backlinks - why don't I understand you???) xxx

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  10. Such a good post, I completely agree if you get good feedback and lovely emails from people that enjoy your blog then, for me, that is success! Xx

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  11. I was SO obsessed and consumed by my stats I used to check them about 10 times a day, maybe even more. I actually started blogging just to blog and loved it so much. Then I got sucked into all the stats stuff and got really really addicted to it and it kind of made me unhappy with some of what I was putting out there. Eventually I came out the other side and I only check my stats every few days. And I'm much happier about what I write on my blog too. It's about me and my blog again. I've not put my Instagram in my TOTs yet. It's something I enjoy without thinking there's stats involved. I might change my mind maybe eventually but for now I haven't added it.

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    1. I loved instagram too! However I'm not overly offended that they have put it in the scores. I don't really get how that makes you a good blogger? I see some amazing instagram photos. But take by professional photographers? I will never be able to compete with that. It made me unhappy too. I was second guessing everything I was doing. And that's not really the point of why I started it xxx

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  12. There is only one thing that I can say to this post and that is - I bloody love you bab! X

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  13. This is a great post, had to come back when I got on my laptop to comment. I think some people can get very wound up by stats. I like them and find them useful but they are all just numbers. I think more bloggers should take a leaf out of your book and be in the rankings and have an interest in them but not care too much. Blogging should be fun! x
    PS, Following on Bloglovin now :) x

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    1. It so should be fun and sometimes it can be a bit not fun! I think they are defo useful if you want brands to work with you or you have a message and you want to see how far your message is going but for me it was becoming the main focus. I need to pull back a bit and just keep doing what makes me happy xxx

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  14. I feel like clapping - is that weird?! You speak such sense blonde Em. And in my humble opinion you are a perfect example of a total success story - stats or not, if you are not winning awards next year i will eat my hat! I guess everyone's measure of success is different, and I'd rather be engaging properly with real people, than have empty numbers on a page. It feels at times like we are in a popularity contest, pitted against each other, and i'm with you in choosing not to take part. Very well written luvvie - i'm coming over to subscribe on youtube too xxx

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    1. Ha ha ha! clap away! Funny lady. It is nice to know that people are reading who are not actual bloggers, who don't know what a linky is, or care about blogcamps. That's the best feeling. I need to just focus on the fun bit and the bit where I met some lovely ladies (you obv!) xxx

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  15. I've been blogging since 2010, to recover from PTSD. I didn't expect anyone to read it. Slowly but surely I gathered a following, I got lots of comments from people saying "oh I didn't know it was ok to feel like that" "Oh I feel less alone". I started being used by charities here and abroad. The Bill Gates Foundation asked me to write for them. I was invited to UN press conferences as a journalist. Me!

    I've never been a top ranker, but I don't care. I don't blog so much these days because blogging led to me having the career of my dreams, working for a charity devoted to sick and premature babies.

    I love blogging because it saved my sanity, helped me be a better mother, and led to an amazing career.

    Great post

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    1. WOW! How inspirational! That is so lovely to heat. And I am glad you are now doing so well. I started my blog as I felt a bit bored and a bit lonely being at home all the time and I defo feel more confident now so at least it has worked in that respect. I am very happy for you! xxx

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  16. Great post and I completely agree. I like being in the tots100 as it's useful for getting contacts from PRs. I bounce in and out of the top 100 (after years of being way down) but I have no idea how or why. I have a vague interest in my stats, mostly it amuses me that they're quite low until my mum shares a post on an American knitting site she chats on then I suddenly have 1500 people reading a post about the baby! I used to worry about stats, rankings and awards and then I stopped enjoying blogging so I've stuck with doing it for me.

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    1. I defo think there is a place for tots and I would never want to pull myself out of it like some other bloggers do. I don't really understand the mechanics of it all I think I just need to kind of focus on other things rather on their judgement of me. One of my best posts has been a Cbeebies Land review and that was just random general public stumbling across it! xxx

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  17. Amazing post! I don't even know how to check how well my blog is doing but I know it's probably not very well. No one comments on my blogs etc which made me think that it isn't very good but I have kept writing it because it is something I enjoy doing and I am trying to evolve if to follow what is happening in my life.
    I work full time in a hospital so I don't have as much time as some of the most popular blogs and that is fine, I am not going to play the blogging game I am just going to continue doing what I am doing and if just one person likes my blog then I am happy.

    X

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    1. Brill - working full time I don't think it is always possible to achieve what some other blogs do as it does seem to take a lot of time and effort. Think of bloggers like Zoella who is amazing but it is her full time job. As long as you are happy with it that should be the main thing! xxx

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  18. Just out of interest... how do you get those freebies? I always see bloggers with prize giveaways etc. and wonder how they got them. Do you ask or are they given? My blog is small and local... but I love it. No idea what Tots 100 is!

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    1. Tots is a website that helps bloggers and also ranks them. They offer advice and competitions. They also may send people your way to review things. Just like Mumsnet. So they may be good for your to join if you want freebies? I have had most of my reviews from readers who have enjoyed my blog though xxx

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  19. I've been tempted at times to remove myself from websites where they provide stats so I can focus on what really matters - enjoying blogging. Stats can make you feel pressurised and there is enough things in live to worry about without a number adding to it x

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    1. Yes! exactly! I was getting myself in a right old tizz. They are helpful but I think for a while I shall focus on other things. Like ideas and content xxx

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  20. Wonderful post, and I entirely agree with you. To be honest, when I started my blog, I looked at the way that Tots was worked out and gave up there and then - I knew I wouldn't have time to maintain a FB account specifically for the blog, and as for Instagram...I do watch my own stats, but the best - THE BEST - thing is when a post is picked up by Mumsnet or similar and published on their site. Then you know you must be doing something right. Keep doing what you're doing - I think you're fab!

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    1. Defo! I really enjoy if someone likes my writing and I must admit when the journalist from CNN said he read my post and found it funny? That was brilliant! And it wasn't even really a popular post. Different people see success differently. I need to focus on what makes me happy and no-one else xxx

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  21. Brilliant post! Agree with you totally! X

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  22. This is a really good post to get everyone talking. And I agree that it is not productive to just become obsessed with stats and rankings. For most of us it is just a hobby, and will never be any more (apart from some free products or days out) - as only the very few bloggers will ever make enough money from it to have a career. It is for most of us a way of communicating, and for a lot of bloggers, an avenue to write for therapeutic purposes. However, I would imagine that most bloggers do want to be 'heard'. It is a good feeling to have hundreds, thousands of views for something that you have taken the time to write, rather than just your husband and a few friends read it! And I too have been front page of Mumsnet twice now, and I was over the moon - that my little blog was doing so well. It's human nature to want to do well at something you do, even if it is something you do for your own pleasure. Because most bloggers do want to reach out and say something - and the only way of doing this is by having an audience. And in blogging I am learning that it is through twitter followers, Facebook, Tots100, number of comments etc that gets more and more readers to the blog. Now don't get me wrong, I am no pro here, I am in fact very new to blogging. And I am not in it for any 'success' because I am realistic. I do not think I will get any further than I have done. However I do want my blog reach out to people and I therefore need these avenues. And I think that if a lot of bloggers were very honest then they would say that too. After all, why do we spend so much time writing so much material for no-one to read?! Blogging is amazing; it is easy to do, anyone can do it, it gives everyone a voice and it is incredibly diverse. And I am glad that you have now taken an approach that suits you and that makes you happy. Because that's what it is all about!

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    1. Exactly. I do have all the twitter pages and fb and instagram etc. As I do want people to read what I am writing. I just think sometimes the success should be measured by ourselves. There are some blogs that are just review based - and these are amazing and serve a real purpose for other parents but they aren't for me and vice versa I am sure they couldn't give a toss about Mumsnet! Also the craft blogs and photography blogs these are wonderful things but will never ever be 'me'. I enjoy writing but was increasingly finding myself worrying over silly little things like timings of posts and how many posts which took the fun out of it. Or if I had a week off would my Klout drop? I need to chill out a bit and enjoy it and maybe not take it so seriously! xxx

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  23. OMG - this is fab and so true. I was gutted when Brown (haired) Emma said she was taking a break because you she was overwhelmed at Britmums. It is supposed to be a hobby and fun. Back in the day we would have been at a creative writing night class and going for a wine afterwards now we have the internet - which makes things seem vast. Your blog is ace xx (I joined your youtube channel under my night job ;) xx

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    1. I know! There seem to be a few taking a break. It is supposed to be fun. I like the idea of us having wine and writing. Can we do that anyway???? Seriously we need to meet soon! xxx

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  24. Awesome netmums stuff lovely! I have never done well in the tots but I consider myself successful so fuck em. Did I mention my award…? I've never been so polar on instagram either! LOL x

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    1. Did you win an award? I don't think you mentioned it? What was that for? Best travel or summat?

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  25. The Netmums stuff is really truly awesome. I've not become obsessed by stats thankfully, I've friends who have and it tears them up when they drop a few places or lose some Klout, but I think if you only think of stats you post for posting's sake, not because you want to. I like to check my Google hits often because I have chicken pox and nits posts that get hits almost every day, and that's a good measure of success for me - some poor bugger googled "how long does chicken pox last for in a 3 year old?" and got a result :)

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    1. Yay thanks! Klout is crazy? I have no clue what it is. It makes no sense. I get a few hist from my CBeebies Land review. And also someone typed in 'hot mummy' and got me! Ha ha ha xxx

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  26. Woo bloody hoo Emma! Loved reading this :-) I don't do stats, I signed up to Google analytics and decided five mins later that I wasn't going to look at it, and I genuinely don't. The fun gets stripped away when we take things too seriously, then of course there's the worry that we aren't as good as x, y or z.

    Do your own thing I say, and take pride inbeing a bit different xxx

    http://mummytries.com/2014/06/30/on-not-striving-to-be-perfect/

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    1. Google Analytics baffles my tiny brain. I defo need to worry a little less and make it more of a hobby. Non of my fam and friends get it. They think I am crackers! Defo do our own thing xxx

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  27. You are totally right and totally successful babs! Stats just make me want to cry and give up. I will never get in TOTS100, especially with this Instagram thang. I don't take pictures! I *borrow* them from Mr Google! Awesome about Netmums, well done. Was a fab post! I love your new day trip vlogs too. I am putting my feet up a bit on the bloggin' at the mo, so don't be offended if I am not on the waves much. You know I LOVE your work and I LOVE you! xxx

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    1. I MISS YOU! It is so weird I got your tweet and I was totally thinking about you!!! Have your break. Have a nice rest and then coming running back to me. Thank you kindly xxx

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  28. Great post. I think there is a lot of pressure on bloggers, mostly put on by themselves, to rank highly on tots100. But unless you are making blogging your profession, I think we should focus on the joy of blogging. Especially in the beginning of our blogging lives, there is so much to figure out without worrying about having thousands of followers. xx

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    1. Yes. I love the writing bit bab. That's what makes me happy so getting recognition for that for me is brill. Some people like getting lovely freebies. I am just going to keep doing what I want to do xxx

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  29. Great post. I got so hung up on stats I even had a little spreadsheet each month that I would update and it became an obsession. And as for the Tots100 my ranking dropped this month despite my spreadsheet showing my various stats had increased - go figure!! Your post says it all about your success Netmums, CNN - thats what its all about :-) Thanks for saying what a lot of people have been thinking.

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    1. Oh I LOVE the sound of your spreadsheet! I really don't know how it works. On paper mine looked better this month. Maybe everyone else had a super month?? I dunno. I shall just focus on trying to make my writing a bit better and making my vlogs. Which make me happy xxx

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  30. I had no idea Instagram had been added to the Tots chart until I read this, just so you know as I added you the other day, but not because of any chart inclusion, haha! I wondered why I've suddenly had a lot more followers the last few weeks- I'm still hoping they just like my pictures! :-) The Tots thing is great if you're high up, as you get readers/opportunities, but otherwise I think it takes the joy out of blogging overall, as people get more competitive and put people/blogs on a pedestal. Yes, the might be great and worthy of being there, but there are lots of fab blogs now that aren't, and prob never will be due to the nature of the charts being that the longer you've blogged, the more likely you are to stay put in that chart. You then obviously get more readers/better stats, and the cycle continues that you stay there. One of my favourite bloggers didn't write ANYTHING for nearly 3 months, wrote one post, and then the next month was 70-odd in the chart! I love her blog, but that's just crazy!

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    1. No way? That is cray cray! I think tots is fab and does help people and there is no denying there are some fab writers in the top 100 but I just need to focus on my own little successes as it was making me a bit miserable which I didn't really like. So let's focus on what makes us happy! Huzzah for that xxx

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  31. Great post. Echoes my experiences perfectly. I got very upset after getting into top 1000 (about 700) only to shoot back out the following month and return to roughly where I began the first month I joined! Which was completely mad as my stats are about 10 times higher now. I don't have an Instagram account and refuse to open one just for Tots. It is bad enough trying to keep up with twitter! So I have resigned that I'll float around the 1000 in Tots and like you not worry about it. Other people don't seem to be worried about it. Chicco asked me to be one of their Tested for happiness bloggers which has been an amazing experience and I keep getting invites to brand PR launch events. So people obviously like my blog. And the most important thing is that I enjoy writing it. Well done on your blog of the week - that is amazing and like you I'd be over the moon with that kind of recognition.

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  32. Great post. To be honest I really don't understand stats properly. Different platforms count my numbers differently so I have no idea how many visitors etc I *really* have. I'm on BritMums but not Netmums or Tots100. I've thought about joining but people just seem to get pretty stressed about their ranking so still undecided. In fact, I've taken a bit of a blogging break at the moment to focus on other things, which will also give me time to rethink my approach to blogging when I return!

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  33. How did I miss this post woman?! I absolutely LOVE it! I have finally come round to this way of thinking too and I will even cheers to that with my imaginary glass of sparkly stuff. You're so right. It's the little things that matter and sometimes the isolated big things (like getting blog of the day or that AMAZING tweet from Netmums!). But at the end of the day, it's our lives at home that our important, the ones we are instagraming the hell out of (well some of us might be, I'm not!). Love that you're championing this attitude. Go you! x

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  34. PS you've got 13 more youtube subscribers than me lol! I don't even know HOW to make a vlog but I'm not going to start trying....I AM NOT!

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