I am Not a Number

This post has been floating around in my head for awhile now, and I wasn’t sure whether I would share it or not, as it’s a bit of a brain dump of a post. In the end though, I decided to put it out there, as I strive to be totally honest and open on the blog, and this is the reason behind my periods of negativity recently.

Lately it has started to feel like no matter how good my writing and photos are, it doesn’t matter if people aren’t seeing my work, and people just feed into this more and more by focusing solely on follower numbers. I am more than just my follower number.

I may not have hundreds of thousands hanging on my every word, but when those who do follow me take the time out to comment on a post letting me know how much it resonated with them, helped them, made them realise they weren’t alone. Surely that is important too? Surely that means something?

See, with blogging, it is no longer even just about comparing your blog to someone else’s, to their writing, it’s now comparing across all social media channels, the number of followers they have, the quality of their photos on Instagram and the subsequent number of likes a photo gets. It is never ending, relentless.

I recently saw a conversation on Twitter, with bloggers discussing how those with smaller follower numbers shouldn’t be looking to get paid for blog posts as they didn’t deserve to. Although I don’t get involved in things like this on Twitter, as I want to avoid the drama, as somebody they would consider a small blogger, it did upset me.

The thing is, I can totally see the point they were making to a certain extent, obviously brands should be getting a good ROI when working with bloggers, but the tone of these ‘bigger’ bloggers was bordering on plain nasty, and aggressive towards those below them.

Some of the things that were being said were hurtful and sadly, the general consensus seemed to be that it didn’t matter how good quality the writing and photography these bloggers were showing, if their follower number wasn’t what these people were deeming ‘high enough’, then it didn’t matter, completely reinforcing the worries I have been having.

Don’t get me wrong, I can totally understand the frustration of those who have worked hard, and for a long time to get to where they are now in the blogging world, only to have newer, often younger people come along and start getting some of the action, working with the brands these bloggers have worked up to collaborate with but unfortunately that’s life. It happens in other industries as well.

What makes it frustrating for me, personally, is that this is now my seventh year of blogging – I started my first blog in January 2011. However, unlike these bloggers with huge followings, who are annoyed at the newer bloggers coming along and threatening to take opportunities they feel they shouldn’t be able to have, I don’t have the numbers to show for my time.

I abandoned my first blog after my marriage broke down, I took several breaks over the years, I put blogging to one side whilst I focused on bringing up my children, I didn’t consistently work on one blog for all that time.

So for me, as somebody who has been in this a long time, but hasn’t got much to show for it, it’s demoralising to see those who have found success in this very competitive industry, to suggest that those without the following simply don’t matter, that we don’t count.

My passion for writing has never wavered. In all the time I have been blogging, for me sitting down to write has been the best bit. Sure, being sent items I have lusted over in magazines is a huge bonus, but it has never been the be all and end all.

But it’s hard not to get sucked into the competitive game in blogging. When follower numbers are out there for all to see, it’s hard not to constantly compare yourself to others.

When those who started a year ago, are getting double the views you get each month and working with brands you love and would love to write about, it can be hugely demotivaiting.

You end up asking yourself the question, why not me? Why don’t people like my blog? And when you are in this kind of a downward spiral, the line between your blog and you can become blurred.

As somebody who suffers from depression and anxiety, being in a situation where I am constantly being judged on the popularity of my blog, of my posts, of me myself, can be hugely dangerous and damaging.

Collaborating with PR companies and brands, I am no stranger to being rejected, and that is ok, I totally understand that my blog isn’t going to be the right fit for everyone.

This past week, though, I had two emails which stood out to me and ultimately led to me having a bit of a mini breakdown on Friday evening (sorry if you were one of the people who saw this via instastories).

One of the emails was actually pretty nasty, with the person referring to my following as ‘tiny’ and suggesting that my social media links I had provided were insignificant, being so small. I then got another email the following day, which was much nicer and in fact offering to work with me regardless of my smaller following, but both of these emails left me feeling deflated.

Why feel the need to even comment on my flaws? It made me feel a little like I was a charity case. I am fairly confident with my writing skills, despite what this post may be suggesting.

I have been writing since I was little and I love it. Through my blog I have developed my own unique writing style, which those I have collaborated with, and my readers, like. I would much prefer people to either focus on the positives when it comes to working with me, or politely decline. These backhanded compliments only reinforce the anxieties I have about myself and my abilities.

Today, whilst I was hoovering the house and having a good sing along to Britney’s greatest hits, the song Lucky came on and it made me stop and realise how futile this way of thinking was. You can be totally successful, have all the followers you desire, and yet this doesn’t guarantee your happiness.

The times I have been truly happy have mainly involved being with my little family, a glass of wine in hand and something delicious cooking for dinner. My happiness is not based on my following on social media, so why have I let it get to me so much? Why have I let it make me feel unhappy?

I read a brilliant, positive post about the situation recently by Emma from Ellemma, and it made me realise I am not alone in feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes, when it all gets too much, it is wise to switch off, to take some time out and to try and remember that everybody has a different journey, and the only path to true happiness is being happy in yourself.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I am proud of my blog, of the posts that I write and the photos that I share. Nobody can take that away from me, and ultimately that’s all that matters.

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23 thoughts on “I am Not a Number

  1. Emily Nellist

    Totally agree with this post Emma, I saw those tweets and too felt it to be very nasty. Suggesting that new bloggers can’t come along and ask for higher paid fees as it’s ridiculous, the same people who will retweet all these positive thinking quotes. Hypocrisy at its finest.

    To me followings aren’t important, for a first glance they look good but you only have to delve a bit deeper to see if they pay off. I have a small IG following, but often get more likes and interaction that those with triple my following. Having an engaged audience is far more important as what is the point in having 10,000 followers if none of them take notice of you? It’s frustrating as so many of these high following numbers are built from when you could make ‘follow me on…’ a compulsive entry to giveaways, or from merging their contacts from FB to Twitter & IG.

    It’s frustrating when brands don’t look beyond it & to get comments like you have from PR’s is downright rude. To me it says they’re not very professional or good at their job themselves if all they look for is a number. But karma will whip around when it doesn’t pay off in sales for them.

    I hope you’re feeling better my love xxx

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Thank you – yes, I agree, it’s totally frustrating and then people wonder why some people end up resorting to buying followers! The situation makes it so, so tempting! xx

      Reply

  2. Emma

    This is one of the most honest and well-written posts about blogging that I’ve read in a long long time lovely. I was literally reading it going “yes” to this and “yes” to that! It’s so true sadly – why does it have to all be about numbers. You keep on blogging and don’t get down, you’re an amazing writer and I love your posts as do so many others ❤️ Xxx

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Ah thank you so much hunni – I love it when I just write from the heart like this xx

      Reply

  3. Thuraya Alhourani

    I am so happy that you did post this blog post. You’re actually speaking what alot of us smaller bloggers want to say. It can be very deflating and larger bloggers and brands being dismissive of us can be very hurtful. I agree with everything you’ve written here hun and I want to let you know that I’m delighted to have discovered your blog via our group on twitter! It’s literally become one of my favs to read 😌😌😌

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Thank you so much – that means a lot! I’m glad you like the blog, I like yours too 😊 x

      Reply

  4. Prettiful Blog

    I feel this way too sometimes. I closed all of my social media accounts a few years ago because it didn’t bring me joy and during that time my blog lost a lot of traction. I opened up a new Twitter account a year ago and always feel like my following is so small. But my readers trust me. And then brands I work with know I will always deliver what I promise. But I always find myself comparing my blog to others. I think it is human nature.

    But know that you are not alone in how you feel. And followers definitely won’t bring you happiness.

    Reply

  5. Robyn Evans

    I totally understand this and this post truely resonates with me. I find that there’s no harm in looking at what you can improve on, butte moment you stop being proud of how you are now, there’s no point. It becomes painful. Thank you for writing this and reminding the little blogger it’s not all about numbers.

    Robyn | butterfly-culture.com

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Thanks for your comment Robyn. I think that’s very true. It’s definitely not all about the numbers 😊 x

      Reply

  6. Charlotte Lane

    I loved reading this post Emma and I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said! We’re all made to feel like we need this huge massive following (even if it’s through our own doing) but ultimately, does it really matter? Don’t get me wrong, it would be amazing if blogging could be my job one day and I’m so incredibly happy for all of the fellow bloggers who do do it as their job, but I think it’s also important to remember the other things in life that make us happy and to not be so hard on ourselves if we have a “smaller” following. We’re all amazing in our own individual ways and we need to remember that on the down days 🙂 xo

    Char | http://www.charslittleblog.co.uk

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Thank you Charlotte, I’m glad the post resonated with you. It is very important to remember our achievements, especially if faced with people who focus only on the numbers x

      Reply

  7. Lady Writes

    It’s such a minefield isn’t it – you should read my post from last year about Micro Influencers and how PR now recognises people with ‘smaller’ numbers as a good ROI now. Deffo give it a read x

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      I’ll give it a read, thank you! x

      Reply

  8. Heather

    Admittedly I do keep track of my stats and let it get to me sometimes but we should all be proud of our online spaces, no matter the following x

    http://www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk

    Reply

  9. shelley

    I feel the exact same I’ve been blogging for around 4 years & I don’t feel I have enough to show for it either. that’s down to me obviously but sometimes seeing people in their first year doing so well makes me feel disheartened.

    Reply

  10. Paige Maria

    Oh Emma this really hit home for me. I too have had life get in the way and have put my blog on the backrun in order to focus on family and my wellbeing. I understand how hard it is to work your way up and blogging truly can be so difficult somedays, but like you said you just shouldn’t put others down. It is absolutely awful some of the things that were said, and for people like us who are trying so hard to put all of our passion and love in to our blogs, it’s just so disheartening to hear that we don’t deserve anything. I will ALWAYS read your blog, because I genuinely enjoy the content and your personality.

    Don’t ever give up. x

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Ah thank you Paige, that’s really nice of you. It is hard, and so very frustrating, but sometimes we need to remember to focus on our own positives rather than comparing ourselves and it becomes a bit easier x

      Reply

  11. Chloe Dickenson

    You should be incredibly proud of your blog Emma; it’s absolutely beautiful and you work so hard on your posts! I totally agree that not everything is about follower numbers and it’s such a shame when bloggers with fewer followers are made to feel slightly inferior 🙁 xx
    http://www.imjustagirl16.co.uk

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Ah thank you Chloe! x

      Reply

  12. Joyce Lau

    I loved this post and agree with everything you said. It doesn’t matte how big or small you are as long as you put in the effort you know your not letting yourself down. I do compare numbers and followers etc but at the end of the day I’m doing it for me to have that break between work life. I love blogging and even more I love photography. Sending you lots of love 💕

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Ah thank you. It’s good to have a passion for it! x

      Reply

  13. Mum OverRun. Sarah Aslett

    I completely agree and I think your POV is well considered and fair here. The thing is with blogging as in life – not everything is for everyone. We all like different things and so someones blog to someone else is more or less likeable than another depending on their preferences. I do hate all the nastiness that goes on with the minority in the blogging world – I always stand back from any spats. It’s just not worth it and its not professional. Great post!

    Reply

    1. emma_lou

      Thank you 😊 I’m glad this post resonated with you and I totally agree, we are all different! x

      Reply

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