Why you DON'T need numbers to be a successful blogger

I've been thinking about the topic of this post for a really long time. A really long time! But I've held off from posting about it because I felt really awkward about it and, to be honest, filled with fear about the reaction I might get.

It's another of my obsessions; honesty.

I proclaim to be honest, and I talk a lot about being transparent on my podcast and across social media. But there's been one niggling thing I haven't been honest about.

To be clear, I haven't lied about it either, I just haven't been as open as I am about everything else in my life. 

But after chatting to friends about it, and interviewing podcast guests the topic of blog stats just kept coming up. What's a 'good' number? What's a micro influencer? How many monthly views should I be getting as a new blogger?

After being asked these questions time and time again but I didn't know how to answer. Because while I've been blogging a few years now, and I've certainly built a career from it -- I don't consider myself a full-time blogger at all. 

The big stats myth

In fact, I've created income streams where I don't rely on my traffic on purpose. I've talked about how I earn my income before and nothing's really changed there (mostly through journalism.) But I also earn money through my courses and a small chunk of affiliate income too. 

All in all, this adds up to a decent monthly income. So WHY am I so scared to share my blog stats? If they dropped to zero tomorrow or increased to 1m views a month my income would broadly speaking, stay exactly the same.

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I posed the idea of radical honesty about blogging stats on my Instagram inviting others to share theirs. Unsurprisingly there were no takers. Because guess what? Nobody feels safe to share their stats. 

Why? 

Because there is a wall of silence among bloggers. I used to work on the agency side and I know, for a fact, people lie about their stats. We ALL know people use bots and buy followers too.  And although I don't judge them (I definitely used to though!) I do think it's creating a toxic environment. 

When 'bigger' bloggers discuss their stats, it's because they know they can -- if you get hundreds of thousands of followers each month, you know for a fact it's a 'big' number. You will probably also know by the number of opportunities you get from brands/tourist boards etc which undoubtedly increases when your numbers grow to dizzying heights.

But if you, like me, have a business model set up around the principles of HONESTY and creating a safe, non-toxic environment for other bloggers, it's not exactly good sense to avoid the topic of stats simply because you don't like the number you see staring back at you.

Do you know who benefits from us staying silent? Brands and agencies do. When we keep ourselves small and lie/hide our numbers, brands can tell us our stats 'don't meet their requirements' and choose not to pay us for perfectly good work. 

When two bloggers go on a press trip or work with a brand and we all stay sheepishly silent about what we charged, or what our numbers are, guess who's really calling the shots? Not us. 

I'm not suggesting all brands are hideous and evil. But it makes perfect sense to me that every single brand I've worked with on paid and unpaid collaborations in the past year have found me through Instagram where there's nowhere to hide. Yes, you can buy followers, but you can't fake an image a brand gels with, or Photoshop engagement into your posts.

Radical Honesty (thanks Amy Liz for this term!)

Chatting with my awesome pal Jen Carrington gave me a bit of clarity. She pointed out that my whole 'thing' is honesty, I live and breathe that online and more than simply 'not lying' I actively seek out ways to be vulnerable, to 'overshare.'  

So here you go gang! My CURRENT stats for you. For reals. 

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Ps - just in case you think I'm crap at SEO - 67% of those micro numbers came via Google ;)

Just in case you thought this would be a very sad tale about how awful it is my numbers are so rubbish, it's not. Because guess what happened when I reviewed my various income streams that are directly related to my blog and online presence? 

As my numbers dropped, my income went WAY up.

Here's some more radical honesty for you >> In November 2017 l, my monthly views were around 30k. In January 2018, just a few short months later they'd dropped to below 10k. But through my courses, affiliate income, and sponsored posts my income had tripled (this doesn't include a small percentage related to Instagram.) 

 

I now earn more money from blogging than I do from journalism and that feels AWESOME. I am now the master of my own destiny even if that means my total salary has dropped a little bit to make way to make more money through my blog and courses. 

Don't believe me? Look at this snapshot of one of my Booking.com account. It shows that in November I sent over 7k referrals (from two posts) to the site, and earned about €4. But in April, I had my worst month for referrals at less than 200 yet made €50. 

As you can see in this screenshot, as my referrals to Booking.com went down my income increased. Bonkers.

booking.com affiliate income dashboard for blogging

The moral of the story there? It's not about HOW much you have, it's about HOW good they are (crap sentence alert!) What I mean by that is when your audience truly connect with you, your message, and yes......fit your niche, they are far more likely to buy into the things you recommend.

Because, well, simply put - you buy those things too. 

When I did The Blogger Course I raved about it endlessly. It genuinely made a HUGE difference to my blog and how I see it as a business. So Monica kindly made me an affiliate and, although I was a bit passive about pushing sales her way I still drove over $800 in sales resulting in $200 for me. 

There was no hard sell needed, just sharing a new link with my Facebook group. Because guess what? The people who bought it knew I loved it. GENUINELY loved it. They trusted I wouldn't shove a link their way just to earn some cash, which I wouldn't. 

Same goes for everything you'll find on the blog. Booking.com? I use it (because I love how you can cancel with no fees.) Amazon? I'm on first name terms with my postie and DPD driver I get so much stuff there. 

BRB, just off to sleep off this vulnerability hangover in a dark room with some gin.

L x