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.

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. 

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.

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

12 Comments

  1. 2nd May 2018 / 8:08 am

    Lucy those numbers are amazing! I’ll be honest, being a bigger blogger (but probably one of the nicest and most relatable) I thought your numbers would be higher but I think we’ll all agree numbers don’t mean anything without engagement.

    I’ll be honest, my numbers are less than 1k views but considering I started my current blog in September that’s not bad at all!

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing your stats.

    • 2nd May 2018 / 11:00 am

      Isn’t that funny? I would NEVER consider myself a bigger blogger! But I guess we are all that to someone else.

      I think you’re doing amazingly well for such a new blogger! And you have such a tight niche too 🙂 x

  2. 2nd May 2018 / 9:11 am

    And this is why I love following you Lucy (not stalking I promise 😉 )
    Your honesty and passion truly does shine through. And i’m a huge believer that being honest always pays off…Karma.
    This stats are brilliant and that’s a lot of people visiting in their spare time. Each individual who visits your blog, reads your posts or goes on your course, is another step closer to you achieving what you want xx

    • 2nd May 2018 / 11:02 am

      Awww thanks girl, I REALLY appreciate your support!

      I totally agree that honesty always pays off, even if that’s in just feeling happy you’ve shared for the sake of sharing. But especially if someone reads it and realises they don’t need to worry — you can still earn a full-time living you love without HUGE numbers 🙂 xx

  3. 2nd May 2018 / 10:18 am

    Imagine being in a room with 7,642 different people. mind blown That’s so many people! And they’ve all read your words. They know who you are. It blows my mind when I look at stats and try to imagine those numbers as physical beings.

  4. 2nd May 2018 / 3:03 pm

    I love love love this. I love your hunger for transparency and your vulnerability, even when it’s scary. And I think we’d all be better off if we did share a bit more. Because, as you say, you can’t really lose by sharing your stats! And besides, these stats are GREAT and as we’ve said before, that’s 7,600+ people that you’re getting to talk to. That’s INSANE and you should be so proud!! x

  5. 11th June 2018 / 2:03 pm

    Luce, I can’t praise you enough for writing this. Ever since I first started blogging it’s always felt like pulling teeth to get any real, concrete, actively HELPFUL information from other bloggers about stats or income. And as a result we start being secretively jealous of our fellow creators instead of paying attention to the audiences we already have!! It’s madness.

    Anyway, I’m more than happy to say honestly that up until a couple years ago I was on approx 30,000 views a month, which I was super happy with – and then due to my distinct lack of blogging mojo (and my dad dying) it’s dropped to a little over 10k a month. Which I’m valiantly trying to pull back up again and attempting not to cry about! BUT the weirdly supportive thing is realising that the 10k p/m that I’m still getting are probably my core readership who still care what I’m up to, and that makes me rather proud 😀

    • 19th June 2018 / 7:02 pm

      Oh you! Thanks ever so much for the lovely comment. My numbers are so similar to yours in the sense I had 30k….which dropped to around 10k.

      I love the fact the audience is whittled down to a super concentrated bunch of superfans though 🙂 (in theory…..)x

  6. 17th October 2018 / 11:06 am

    Great post – thank you so much for your honesty – it only adds to your appeal x

    • Lucy
      Author
      7th December 2018 / 10:10 am

      Awww thanks love x

  7. 15th November 2018 / 12:31 am

    Hi Lucy: I am so enjoying your blog and as a blogger and fellow journo, I am really interested in how you juggle the freelance writing and earning income via your website–you are the first person I have found who does this outwardly, and I so appreciate your informative posts about the process.

    Here in the states there are still publications that will not hire us if we do press trips or sponsored content (New York Times is the big one). As a result, I’ve avoided setting up such income streams on my site and instead use it as my portfolio. Thankfully this tactic has led to some writing jobs, but as you indicate, your own freelance writing income is outpaced by what you earn from your web-based income streams.

    We writers really have to hustle to bring it in if that is all we do! I am still figuring out other sources for income–teaching? a speaking side gig? Thanks for your content and i am glad to have found you (via simple and season btw).

    • Lucy
      Author
      7th December 2018 / 10:06 am

      That’s so interesting! I didn’t know that about the states at all!

      Glad you found me too 🙂 L x

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