One year ago today, I hit “publish” on my first blog post.
I still hesitate before clicking the little blue button that sends a post zooming into your emails and Facebook feeds, but that first time was especially intimidating. Feeling vulnerable, and slightly self-conscious (not to mention fighting off every blogger’s worst fear – “What if nobody reads this??”) I took a deep breath and began to furiously type out our story.
Twelve months and sixty posts later, we’re here. Wherever exactly “here” is.
I started this site as a much needed outlet for grief; thoughts that I had previously been unable to speak found their voice on these pages. And during the process, I re-discovered a love for words and a quiet delight that comes along with each satisfying click of the keyboard.
And it wasn’t long before I realized that I was writing for more than just myself, for more than just my son’s memory. I was writing for the moms with stories of their own, the ones unable to share the pain buried underneath years of everyday life. I was writing to connect, to begin open discussions on infant loss, and to grieve as a community.
It’s never easy to lay your aching heart out for the world to see, but there is much to be said for the act of mourning together.
This year of posts has been exciting and encouraging, revealing, stretching, and at times, downright scary. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and this world of WordPress, and uncovered an entirely new set of challenges. And there is one particular aspect of blogging that I find myself consistently struggling over: an unhealthy obsession with the numbers.
Given the fact that most blogs posts are almost entirely composed of letters and the occasional punctuation mark, it can be difficult to see where numbers come into play. But as most bloggers will tell you, it’s all about the numbers.
From the moment my first post found itself haphazardly stuck on the front page of my blog, I began to worry over the meager amount of traffic making its way to my website. Over and over again, I mindlessly refreshed my WordPress statistics page to watch the view-count slowly climb. Because while this blog was about sharing my story, there was a vulnerability that came along with it – a fear that the lack of interest in a post was somehow equivalent to my personal worth.
Day one and I’d already fallen prey to the lie that entraps so many of us. Sucking in a generation with promises of easy money and popularity, this lie constantly tells us that statistics define our worth. We’re told that numbers are an accurate representation of quality or value, and without them, it would be pointless to continue.
We can’t avoid the numbers. They cling to our everyday life, claiming to give us adequate means of measuring the world around us. With them, we obsess over measuring our caloric intake, GPA, bank accounts, I.Q, the amount of weight gained over the holidays, the passage of time, and the number of views on our blog posts. Every time we measure ourselves on these ever sliding scales, we find our sense of self-worth either negatively or positively affected.
But the truth is that our worth is not defined by the number of likes on our Facebook page.
Like many writers, I’m quickly discouraged by established bloggers with paid advertising and thousands of followers. I get frustrated by the amount of effort it takes to publish a post and have it seen by exactly 27 individuals. It’s hard work with little return.
And so we fight for bigger audiences, higher view counts, and better statistics, not realizing that these goals leave us constantly searching after the elusive mountain peak.
And while these numbers may make us feel good, they also lie. We let them validate our work without understanding that quantity doesn’t always equate to quality, impact, or worth. We let our motivation get muddied and begin seeking to only satisfy ourselves.
But just like running life’s race, there is an art to blogging well.
Perhaps it begins when we realize that our value is not set by the standards of the world, but found in the One who has paid the ultimate price for our lives. The One who has already declared us “worth it.”
Perhaps it is when we stop letting statistics define our worth and lay our desires for “success” aside. When we realize that there’s joy to be found with what we’ve been given, no matter how small. And that there should be but one reason behind all that we do – to bring Glory to God.
It would be a lie to say that there aren’t days when I dream of a blog with more followers. After all, that’s one of the main reasons behind every blog – to be read. But on those days, I remind myself to be content with the faithful readers I’ve been given, and I remember that sometimes the best result is found in just one reader.
One reader who weeps through a post because her heart aches for a child she never got to hold. One reader who finally opens up about her own loss after years of silence. One reader who finds community amidst their grief. One reader who feels understood. One reader who joins in glorifying the Father despite our mutual heartbreak.
It’s not always about the numbers. Most of the time, it’s still worth it without them – even if it’s only ever for that one reader.
Thanks for your tips! Looking for as many as I can as I recently launched my new blog janerunswild.com. Happy blogging! 🙂
Thanks Jane! Good luck on your new blog – I like the layout!
As someone who recently started blogging a month and a half ago, I will keep your tips and insights in mind.
My background as a student was in statistics. I too agree that there is an overreliance on measurements and numbers. Statistics is based on partial information (partial truths/lies) not full truths. There is more information that is unobserved behind the data and there is always a luck component.
I run a blog on math and stats so I don’t expect to get a crazy amount of views and the amount of views I get does not define me as a person as well. I just want to put my thoughts out there a give back by offering math and stats lessons.
Thanks for your thoughts David! It’s interesting to hear from someone who has actually studied statistics. And I love your attitude towards blogging – giving back by offering lessons – so refreshing!
I love your blogs Elizabeth – not ‘just’ your vulnerability but your wonderful, creative skill with words. You write from your heart.