Unconventional Blogging – More stuff from PBEvent

by mamagrace71 on October 16, 2012

Going to the Problogger Training Event was a last minute decision.

Barely having time to figure out flights and accomodation, I had even less clue about the speakers.

And while yesterday, I wrote about how the small stuff matters, it was a softly spoken, unassuming guy called Chris Guillebeau who I found to be the most inspiring.  He broke the bold and brash stereotypical mould of a world famous blogger.

What captivated me most about Chris was his philosophy to blogging. It was refreshing to hear someone who was not only sincere about the importance of a blogging community but gave us the reasons why.

“Forget about the technicalities…”

For the past couple of months now, my blog traffic has taken a back seat in priority.  I might check it once a week or every 10 days where before, I used to scrutinize and analyze my stats on a daily basis.

I don’t even know what my most popular posts are these days.

Just when I thought that perhaps I should be a little more proactive and less blase, Chris mentioned to the audience that he’s lucky to check his blog’s stats once a month.

Instead, he said something along the lines of, “Blog traffic is not my goal; I focus on the subscribers and my readers”

Wow.

This was revolutionary to me. But really, it makes complete sense. And of course, now I am caring even less about specifc numbers of page views and unique visitors.

If we’re blogging to build our own community, why are we wasting our time being concerned on getting the tactics right ?

Instead, why not spend that energy thinking and creating content that’s applicable and is going to resonate with our readers?

“Active engagement leads to loyal, returning readers”

Obviously, this is a no-brainer.  Again, Chris was emphasising the importance to get to know readers rather than sit with our own perception as to who they might be.  Replying comments are important but personal emails are powerful.

Yet, on the flipside…

“Comments aren’t everything”

Someone from the audience asked Chris how he kept up in replying to all his readers as he was constantly travelling.

The answer?
Switch off the comments section.

Why?
Because depending on the tone and point of the post, comments aren’t everything. Unless the post is asking a specific question, comments – dare I say – aren’t necessary. That may sound harsh and contradictary to what we’re trying to achieve in reaching out to readers, but have a think about it. Haven’t there been posts you’ve written when you weren’t actually seeking opinion or feedback, but just wanted to get a point across?  And switching off the comments section wouldn’t have been the end of the world?

So, there you go. Some radical points but  all made perfect sense to me.

Maybe it’s time to forget about the conventional rules of blogging. Instead, I’m choosing to hold close to Chris’ wise words:

“Be mindful of what you’re trying to create for your readers rather than think of numbers and traffic”

Linking up with Jess for IBOT 

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Good Golly Miss Holly! October 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

I think a lightbulb just went off in my head reading the first point! x
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Kim-Marie October 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

I’m honestly finding commenting so hard because I am usually doing it on the fly, squeezing it onto the bus ride home from work, or whilst I’m supervising bath time. I’ve started tweeting a link instead. I figure that has more impact and I can do it more easily. Some blog posts I desperately want to comment on but we have three people, one laptop and I don’t always get my hands on it, so I tweet or FB them a message instead, to let them know how they moved me.

Stats, schmats. I am interested and thrilled that mine have recently had a jump (chickensh*t to chickenfeed) but it is awesome to be part of a community in a multi-faceted way, that doesn’t necessarily include stats. x
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Pink Ronnie October 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

That’s a really great idea Kim-Marie! I’ll have to note that one down.
Ronnie xo
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Trish October 16, 2012 at 8:34 am

Very interesting and thought provoking points Grace.
I rarely check my stats either honestly. They really don’t matter to me.
I struggle to keep up with comments and reply, plus return visits.
I think sometimes we focus too much on getting bigger at the expense of making better connections.
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Lyndal October 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

If you could see me in my office, just imagine me standing on my desk applauding you. it has to be about community over numbers doesn’t it…. this was a great post lovely, you summed it up very well xx
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Becc October 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

Thank you for this (from someone who was not at the event :) ). As my blog is still in it’s infancy, I am still not really clear on what/where/how. This has helped to clarify a little. If I focused on stats and figures I would go insane. I like to know readership is growing but that would be about it. Yes, I think the idea of focusing on the community appeals much more.
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Janet October 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

Wow. That sums it all up really. At the end of the day, what really matters? People. Relationships. Sounds like he was an inspiring speaker indeed.
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Shari October 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

Super perspective Grace – I’ve actually just bought and downloaded Chris’ book – can’t wait to get into now xx
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Eleise October 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

Great advice. It is hard though because you rely on those stats so much. I run a website and I am lucky to check my stats once a month because they are consistantly good and I have a community that regularly accesses the site. With blogging I am still trying to build up that following. Thanks for the lesson :)
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Renay@mummysmiracles October 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have to admit that I’ve been a real slave to the stats. Not that they are anything to rave about which I think is the problem, I keep watching the pot for it to boil lol. I am going to try and take this advice and make it a back seat. Thank you xxx
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miss.cinders October 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

What an awesome post! Bet you’ve got *a lot* of bloggers rethinking the way they look at things now.

I love comments, but I don’t look for them. I know people are busy just like I am. I am the worlds worst commenter going on a few months now. But if I have the time for one or two I swoop on the chance.

Stats aren’t everything. I’m so glad the blogging community is seeing that finally :)

Happy iBOT lovely xxx
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Rachel from Redcliffe Style October 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

Excellent, excellent post. It’s really made me think. Rachel xx
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Ai Sakura October 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

nodding my head, nodding my head along..
I don’t usually check my stats too unless some PR firm asks for it. not sure exactly what I’m gonna do with the stats since I don’t have time to analyse or plan something around it haha.

one thing though, is that I do love getting comments… wish I had so many that I couldn’t keep up with haha. it’s something like someone saying yes I’ve been here, and I heard what you are saying. I know a lot of people read without commenting but it’s nice to here from them once in a while :)
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daddownunder October 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Some wise words Grace. I think you have to remember sometimes why you started blogging in the first place, for me it was because I like writing, wanted to retain the memories and a desperate bid to stop my brain turning to mush. For me content and connections is all important and hopefully people will jump on board along the way.
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Kevin October 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

First piece of Jedi advice – nice. Have you noticed by writing a post about focusing on the reader and not writing for comments, you’ve managed to gain a whole lot of really good input and invovement?
It makes sense, write good stuff that appeals to your audience and they will choose to come back.
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Housewife in Heels October 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for sharing this Grace! My favourite post to date, had minimal comments, and I still think it had great impact. But also, as someone whose never been to any blogger things, it’s great to get hear about what you’ve learned, and also see the behind the scenes stuff.
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Rhianna October 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Interesting food for thought. I struggle with comments, I love that people leave them but I so rarely respond these days that I feel terrible. But then at the same time I rarely go back to a blog to see if the owner responds to my comments so I wonder if others are the same when they leave a comment with me.

Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely, thanks for sharing your experiences from the conference, it means a lot to those of us who don’t get to go
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Kyla @ Three Quarters Full October 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I think people forget with all the hype about statistic and numbers that you should blog for you and build from that. The content should be from you, from the heart and mind of you and not be crafted to gain the most comments or the best stats, the community should build naturally from that, engaging and re-engaging with your readers and other bloggers in the community will build an experience that is worth so much more than the big numbers.

I’ve been blogging for nearly 11 years over a variety of different blogs and what means the most to me is the connections that have stayed with me almost that whole time, following me from home to home despite the vastly different subject matter. That to me is the most important thing about blogging, when your community becomes friends. and seeing blogging as a business is often the first step to forgetting that.

Mind you if a person is all about the money and opportunity from blogging then I get that, nothing really wrong with it either, I just think people forget that blogging is for you and the rest comes from that.
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Patchwork Cactus October 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I totally agree, there are so many things that can draw your attention from creating content and keeping true to your blog. Thanks for the reminder

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Bachelormum October 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Its true Grace and it’s a good post to read because it provokes thought but i guess everybody loves comments, it validates what we’re saying, that we are being heard or read or understood – that’s part of being a community too.
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Jayne October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I don’t think I could ever turn the comments off because I’d feel as though I were blogging into a vacuum, but I understand the premise behind the statement.

Stats aren’t something that concern me. If they were, I’d go nuts because mine have never been much to write about.
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Kelly HTandT October 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Switching off comments? *gasps* For real? Won’t the world end?
Love the point about emailing a reply, I got an email reply this week and it blew me away.
But my fave part of this post is the ‘forget the stats’ section! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, so many seem more focussed on stats than content, on quantity over quality. What’s the point? Where’s the love?
x
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Rita October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I feel relieved: I rarely check my blog stats… As for the comment section, really? I have shivers just thinking about it.
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Me October 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Thank you for this – it was just what I needed to hear. While stats have never been important to me – I felt like they should have been and was always comparing myself to others which was silly. I work full time and I don’t have lots of spare time to blog so I blog when I can about things that are happening for me at the time. I love that I have a few regular readers and we help each other on our journey. Now I know I am doing the right thing by not worrying about the numbers so a HUGE BIG THANK YOU for that !
Have the best day ever !
Me
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Aroha @ Colours of Sunset October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Sounds like you got HEAPS out of the event! Love your pics and thanks for sharing what you learned with us. I’ve only really started paying attention to stats recently b/c they’ve crept up a bit. It has me baffled. It’s nice to interact with readers, too, like Ai said, to know they’ve been there, read, and felt compelled enough to comment, but would also be nice to not have comments once in a while I think.
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Josefa @always Josefa October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

he was incredibly inspiring wasn’t he?
i gained so much from what he said!
xxx
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Debbie @ Aspiring Mum October 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Stats can really do my head in. When it becomes a numbers game, the focus really shifts away from the readers/community and I notice that I begin to lose the enjoyment of it all as well. I love these points that you’ve shared from Chris. Thank you.x
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jess October 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

There’s a lot of truth in that.
I hardly ever checked stats until I got an app on my phone which makes it too easy, and now I’m checking a lot! It’s not the numbers that drive me though, but I do love the comments. I’d find it hard to turn them off honestly.
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Deb @ Home life simplified October 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Great post – thank you for sharing some of what you picked up there. I follow Chris and love the insights he shares in his newsletter.
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Happylan October 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I would’ve loved to hear Chris speak, so thank you thank you for posting this Grace. xx
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Tash Hughes (@TashWord) October 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Chris was inspiring and he did make some great points, didn’t he?

I glance at my stats as I enter my blog but don’t analyse them or check daily – I just don’t have the time and would prefer to work on building them than watching them IYKWIM!

As for comments, I know what Chris said but I like comments for the interactivity as part of building community – although not necessary in every post of course. As Rhianna pointed out, I don’t know that everyone I respond to ever reads my response as I often don’t go back to check for responses on other blogs. And replying to all comments can take a lot of time so I see the temptation of not replying…
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Julia Kuku Couture October 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I think if someone has such a huge blog that they can’t find the time to respond to comments that turning off the comments is a great idea.

I love leaving and receiving comments but boy is it time consuming :)
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carmen October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

Amen! I feel a tad chuffed to know I’ve been on the right track. I wish I had been there! xx
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Kriscia October 17, 2012 at 12:52 am

Sounds like great advice. Keep it simple and keep it real. Thanks for sharing these insights, Grace, on behalf of those of us who weren’t at the meeting. Cheers!

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Bridget October 17, 2012 at 2:06 am

I like this idea. There are some posts I don’t reply to, sometimes I’m too busy but other times there really isn’t much to say. Maybe I’ll try turning off the comments once in a while. I’ll have to try really hard not to feel anxious about it though!
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Tam October 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

Wasn’t Chris refreshing? I loved his attitude and what he had to share about blogging. Kind of wish I could have listened to him all weekend!

And this is perfect. Blog for your community – and just quietly, I think you’re doing that bit right already.
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kirri October 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

And here I was thinking you were just skiving off having loads of fun!

I am gratefully consuming each and every one of your words today and will becoming back to re-read and let this wisdom seep in deeper. Thanks for effectively ‘taking notes’ for me xx
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Danya Banya October 18, 2012 at 4:41 am

I do my best to comment as a way to support other bloggers that I’m trying to establish a relationship / community with. That’s different to the relationship that I strive to form with my non-blogger readers though….. But commenting is hard. I use a reader, so I read lots of posts, but I’ll admit I struggle to find “comment time”.
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tarah October 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I struggle to keep up with comments and reply, but do my best to return the comments when i have a few extra moments free. This was a great eye opener actually. thank you for this post
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Annaleis Topham October 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

It’s nice to get some new people to your blog, but I would rather they were there because they loved what I wrote and could relate rather than be popping in because I had a giveaway on or the like.
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iSophie October 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I think for me, not having much of a following I do tend to pay alot of attention to the stats. I guess once I have a following I can relax a little?

Great post!
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Née October 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

Great post! I gave up on following my stats a long time ago. Ironically comments are what I base my “engagement” level on so I’m not quite sure I’d be ready to let that one go ;)
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Nami October 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Shoot! You talk about “not caring” about comments and I log in to see forty-two! To tell you the truth, I never gave thought to comments – I mean, I love them but they don’t influence me…they inspire. It’s hard not to blog for approval, but when you have a good thing going (like you do), then there’s no doing wrong, is there?
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Jean October 22, 2012 at 5:27 am

For my personal blog, even though I only blog 1-2 times per month, I still get traffic. However I’m not completely certain what my average blog monthly visitor rate is.

However during the writing lull, I am skipping around across the ‘Net , reading and commenting, where appropriate, on other people’s blogs.

Actually I appreciate comments that are meaningful: the person spent a few minutes to compose them. And they don’t have all the time in the world. Remember that.

“Likes” are ok but there are some people who I have no idea why they would be interested in my blog, based on what their blog profile looks like to me. I mean a blog that looks too strange content-wise and one I can’t even relate at all. So it would be better that they leave at least 1 meaningful comment.

I prefer comments and likes from bloggers who at least reveal who they are in their ABOUT/profile or where they are located in this world.

My best and most popular (heavily read) posts are those posts where I invested enjoyable time in writing and selecting decent photos. Strangely my About page is one of the top read areas of my blog. I’m still trying to figure that one out –it may be connected the name of my blog.
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Veronica @ Mixed Gems November 2, 2012 at 8:17 am

Thanks for even more simple gems to remember. I’ve heard of Chris before but need to get his book. I’ve also heard of both points before (stats and comments) but its always interesting to be reminded of them from someone with such influence. I know another popular blogger who turns comments off and even keeps the simplest of designs – Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.com.
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