Years ago, in the efforts to “grow” my blog, I participated in blog carnivals. These involve a host site setting up a single page where other bloggers leave a link to one of their articles, with the idea that the many visitors to the carnival will see it and click.
Theoretically, it’s a way to drive traffic to one’s own site, since the carnivals are supposed to attract actual readers — as opposed to other bloggers — like flies. Hosts tried to counteract the natural outcome of desperate bloggers dropping links and running by encouraging — or demanding — participants to read another person’s blog and comment on it, and/or follow the host to increase her own numbers. It is one of many schemes propounded by social media “Influencers,” many of whom find success — both in readership and finances — by selling their wisdom through webinars, seminars, books, online or in person classes, and “consulting.”
“Build that brand!” they command, so successfully that few stop to ask, “What is your brand, by the way, other than that you sell others ‘secrets’ to building theirs?”
But few do ask, and in homes throughout the world, moms with young and/or multiple children snatch precious hours — late at night, when the kids are asleep; early in the morning, before they’re awake; during naps; and any other time that would otherwise be classified as free — to
- Create quality content!
- Connect with followers on social media!
- Maintain a regular and consistent posting schedule!
- Build relationships with readers! (All six of them. Thanks, Mom.)
- Build that brand by commenting on other people’s posts, joining forums and online groups, and oh, don’t forget the most important one: promoting the blogs of other people, especially the Influencers, so that they, in turn will promote the blogs of their followers! (Does anyone seriously believe this? Apparently so.)
- Write an ebook, and sell it! (This is sort of like, “Create quality content, and market it!”)
- Set up streams of income on the blog so the money starts rolling in, as the viewers exponentially multiply!
- Join with other blogs and create a group effort — and watch that blog GROW!
For a very small percentage, this stuff works — at least in building numbers — and they join the ranks of Influencers to create Successful Blog consulting options of their own, but numbers are funny things. They — like the Influencers — don’t necessarily tell the full, unadulterated, honest truth (something that one does tend to look for in, most especially, a person who calls herself a Christian). In looking through various Christian Mommy Blogs to see if we wanted to advertise in them for our business, Steve Henderson Collections, I was struck by the numbers they put out in the effort to draw me in:
“Christian Mommy Go-Go Blog is one of the fastest growing brands on the Internet, boasting 500,000 monthly views, of which 350,000 are unique visitors,” is typical of what I read. “We have 85,000 Twitter Followers, 250,000 Facebook Fans, and 20,000 Email subscribers. Advertise with us!”
Wow. My blog is such a failure.
Burrowing further in, I was struck by two things:
- I didn’t notice the advertising, either because there was so much of it or because it was buried in odd places, and
- The various posts, most of which didn’t hit me in the face as compelling, quality, well-written content, had few, if any, social media shares. Those that did were on the host’s blog carnival site, or linked to it. (There are exceptions. I am continuously amazed at the popularity of the “Titus 2 Mom” message, used to browbeat women into 18th century submission to their husbands.)
But obviously these people were successful — because they had numbers — and, carrying this to its natural conclusion from the teachings of American Christianity, they also enjoyed the blessings of God, who drove those numbers.
If you are one of the many, many Christian Mommy Bloggers who do not have these numbers — despite following all the bullet points above to the point that you spend more time at the keyboard than you ever did nursing your children — then there can be, within American Christianity (which we’ve exported around the world), only two reasons for this:
- You’re not working hard, and smart, enough, and
- You don’t have the blessing of God. Your blog, in order to be the ministry that it should be (been pressured by that one yet?), needs to reach lots of people and bring in income to your family. (Let’s be honest. Money, if we don’t watch it, is the driving force behind why we do things. This, also, is one of the major teachings of American Christianity.)
Before you believe 1 and 2, please stop.
Yes, your blog can be a ministry, in the sense that it touches someone who needs, deeply, your hard earned wisdom. Mine does this now and then, and it’s why I write — to counteract the corporate message of American Christianity that makes up the “teachings” propounded to church believers.
I don’t get a lot of viewers, but I treasure the ones who do stumble in, taking time to comment, “I’ve felt this way for a long time, but you put it into words. I thought that I was the problem!”
No, you’re not the problem — whether you’re a dissatisfied member of the pew-sitting populace who thinks that Christianity should consist of more than leadership meetings and Saturday church work days, or whether you’re a busy mom who has some funny, poignant stories to tell; or great recipes that are fast and easy to make; or thoughts on God and His love, beauty and guidance — and you can’t get a lot of people to discover what you have to say.
If it’s burning in you to write, then keep doing so and posting — but because the most important people you’re serving live with you and need face to face time, forget about the pressurized posting schedule, equating efficiency with godliness — and drop the idea that numbers equate intelligence and acumen on your part, or a sign that God approves of what you do.
Children grow up fast, and time is not something we can recapture. Be the true Influencer that you are, right now, by focusing, first, on the members of your household, family, and friends: stop what you’re doing and look at people when they speak, listen with your heart to their words; and invest your time in growing the love that exists among you.
This is success, and it has nothing to do with numbers.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. I used to post on an insane schedule and hover over my stats, waiting for the numbers to confirm what I knew in my heart: I write worthwhile content that has meaning and purpose to it.
If this describes you, then don’t despair when your results don’t match what the Influencers say they should be. Who, after all, is the One who should influence us most?
Wonderful post. I love your writing .
Thank you, April. I write for you, and all the fellow travelers and seekers out there, who want something real. It’s quite the journey, and it helps to find one another and encourage.
Thanks for the reminder!
This makes me think of our little church in Prescott. Even though we are a small congregation I don’t think that God sees us as being insignificant, so the work we do there has meaning, whether anyone hears about it or not.
God bless you and your progeny! Oh, and the Norwegian Artist!
Larry — it is a good reminder, because we live in a world that values numbers and their impact. Witness all the people who swoon over Billy Graham Crusades, and the filling of a football stadium.
But . . . if the numbers of those “saved” were meaningful or true, why do we see no difference, much less a significant one, in our nation?
Your “little church” is working valiantly for God, loving Him, listening to Him, and doing His good work. How could anyone do better than that?
This is sooooooooo good! I pray that God blesses your ministry! You just encouraged a Christian “Daddy” blogger:-)
I am glad. Write from your heart, deeply what God speaks to you, which, I’m sure, is what you’re already doing. The world needs the words of God’s disciples.
Thanks! I really related to this. I’ve watched a ton of webinars about “successful blogging” and “self publishing” and I just want to tear my hair out. I just want to encourage people in their faith so I continue to write for my 20 subscribers and my biggest fan who shares every one of my posts, “Mom.”
“Mom” is the biggest fan — which says a LOT about family connections and love. All of us have the opportunity to be that “Mom” somewhere, in someone’s life, whether it is that of our children, or someone whom we love deeply in that unique, Mom way.
God bless you and your subscribers — and may you continue to grow in your relationship with one another!
Boom!!!! Thank you for writing this. I was once one of those moms who tried to follow all of the prescribed methods to grow my blog. I was stressed and even resentful of the very people I am to love– my family.
Now, I blog around my family’s schedule with NO PRESSURE to meet deadlines or to make money. I share the things on my heart to those who want to listen.
Thank you my friend for your wise perspective 😊
It’s an interesting process, Alecia — one that I think many people with words to say, the skill to say it, and the desire to encourage, go through. As far as, “Create Quality Content,” you and other excellent writers and thinkers have that in the bag, so if “Create Quality Content” were the deciding factor, many bloggers should be fielding a readership of millions, while other blogs — fielding readerships of six or seven figures — shouldn’t be.
So as believers, we take the next step — after the exhaustion sets in and we realize that, despite desire, skill, and a big field for harvest, this isn’t going to go the way we planned — and we live our lives, incorporating the writing and blogging into it, but not allowing it to eat up our brains.
Twenty followers at one blog, 50 at another, 10, 73, 35 — as individual believers seek God and write what we learn, compositely we reach the people we are meant to reach. Because, ultimately, it is the individual response of each child of God to his or her Father that matters, a message at total variance with “mass media.”
The children are small, the prayers are frantic, and I blog in the cracks of the day (and night). Why? Because I love to. I love to write. Thank you for speaking truth, and generosity. Glad to now be following your blog!
I hear you — very clearly! I started blogging several years ago because the kids were older (although the grandkids, now, are young!) and I had a burning desire to say the things I had been thinking for so long. The satisfaction of writing meaningful thoughts is deep — the satisfaction of reaching readers through those thoughts is even deeper — but the potential for dissatisfaction, because we don’t reach the requisite number of readers — is high.
Love those beautiful children. Slow down and let those prayers be conversation with One who treasures your every thought. And keep writing — as you can, when you can. The words will reach the right people, at the right time.
I *might* post this last paragraph on my wall. Your perspective is refreshing.
This is a really encouraging read and a helpful dose of reality and perspective!
I think that I sometimes feel like the success of my blog somehow helps me to feel justified (or not!) in my choice to be a stay at home mum. That’s really crushing when the stats aren’t good! Thanks for the reminder that there often isn’t a correlation between stats and quality content.
My husband and I blog about parenting and we seek to explore, marvel at and apply the gospel in every single post. That limits the audience significantly, as many want to read lifestyle blogs with a bit of a Christian flavour, whereas we want to talk about applied theology. I have been really encouraged by reading your blog post here, thank’s for the reminder that I write my blog because I love to write and that I want that I stay true to the essence of our blog which is to make much of the gospel.
Thanks so much!
Looking forward to reading more of your content.
Cathy — your observation on correlating the success of your blog with the justification of being a stay-at-home mom is a perceptive one. We all do this, justifying our life situation by how much we make or how much influence we have, and if we don’t have that, by how much we we feel that we make an impact on the lives of others. It’s intriguing that those of us who follow Christ and listen to His words have this same problem: we accept the fact that we’re not billionaires or business magnates, but exchange this option for being ministerial powerhouses.
I love the explosion of blogs for the simple reason that it allows regular, real people to have a voice, and through that, to hopefully come to the realization that they have something worthwhile to say — more worthwhile, frankly, than much of what the celebrities — Christian, entertainment, and political — put and push forth. The celebrity voice is loud and in our face because it is funded.
I understand the challenges of working with a niche market, against the mass media flow. But there are things that need to be said that are not being said on a mass basis, and if they’re going to be said, then you and your husband, and I, and God’s many children who are so extraordinarily loved by our Father, are the ones to say it.
By the way I’ve shared this with a Facebook group for UK Christian bloggers – it was too good to keep to myself! 🙂
Thank you — I am very grateful!
Exactly what I needed to hear, thank you. We sacrifice so much in the name of “greatness”. I’m pushing for more quality time with my fam and this was a great reminder.
Thank you, Christina. There are a lot of important messages out there, a lot of things that people need to wake up, hear — and really listen to. One of them is to love the precious people in our lives — our children, parents, siblings, cousins, friends — because they are uniquely ours. The people in our lives are a treasure far beyond all the fake things that are dangled in front of us through movies, magazines, social media propaganda, and advertising — we don’t need perfectly coiffed homes and hot racy cars, the “right” clothing and a cool job — we need relationships.
Love that family of yours in the way that only you, of all the people on this planet, can.
Love this, so much wisdom here thanks for writing this. Shared on Twitter 🙂
Thank you. When ordinary people look around, see things that don’t make sense, and write or comment on them — wisdom abounds. I thank God for all the real, sensible people out there blogging on the things they see that don’t make sense, and counteracting the mass media message of insanity.
I’ve read several of your blog posts, and feel so validated by them. I am profoundly turned off by American Pop “Christianity”, which focuses of self, money, glory, wealth, success, ect. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus preached in His Word. I believe we are in the time of the great apostasy that is talked about in the bible.
Thank you for reading my posts, and I am so glad that they bring validation.
When I first began my blogging journey, I did it — as do many writers — as a means of working through the challenges and frustrations I was facing, in my case, in the pop culture world of Christianity. I had lived for years, observing the shallowness of it all, but not quite understanding it and, as do many Christians, feeling it was my fault somehow for not fitting in.
As time has gone by and God continues to teach, guide, love, and lead me, I find myself freed from that world, no longer forcing myself to make two disparate views fit together into one neat package that fits on a gospel tract. Though I have much to learn and far to go, I rest in joy, knowing that in many crucial areas, I am now free. The world of man-made church no longer has hold on me.
I do not know when the Great Apostasy comes, and while I agree with you that what we have floating around — in various formats — as Christianity these days aptly fits into the term, it did not take long, in the first century, for the wolves to make their way into the fold: all sorts of people — not necessarily humble ones — set themselves up as leaders, expostulating as teaching issues that should be no more than theories, but many of those theories became creeds and facts and dogmas and doctrines that we accept today, because the “church fathers” of the past said that they were so. We build upon them, without ever going back to the four gospels and Paul’s letters which are our earliest connection to Christ’s time on earth, and asking the questions that the theories were supposed to address. Nor do we go directly to Christ — (John 5:39-40).
We are eating, now, the fruit of trees that human church leaders planted.
It is my prayer that God’s children will continue to wake up, that they will shake their heads as they sit in the pews, open their eyes, and say, “What am I doing here? What is it that I’m allowing myself to believe? Who convinced me that I am incapable of seeking God’s truth and relying upon His Spirit to lead me? How did we ever get the idea that the Holy Spirit is limited to working through a hierarchy of men, many of whom focus on building empires of their own, stamped with their names, not Christ’s?”
One by one. That’s how He calls us.
Honestly I needed to hear this! I’ve been feeling guilty about not keeping a consistent schedule with posting and also hover over my stats. Why should I feel guilty when I’m taking that blogging time to do what God has actually called me to do which is being the maker of my home, wife to my husband and mother to my children? You hit the nail on the head with this one! Thank you
I am glad, Lily. As time goes by, and I increasingly learn about God and His truly unconditional love, I realize under how much guilt Christians operate within the American Christianity system. We feel guilty that we don’t work hard enough. We feel guilty that we don’t feel spiritual enough in church. We feel guilty because in the process of getting there, things got hurried and tense. We feel guilty because we don’t blog on schedule. We feel guilty because our blog stats don’t look the way they should, which must be because we didn’t blog on schedule. There are so many laws and rules and regulations within a system that extols its freedom, but is really a poor, poor substitute for the real thing.
For all that freedom that is talked about in church Christianity settings — it doesn’t exist. To find it, you have to stop, step away, get away, and stop listening to all the leadership counseling voices that purport to interpret God for us — and you have to just talk to our Father on your own, trusting that His words will make it back to your heart without the intervention of a (well-paid) spiritual “expert.”
Love that beautiful family of yours — you are the only person on the planet in the unique position you are in, to listen, love, understand, pray for and just be.
Thanks so much for the share! Your advice was greatly appreciated!
You are welcome. As time goes by, and corporations continue to insert themselves in every area of our lives, they take over the blogging stratosphere as well — and because they are funded, their message is what people largely see.
As ordinary people who are not funded and do not have the means of putting ourselves in front of everyone’s face, we need to continue to speak up and out, so that the ordinary voice does not get lost. Otherwise, all we will hear is the voice of oligarchy, and we’ll begin to see it as a reality.
Another thing we can do as ordinary people? We can stop listening to that corporate voice. We can question what we’re told. We can refuse to think and act the way we are instructed to think and act. This is in every arena, including, and possibly especially, the religious one.
I totally agree with you!
What a refreshing perspective. Your words resonated with me–not because I sit discouraged about my small following, but because I haven’t gone out of my way to “get serious” about blogging for exactly the points you raise. I tried to at first, admittedly, but something didn’t feel right when I started getting angry with my two year old for pestering me for attention in the process. I took a step back nearly five years ago, continuing to write as I found time simply because I can’t help but write. I made the decision a long time ago that it was worth it–even if it’s just for me, just for my family–that’s ok with me because for me the reward is in the process of creating something beautiful. Maybe I’ll make a “real go” of it someday when my kids aren’t so small, and maybe not. Time will tell. But until then, it helps to know there are others out there like me who recognize success isn’t about numbers. Thank you for your honesty!
We completely underestimate children in our society — they are precious, beautiful people who deserve our love, attention, patience, and respect. And when we give them these things, we receive the ability to look at them, truly look at them, and wonder at Christ’s words that we need to become like them. What is is about children that God wants us to be like? — innocent, trusting, accepting, joyful — children naturally are all these things, until they are trained out of them to become the anxious, un-trusting, cynical, clever adults that we are pushed into being.
I am glad that you took the wise road. Christian women, especially, are given the message that blogging is a means of “ministry,” to “reach people for Christ,” and the pressure is on to get those numbers up and reach those people. What I find intriguing, though, is that many of the “ministry” women’s blogs I see aren’t hopeful, kind, encouraging or loving at all — but they’re really good at generating business. On some of them, it’s difficult to find the actual blog, because there are so many other “resources” readers are pushed to read.
As children of our Father, we do things differently when we truly start listening and interacting with Him. May you be richly blessed with your beautiful family, and find much joy in being with and loving one another. Like Mary, hold it all in your heart and let wisdom bring it to fruition.
Wisdom oozes out of you, like honey. True–so many other resources meant to generate revenue for the writer. That’s one of my biggest frustrations. It’s a strange dichotomy–knowing writing in general is what God has called me to personally, beyond the scope of mothering my children. But it’s easy to miss the big picture–that writing is art. Art is beauty. Beauty heals, inspires, encourages, brings hope. When money gets mixed up in there, or striving for it, things get murky and hope is harder to find. Thank you for bringing light into that dark, hard place. You’ve encouraged my heart 🙂
I understand where you are, because I am there, too: there is a definite gift, as well as a strong, almost aching desire to use that gift. And yet, it is difficult to find the place where to use that gift — it’s all very fine and well to write, and we do so because it flows out of us whether we stop it up or not, but there is a strong, strong desire that there be an audience to READ what we write, simply because we pour so much heart into it.
So, initially we follow the advice of people who look like they know what they’re saying, but always with misgivings because something about it doesn’t seem right. It’s too . . . seminar business speak, with a little Jesus tossed in to make it seem godly. But inside we’re screaming, “Seriously, God? Do You work through smarmy means like these?”
And we already know the answer: No, He doesn’t. So we’re faced with this issue of what to do next, and it looks suspiciously like waiting on His wisdom, following what He gives us to do each day, and wondering when He will break something open and we will see the bright, lighted path. In other words, it looks a lot like seeking the kingdom of God, and trusting that all the rest will be added to this.
I know from experience — as a mom and now as a grandmom — that caring for children is an honorable, beautiful, frustrating, sometimes boring, but very fulfilling lifestyle — it is one of those day by day and moment by moment things that taxes our creativity, intelligence, compassion, patience, and wisdom. To do it side by side with God requires that we step back from all the voices out there — telling us how to raise those kids, run our business, use our gifts, be a Christian — and listen closely and minutely to the voice that matters.
The very act of listening to that voice and acting upon it shapes our writing, now and in the future. You are clearly listening to that voice — He will not lead you astray.