“Stats” or Bridge?

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my book giveaway drawing… you know, the drawing nobody entered?

Well, I wrote about it partly to tell you where the book ended up, and partly in the interests of full disclosure–I don’t want to give a false impression that I’m some wildly popular, successful blogger or anything. But later I re-read the post and thought it may have sounded a bit… whiny.

I hate whining.

I should write a post, I thought, to emphasize that I’m okay with my small start and am definitely not whining. But I got busy and didn’t write it… yet…

Then I went to the Faith and Culture Writers retreat and conference in Portland, as I described last week. Excellent speakers taught on a wide variety of topics relevant to us creatives. Looking back over my notes, I found one common thread that appeared, one way or other, in every single talk. Here’s the gist of it:

To really connect with your readers you must know your identity and write authentically from your passion. Do not chase market trends or compare yourself to anyone else.

No kidding, this idea popped up in every session, from “Embrace Your Inner Weird” to “Learning from Great Literature” to “Ten Things I Hate About Your Blog.” After hearing it twelve or fifteen times, phrased in a variety of ways, it made quite an impact on me. (I may have mentioned that during the conference I suffered from information overload. Otherwise it might have had that impact sooner.)

I don’t obsess about the number of subscribers my blog has. Besides the “comparison” thing, blog statistics are pretty much meaningless anyway. Many people click “subscribe” if they see one post they kind of like, or if they want to sell me something–and they never come back. One time someone followed my blog, leaving this comment on one of my especially heartfelt, carefully crafted posts:

“Follow back?”

Did she even read any of the post?

That lack of depth or engagement sends a message: “Jan, you are just a commodity this person wants to use.”

A four-digit number of followers would feel good, but only if those individuals benefit from what I have to say. I want to build a bridge between myself and my readers and, hopefully, between us and Christ. So why pump up my statistics with two thousand people who have spent no more than fifteen seconds–ever–with my blog? As near as I can figure, it’s better to connect with two dozen real live people who actually, you know, enjoy some of my posts.

Like Marlece, f’rinstance–mom of four boys in Washington state. She documents the joy and wackiness in her blog “Son Up ‘Til Son Down.” We connected online, and got to meet when I was in the area for the conference. After encouraging each other for a couple of years, I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to see her and deliver a real, live, warm, 3-D hug right there in Starbucks! She writes authentically and from her passion. As we talked I found I already knew her. She is just as wise and wonderful in person as I’d thought.

That’s how I want to write, too. So, if you’ve read this far, know that I truly love sharing my hectic, goofy and often-discombobulated life with you. You are the one I write for, and again I say…

…thanks for reading.

PS: This week I am linking up with my Soli Deo Gloria sisters.

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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9 Responses to “Stats” or Bridge?

  1. jodyo70 says:

    Jan, I can so relate. I got a comment from someone on Facebook that they’d read something on my blog but they didn’t comment THERE so I was confused. I didn’t even know they were reading. I finally figured out how to see who actually is subscribing to my posts and found out I have 35 subscribers. Friend, that is plenty to be accountable to and makes my heart very happy that I have a small audience of friends who actually want to hear what I have to say.

    Bridges are the best–so glad we were able to meet on ours.
    (And Marlece? She’s next. For reals.)


  2. marlece says:

    Oh my sweet wise woman, relationship is really what we are after isn’t it? I am so grateful to share with you. Friendships are important not just to us but to Jesus too. Thank you for being my friend. Can’t wait to touch you again.


  3. Jenny says:

    Love it, Jan. This was the right word at the right time for me. Thank you so much for writing.


  4. It took me a while too to not pay attention to stats and number of followers…I just believe everything God gives me is meant for someone…even if that someone is me. ♥


  5. I love Marlece! And you (of course!). In fact, I saw this post on FB, but couldn’t finish it right away and I also bookmarked it and put it in my reminders because I’m teaching a class at Speak Up about online community. We desire community, not commodity! This post is such a beautiful point of this!! You’re the best, Jan!!


    • I’m hoping there will be a natural movement (counter-movement?) toward more community, instead of letting our screens isolate us. Thank you, Jen, for always setting an example! –And for stopping by today.


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