Bloggers – Have You Fallen into The Vanity Metrics Trap?

Bloggers – Have You Fallen into The Vanity Metrics Trap?

Know the Difference Between The Things That Feed Your Soul, and The Things That feed Your Ego.

I decided to do a little post specifically for bloggers. I feel that I have learnt so much on my blogging journey, and I just wanted to do a little series sharing my findings. Im no expert, never claim to be, but, because of my background, I do know about running a business, and many things cross over believe it or not! I hope it will be useful for those of you that blog! This is probably a post mainly for bloggers, but if you use social media in any way, you may find it useful to! Im probing you in this post (get your mind out the gutters, filthy rats). I want to encourage you to analyse your own views on this, be honest with yourself, and ask yourself, have you fallen into the vanity metrics trap. I also want to hopefully, help you understand why you are wasting energy and stress on these if you have succumbed, and give you a few tips how you can dump them. Leave your ego’s at the door people, honesty is what its all about with this one!

Have you fallen into the Vanity metrics trap?

When I had my business, I used to attend a lot of workshops and business lectures because I wanted to learn everything I could, and know how to build a successful business. You know me by now, my nerdy nature means I like to learn learn learn! I just have a brain that needs knowledge.. Vanity metrics used to be spoken about in these courses a lot.

So, what is a vanity metric? Do you know? Well its that little monster that can make us feel amazing or make us feel shitty. It can lift us, or make us feel deflated. It can literally make us obsess and become someone we don’t recognise anymore. It sounds like a powerful little devil eh? Well, it is! Yet, vanity metrics are not really adding any real worth to us. They give us a temporary high, fleetingly make us feel good, but realistically don’t add much. They are the one night stand of the blogging world…. Vanity metrics are the things that so many of us place value on, like the much sought after followers, page views, likes, etc. In business, you learnt that vanity metrics don’t equate to money in the till! Its a similar thing in blogging, 300 people liking your photo does not mean that those 300 people will be visiting your blog!

haveyou fallen into the vanity metrics trap

Some would say that vanity metrics are about ego, and I suppose in some ways, they are. I have done a lot of work over the years understanding ego, as it is the thing that I feel is most likely to make us unhappy. I could write a whole post on the destructiveness of ego, and probably will one day, but for this post I want to give you some ways to avoid falling into the vanity metrics trap. Falling into that trap can make you de-motivated, but also give you a false sense of what works for your blog. Frustration in the blogging world is apparently at an all time high, and it is in a lot of ways, down to this little monster we are talking about today. Annoyance at slow growth is something we all bang on about. Algorithms are cursed at. Many of us are hitting brick walls because we feel we are banging our heads against them. Even resentment at how Susan, with her ability to find a different flower wall every day and never, ever, ever has a hair out of place, (but posts fairly average photos) grows in followers by the shed load, and it grates on us. It gives us the hump. We know we write fab content, so why haven’t we got eleventy million followers? (My Instagram experiment may help you with that too, you can click on the pink words to read)

Well, I am really hoping that I can show you that those metric don’t hold as much sway as you may think. Those figures on the most part, are just stroking our ego. When we are blinded by the vanity metrics, they are our outward validation we seek that we are popular, worthy, just bloody fabulous. Its about ego. See? Im hoping that through understanding these little vanity metric nasties, it will make your blogging journey happier, and more about the reasons that you started. Im sure very few of us started writing blogs because we wanted 3000 likes on an Instagram photo! We started because we love to write, or we felt we had something to share, or we enjoy the process. Vanity metrics make us lose sight of that. Yes, social media is advertising, but with such a hugely saturated blogging market, ya kinda got to think differently!

So, what advice can I give you to not be taken in by the little buggers? The first and most important tip is;

have you fallen into the vanity metrics trap

Stop Giving A Shit – Yep. Truly. That is my top tip. Stop focusing on analysing the numbers, and start focusing on the metrics that actually mean something. The actionable metrics and the engagement metrics. These are what mean something. It may surprise you to know that despite my fairly low social media following, me barely ever asking for followers, never playing any of the tactics for followers etc, and just bumbling along on social media, my blog traffic numbers are the same per month as someone with almost fifteen times my social media following! I know this because I have discussed it with someone who’s figures are fifteen times mine. Surprised?? Im not saying this for any other reason than to illustrate that you really can stop feeling stress over followers. Iv linked to a couple of pages that give some good information about these metrics (in pink) but I warn you, they go in to depth…

Write down your goals, and work backwards from them – I have recently done this and it helped me re-focus and I found it very useful. My goals for my blog when I started were;

I want my content to be read, and hopefully give something to someone. Iv always said my blog is written like I chat to my mates. I share my fave products with my friends, so I share with my readers too!  Whether people take from my blog inspiration, a different thought process, a new way of looking at something, some positivity, a fabulous new lippy to add to their collection, whatever it is. I just want my readers to feel something and encourage them to live their fullest life.

I want to be in a regular writing habit and committed to my writing to encourage me to finish my blooming book Iv been trying to write for 20 years!!!. Yep. This goal is all about me me me!

A thousand strangers liking my latest photo will not lead to engaged and loyal readers to my blog. They may, on a few occasions pop across for a read, but very few become retained readers (my analytics tell me this).

have you fallen into the vanity metrics trap

Stop checking your followers etc daily – It will make you miserable. Instead check things like your bounce rate. This tells you far more valuable things like how long people are staying around on your blog, thereby, indicating wether or not they are finding content they want to read. A low bounce rate means your readers are engaged. Winner!

Appreciate your readers – Answer comments, have genuine interest in your readers, want to connect with them. I have made so many fabulous friends through the people that read my blog. I blooming love them!

Set Goals, but not follower/stat based – I know, I know, am I mad!?! Page views are great, but how many of those page views end up in someone returning every time you post, or buying through your affiliate links if you have them, or in a comment on your blog, or someone loving your content enough to share it on their own socials? Set goals around that sort of thing instead.

Sort out your SEO – Every Saturday, I put myself in blog school. Yep, I truly do. Nerdy Kerry is alive and strong. I work Saturday mornings in my day job, so when I finish, as Im in work mode, I spend 1-2 hours teaching myself something to do with blogging. That could be how to put a plug in on my bog, or how to understand my google analytics. Recently, I have been trying to get my head round SEO. This is where you are helping your posts to be liked by the little google gremlins. I am understanding how important it is, and I strongly advise you do too.

Use the three to One Rule – they say people read blogs if it teaches them something, makes them feel something or is useful. If you do posts that are “brandwork” posts, (sponsored, affiliated, collabs etc) these can make people feel a little sold too (even if written fantastically) so there should be one of these, to three relateable or searchable posts. I know I personally switch off from blogs that are constant brand work.

When you are not distracted by the naughty little vanity metrics, and freeing your mind of the frustrations and negativity they encourage, you will attract and find organic growth and followers that stay around and engage. I promise you that you will find that far more satisfying and motivating than numbers on an app.

 

So, what do you think? Did you know anything about vanity metrics? Did you recognise yourself as someone that gets distracted by these? Do you find yourself distracted by these little devils? Are you aware of your stats and where your traffic comes from? Do you ever look back at the reasons why you started blogging? Have your goals changed as your blog has grown? id love to hear your experiences. 

 

 

 

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29 Comments

  1. September 29, 2018 / 6:09 pm

    This was a fabulous read! 💓 I did not know anything about Vanity Metrics. Yes, I see some bloggers falling for those distractions. I have caught myself in the past, especially in the beginning of blogging reviewing analytics like a hawk. 🤨 I am not aware of the stats where the blog comes from now because I chose to just to blog from the heart. My goal has not changed since I began to blog. It’s all about offering positive energy and empowerment. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      September 29, 2018 / 8:02 pm

      Ahhh thank you so much! Im so thrilled you learnt something from it. I am a person that loves numbers, i think it comes from my business background haha. I find it interesting. I also love the psychology behind how people make decisions and regard results with regard to business/blogging. I am an ultra geek. Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it xxx

  2. September 30, 2018 / 7:00 am

    So good to find someone who doesn’t give a s**t about the Instagram numbers. Like I said in the week, it’s not affected me in the slightest. I feel it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of worrying about it like it’s fashionable to do so. I’m happy to keep plodding along xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      September 30, 2018 / 9:15 am

      You are a fabulous example of how the vanity metrics haven’t made an ounce of difference to how your blog has grown. You have done some amazing campaigns and had fabulous opportunities! Its so much less pressure to not get bogged down by the madness! Thank you for reading Laurie, always appreciated xxx

  3. September 30, 2018 / 8:02 am

    I had no idea what vanity metrics meant before this post but so interesting! I think some people get so swept up in it tbh, think it’s easily done in the blogging community. I feel so unmotivated with my blog atm, a combination of some bloggers seeming so obsessed with numbers and likes, just feel like I cant keep up atm haha! Everyone complaining about the instagram algorithm as well gah! I couldn’t care less who likes my photos tbh like I know so many are commenting/liking for the sake of it, I feel like that’s what blogging is nowadays for some people… just liking/commenting in the hope that it’ll bring traffic to their blog. Writing my goals down is my favourite thing to do, I feel like it really puts things in perspective. Brilliant post as always Kerry, always have me going off in your comments haha!xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      September 30, 2018 / 9:18 am

      I totally agree with you Grace. I went through a stage of feeling that I should be stressed about followers, because so many people on my feed were asking for followers on a weekly basis. It made me worry that I didn’t care enough. Then I remembered that my blog is growing, the vanity metrics didn’t matter. I think we can forget it at times. Im sure you will get your motivation back. I think everyone has times where they wane xxx Thank you for popping across for a read. Much appreciated xx

      • September 30, 2018 / 6:20 pm

        Me too! Seeing so many people saying like ‘3 followers until x amount’ and stuff like that would always make me feel like I didn’t care enough about those parts of my blog. Thank you Kerry! Your posts are always a pleasure to read xxx

        • kerrylifeandloves
          Author
          September 30, 2018 / 9:30 pm

          Thank you so much Grace, thats so lovely to hear xxxx

  4. September 30, 2018 / 9:25 am

    This is such a good post Kerry. I’ve not heard of the term “Vanity Metrics” but I understand the concept. Before I began blogging I had a personal Instagram account and followed plenty of makeup/skincare/celebs etc. I would see all the comments “ this looks fab, not heard of it before” and that kind of thing and think wow, how sad!! Who are these silly people commenting and WHY? I used to think- go get a life! I only realised who said people were after I started blogging and became one of those silly ppl myself. The whole engagement thing dawned on me.

    What I’ve learnt in almost two years of blogging in this saturated industry is this: People only engage for the return engagement, miss one of thei posts (by mistake) and they won’t return the comment/like. The same is said for the blog. Return commenting is a thing. I honestly don’t think anyone is overly bothered about the content, all they’re after is the return comment. ( in my opinion) To win the interest of Brands/PR engagement is key. I had a chatty email convo with a PR agent last week and she told me if your Instagram following is around 10,000 they’ll happily pay upwards of £400 for a blog post review and insta post with story. I was shocked when she then told me that the blogger in question was getting similar blog views as me per month (with my paltry following of 1,600), so you’re exactly right. I wasn’t charging anywhere near £400!! She told me I need to put my fee up.

    Having high social numbers will open more doors and bring more opportunities etc but not necessarily drive more traffic. Like you say.

    Finding a balance between writing sponsored|branded content and mixing in your own personal posts is the best way. I love working with brands and helping get the word out there for small or new businesses which I often do “gratis” However, my blog serves as a secondary income and can be quite lucrative. I see it as a business, my second job so I prefer not to work for free. I always think – the person sending the email to me asking me to collab is most certainly getting paid to be sat there so why the heck should they expect a post plus imagery to be done for free. It’s very time consuming and if the quality is there then sorry, but you won’t get me working for nout.

    On a side note, I saw your post on Twitter and clicked through – that’s how it’s meant to work. I’m not here because I want you to come and return comment on my latest, I’m here because your subject matter got me here. Granted, if you’re not a blogger it may not appeal but I am, so here I am!

    My main traffic drivers are organic google searches and Pinterest, not Instagram or Twitter. I spend much less time on insta these days and low and behold get a third of the likes I used to get. (Like for like and all that nonsense) I find ppl are inspired to
    Comment if the photo appeals but the liking, not so much.

    Blogging is so diverse, everyone has their own way, who they work with, what content they put out there etc. and I believe live and let live. I see bloggers slated by other bloggers all the time for differing opinions on what one thinks is right or wrong etc.

    Our blogs are as different as our faces, no two are the same, there’s room for us all. Someone left a comment on one of my tweets recently saying they wouldn’t want their blog to be all about making money blah blah. Yawn. You do you Margaret, I’m not in the market for working for free! My content is the same regardless if it’s free or paid for. My (non-sponsored) wellness box review was over 1,100 words and the images took ages to get right! My sponsored hair extensions post was around 600 words with much less effort on imagery. There’s no preferentially treatment for anyone I feature paid or not and I’ll always be honest regardless.

    Sometimes the most loyal readers are the ones who find your blog through a simple google search, they’re not bloggers looking for return engagement they’re just joe public who trusts your honest opinion, when you look at your MPV and compare that to your comments the answer is there!

    Sorry for such a lengthy comment haha!!

    Samantha x

    https://thebeautyspyglass.com

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      September 30, 2018 / 9:47 am

      Ohhhhhh Samantha, dont ever apologise for a long comment! I adore people telling me their views and opinions. Love it!

      I am so pleased that you too have had the realisation that followers and likes does not equate to blog traffic. Im the same as you in that the main traffic source for me, by a long way, is organic search. I do know that I dont make enough time and effort on Instagram etc, but if I am brutally honest, it holds no real appeal to me. I concentrate on my blog.

      I made a decision at the start of the year to not accept any more gifted items unless I was really, really passionate about the brand. I do like to earn a little income from my blog, it pays my hosting fees etc, but I would still write it regardless. I too will not work for free anymore, mainly because I am so choosy about brands I work with now. I have absolutely no issue with anyone earning money from their blogs. Blooming good luck to them!

      Thank you so much for your comment, it has given me more food for thought too. Oh and just as a side note, Im a regular reader of your blog, and always go through google.

      Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it xxx

  5. September 30, 2018 / 12:56 pm

    I really enjoyed this, I had no idea of the vanity metric stuff but like Samantha said I get the concept and it makes so much sense. Its crazy how bogged down you can get with it all but then when you mention it wont but bills in the till i was like wow…. That was a pretty big penny dropping for me 🙂
    I’m going to look into those articles you link and find out some more, I to love a bit of blog school as you call it!
    Have you ever thought of doing posts on your learnings? Would love to see that!!
    xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      September 30, 2018 / 2:18 pm

      Ahhh I am so thrilled that you feel you learnt something, and that penny drop moment, I blooming love those! Its funny you say about writing more articles like this, but in truth, Iv worried in the past as I would hate anyone to think that I consider myself any kind of expert! Im just a nerd that knows how businesses run, and who loves to keep learning! So much of that knowledge translates over to blogging. I do have a couple of other ideas for blog related topics, so I think I will probably share those soon. Blog school is the best. I have done it for the last year or so and I always, always learn something new. Every day is a school day eh! Thank you so much for reading xxx

  6. September 30, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    I must admit I have been dragged in by vanity metrics quite a few times and it nearly stopped me blogging. I had to remind myself that my blog is for me and I wanted to help people. Numbers are nice but I would prefer real engagement over likes any day of the week.

  7. October 1, 2018 / 12:04 pm

    This was such a fabulous read! I can so relate to this! Having started my blog “just for fun” it soon became a bit of an obsession, as did Instagram followers/unfollowers. It’s been a hard battle and also a very valuable lesson learned but I feel I’m a different/better person for those lessons. This article is just so insightful and I’m so glad you have shared it! xxxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 1:16 pm

      Ahh thank you so much! It seems that we all recognise ourselves a little. I think its very easy to get caught up in what, on the surface, is what everyone strives for. We see so many people constantly asking for followers and various tactics going on, that it makes us feel like we should be like that too! I am the same as you, I feel I have learnt so much throughout the blogging process. Thank you so much for reading xxxx

  8. Jean
    October 1, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Great blog as usual Kerry. I myself am not a blogger but so much of what you have written can be used in every day life, we can all relate to

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 1:31 pm

      I think we can all get blinded by these figures, blogger or non blogger. Its just seeing the wood for the tree’s isnt it. They dont really mean a lot in the grand scheme of things x Thank you for reading x

  9. October 1, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    This was a really interesting post to read, and really made me think about my own blogging experience.

    When I first went self-hosted a year and a half ago now, I became completely obsessed with vanity metrics like views. If I didn’t get enough I considered my blog a wasted investment, even though it had only ever been a way for me to get my voice heard by a bigger crowd of people. I didn’t even have plans to go anywhere with my blog back then, although I admitted to myself that earning back the money I’d invested would be nice.

    After recognising that I was focusing too much on the vanity metrics, I went completely the other way. I stopped caring about stats altogether and instead focused on the engagement I was receiving. I’ve been quite fortunate for a small blog that the blog posts I do post are generally well received by my loyal readers, and I receive quite a nice amount of comments on each post. Like you said, you’ve compared your engagement to someone with higher vanity metrics and found you’re at the same point, which is something I’ve realised as far as engagement is concerned. I receive as many comments and interactions as those who have a lot more followers or views than I do, and that truly means a lot to me. I also think learning about things like SEO are super important, but as I do that for my job anyway, it’s something that crosses over quite naturally.

    With that being said, however, I have started to think about vanity metrics again, but in a healthier way. I’ve set goals for October just to keep myself on track and make sure I’m still present in the blogging community. No more, “I’ll do it if I have time”, because I know if I don’t then I don’t deserve the increase I’m hoping for in the coming months. My brain works via statistics and is very much number-based, so I’m hoping this will keep me on track. If I ever notice that it becomes unhealthy like it has done in the past, however, I will be nipping it in the bud STRAIGHT away!

    Sorry for leaving an essay in response. I’m SO bad for it when it comes to leaving comments on blogs.

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 5:25 pm

      Ohhh please, don’t ever apologise for leaving a long comment over here. I love hearing about everyones experiences and views. I think it is so easy to get wrapped up in the vanity metrics, and I am would bet every single blogger has at some point. Im like you, I love numbers! I do try to post on Instagram every day, or at least 5 days out of 7 so I am definitely not completely free of these little metric devils! Engagement is, for me, THE most satisfying part of blogging. The open conversation, the hearing of other views. It just makes my heart sing, dosent it yours? Thank you so much for popping across and reading, I really appreciate it xx

      • October 8, 2018 / 1:58 pm

        Wow! I look up to you for being able to post five times a week on Instagram. I aim for one post every two days but I often fall short, haha! I completely agree about the engagement. I love talking to other people, and replying to comments from people who can resonate with what I’ve written!

        • kerrylifeandloves
          Author
          October 8, 2018 / 5:51 pm

          Ohh trust me, I fall short often! I try to get the photo organised the night before, saved as a draft, then I just post it in the morning. It keeps me on track a bit doing it that way! I think engagement is the best thing. Still now, two years down the line I feel so honoured if someone comments, gives me their viewpoint etc. Thank you so much for reading xx

  10. October 1, 2018 / 9:57 pm

    Kerry I feel like you’re talking to me lol! So informative and you’re right we’ve got to stop thinking about the numbers etc etc. For ages I used to beat myself up about it but hey I should be doing it for myself and the bonus is I have made some lovely friends along the way. I am (again) in a bit of a blogging stand still. I just don’t think I give any value to anything haha I’m sure I’ll do some posts once the move etc is out of the way…. Ohhhh SEO, please please please explain to me in dummies for dummies and then dummies again version cause no matter what I read I just don’t get it! I am quite academically challenged lol! So interesting about vanity metrics – I think I need to re-read and take notes!! xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 10:46 pm

      Heather honestly, I think there is not a blogger in the land that hasnt become distracted by numbers at least once in their blogging journey. We all seem to t some point x. The thing is with blogging, you have to write about what you love. What floats your boat. Once you find that, you will be plane sailing. Write down three things that you are passionate about. Then work out of you could base your writing around that. Might help? I also try to do my writing like a job. So, Tuesday mornings 9-12 is blog work. I literally sit at my desk like a job. It gives me a bit of structure! I am trying hard to get my head round SEO, but I am a bit like you, I think I understand it then realise I dont! If i get there with it, I will let you know for sure xx Thanks for reading lovely xxx

  11. October 2, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    I definitely feel like I’m getting a little bogged down with blogging lately – i’m not enjoying it as much as I used too, and if i’m honest social media is making me feel rubbish about everything as well. I think I just need to set some little goals for myself to get back into blogging again! x

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      Ahhh Hannah, Im sorry to hear you are not enjoying it so much. Do you think you put too much pressure on yourself? I think sometimes going back to basics, reading through posts you have wrote that you love, all help. I took a break from Instagram and it did me good. Remember, blogging is meant to be fun xxxx Thanks for reading, you know you can message if I can do anything xxx

  12. October 4, 2018 / 9:33 pm

    This is so spot on Kerry! I’m not a ‘social media’ person, never have been. It’s something I do because I need to for my job. It can take so much time and energy and yet like you say, how much of your traffic actually comes from it? It makes you lose sight of what you originally started your site for. If we actually stopped and looked at how much revenue it generates against how much time input is required, I think any sound business person would put less emphasis on it xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 4, 2018 / 10:22 pm

      Im so glad you agree Alex. I think its so easy to get wrapped up in numbers, we are constantly told they matter. We see our fellow bloggers stressing about numbers and wonder if we should be too. I honestly think eventually, the worm will turn and we wont be judges on the superficial numbers…..well I hope lol Thank you so much for reading and giving your thoughts. I really appreciate it xxx

  13. October 8, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    Spot on as always, I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of monitoring followers and number of likes per day/month etc… it’s not exactly healthy! Ever since I stopped looking at my daily stats I’ve enjoyed blogging so much more. The same goes for social media – I’m hopeless with updating it regularly and keeping on top of things as it is. Fab post xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 8:03 pm

      Thank you so much J, i think there isnt a blogger in the universe that hasnt got bogged down with numbers at some point. the good thing is seeing it for what it is and not letting it get you down. I agree with you totally, since I stopped worrying about photos being “Instaworthy” and in truth, not caring whether someone agrees that my photo of a mountain is flippin amazing (lol) , Iv enjoyed it much more. Thank you for reading lovely, I really appreciate your comment xx

I love reading your comments x

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