Remember when you first started blogging? An increase of one in your visitor counts or feed readers was exciting.

Then you discovered Digg, StumbleUpon, and Twitter. By a submission of your site to popular social networks, you saw your blog growing by the hundreds.

Today’s Lesson

I remember those days.

Each new unique visitor made my day. It confirmed I was being found. Slowly (and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y) my blog grew.

Within a few months someone Stumbled a post of mine. I thought I was seeing things. My statistics showed hundreds of unique visitors in one day. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around how that could happen. But within a few days, my visitors counts went back down. And again I was counting my unique visitors one by one.

Stumbles and Diggs started happening more frequently. It was like my blog was high on drugs. My stats looked great. My blog was on it’s way.

Or so I thought.

Just when I got used to the “good” numbers, my statistics would fall (but not as far down as before the “spike”).

I no longer was satisfied with a handful of unique visitors. I wanted more.

I wanted my stats to be higher. I had tasted that “social (networking) meth”, and I wanted more Stumbles and/or Diggs.

I thought of ways to get more, but didn’t feel it was ethical, so I went “cold turkey” and realized I must go back to counting uniques one by one.

Occasionally a post will get Stumbled or Dugg, but I’ve learned it’s only a temporary high.

I am now an ex-social networking junkie. I reverted back to why I started blogging.

In this uncertain world, my hope is to leave a small piece of what I’ve learned, on this “medium” called the “world wide web”, and hopefully benefit others for years to come.

Getting hooked on “social meth” is actually a problem for many bloggers. After reading my post on success in blogging, Mojo did a great cartoon titled: RSS: Crystal Meth For Bloggers..

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of high traffic numbers, but if you take all of those Stumbles and Diggs away, you’re left with your loyal readers.

Aren’t they really who we write for?

Today’s Assignment

Are you addicted to social “meth”? Playing the numbers game?

Are you trying to sustain those high numbers?

Or have you realized your loyal readers are the ones who are truly important?

Photo Credit: babasteve’s photostream

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  1. Oh Barbara – if only you knew. Numbers don’t seem to be my friend sometimes
    After a spike, I can’t help but watch like a hawk for more more more
    I am now using Twitter more. Twitter! Facebook! Myspace! MyBlogLog! BlogCatalog! Digg! StumbleUpon!

    How is a girl supposed to keep up?! lol
    Yet I am convinced its how I get those numbers to come up and stay up.

    I’m tired just thinkin about it

  2. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    You’ve caught me on one of my lows, so I’m not a very good person to ask right now. Right now I’m trying to accept that comments aren’t the only high I need and numbers count, too. Although, those are down, too. In my eyes, comments, like it or not, validify my work. Last week I wrote something that I thought would inspire others to comment. I followed the rules, I asked questions, I linked and used SEO. I didn’t get one single comment all day! Not even from my regulars. Eventually I got a couple, including you, but it was a hard blow for me. My blog seems to have a hard time recovering from these kind of hits. I walk the line of being true to myself and writing what others will read. Because, if I don’t have the readers, I’m not sure what the purpose of sharing my wisdom (such as it is) is. Part of my problem is that I don’t do a lot of social networking. I’m trying twitter, but I’m leaning towards giving up on it.

    Told you I was in a low right now. I’m still working through it all.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – My New Washing Machine

  3. I think I was addicted to social meth after my first StumbleUpon high. It’s mind boggling to think that so many people are reading something you’ve written. But after it goes away, you’re just left with your loyal readers.

    I’m no longer addicted to social meth and I don’t obsess over stats. But social traffic is a way we can get new loyal readers, even if it’s only a small percentage of the people who stumble upon us.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..14 Defenses Against The Anti-Entrepreneurial

  4. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    i guess i keep very low standards. i’m happy with one comment, but if i get more, great! i don’t do stats, ocassionally i look at my feedburner subscribers and i’m tired of the social networking thing. i can do a few of them, but trying to keep up is overwhelming…i would be too tired to write. the readers and comments are important. you can have readers and no comments…true you do have to get yourself out there to have those things, but i try not to over do it.

    Naturals last blog post..But I Can’t Feel Anything – Does Using Plastic Desensitize the Act of Spending Money

  5. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Comments feel great. I don’t know why but they do. I know that I have been excited about running features on my blog but when I saw no one commented on them, I cancelled them. Case in point, my album spotlights.

    I now know that I have a handful of loyal readers. And that is what makes me keep blogging. That plus my love of writing.

    I don’t think I need hundreds of visiters and comments a day. I’m happy right now.

    Chase Marchs last blog post..If It Weren’t For…

  6. MonkMojoNo Gravatar says:

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, I Stumbled this post. I am hopeless.

    MonkMojos last blog post..Debt Snowball vs Debt Bazooka

  7. axecityNo Gravatar says:

    I liked this article so much simply because it sounds so natural and reflects all what we all passed through.

    axecitys last blog post..Crowdsourcing: Your Visitors As Creators

  8. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi,

    Numbers can be a friend or an enemy. It’s what we do with them, and what we let them do to us that counts. Social networking sites will help our blogs get found, BUT will those visitors stick around is the question.

    Hi Debbie,

    That’s where patience and perseverance come in. You know you’re a good writer (right?). You know you are helping others with your writings about Down syndrome. Even if you help one person who has a special needs child, get through their day (even if they don’t comment), you have done a fabulous job.

    Re: writing a post and using SEO. You may not see the effects of that right away (the search engines need time to index it).

    Hi Hunter,

    It sounds like you’re finding a balance with blogging. With all you have had happening on your blog (Darren, Pavlina, …), I’m guessing your numbers were going crazy.

    Social networking is a great way to attract new readers, as long as we don’t get addicted to the spikes.

    Hi Natural,

    I agree that social networking can be extremely time consuming. Even though I have joined a few more, I don’t have time to participate, so it may be all for naught. It’s tough finding that balance, isn’t it?

    Hi Chase,

    Like you, I love comments. It’s the first thing I check when I open my blog.

    Anytime we try a new “feature”, our readers will let us know if they like it – either by not participating, or by leaving a comment and giving it a thumbs up.

    When I stared my New Blog Of The Week (NBOYW) feature, it was received well. I realize some of the blogs I find will not appeal to all of my readers, but it’s at least getting the new blogger’s name out there, and may gain them a loyal reader.

    Count me as a loyal reader to your blog. I enjoy your writings and always look forward to what you will be publishing next.

  9. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Mojo,

    Thanks for the Stumble. :LOL:

    I enjoy you cartoons, and for anyone who hadn’t seen the one you did about RSS readers, I wanted to include the link. It hit the nail on the head.

    Hi Axecity,

    Thank you. We all end up in the same boat, don’t we?

    I just glanced at your post about crowdsourcing. It looks fascinating. I’ll be by later to read it.

  10. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! I figure, “hey, I write to help people, so if one post gets “popular” somehow then I am glad that I was able to help lots of people with that one post.” Sure it’s disappointing to see the stats dwindle, but on to write more to help more…. yes, it’s the loyal subscribers that are most precious to us and always will be. And probably you always get at least a few loyal people from each surge.

    Jennifers last blog post..The Art of Peaceful Bill Paying

  11. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Isn’t is a good feeling knowing you helped someone? It’s hard to put a price on that.

    Yes, the surges/spikes probably do produce a few new loyal readers. With that in mind, a spike can pay off in the end.

  12. Hi Barbara – I’m discovering that I can’t be yanked around like a puppet by daily Feedburner stats. Yes, I want people to enjoy my blog, but I’m doing very little promotion – I’m just concentrating on posting good content that makes me feel happy to share with the world. And I’m grateful to loyal “fans” like you who keep showing up, appreciating it! Thank you!

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafes last blog post..Do You Believe in Magic? (How I Met Bruce Springsteen)

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Mark,

    You have found “the secret” to enjoying blogging. Doesn’t that make publishing your work fun?

    And yes, I am a loyal fan. 😀

  14. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    The numbers game is an interesting one. In my group, I always have to show impact. My second book was downloaded 800,000 in six months. Suddenly, I couldn’t reach enough people. Doing talks for only 100-400 people was no longer worth it.

    Well, what I lost in the process was the joy of the live experience. In fact, I had so much pressure to reach more people that even writing the books was no longer fun.

    I got back to my purpose and got back on my horse and focused again on helping customers be effective and enjoying the ride. It’s still intense and I need to make my numbers, but I focus on what I control — giving it my best shot — and I stop looking at the scoreboard.

    That said, while my blog numbers are low (I think?), I run into people at work all the time that tell me how it helps them, so that’s my real measure of success.

    Now that I know enough SEO basics too, I completely get why some blogs catch fire, while others won’t, so that helps me keep perspective. Niches and networks matter.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Innovation Objectives

  15. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi J.D.

    Thank you for sharing the story about your book. 800,000 downloads in six months in phenomenal, so I can see how you weren’t satisfied with 100-400.

    It sounds like you found your balance and are now enjoying all that you do.

    Knowing your blog helps others, no matter how small it is, reminds us why we do what we do.

  16. […] yesterday’s post we learned how addictive we become to spikes in traffic created by social networking […]

  17. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I think I got more excited earlier on getting a handful of extra readers a week than I do nowadays. In fact, I’ve given up trying to work out what makes people come. I used to think I had to post every day to get plenty of visitors, but I’ve had a couple of weeks off and still had almost 50,000 unique visitors this month.

    I do look at my stats sometimes but mostly just to see what keywords people are using, rather than the actual numbers.

  18. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    You were missed, good to see you commenting again.

    It is hard to figure out what actually works, isn’t it. I’m guessing with your blog being so established, not posting isn’t having an affect on your visitor counts. I don’t know if this would hold true for a new blog or not.