Alright, folks, moment of honesty here. How many of you have ever labeled another blog/blogger as “big” or “small?”
I’ll admit that I’ve done it. In fact, I did it for years. Not publicly so much as to myself, where I was the small fry book blogger who couldn’t compete with the bigger fish. Not a healthy way to look at things but that’s where I started out and I know I’m not the only one out there who’s thought like that either.
These “big” and “small” labels were denoting the perceived success of those individuals. For me, I saw anyone with roughly twice my follower count as BIG. The people who everyone knew, who seemed to have connections with every publishing house, who were all-around more popular. And here I was, the Little Blogger, who couldn’t play with the big dogs, who wasn’t as popular.
It became a mentality I was most familiar with in high school and college. It made me feel like book blogging was an exclusive club where only the best of the best got in. A numbers game. Because somehow numbers were unbiased (my science side trying to rationalize this stream of thought).
Yet what I ultimately learned was that success is all about perception and how you view your own self-worth. I was basing my success off of the achievement of others and had already set myself up to fail. So another blogger has 5,000 followers on a site. Good for them! That doesn’t mean you’re a failure for only having 500.
This book community has felt like a round of the Hunger Games lately. Everyone is competing against each other for publisher attention, for followers (as if readers can’t follow multiple people), for the chance to get the next anticipated title. I think that the industry has contributed to this because the guidelines for what they’re looking for from us book promoters aren’t clear, so we aspire to be as good as the “big” bloggers because we don’t have any other baseline to compare to. (Obviously this is a generalization and does not apply to everyone.)
So we come back to that question: What is success as a blogger?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer, at least not one that will fit every blogger’s needs. What I will say is that, to me, blogging success is achieving what YOU set out to do.
You wanted to start a blog and did? You’re a success.
You wanted to write that book review and post it? You’re a success.
You wanted to hit a follower milestone on social media and did? You’re a success.
Whether you’re in it for yourself, your readers, your stats, or even a combination of them all, you determine your own success. Comparing yourself to others will always lead you to failure because you’re too busy looking up or down and not in the mirror.
It’s easy to get caught up in it all, wanting to do well, and what even is “doing well?” Who determines that? I’ve gotten caught up in that same rut, jealous of other bloggers who look like they’re doing better than I am. All that does is make me feel worse about myself and what I’m doing. It can be seriously demotivating.
If you find yourself feeling like that, take a moment and step back from the situation. I’m not going to say to just stop thinking it because it’s never that easy. Ask yourself why you think they’re doing better than you. Make a list.
Now take that list and look to see if anything you included is something you can work on. It’s not a bad thing to want to get better. Rather than use those comparisons you’re making to say “here are all the things you’re doing wrong,” use them to find all the things that you’re doing right and what you can keep working on.
Set yourself reasonable goals and celebrate those successes.
Something I’ve been learning during my student teaching is that sometimes a lesson won’t go how you want it but as long as you got through what you needed to, you hit the marks you set, then it’s a success. It might not be perfect and that’s okay.
There is no such thing as a “big” or “small” blogger. We’ve created these labels based on a perception of success but it doesn’t say anything about who someone is as a blogger. We’re all here doing this thing, talking about what we love.
You’ll get there.
And remember that you’re already doing great just for being here