Why I’m Done Playing the Number’s Game in Blogging

Please be warned, this post is a little ranty but not aimed at anyone at all!

I think we can all agree that Instagram is hard. The stupid algorithm makes growth practically impossible, and the amount of effort it takes to write a caption and then your list of hashtags, only to get 10 new followers and then lose 12 (adjust numbers to fit your profile where necessary -mine’s small!). To grow, we have been told to support each other. Follow trains are common place, and there’s 101 blog posts explaining how to grow your Instagram.

It’s not just Instagram. To grow a Twitter following you have to be constantly tweeting, following, interacting and creating content. Which is hard work! Don’t even get me started on sites like Bloglovin’. And Facebook? As far as I’m concerned that one’s the root of all evil (you’ll get far if you pay for it…).

But what counts as support these days? The general consensus is that you follow people, interact with their content, like things, leave comments, and expect it to come back two-fold. But that’s where the problems lie – in it coming back around. It becomes the expectation that you should get back what you put in. So if you follow someone and they don’t follow you back, they can kiss goodbye to your follow! It’s becoming more frequent to see new bloggers, having been told to follow to get a following, begging bigger accounts to please follow them back. And on the wave of this, following sprees are becoming more commonplace. I know at least 3 people’s Twitter handles that have followed me at least 4 times each and always unfollow within a day. It’s hard to tell who’s following you because they genuinely like your content, or because they want a follow back and have no interest in you or your actual content.

And I’ll be honest – I’ve had enough. Recently I really tried to put effort into following back but it’s hard to tell who genuinely wants to follow you and who simply wants you to follow back so they can go through later and click that unfollow button, boosting their own ratio. I love interacting with other bloggers, reading their posts and leaving comments all over the place if I like something. It’s the same on all platforms. And I think people are starting to catch on that this growth game isn’t worth playing.

We all want more Instagram followers, but check any of the blog posts about growing your following and they’ll tell you to go through your explore page and follow anyone who fits your niche. And after a week, unfollow those who didn’t follow you back. But isn’t that what annoys us? We never know whether a new follower is genuine, or only following for a follow. Or maybe they’re a bot. Who knows?

But when was the last time you followed someone on Instagram because you genuinely liked their feed? Because they post pictures of cool makeup looks or cute pets or have immensely funny captions? In the blogging world it can feel like if your Insta feed isn’t filled with marble-backed flatlays or you don’t have a running theme, you’re doing something wrong. Maybe I don’t want to follow yet another blogger posting flatlays of the same products over and over again just to keep pushing out content, so I find myself following less new people. Maybe I want to see your face every now and again, to get to know the person behind the camera. Maybe I want to see more personality than the contents of your makeup bag. Maybe I want to see some variety in the photos I see, not the same things over again but arranged slightly differently. Not that I don’t enjoy flatlays, I just want to go back to the way Instagram used to be, where you followed someone because you liked their personality and pictures. I don’t want to follow feeds that don’t interest me in the hope they might follow me back.

And that’s just Instagram! When I first created the Facebook page I hardly ever use, I posted to a couple of blogger Facebook groups asking people if they could follow me. The only ones that did, did so with conditions: “Here’s mine, I’ll follow you if you follow me?”. It lost some meaning (although I discovered some great bloggers through this!). And on Twitter, follow chains for all platforms are common place: “Everyone like and RT this tweet, and leave your links. Follow everyone who RTs”. Which is all well and good but you end up stuck following a lot of people bringing out content you won’t read or care about just to boost your own numbers. And how many of them unfollow a few days later? Ask yourself this – The last time you took part in a follow chain, did your engagement actually go up? Mine hasn’t changed from when I was posting scheduled tweets daily with 400 followers, to now, barely even promoting this blog but with almost 750 followers instead. When it’s only about boosting the numbers on your profile, people don’t care about the content you work hard to produce.

I went through a few phases of trying to follow everyone back who followed me – I wanted to give back a little of what people were giving me. But I have no idea how many people I’ve followed who immediately unfollowed me once they had their number ticked off. I have no idea how many people follow me that don’t look at my content and never see my blog posts. I have no idea how many people I follow that I never interact with at all. Is that really support?

From now on, if I follow you on Twitter, it’s either because I like your content, or I’ve had a great interaction with you. I want to get back to that community feel, where we all boost each other up, there’s no right or wrong way to behave, and the numbers aren’t so important. When I voiced my concerns today, I ended up releasing my frustrations with 2 bloggers who surprisingly agreed with me – opinions I thought I was best keeping down. But it seems to be common consensus that actually, people don’t want to live along the lines of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”. I want to be able to comment on other people’s tweets, follow fun or pretty Instagram feeds, read their blog posts and spread the love, without expecting anything back or it even being an expectation to do so in the first place. That was what made blogging fun! I want it to just be fun again, blogging for each other as much as the outside world. Not caring so much for numbers and not needing to stand on each other to get a little higher.

Instagram is a pain as it is. I don’t need to feel bad for wanting to be myself on it and not getting 10,000 followers for doing that.

I don’t even own a marble background…

Follow me!

Facebook: @WordofRachel

Twitter: @WordofRachel14

Instagram: @wordofrachel

Bloglovin’: @wordofrachel

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12 thoughts on “Why I’m Done Playing the Number’s Game in Blogging”

    1. Thank you so much! I was a little worried about posting it but I realised that the pressure to boost numbers is what’s been dragging my motivation to blog down! I feel a lot better now knowing I’m not alone in thinking this!

      1. I always get so disheartened when I lose Instagram followers, so I understand the frustration, but I think your blog is great – your posts let people see who you are and what you are passionate about! Keep up the good work, and try not to get too disheartened, I’d much rather follow more bloggers like you! 🙂

  1. Rachel, I love this post! Trying to grow is so hard and, as a relative newbie, follow trains seem like a really good way of doing this – Twitter, FB, Insta and Pinterest. OK, not FB, that is sooooooooooo hard! A lot of the people I follow don’t follow back so after a couple of weeks I have another look and if I don’t engage with their content then I will unfollow. But I’ve met some really lovely fellow bloggers through the trains too so IDK really. The numbers game sucks though, no question. Thank you for a really relevant and timely post! X

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  2. Oh my goodness this has been driving me mad for ages. I don’t mind following to support, but support is appreciated to. Like you I don’t know who is genuine and who is not. A few bloggers have blogged about this. All because people want to look popular so they can say I gave X amount of followers but I’m just following 3. I mean like really you are that desperate. I’m tired if my numbers to yoing. I always take some time out to do a binge watch and read. Thanks for your post. Loved it.

  3. I agree with this post a lot. I think the numbers game is all about getting ‘exposure’ as a lot of people think their content is good but they just can’t reach people with it. I agree with that to some extent. I am persobally sic of the same banners, flatlays and topics everywhere. I understand that it’s difficult to pioneer something, but I wish more bloggers weren’t trying to be somone else, but be themselves.

    I come from a postion where I had all social media delted for 3 years, and being back on it I try to take a step back. All I see instagram as now is mostly exibitionism. It’s sad that unless you’re not nearly naked, you don’t get engagement. I just don’t look at those numbers anymore.

    1. Thank you! It is frustrating when you keep putting out content and don’t get the engagement, but having more followers doesn’t necessarily equate to more of that. I definitely think that stepping back is healthy now – the numbers can drag you down!

  4. A-friggin’-greed! I want to live in an ideal world where people follow me because they want to and I follow the blogs I like. Like yours, which I have only found because of this post but am now following.

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