I’ve written this blog for more than 2 years now. Although I enjoy doing it, my business side (after all, I did have an online business for more than 10 years) keeps popping out every once in a while. For instance, my business side likes to measure stuff. How am I doing with this blog in terms of, let’s say, users, page-views, or sales? I let this side interfere every once in a while, and it helps me keep some things in perspective.
But in the last few weeks, I started to notice a different trend. Several unorthodox ways of measuring my online influence started to shape in a more and more consistent way, and apparently out of nowhere. We all know the basic metrics: unique users, page impressions, comments and so on. But I slowly discovered that your real online influence is seldom a sum of these well-know numbers. In fact, I think following those numbers can be deceiving to some degree.
I mean, what does it mean to have 100,000 unique monthly visitors? How can you translate this in terms of influence? Or reputation? What’s the point of having 3,500 twitter followers or 1,000 facebook friends? If you can’t escape those numbers, you won’t have a real image about what your reputation really is. Or at least this is what I think after taking some time to define these new and unusual ways to measure online reputation. Without further ado, let’s start.
1. Getting Hate Comments
This is tough. But it’s fundamental. Receiving hate comments is a very important part of a blogger job and you should develop a proper way of handling them. When I first received a hate comment on my blog I genuinely thought I did something wrong to the person who wrote it. But after a while I realized not only did I do nothing wrong, but it looked like however I chose to handle the conversation, the hate would not just disappear.
Some people choose to express their feelings through aggressive wording. It’s their choice and we should respect it. It’s unpleasant to get hate comments because the vibe is negative, and it’s hurtful. But it’s also part of life. And, in my experience, people who choose to express themselves through aggressive talking are very difficult to reach, as in personally, genuinely touch their inner core.
So, when you get a real hate comment on your blog, take a deep look (a deep breathe won’t hurt either), and realize that your message crossed a very remote border. Your ideas, stories or lifestyle have made their trip up to one of the farthest places in this world: the heart of a lonely, frustrated and inhibited person. The aggressive comment that person left on your blog is just the receipt your blog gets from anchoring on that shore.
2. People Are Approaching You in Real Life Situations
For example, you may be approached by people who start up conversations with you using sentences like: I don’t know you but I read your blog. Or: my girlfriend is a big fan of your blog (that’s a little bit frustrating, I admit, since it appears that all those girls who are fans of my blog, as gorgeous as they are, already have boyfriends 😉 ). All joking aside, the moment you are making it outside your regular circle of people, and being approached because of your digital brand, something good has happened.
Your circle of friends or business partnerships are usually formed by direct interactions. The smallest building block of this circle is your business card (if we’re talking about business relationships). I gave up business cards a while ago. I don’t consider myself as someone who does business anymore (although my business side still pops up every now and then, as you already know).
And when you realize that your business card has been replaced by your domain name, well, I take this as a sign that you have created a sustainable online brand.
3. Being Quoted On Totally Unrelated Blogs
I blog about personal development here but every once in a while I get a mention from a high-profile blog completely out of my niche. I mean I can expect some of my colleagues to spread the word, but when a blogger from a completely different niche mentions my work, I take it as a strong sign of a healthy and powerful influence.
The first time this happened was almost a year ago, when Gala from galadarling.com mentioned one of my posts in her weekly carousels. It felt a little bit strange to see one of my posts quoted on a fashion blog, especially since nothing in that particular post was related to fashion. The climax of this trend happened just a few days ago, when one of my most popular posts got featured on Camille Crimson’s blog.
I will leave the pleasure of exploring Camille’s blog to my male audience and, as one of my female Facebook friends said, I’ll leave the pleasure of learning a few trips and tricks from this blog to the opposite sex. 😉
4. People Are Asking You To Let Them Help You
This has happened to me only recently, but I guess in some form it was always there. What I am talking about is that some people will draw something so profound or meaningful from your blog, that they will genuinely and transparently offer to put themselves at your service. I’ve always met people who have said in one way or another that they’re motivated, inspired, and want to give something back.
Until recently, I never really took this seriously, but then one of the people I met on Facebook (it all started with a polite and standard: “thank you for your blog” message) offered to proof-read some of my blog posts, if I would agree, of course. I agreed and we started to “work” together. I don’t know if I will make this a long term commitment (although the other person is happy to continue helping as long as I am blogging), but I also take this a sign that I must be doing something right.
5. Receiving Out Of The Blue Thank You Emails
This started to happen a year ago, and in the last few months has become more and more common. In the beginning I was getting a thank you email (or comment on the blog, for that matter) once a month. Now I’m getting almost daily interactions from people I don’t really know, in which they express their gratitude for motivation that they have drawn from this blog.
I choose to never publish these messages. It’s a private interaction, and since the person initiating it has chosen to e-mail me, which is a more private communication channel, I take it that they would like to remain anonymous. But the power of those messages is incredible. Sometimes is just something like: “I like your blog and I want to start one too, you inspired me”. But sometimes is something like: “my life has really changed and I was able to leave behind an ugly/abusive/unhappy time, thank you”.
Whenever I receive one of these messages, something starts to melt inside me. I feel it almost organically.
As you can see, these ways of measuring your online reputation have almost nothing to do with numbers. As a matter of fact, my supposition that numbers give you the wrong impression of what your digital brand is capable of, proved to be right. It’s true that my traffic has tripled in the last year, but the overall impact was bigger than that.
Word of caution: all the signs mentioned above are trying to tell you an important story about the brand that you have created. For the sake of your mental health, please understand that there is a difference between your digital brand and yourself. Just because you have created a famous/well respected/popular blog, it doesn’t automatically make you a famous/well respected/popular person. You have just created a powerful blog brand.
Don’t sweat over it too much. And keep having a real life.