When you add ‘em all up, there are currently about 110,000 subscribed followers here on Single Dad Laughing. The blog has been around for about 20 months now.
Some people look at that number and think holy crud bubba jemophekhat that’s a lot of followers in such a short amount of time. For that reason I get a lot of emails from fellow bloggers asking for golden nuggets of wisdom that will help them grow their following as well.
What most people don’t know is that in the time it took me to reach 110,000 followers, I’ve also lost about 25,000 followers (yes, there are ways to measure that). They unsubscribed. They stopped following this blog. They hiked up their knickers and disappeared into lands unknown.
So with that in mind, today I want to give you all a much more real answer than what I’ve responded via email every time somebody asks.
You see, usually my reply to the “what can I do to grow my blog, too?” question is something like this:
“Dear awesome fellow blogger, to grow your blog you’ve gotta do a few things. First, you have to make it easy for people to follow your blog when they find it. Second, you have to post consistently. Third, you have to create content that people will want to read and that they’ll want to share. Do that, and your blog will grow.”
But that isn’t really indicative of the number one most important thing a blogger can do that the vast majority of bloggers are too scared to do.
Bloggers have to be willing to lose followers if they ever want to grow.
Did you hear that fellow bloggers?
You have to be willing to lose followers if you ever want to really grow.
When I started this blog, I put my focus into humorous and sarcastic pieces. There wasn’t a lot of love going on, and even worse, I made fun of people from time to time. It started off pretty good, but not huge. I remember in my third month I had 800 or so followers and 18,000 page views. I was on cloud 9. My blog had made a bit of a splash, and I realized it could be fun to keep at it and see how many followers I could eventually get.
Then, right around the 1,000 mark, something significant happened to someone I love, and it made me question a lot of the ways I looked at things and people. It made me realize that I was perhaps more a part of a problem than I was any solution. And so after really looking at the dynamics of my life, family, and community, I sat down and I wrote The Disease Called Perfection.
When I finished writing it, I sat back and stared at it. And after I’d stare at it for a while, I’d stare at my follower count. And then back to the post. And then back to the follower count. By the time I got up the courage to publish it, I was convinced that I would lose the majority of my 1,000 followers if I did publish it. After all, it was nothing like anything I’d posted to that point, and it wasn’t lost on me that it could and probably would offend a lot of people.
And as I hit publish, I realized that this particular message was far more important to me than some number hanging off of the side of my blog. I knew it could be the end of my blog. And I did it anyway. Because, as I mentioned in that post, I was desperate for the message to be read.
The Disease Called Perfection went viral. And not just a little viral, it went crazy viral.
And in the process, I did lose a big chunk of those original followers. I also gained about ten thousand more.
A week and a half later I posted You Just Broke Your Child. That one was really scary for me. I was up front and direct in that message. I was desperate for that message to get out too, but it was even scarier than the first because now I felt like I’d be losing 11,000 or so followers instead of a thousand. Could I really push my luck like that twice?
That post went crazy viral, too. And in the process I did lose even more of my original followers. I also gained about ten thousand more.
A week after that I posted Memoirs of a Bullied Kid. You’d think I would have been confident at that point about publishing strongly worded posts and my own radical ideas. But I wasn’t. In fact, this post was the scariest of all. I could only read it and feel like the entire world would finally see what a loser I was. The ghosts that pushed me to write that post begged me not to post it. It would end me. It would end the blog. And even the people in my personal life would no longer see me as confident or strong. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to post that one. But I did anyway. Because kids were dying. And I felt like my voice might change some things, even if it meant the end of this blog.
That post went insanely viral. And in the process I lost even more of my original followers. I lost some of the followers from the previous couple weeks. I also gained about 15,000 more.
And then, over the next year or so, I posted a few more that went viral; all of which I was sure would be the end of my blog when I hit that big blue “publish” button.
You see, no matter how big your blog gets, I don’t think it’s possible to ever feel like it’s indestructible.
And then there was that one post… You know the one.
It took me a year both to find the words for that post and to get the courage to publish it.
I mean… How?
How do you write something like that and not offend everybody to the point that the entire world doesn’t leave you on your butt to ponder what you’ve done.
For some reason, I was absolutely certain that it would be the end of Single Dad Laughing when I finally finished it and shared it. I didn’t see any way that it couldn’t be. Did I have hopes that it would be well received and not kill what I had built so far? Of course. But I didn’t see how that would be the case.
But my dear friend Jacob was worth this blog. All of my friends that struggle with those dynamics are worth more than this blog. The message was worth giving up this blog.
And so I shared it anyway.