11. How does blogging fit into your way of ageing, your life, and your concept of success?

Our survey asked older bloggers whether their blogs reflected one of three theories of ageing, how important their blog was in their lives, and how they measured their blog’s success. To generalise and paraphrase, they replied “Bad question!” to the first, “Moderately important” to the second, and “I measure the success of my blog by the pleasure and the interaction with people that it brings.”

An impossible question: three psychosocial theories of ageing

As we age, so do we blog. Toy jeep, top and teddy bear. Older bloggers survey 2018, writeintolife.com

I’m interested in the different ways that people regard their own ageing, and used a blunt instrument to test this with our older bloggers. Out of only three statements, they were asked to choose the one that was most true for themselves.

  • Blogging is a way to continue doing certain things that I have always done.
  • Blogging is a way to keep myself active.
  • Blogging is a way of withdrawing from the life that I used to be involved in.

Yes, a clear pattern emerged, with more than half choosing the first theory (continuity), more than a third choosing the second (keeping active), and a mere handful choosing the third (withdrawal).

Bar graph. Which is most true for you? Blogging represents continuity (57.8%), activity (37.61%), withdrawal (4.59%)

Is blogging a way to continue your earlier life, keep active, or withdraw? Older Bloggers Survey 2018

But what does that mean? This pattern may have nothing to do with blogging, and may just be a norm among people in old age. None of these are bad ways of ageing, but individuals may be more inclined to one. Are older bloggers less ready to disengage from their previous activities than others of the same age? We’ll never know.

Personal anecdote: When three friends, all retired, asked ourselves this question, we instantly identified as one for continuity (me, the only blogger), one for activity (a teacher-dancer-mother-grandmother), and one who was relishing withdrawal into her garden and the luxury of reading.

Significantly, 14 people skipped this question, an unusually large number. Moreover, 10 people commented on the inappropriateness of the question.

  • “Bad question. Not enough choices. I don’t think any of these statements is true for me.”
  • “None of these. Blogging is a way of connecting to the world in new ways.”
  • “Actually none fit…and don’t what statement would…”
  • “Blogging satisfies all three of these statements.”

Relative importance of blogging in older bloggers’ lives

Considering the satisfaction participants gained from their blogs, I was surprised to discover that only 6% would call it “one of my most important activities.” Far more considered that blogging took only a small part of life, and a substantial majority are busy with other things.

Question 20. Consider the time that you spend reading and writing and commenting on blogs. How significant is it in your life?

  • Blogging occupies only a small part of my life: 21%
  • Blogging is important to me, but I’m also busy with other activities: 73%
  • Blogging is one of my most important activities: 6%

Comments show that the place of blogging in one’s life can ebb and flow,

  • “It has grown to become important.”
  • “In the early months, blogging played a bigger role than it does now. It was a time of introspection and regrouping.”v

  • “Work, son in college, I like to balance it all out.”

Two participants explain a paradox: blogging itself has changed their lives to the point where they have less time for blogging:

  • “But a few months ago it was one of my only activities, but it has changed me to the point where I now have other things emerging.”
  • “I chose the last response because blogging causes me to stay busy doing other things. I set a goal when I retired to stay active and keep challenging myself. Blogging was the mechanism I chose to keep myself honest with that goal. Ironically, I often find myself too busy now to blog. but I fear that if I stopped blogging now, eventually I would lose that catalyst to stay engaged.”

Blogs come and go, so it’s not surprising if some participants are downgrading the importance of their blogs:

  • “I have lost the excitement of it though for I haven’t attracted followers.”
  • “I would like it to once again occupy a larger part of my life, but I have become a bit disenchanted with it as of late.”

What makes a personal blog a “success”?

Cartoon: two bloggers point to their verdict of success, dollar

Success is dollars for professional bloggers, fun and friends for personal bloggers

Most blogging surveys seem to focus on blogs that exist for commercial, professional, or corporate purposes. For such blogs, the conventions for measuring success are fairly well established. For example, the ConvertKit State of the Blogging Industry, 2017 found that the top factor contributing to bloggers’ sense of success was money, with 73% of their participants (850+ professional bloggers) choosing this.

But how do older, independent bloggers perceive success—and do they even care?

Question 21. The success of business blogs is measured by various means. How would you measure the success of a personal blog? Please check any criteria that you agree with.

The responses are listed in order of popularity, and percentages are rounded.

  1. Personal enjoyment is a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 77%
  2. Online friendships are a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 59%
  3. The number of visitors is a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 44%
  4. The number of comments is a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 41%
  5. The number of followers is a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 28%
  6. “Success” is an inappropriate thing to measure with personal blogs: 21%
  7. Direct or indirect income from a personal blog is a good measure of its success: 5%
  8. The awards won are a good measure of a personal blog’s success: 4%

Some older bloggers commented on the role of visitors, comments, and followers as measures of success.

  • “It is not just the number of visitors, it is the quality of the visitors and whether they have influence.”
  • “I have made some new friends through blogging. That is valuable to me.”
  • “When doing something out in the community and someone who has read my blog, tells me they read my blog — I find this thrilling. Not a huge number, but always a delight and a surprise when someone mentions it.”
  • “Although I chose these 2 responses, there is also what a blogger experiences in the ‘real’ world. Certainly the online conversations that occur in the comments section is my favourite part of blogging, but I’m always surprised and humbled by people in my ‘real’ world who will email me or comment verbally on a blog post … people I didn’t even know were reading my posts.”

  • “Some people don’t care about comments, but I feel that the conversations generated by blog postings is where the fun begins. In order to generate followers and comments, you must be an active follower and commenter yourself (I think a lot of bloggers don’t realize this).”

The survey asked about other ways to measure the success of a personal blog, which brought some inspiring comments:

  • “Recognising and achieving your personal goals with blogging.”
  • “How it moves me onward in my life is a huge measure of success for me. Stats are fun but the friendships and sense of community has been far more important.”
  • “The main reward is feeling good about serving humanity.”
  • “For me, getting just one person to think differently about something they’ve long taken for granted is important.”

Please share if you wish: images and text by Rachel McAlpine, CC BY 2.0


20 thoughts on “11. How does blogging fit into your way of ageing, your life, and your concept of success?

  1. lynnefisher says:

    Really interesting Rachel! As a 56 year old and as me, I related to most of the top trends in all the aspects you looked at and found it very reassuring! This was well worth the effort…

    1. Thanks Lynne. I’m nearly done! It’s been every bit as interesting for me.

  2. Jonno says:

    Interesting trends and reasons to blog but sometimes i think we just write a blog because we like doing it.

    1. The survey shows this is probably true. I just can’t help wanting to dig deeper.

  3. bone&silver says:

    I’m so glad you’re taking the time and effort to analyze your survey results- it’s still fascinating me, and I keep trying to remember which answers I’d picked! 😊

    1. And I often think, that’s me, that’s not me…

  4. Claudette says:

    “You inspire me”…has been an occasional comment in my blog. I’m humbled, surprised and, as a result, personally inspired as well to keep blogging. Someone made the effort to tell me how they feel about my writing, which doesn’t take away from the lurkers, but is such a lovely thing. 💟

    Since I’ve filled out your survey I’ve paid closer attention to the new, or first time bloggers. Often they’re new moms (sometimes dads) but I actively seek out my peer or older bloggers. I click on their about page first. They say in their first blog post they just started blogging and I always comment on their blog. I remember what it was like in the beginning, and not having seen much encouragement myself, I now try to do what I had hoped to see back in the day.

    Today, the empty nesters and retirees, they are fascinating, wise, active, interesting and they inspire me with their blogs.

    As usual, great report, Rachel. 😊

    1. I’m thrilled to read your comment because it leads straight to my final report, which I hope to write today and publish tomorrow. That will deal with, What next? What do we do with all this information? You have already started doing it. Thank you!

  5. Dan Antion says:

    It’s interesting to see these results and think about them in terms of where I am on this journey. Thansk again for doing such a good job with this survey.

    1. Dan, your support has been important to me. Thank you.

      1. Dan Antion says:

        You’re welcome.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am amused by all that advice about blogging and how useless it is when we are blogging for love not money. Your results support that view.

    1. Yes, we are not the intended audience of such advice.

  7. Once more, fascinating information and such a good read.

    1. You know just how welcome such feedback is to an old blogger like me, don’t you?

      1. I do now that I have the figures to prove it 😀

  8. Writer Aadi says:

    An interesting read!

  9. Hello Rachel, thank you so much for sharing this. Such a great post. So interesting and positive. So many good ideas i could apply and to keep the balance success in the future. Can you tell me your secrets on how you become successful in life?

    1. I am glad you find my blog is helpful. Me, I am not aiming for success!

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