How to be old—we're all learning

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

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.

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).

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.

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?

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

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

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

What makes a personal blog a “success”?

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.

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


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