The Hope for Success

I’ve heard it said time and time again, “If your blog changes the life of one person, then it’s worth it.”

Every time I hear this the sarcastic, pessimist in me wants to cock my head to the side and say, “Really? Because, you know, that’s easy to say when you have 2,000 subscribers, contribute to multiple sites, speak at conferences, and have multiple eBooks?”

The whiny “That’s not fair!” keeps going, “But what of the rest of us? What of those of us who, when we log into our analytics see the graph pitch all the way to 10 views? What about us who shell out hundreds of dollars for blogging conferences and only a handful of people will ever know our name? Is it worth it then?

Can’t it feel that way?

It doesn’t matter if what they’re saying is true, when you’re not coming from the same place it can feel false.

It’s hard to write and pour your heart out in words and then be met with an echo so low you have to lean in to hear it. I’ve been there, eagerly waiting for a comment or two on a post I fell in love with and no one comments or tweets or…anything. Flat silence. It’s frustrating when you have idea after great idea, but not the audience to make it work. Or when you’re trying to find your tribe or niche and you just don’t fit in.

Being a “small blogger” is hard. It requires a faithfulness that’s different from the headlining act. Staying in this place where you feel called, even compelled to write knowing few are listening, takes passion and conviction.

After nearly 8 years of blogging and having no measurable success, I’m finally coming to realize, and convincingly know, I must do this because I love it not for the hope of success. “Success” may never come or it may be an opportunity waiting just around the corner. Whatever it may be, when I look to the right and to the left and see the opportunities pouring in for other bloggers I must be content. I must be thoroughly convinced where I am is where I am supposed to be.

My audience, my words, my influence…in the end none of that really matters. Not even how many lives my words have encouraged and changed. In the end, the only real success will be measured in my faithfulness.

Have I been faithful to my calling? Have I been faithful to the Truth? Have I been content in the measure of my giftedness?

Will I press in and press on even when I feel out of place in this blogging world? Will I let one other than the King define me? Will I write for the sheer love of it–or is my heart tangled in promotion and praise?

Or have I set the praise and accolades of man higher than the comforting, guiding hand of the Father?

You want the advice of a mediocre blogger and aspiring novelist?

The lists and the have-to’s and the metrics–use what is useful, but don’t let it define you. Write in the freedom and restoration of a heart embedded in the King’s good pleasure.

Be the fresh air. Be the small voice resounding Truth. Be faithful to your calling.

Success, true success, will only go as far as your faithfulness. Enjoy what you do. Find pleasure in the writing, in the abiding, in the faith-walking. It may not have the look of success, but it will have the look of grace, of praise, of faith.

And faithfulness? It’s the only true success.

 

Jessica is a sojourner a bit reluctant on the journey. She writes on faith, the beauty and art of everyday life, the writer’s life, and pursuing justice for the voiceless. Redemption is her favorite word. You can join the journey at The Reluctant Sojourner or tweet along @Jess_Reflects.

  • http://twitter.com/KendraEFletcher KENDRA FLETCHER

    This was beautiful, Jessica. I hear what you’re saying; my small niche will never be more than that- a small niche, and I walked away from my last blogging conference thinking, “If my blog ever becomes about anything other than the gospel, it’s time to shut it down.”

    Write because you love it. Our acceptance is already secure in Jesus and what He’s done for us.

    ~Kendra

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      I hope you didn’t feel I was saying if you’re a “small blogger” you’ll always be a small blogger, because God can lead you and grow your blog however he wants. It may be in small or big ways. I like the check you have for yourself, “If my blog ever becomes about anything other than the gospel, it’s time to shut it down.” That’s good.

  • http://twitter.com/MandyScarr MANDY SCARR

    Jessica, I love this! Thank you for sharing your heart. I know I, and many other women, can relate to your heart and feelings. Thank you for sharing so boldly!

  • http://www.barefoothippiegirl.com/ BAREFOOT HIPPIE GIRL

    I really liked this. I do write because I love it-not because I hope for success.

  • http://twitter.com/TheMaryBonner MARY BONNER

    Oh, Jessica…I also love this post. Probably because I GET it. I have listened to people say exactly what you write of here and I have had the same thoughts. This is an encouraging post. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing your heart.

  • http://www.alifesurrendered.com/ MICHELE-LYN

    I love this line, “Write in the freedom and restoration of a heart embedded in the King’s good pleasure.” Wonderful, honest write. Thank you!

  • BETH HILDEBRAND

    That was just what I needed to read today. Thank you for that encouragement and reminder that I so often forget. When you wrote you “look to the right and to the left and see the opportunities pouring in for other bloggers, I must be content”, it reminded me of Isiah 30:21, a verse that keeps showing up to me the past few months. I think it’s one of my new life verses: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,’This is the way; walk in it.’ We need to listen to that Voice and live by His lead and be content with what He puts in our hearts and not try to walk in someone else’s way or journey. Blessings to you!

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      I was thinking of that verse when I wrote it. So hard, but good. It reminds me when Jesus is talking to Peter and Peter points to John and asks, “What about him?” And it doesn’t matter about him or her…or what Christ is asking of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawn.paoletta1 DAWN ST AMAND PAOLETTA

    In the end, the only real success will be measured in my faithfulness.

    Yeah that. Love this and continue to be bold in your transparency because we all need encouragement. And sometimes God uses us to encourage one another. Just one. Just today. ANd tomorrow another. ANd you are right the only real success is measured in our faithfulness. That’s one of my life lessons (I am learning). We are called to faithfulness, not success. At least as far as I can tell. Beautifully stated.

  • KM LOGAN @LESSONSFROMIVY

    I’m actually getting ready to make a mini-video on this topic. We can’t confuse success with fruit when it comes to writing. Only man demands success, God desires fruit. PS: Don’t by any means call yourself mediocre, if you’re writing for God you’re anything but. I loved your post today : )

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      Thanks. :)

  • DEBRA DAVIS

    Just yesterday I was thinking about my motivation for writing- I so easily get hung up on the analytics. I wrote about a passage in Philippians yesterday where Paul was addressing the motives of those who were preaching Christ at http://www.tuning-my-heart.com/2/post/2013/02/philippians-115-18-motivation.html it was a good reminder that it is not about me, promoting myself out of selfish ambition or envy, I write because I have a strong desire to use the gifts I have been given to share Christ and encourage women on their walk with the Lord. Blessings to you fellow small bloggers!

  • http://twitter.com/MommaDayByDay CHRISTINA GILLILAND

    I have so felt this way! Thanks for articulating it better then I could have :) I’m with you! Lets write for Him alone!

  • http://twitter.com/TrinaHolden TRINA HOLDEN

    *Standing Ovation* Jessica, I’m one of your blog readers who appreciates so much that you haven’t let your numbers discourage you from your art.

    I’ve found true joy in connecting deeply with the few readers I have rather than trying to rake in 1000′s. My free ebook “More than Numbers: Blogging for People, Not Stats” shares my own journey to the place of peace and fulfillment as a smaller blogger. We all need to keep reminding each other to blog for the One, and whoever He sends our way. Thanks for this post, Jessica.

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      I’ve been wanting to read your ebook, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m still working on connecting better to my readers…I can be so sporadic on my blog (and the internet) these days it’s hard making that happen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

  • JESSIQUA WITTMAN

    Wow, yes! I’m an author and small blogger, and I was just trying NOT to think of this yesterday! :)
    Thank you for directing us the right way. We all need a good bump from time to time.

  • KATIE KENNY PHILLIPS

    Thank you for your post–it was God’s perfect timing. You obviously are not alone in your feelings . . . there are many of us out there who struggle with measuring our effectiveness for God by the numbers.

  • HEIDI

    Jessica! I think your writing touches more people than you will ever know–those darn stats only pick up on so much of your spread and who you are influencing over the years. I know that your writing and your success encouraged me to start my home business and write my children’s books and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others out there who came across something you wrote or saw your involvement in the blogging community and you inspired them to do something great. :) I don’t know if true success can ever be measured in a way that we can see, but all of our contributions, if they come from our heart, are worthwhile and may be making a bigger difference than we can ever see. Keep up the great writing!

  • http://twitter.com/BrendaRCoats7 BRENDA COATS

    I’m right there with ya’, and have been for quite some time. Thanks for the encouragement to press on for the sake of being a faithful servant. I agree with everything you’ve stated here. :)

  • LESLIE MCNEIL

    This was heaven-sent, no doubt. It resonates, encourages, and strengthens me as a blogger, an artist, and a follower of Christ most of all. Thank you!!!!! Blessings~ and I look forward to more!

  • http://www.joleneengle.org/ JOLENE @ THE ALABASTER JAR

    Amen! Your message was beautiful, Jessica! So glad you poured it out for our King!

  • http://twitter.com/Missindeedy MISSINDEEDY

    Jessica – this was a powerful post. It is always such an encouragement when women writers and bloggers write honestly about what’s going on in their hearts. It makes me (and I’m certain, so many of us) feel “not alone” and bonds us all together. May your voice resound the Truth always!

  • http://youaremygirls.com/ JENNIFER CAMP

    Jessica, this is such an important message. I’m with you! Thank you! :)

  • http://holycamp09.wordpress.com/ DEBORAH BOUTWELL

    Your post hit right on with what God has been leading me with my blog lately. Thank you!

  • ASHLEY WELLS

    I love this and it is exactly where my heart is parked too. Even if I can’t blog everyday. Even if I can’t make “pinnable” images. Even if I can’t get the same traffic on my new blog as I did on my old blog.

    My heart knows I am to write and share whenever and with whoever! Love your heart and your words friend! Miss you dearly!

  • http://www.earlybirdmom.com/ SARAH MUELLER

    This is why I love Allume- it is connecting me with bloggers I would have otherwise never found. I’m sure I will be blessed by your writing now that I know of you. :)

    As a new blogger, I am suddenly and acutely aware of this wish to be read in a way that I never was when I was just a reader.

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      It is hard to notice how many other bloggers there are when we see the big names so often, so loud. I know I forget there’s other people like me out there writing and then every now and then I’m like, “Oh, hey! Hi!”

  • LANI

    Resonating with this. Trying so hard to be content where I am, trying not to look at that stupid stats page…especially when I’m rather pathetically inconsistent at this season…thanks for sharing the heart of why we keep doing this!

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      Contentment is hard. It’s an off and on battle for me. Some days or weeks the success of others doesn’t bother me in the last bit, but other days I let it consume me. One thing that has helped is turning off analytics. I had it on my old blog and I’d be so disappointed. When I started my current one I didn’t add it. A few months ago I put it back on, but I rarely look at it and am considering cutting it off again.

      Lani…don’t let the numbers define you!

  • http://alwaysalleluia.com/ KRIS CAMEALY

    This is fabulous Jessica. And such beautiful encouragement and wisdom. It can’t be for the numbers. We have to write for more than notoriety or any other worldly pursuit. I’m confident that my blog stats mean nothing to God–it’s our heart He’s after, our obedience to the call He’s placed on our lives. Thank you, this was excellent.

    • http://twitter.com/Jess_Reflects JESSICA MUELLER

      “I’m confident that my blog stats mean nothing to God…” Isn’t that the truth! They can be such a distraction from following him.

  • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ CRYSTAL

    Great post! I completely agree :) It’s hard sometimes to keep it in perspective, and I agree with you that it kind of falls flat when “bigger” bloggers say things like that. Thanks for sharing your “smaller blogger” perspective! (from a fellow small blogger)

  • TRINA | BEGINNERBEANS.COM

    Thank you so much, Jessica. I “know” that even if 1 person is my influence, then that is my influence. I get lost in all of the other stuff–the stats, the comments, the comparisons. Oh, the comparisons! But that’s not the point. That’s not what matters. And I appreciate your encouragement toward what does matter.

  • http://twitter.com/CPConfessions JOY B. RUDOLPH

    Jessica, thank you for sharing honestly. I’ve been writing my current blog just over a year and have recently started to fall in love with it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • BETH PITTMAN

    Jessica, I love this. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • KIM BULTMAN

    This post was a resounding success to me. Consider my heart touched.

  • ALLISON

    Jessica- this really hit home for me. And I really appreciate your honesty. I just started my own personal blog and know it most likely isn’t going to be big. And I struggled with the journey and whether or not to do it. Then all of a sudden I felt like I had to, just for me. I don’t even have Analytics or metrics installed.

    So thank you so much for this and for opening up.

    (PS- I wrote a little bit about Why To Blog http://www.godanskermom.com/2013/02/28/so-about-this-blogging-thing/ but nothing nearly so eloquent)

  • http://bethmorey.blogspot.com/ BETH

    Yes and yes and yes. Our blogging stories are so similar. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and, in spite of good writing and engaging content, only recently broke the 100 mark on followers. Ouch. BUT I am so grateful for those 100 readers who want to read my words, who leave encouraging notes, and who (I hope) leave my blog space feeling encouraged themselves. Quite a few have become dear friends. Thanks for the reminder about what truly matters as bloggers who love Jesus.