I have read several blogs lately that refer to the "followers" widget as something that they feel is indicative of the value of their writing (and sometimes themselves). I remember when I first started blogging, that widget didn't exist. Most of us started writing, for the sake of writing, not to amass a following. We really had no idea how many people followed us because the comments were the only way to judge something like that. Not everyone comments every day, nor every week. Some people just stop by to read. At one point that was okay. What happened?
The "Followers" widget happened.
It started out as just an easy way to follow blogs. It automatically added a blog to your dashboard, then the "reader" would update your dashboard, flagging when there was a new post on the blogs you chose to follow. That way you wouldn't have to have a giant list, such as mine, on your sidebar. (I have both, dear readers, because you are too good to pass up.)
Then it turned into a competition with some folks. They tried all sorts of different combinations to increase the followers on their blogs. I had people leave comments asking me how they could get as many followers as I had. As if there was some magic combination of easy to do steps. Most of those commenters were not regular followers of my blog. They just surfed around looking for blogs with large followings to try to find that magic combination. I was never sure why they wanted followers - maybe to launch some product? When I visited their blogs, they often didn't even exist - no writing - just a blog with very little about them. I'm sure you've had similar visitors.
So what would happen, if tomorrow Blogger decided that widget was too cumbersome to continue and erased everyone's widget? What would that mean to you? Would you still have a blog?
I know that most widgets really don't reflect the readership of any one blog. You can have a thousand followers and at the most may only get 60-70 comments per day. If you're lucky! So did the other 930 read your blog? Probably not. So the widget is just that - a widget. It does not indicate your popularity, nor should it have any influence on what, and how, you write. If someone leaves it is not necessarily because they no longer "like" you - they may have closed down their blog, or maybe had too many blogs going and wanted to make it more manageable. There are millions and millions of blogs out there. If someone leaves you to read another one - don't take it personally. Don't attach self esteem, or self worth to a widget. Keep writing, keep blogging, because there will be someone who finds you that likes what you have to say. Has a connection with you. Feels honored to be your blogging friend.
Why? Because you're one in a million!