When I announced my pregnancy with Max, dozens of people immediately unsubscribed from my blog, and even more unfollowed me on social media.
In the days that followed, I lost tons of followers – all (presumably) people who’d seen my announcement and decided to peace out before I went full-on mommy blogger.
I was kind of relieved by it.
The fact is, no matter how much I told myself that motherhood wouldn’t change me, I knew that whatever parenthood had planned for me, I’d want to write about it: just as I’ve wanted to write about every other major life event – from getting married, to moving house, to that one time I went for a walk in the countryside, and it all went horribly wrong. It’s kind of what I do, really. (Writing about things, I mean: not messing up countryside walks. That too, though.)
While I knew I’d want to write about it, though, I also knew that not everyone would want to read about it: and that’s totally understandable. As a blogger, you’re never going to be able to please everyone – and even the people you do please aren’t going to be pleased by every single post.
So I was honestly quite relieved by those unfollow notifications. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’d have liked it better if those people hadn’t stopped reading, and had just kept on following me forever, and we’d all gone on to become lifelong friends or whatever, but that’s not very realistic, is it? Not all of your content will appeal to all of your readers, all of the time: it’s (probably) not anything personal, and while I was sad to see them go, I was also relieved not to have to worry about trying to keep them happy all the time.
Because that’s what would’ve happened, isn’t it? When you know who’s reading your blog, or following your social media, you tend to start tailoring your content to try to suit that audience: sometimes intentionally, and sometimes because that’s just the way it works. No one wants to feel like they’re disappointing their readers, so, no matter how good your intentions, you end up publishing the content you know they’re interested in, even if it’s not the content you’re interested in.
That doesn’t really work, though.
I mean, it might work in the short term, sure. If I’d kept quiet about my pregnancy and continued to churn out outfit posts for as long as possible, I might not have lost quite as many followers, quite so fast – true. In the long term, though, I’ve learned that blogs work best when they’re written with passion: if you’re not genuinely interested in the topics you’re writing about, it shows – and it also becomes impossible to sustain.
As a “lifestyle” blogger, I love having the freedom to write about whatever is important to me at the time, without having to worry about sticking to a set topic – so I was grateful that, rather than sticking around, and complaining that my content had changed, the people who weren’t interested in following my parenting journey just quietly unsubscribed and went on their way. Maybe they’ll come back at some point, and maybe they won’t, but, for now, I may have fewer followers, but at least I know that the ones who are still there are there because they’re genuinely interested in what I have to say, rather than simply because they liked a particular dress I wore back in 2015. You know?
You have to find your tribe, is what I’m saying. That’s not to say that all of your readers have to be exactly like you, obviously, but they do have to be interested in more than just your shoes, say, or what colour you painted your living room walls, if they’re going to be the kind of readers who stick with you.
I thought about this again lately when I decided to try to start posting on Instagram more regularly, and the same thing happened that always happens on Instagram, in that, every single time I uploaded a photo, or had a particularly active day on stories, I’d get a bunch of unfollows. Every single time. It’s almost like the reminder of my existence is enough in itself to make people want to unfollow me, and it’s hard not to see that happen and wonder what the point is of posting over there at all. I mean, wouldn’t it be better to dramatically slow down my posting schedule again, just so I’m not annoying people with my existence? Or, like, maybe stop altogether, so I don’t lose any more of those precious remaining followers?
What I’ve come to realise, however, is that it’s sometimes better to annoy people, and have them unfollow you as a result of it, because that’s how you find your tribe.
it’s sometimes better to annoy people, and have them unfollow you as a result of it, because that’s how you find your tribe.
The people who unfollow me just because I posted a photo on Instagram that wasn’t fashion-related, for instance? Those people are not my tribe. (That’s not to say they’re evil baddies, or that they shouldn’t have done it, by the way: of course not. It’s just that they’re obviously at a different life stage from me, and that’s cool: no point in them hanging around if they’re not enjoying the content, is there?)
The ones who’ve occasionally emailed me to say they don’t CARE about my life, they want to see my shoes? (Actual quote there, albeit from a few years ago. Nice lady.) Not my tribe, either. And all of those people on Twitter screaming about how if you DARE vote differently from them, you better UNFOLLOW them right now, because they don’t want to be friends with you ANYWAY? Those people are definitely not my tribe: which is why I cheerfully unfollowed all of them in the days after the last general election, even although I DID actually vote the same way as the vast majority of them.
I lost hundreds of Twitter followers because of that election, but I actually like Twitter better as a result of it: it’s never going to be my favourite platform – mostly because people over there are just so ANGRY all the time, and, well, I’m scared of them – but I feel a little bit closer to finding my tribe there now that my feed isn’t bogged down with people I don’t have much in common with, other than the fact that we voted for the same political party, and I’m no longer being followed by angry people who make me feel scared to post anything at all in case they somehow find fault with it. And they would, too.
So, I’m grateful to all of the people who unfollowed me because I said I wasn’t keen on the bullying that went on during the run-up to the election.
I’m relieved to know that I’m no longer being followed by the people who were only interested in one tiny part of my content, and weren’t willing to tolerate all the rest.
And, instead of apologetically stopping posting just in case it reminds someone to unfollow me, or toning my opinions down to try to keep everyone on board, I’m going to try to accept each of those unfollow notifications for what it is: a step closer towards finding my ideal tribe. After all, it’s better to have to 10 followers who truly get you and have your back, than 10,000 who’re just not that into you.
Don’t you think?