The Measure of Success

24 May

I’ve given a lot of thought to whether or not I’m running a successful blog, especially in the last few months. I kind of abandoned it, and felt guilty for letting my readers down. I wasn’t gaining any new followers, my page views were abysmal, and my social networks had become stagnant. Fail whale.

When I first started this, I was purely driven by fame and wealth. I wanted to earn Scrooge McDuck status, making so much money I could swim in it. Eminem would write derogatory things about me in his songs, and I’d become the target of a Republican Tea Party attack. My aptly titled “Tonic” perfume would sell in Sephora stores around the world.


Okay, so that’s a bit of a stretch. Well, except the perfume part because I really do think it’d be cool if people smelled like I do. That mix of desperation, underboob sweat, and awkward sexual tension took me years to perfect, and I just want to share it with the world.

To be honest, I didn’t have a plan for this blog when I first created it. I knew I wanted my own writing space, and to make the few people who stumbled upon my posts laugh. Other than that, I was content to have it become nothing more than an online showcase for my writing.

When I launched Sips of Jen and Tonic, I met another blogger, J, who was also just starting out. There’s a bond that occurs between new bloggers because you’re all still writing for limited (or nonexistent) audiences. Seeing familiar faces in your comment threads is akin to the feeling a captain gets spotting a lighthouse after months at sea.

Although J no longer blogs regularly, she and I have kept in touch. I feel like we may have been sisters in another life, I adore her that much. Last week she sent me something that made me realize this blog has become so much more than some wannabe Theater in the Round. It was an ultrasound picture of her future son.


I may be the father

To say I felt honored was an understatement. It was an extremely intimate moment in her life, and one she wanted to share with me. I may have cried, but if anyone asks, I got something in my eye.

I’ve met so many extraordinary people in the year and a half I’ve been blogging, people who have invited me into their lives. I’ve read about breakups, new loves, weddings, deaths, births, and miscarriages. Some have confessed of their struggles with depression, anxiety, fertility, sexuality, substance abuse, and other personal demons. I’ve also laughed at tales of awkward sexual encounters, dating mishaps, and drunken debauchery.

That intangible stuff was slipping by me the whole time, those moments when people went from being a random blogger to someone I respected to someone I consider my friend. I’ve e-mailed with some, Skyped with others, and a smaller number of friends have my home address. Sure, I could keep a close eye on my page views, follower count, comments, post likes, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Klout score, but I’d be missing the point.

This blog is already successful. I’ve managed to turn a one woman dog and pony show into a powerful network of meaningful connections. I’ve been given glimpses into so many people’s lives, and have grown enough as a writer and person to give them a glimpse back into mine. What I now know is that there’s real value to all of the words I write and read these days, and there isn’t a metric around which could measure that.

161 Responses to “The Measure of Success”

  1. alexraphael 12/28/2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Really inspiring words. My blog is nearly 4 months and can be tough, but the great moments more than make up for it. Congrats on the cool awards too.

  2. jessicagartlandn 11/18/2013 at 7:03 am #

    I am New to blogging and have just recently found your page. I am addicted . I have read your posts and laughed so hard, I may or may not have (though it cannot be proven ) peed a little. Whatever Voodoo you use to create these articles and let us all into your slice of the Universe , I am thankful for it.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Peeing a little (or even a lot) is encouraged on this blog. We’re all filthy animals here.

      Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog! Made me smile.

  3. Deborah 11/11/2013 at 7:22 am #

    Loving this blog! You are funny to say the least and your writing style is clever and catchy. I am starting my own blog and have been so hesitant about what to write about and trying to figure out what to say or what not to say and really it isn’t so much about what to talk about, because if you are going to blog, you should blog about EVERYTHING!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/11/2013 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you for the kind words! It’s nice to know that other people besides my mom read this blog. I’m sure she’s just as surprised by that.

      I’m in agreement, I think people should blog about whatever it is that they want to blog about. What I write here is not for everyone, but it is for some people. And really, when you write about what’s in your heart and head, others pick up on that, and it makes for a better read.

      Good luck on your new blog!

  4. Sean Smithson 07/06/2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Easily my favourite blog on the net now. And also my favourite post… I was previously leaning towards the portaloo story but this just takes it. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not just about the number of followers…

    Mind you, I haven’t managed to connect with any readers either. So perhaps my blog really is just shit!

    And speaking of; when I eventually get round to writing my story of shitting my pants in a KFC, I shall be sure to include a link back to the aforementioned portaloo tale.

    Thanks for making me chuckle.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/08/2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Sean, I tweeted out the first line of this comment because I was incredibly flattered. Also, I’m a narcissist.

      In regards to reaching out to people, do you follow and comment on blogs regularly? I find that when I first began I was diligent about showing up and making a legitimate connection with other bloggers. That allowed us to actively follow one another’s blogs, cross post, and other forms of promotion.

      I’m glad you somehow found me in the big wide world of WordPress. Going to your blog now.

      • Sean Smithson 07/10/2013 at 5:29 am #

        YESSSSSSSS! J&T is following me!!!

        Apologies for the delayed response by the way. And I really hope you didn’t feel you had to follow me just because I chose to follow you.

        With regard to following/commenting; I think I’m getting better at that. I only started out three-ish months ago so I’m still learing the ropes. I’ve found I have two main problems though:

        1 – Whilst I’m more than happy to ‘like’ a post, I always feel I need to try to write something witty/funny in the comments section. Which means I either choke and refuse to comment. Or the author thinks I’m an idiot…

        2 – I still haven’t grasped that wordpress isn’t a dating site. And instead of looking for blogs by people with similar interests, a lot of my searching is based on gravatar profile pics. The cartoon version of you is hot!

        And given my blog content is somewhat controversial / potentially offensive to women? This is a pretty dumb strategy…

        In truth, I actually discovered you on ‘The Official How to Blog’. Again, I’m not trying to give you a big head but the ‘how to work from home’ post was definitely the funniest one on there.

        Just read your post on Le Clown’s site. I can’t believe you live near the beach where they filmed The Goonies. That’s got to be one of the coolest places on Earth!

        PS – If you’d like to me write other complimentary comments that you can tweet about, just say the word. Seriously, the blog is that good!

        • Jen and Tonic 07/10/2013 at 10:28 pm #

          I want EVERYONE to be that excited when I follow them. And no, I never feel obligated to follow anyone. I clicked that follow with conviction!

          Eh, don’t try too hard with the comment, just be yourself. I know it’s hard sometimes because there are so many witty people and it feels like you have to measure up. Just show up consistently and you’ll build a presence.

          HA! I would definitely not recommend dating another blogger. What if you break up? You’d have to split all of your e-friends.

          You found me on the How To blog? I love Speaker7, the woman who runs it. She’s awesome. Oh, that’s a good way to get exposure, do guest posts.

          Yeah, The Goonies thing is pretty cool. There are also points of interest for the movies Twilight and Point Break as well in the same general area.

          • Sean Smithson 07/12/2013 at 12:28 pm #

            Ah, I wasn’t aware that Speaker7 was behind the How To site… That explains an awful lot. As her personal site is number 2 in my awesome list!

            I’m mustering the courage to submit my own ‘how to’ post to her…

            Hahaha. Ah yes, I hadn’t factored the e-friends into the equation. But let’s not rule it out just yet!

          • Jen and Tonic 07/12/2013 at 1:49 pm #

            While you’re at it, check out Madame Weebles and Becky Says Things if you aren’t already following them:



          • Sean Smithson 07/12/2013 at 2:57 pm #


            Turns out Becky went to university in my home town! I really wasn’t expecting that…

            Wait a second. Was that recommendation intentional? Do you know who I am really am 😉

          • Jen and Tonic 07/12/2013 at 3:02 pm #

            I’ve said too much…

  5. Stacie Chadwick 06/23/2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Jen, I read this and somehow commented, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. Sometimes I hate cyberspace, especially when I can’t find my keys. You’re an awesome girl, an incredibly talented writer, and all around amazing. Keep on keeping on. =)

    • Jen and Tonic 07/08/2013 at 7:44 pm #

      Cyberspace is eating your comments? Why does it want to keep us apart?!

      Thank you for the kind words, Stacie. You were one of the first people I found here on WordPress, and I’ll never forget the original Hooked on Tonics.

  6. talesfromahungrylife 06/22/2013 at 7:21 am #

    Thanks for helping me see my blog in a new way. I’ve been blogging for 3 years now, and while I may never make nearly as much money as Scrooge McDuck, I am grateful to the people who stop by and like my blog (also very amazed, still). By the way, I think your blog is really funny!

    • Jen and Tonic 07/08/2013 at 7:43 pm #

      I’ve been blogging for three years as well! My bloggiversary is coming up here quickly. Time flies, no?

      I’m still amazed when people like, comment and follow. When you showed up out of nowhere I did a little happy dance. I won’t show you because it’s embarrassing and I’m hoping you’ll come back.

      • talesfromahungrylife 07/09/2013 at 7:25 am #

        Dance! Dance! Dance! I did mine when I saw you followed me. Thank you. My old English teacher used to say “who do you think you are? Emily Dickinson?” because I had a pile of work hidden under my bed — thank goodness for this blog. Anyway, keep writing! I’m looking forward to more.

  7. Le Clown 06/18/2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Le Clown

  8. Bowrag 06/09/2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Thats pretty deep! I am impressed. Im a new reader… talk to me!

  9. omtatjuan 06/09/2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I happened upon your blog. I truly enjoy your words! You got the “IT” when it comes to expressing your ideas. Bravo!

  10. becels1 06/09/2013 at 1:56 pm #

    While I don’t care if anyone ever reads mine or comments… I write it for me as therapy, it was really cool to get insight on what someone else thinks a success is. I think yours is (a success I mean). I just started blogging last week and yours was one of the first to catch my eye. That says something, right? 🙂

  11. MissTiffany 06/07/2013 at 5:57 am #

    Well said. I started blogging as a way to improve my writing and force me to get into a writing schedule. I wasn’t expecting to meet so many wonderful, talented, and funny people. The friendships I’ve made while blogging have been the best part. 🙂 Great post!

    • Jen and Tonic 06/07/2013 at 10:25 am #

      That’s an excellent reason to start a blog! What’s great about that is you’ve managed to not only meet your original goal, but have this side benefit you didn’t even know you wanted.

  12. Daan van den Bergh 06/07/2013 at 4:09 am #

    Keep it gangsta, y’all!

  13. Rohan 7 Things 06/07/2013 at 2:25 am #

    Yeah I think a lot of bloggers, myself definitely included, find that blogging is so much more than whatever we think it will be when we start out! The connections I’ve made, and the way they’ve shaped my thinking and blogging is pretty amazing 🙂

    Great post Jen, thanks for sharing!


    • Jen and Tonic 06/07/2013 at 10:24 am #

      That’s just it! It’s fine to have a plan going into things, we just need to remember that sometimes the plan changes, and that our new direction is better than the one we originally wanted.

      Thanks so much for making this your POW! Made my day 🙂

  14. mabukach 06/06/2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Boob napkins, please. Great post, Jen. You make me wanna read good.

    • Jen and Tonic 06/07/2013 at 10:23 am #

      Sounds like I may have a lucrative business opportunity in this boob napkin thing.


  1. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming | Sean Smithson - 07/18/2013

    […] like Jen says, “that’s not even what it’s all about.” (I’m paraphrasing […]

  2. Rohan’s 7 Things Post Of The Week #8 “The Measure of Success” | rohan7things - 06/07/2013

    […] Although any reference to “under-boob sweat” would be enough to automatically qualify a post to become a POW, Jen’s post has so much more than that. We bloggers tend to get caught up on stats and metrics, but stats and metrics do not tell the whole story. Our success as bloggers comes from the connections we make, the influences we have on people and the moments we share. Take it away Jen, click to read The Measure of Success! […]

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