Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Request for Advice

I don’t usually blog about blogging, but I could use some advice. I know this is a topic that makes the rounds every now and then, but here it is again. The specific topic is reading and commenting on other blogs, but in a broader sense, it is a time management issue.

Many bloggers at some point start to feel like their blogs are more like The Blob (remember that old horror movie?). We start to spend so much time blogging about living that we forget to actually live our lives. We try to post on a regular basis, and we read and comment on other blogs, both because we like those blogs and because we want to attract more readers.

I post 2-3 times a week. I don’t find that very burdensome. I can always think of something to write about, and my posts are relatively short. Occasionally, I rework older posts. (I blogged for a long time before I started getting many readers, so the older posts are new to most readers.)

For me, the challenge I’m starting to experience is reading and commenting on other blogs. Don’t get me wrong–I really like the blogs I read and comment on. That’s why I do it, and I think it is appreciated the same way I appreciate comments on mine. But it takes some time. Lately, I haven’t been keeping up very well, and I haven’t spent much time at all exploring new blogs, something I enjoyed in the past, both because I learned new things and (honestly) because I hoped to attract new readers.

This is so ironic because I just retired and I envisioned having more time to tend to my blog, to pay more attention to my usual round of other blogs, and to make new connections. And of course, to spend more time doing other things unrelated to blogging. And maybe that will happen. Retirement is, after all, still a new state for me, and I haven’t really adjusted, but so far blog related activities seem to be getting put on the back burner. But I know bloggers, or at least I think I do, who are much, much busier than I am and who still manage to “get around” in blogworld a lot more than I do.

So I am hoping that you will share some of your blogging/reading/commenting practices. Do you set aside a certain amount of time, or certain days, or a certain number of blogs to read on a regular basis? Do you plan time to look for new connections and do you have a particular method, or do you just browse around when the mood hits? In general, how do you manage your blog-related time?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and I appreciate any advice you have. Thank you.


  1. I am right there with you Galen! I've dropped my blogging down to a scheduled M-W-Friday thing just so I could pull myself away from the computer. I thought that would work, but then discovered that reading and commenting takes even more time than just posting and replying to comments (which I reply to all who comment) But it is a vital part of blogging. Our readers want to know that we appreciate them stopping by, but we also want to connect with those we follow, so we must read and comment to remain reputable. That is my thought anyway.

  2. I'm entirely selfish. If I find a blog I like, I list in in my Blogs List, then I click through when there is a new post. I comment if I wish to, but not really to attract readers. My own blog is therapeutic to me, so if no one reads, it's still OK. In fact, it's kind of personal, so I would be uncomfortable with having a lot of readers. I don't set out a specific amount of time for it either.

    I enjoy reading your posts, and hope you continue to find the time to keep it going! Hopefully others will have more of a system for you to perhaps try.

  3. Blogging is becoming my hobby so to speak, but one that doesn't rule me. I have been lucky enough to regulate how and when I blog, mostly by my work and life seems I can always work in blogging time...although yes things like Facebook have become less used, and some of those friends I hear from less because I am absent too long at times. Facebook moves at a faster pace and trying to keep up is not as easy as blogging. But then what we chit chat about on FB is not quite as intellectual or stimulating as blogging, for me. I have been posting more often on my weekly blogs that I enjoy, which has brought new blogging friends, and I still try to pop in a light-hearted and kind spirited post with photos (another fave hobby of mine). But when I post like for Sepia Saturday, or TP, 6WS, Saturday Centus, I visit all the other bloggers that posted too, and leave comments...sometimes I run out of time answering people that comment on my OWN blog, but I try to devote comments to them for their posting for's all about connecting with others and just enjoying the ride. Everyone I blog with is special in their own way, and it's such a joy to open up their post and be surprised at what are they posting today! But sometimes I feel bad like this last Saturday I just didn't have time to post to Saturday Centus too, I had a Bridal Shower and a huge 2 year old grandbaby princess party that kept us busy, and oh yes do you know how much time it took to post all those pictures on FB? Well there were family and friends who didn't make it and those that just had to see the pictures! Your blog is always one I look forward to seeing, and always feel good inside for having spent my time here. I hope this kind of helps....I guess we just all do the best and what we can when we can....! Take care!

  4. Galen: Right now, I am managing four blogs, and I just started Twitter and Facebook accounts. My purpose is to market my profile on the internet, so my name is more recognizable and my books sell more copies.

    I have been blogging for a year and a half, and I did not realize the commitment. I also did not realize that many of my friends would really become my friends! I struggled with the same problem as you, and here was my solution:

    1. I went to Google Reader and separated my followers into categories. For example, I have writing, art, general discussions, cooking, etc.

    2. I then selected those bloggers, like yourself, that regularly respond to my blog and I placed them in a special category so I would not forget them if they disappeared for a while.

    3. I always make it a point to respond to anyone who responds to one of my posts.

    What generally happens is that Google Reader shows me thousands of posts by followers who only add to my site infrequently. I have them categorized under "infrequently." I mark them all as "read." That leaves the people in the various categories I have set up for those who blog with me regularly. If I get behind, I respond only to their most recent post and I ignore the others, unless something jumps out at me. As a result, I am able to handle multiple blogs and thousands of posts easily.

    I hope some of this helps. Start with Google Reader.

  5. Mmmm interesting question Galen... and one I have pondered often. I feel bad if I don't manage to get around to my favorite blogs to make a comment... but sometimes there simply isn't time to do it all. Keeping all the balls in the air is no easier online than it is elsewhere... and what we do here is not all that visible to the outside [everyday] world either so it can seem as though we aren't getting very much done. But we are. And we probably need to cut ourselves some slack. I do what I can and leave the rest [and keep fingers crossed that people will forgive me for sometimes not responding as I should] It all takes time. And I don't have answers. But I hear where you're coming from and understand. Great question Galen... I look forward to hearing how others have conquered it :-)

  6. Mitzi--You're right. I'm finding that reading and commenting take more time than posting and responding to comments. If you don't mind a follow up question, do you limit all blog activites to MWF? And how much time do you normally spend on those days? Thanks so much for your advice.

    Ellen--That seems like a very manageable approach. I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not trying to be a megablogger, but I do like to grow more connections. Thanks for your perspective.

    Karen--I appreciated your take on Facebook. I haven't ventured into Facebook land yet. Seems like I'm still trying to learn more about about what I'm doing so far. Like you, blogging is a hobby for me. If it wasn't fun I wouldn't do it. Besides, how could I blog about my happy place if blogging didn't make me happy?! Thanks for your kind words and for your advice.

    JJ--Your first sentence sounds like a full time job right there, and yet I know you are very busy with other non-blog activities in your life, including writing and teaching and oh yes living. How do you do it?! The blogging in part supports your book sales, but how did you have time to write a book?? I am definitely going to check out the Google Reader tips you shared. Thank you for the advice.

    Jean--I know you are a talented and prolific artist, and yet you find time to blog and make videos, and you probably have a life, too! You seem to have a very balanced approach to juggling all those balls in the air. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  7. I post when I have something to say. Usually once a week or so. I read through the blogs I follow in the morning with my coffee. And then again in the evening instead of watching TV. I guess I spend about an hour and a half reading other blogs. The rest of the day I stay off the computer. I make my art, ride my bike etc.

  8. Hi Galen.....this post was so right on for many of us in blogging. I have found that I run in spurts....sometimes I post and comment more....sometimes less. There are certain blogs I do try to visit on a regular basis....oh I may miss a few posts...but like a "bad penny" LOL I eventually show up. When we travel it is much more difficult for me to comment than when I'm home as WiFi is a little flakey at times.

    Hope all is well with you,


  9. I make it a point to read all new posts and usually leave a comment for those listed under "My Favorite Blogs." Those are the bloggers I both enjoy and consider friends.

    I read lots of other blogs during the week but don't often leave comments. Like you I just don't have the time. Frankly, if it is a popular blog and there are already 25+ comments, anything I write won't be seen by many people and won't generate any traffic.

    I do update the list of blogs I read every month. As I become aware of new people writing interesting material I'll sample them on a regular basis. If the posting frequency and quality are there I'll add them to my must-read list. But, I don't often leave a comment. Blogs that don't hold my interest are dropped just as frequently.

    Like JJ I use Google Reader to manage my blog intake.

    Hope that helps.

  10. Galen I only follow and respond to those I feel connected with. I seldom search new blogs, I don't have the time. If I am following a blog I try to keep on top of posts especially those who are always commenting on my blog. I always respond to a comment left on my blog, even if it is a simple thank you. I like others to know that I've read their comment and appreciate them making or taking time to read my blog. It doesn't matter to me if I have hundreds of followers, right now I think I'm at 104, but only a handful read my blog. I'd rather have ten good blogger friends than 100 who don't comment or connect.

  11. I blog daily, but i am trained that way from keeping a daily therapeutic journal since I was 21. It is easy also because i have weeklly themes. As for commenting, i do that on my phone at night while i read (blogs) before bed.

    So... goodnight!

  12. Roberta--That's very helpful to hear an actual amount of time. I also like the way you have it scheduled so that it doesn't eat up the rest of your day. Thanks for your advice.

    Jo--I seem to go in spurts, too, although I think when I first started I spent a lot more time exploring new blogs. Thanks for your perspective.

    Bob--I am honored to be in the select company of bloggers you consider friends. That's a good tip about posts that already have numerous comments. And I now see that Google Reader is in my future! Thanks for your advice.

    darlin--That's a good point about the number of followers versus the number of actual readers. And I agree about the courtesy of responding to comments, although when I'm pleasantly surprised by a lot of comments, I will sometimes resort to a group thank you. I appreciate your advice.

    Monika--Commenting from your phone before bed! That is very advanced! I like your idea, however, of having a time set aside for reading and commenting. I think that would be a good plan for me. Thanks for your advice.

  13. Personally, I think I'm not a very disciplined blogger myself, at least when it comes to writing new posts, lol. I usually write at home in the evening, and after spending the whole day in front of the computer, I have whole periods when I don't feel like writing. I'm going through one right now, actually. It's slowly receding, though, so I will be posting soon. I admire those who manage to regularly post very interesting content to their blog!

    I tend to check blog updates almost every morning when I arrive at work, but don't necessarily read everything. I guess it's like with newspapers, I read what attracts my attention. that's also usually how I stumble upon new blogs I like. But I read every post from my favourite bloggers. As for commenting, that really depends if I have anything to say at all. Or my mood. I'm a moody person, lol.
    Take care!

  14. Galen, I had drafted a longer comment and then it went poof. I would love to limit my reading/commenting to MWF however it turns out it is an excellent way for me to wake in the mornings. So over my morning coffee, I spend about 1-2 hours reading and commenting. It gives me a chance to wake up.

  15. Hi Galen,

    I usually set aside some time each day for my blogging activities. Lately, I haven't been posting as much because I am your opposite. My articles are long and it takes a fair amount of time to write it. Also when I am busy with other things, there is no time to reflect on a suitable topic to write about. I intend to shorten my articles to make it more manageable. If I do not try to create a definitive piece, I think it will be easier for me to churn out articles more regularly.

    As for my commenting schedule, I do it in spurts since leaving meaningful comments requires some effort. So I would set aside an hour or so and comment until I run out of steam. As for finding new blogs, I check out the commenters on the blogs I frequent. Since I like these blogs, it is likely that I will find others of like minds in the comments. I also keep a lookout on who is commenting on my blog and see if there is anyone who catches my eye. Usually, through these connections, I find new and interesting blogs to read. That's generally how I do things. :)

    Irving the Vizier

  16. My whole life is basically on-call for the next 4 1/2 years. The only thing I schedule is church and choir practice. Blogging, reading and commenting are part of the on-call segment. I do them between busy periods at the Urgent Care.

    In an odd way, being unable to plan and schedule very specifically is beginning to free me to be more whimsical and improvisatory in general. The muse doesn't follow schedules, after all. I guess my only overall advice would be to do what matters most, and what works best, and to not beat yourself up about it if your word output is irregular, so long as it's good.

  17. Galen, blog when you feel like it, not because you feel you have to. Comment on blog posts that you have something to say. I don't comment on all the blogs I follow. I don't have time.

    I don't expect people to comment on all my blog posts. There is a life out there. If you want to, fine. If not, no hard feelings. Sometimes you just don't have anything to say. Or you just don't feel like reading it.

    It's a bloggy blog world.

  18. As I read over the comments < all 18 of them > I find myself in most of them..but overall I use blogging as another avenue to exalt what the Lord has done for me in my life ...I share the bitter times along with the sweet times...I share the revelations that the Lord gives me to encourage me hoping someone will be encouraged by it also ...hoping someone can relate to my story, circumstance , situation...I have learned much since connecting to the blog world...It is a part of my daily life...even Sunday morning I get on a bit but most of the day I rest and just spend it away from the computer is encouraging to find someone that has posted a comment on my blog and I try to post on those that are always faithful to my postings and I have some that never ever show up on my blog but I love visiting their's so much it matters not...i love is more than just a hobby with me it is an expression to those that will read and those that may come and go and I shall never know express the Love of God in and through my life.

  19. Galen,
    What do I REALLY want to is a very empowering and personal question that I need to ask myself multiple times each day. And then find the courage to go down the appropriate path. Obviously it involve choices and consequences that I hope are consciously understood. It's not perfect and it's sometimes messy and confusing but it leads to the best life that I can define and want to lead.

  20. I will start by saying I do not blog on weekends - I live off the internet.

    I am very organized and the Google reader also helps me stay focused and see when new posts pop up. I have my favorites I read every post even if I have to go back.

    After I read your post I will click on one of your comments people and see if there is a link to a new blogger to read and explore...that is how I find new bloggers...I love comment luv app on my blog

    I post 4 ( 2 and 1) times a week on my 3 blogs...I read every commenters blog post - this is morning work

    I only read blogs for 2 hours every evening I would like to get better on my phone for commenting...those are weekday evenings, my partner does not get home from work until 8pm

    I review books - so I need to set aside time everyday to read them...

    I only sit for 2 hours at a time, then I get up and make a salad or walk or vacuum around my day to change the pace.

    I blog about 7 hours per day because I consider it my full time work and I just know it is going to bring me income soon - especially when I launch Wise Ears my Professional Listening Services Blog - very soon.

    Barbara Swafford has been covering this topic for year on Blogging Without A Blog and she has just dropped down to blogging when she feels like it...and lots of the bigger bloggers are overwhelmed with responding to commenters so they just stopped taking comments.

    there are paid services too available

    I hope this is helpful...One woman in UK just asked people to tweet her posts or put a like button on her site because she could not keep up with replying to the 70 comments a post...

    I think we are all figuring it out...but I still get so few comments It has not been a problem for me yet and I love to read

  21. Beliza--Seems like morning or evening are preferred times for reading and commenting for some folks. That makes sense to me and will probably be what I try to do as well. Thanks for your advice.

    Mitzi--Thank you for the follow up comment and also for the extra time you took to repost it after your first one disappeared. (That same thing happened to Bob yesterday, and happened to me on someone else's blog recently.) I appreciate the additional information. I like the idea of having a specific time set aside, not to be rigid, but in order to be more productive with that time. And also to limit the time so that it doesn't spill over into other things. Thank you so much for the additional advice.

    Irving--Yes, your articles are much more in depth than my posts. I can see that it would take you much more time to write them. I especially appreciate your description of your commenting habits since your comments are always thoughtful and well written. Your suggestion of checking out commenters on other blogs seems like a good way to find new blogs. I will try that. Thanks so much for your advice.

    Mikey--You have figured out a way to make good use of unpredictable gaps in your time. Your advice is consistent with your recent post about posting less often and focusing on quality. Perhaps that same principle applies to commenting. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    ryoko--You are very wise. Blogging can just take over your life if you let it! It did for me at the beginning. It was all so new and exciting. I continue to enjoy it and to enjoy all the connections I've made in blogworld with folks such as yourself, but I see that I have to take a more deliberate approach to managing my time. I appreciate your advice.

    joybug--I appreciate the connection between your blog and your faith. I have found that, too, in my own way. It is more than a hobby, and yet not a career. It is, at its core, a way to connect. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    Riley--What an important question to help us focus on what is important and let go of the trivial stuff we often get distracted by. Asking yourself multiple times a day will keep your attention on what will bring you the greatest joy and satisfaction. Thank you for your advice.

    Patricia--Thank you for explaining the details of your blogging practices. Now several people have mentioned Google Reader, so I can see that I need to get on that and learn about it. You spend more time on blog related activities than I do because you see it as your work. That gives you an interesting perspective. Thank you for your advice.

  22. This was a timely post because I have had the same concerns. I usually only do a post 2 times per week;three at the most. I have decided to divide up the blogs I follow and only comment on 5-10 posts for maybe three days out of the week which doesn't take as much time. I am hoping that it will cut down on the all day blogging thing
    Blessings to you!
    Google has had a problem with comments. If you want you can go in on comments and change it to a pop-up window and it will work then.
    I am doing an open ID.
    Living Waters by LeAnn

  23. Great topic, Galen!

    I appreciate your dilemma and hope you find a good path for you.

    I'm committed to posting one substantial article a week, but will post additional articles if I am inspired. I decided to experiment with shorter posts (for the extra ones) and am actually enjoying the challenge and finding it very rewarding.

    I see commenting as a way of supporting each other so I consider it important. However, like you, I often find it challenging to comment as much as I would like. My first priority is to comment on blogs written by those who comment on my blog as a means of expressing my gratitude and appreciation and also because I LOVE the people who comment on my blog [like you]. However, I'm not always able to comment on every post they write. I just do the best I can. Beyond that, if time permits, I try to comment on other blogs on my favorite list or on interesting articles that catch my eye on twitter. I'm not making an active effort to expand the number of blogs I comment on as I just don't have time.

    I limit my blogging to 8-10 hours per week. Just casually keeping that limit in mind. I love blogging, but blogging can also eat up a lot of time so I think it's helpful to set a limit - at least for me.

    I'm always disappointed when bloggers don't accept comments. I'll get all excited about an article and then come to the end and find the comments closed. It somehow deflates the energy for me. I tend not to read blogs that don't allow comments. It just doesn't resonate for me. But I know that's how some people save time in blogging.

    Good luck with this! I would love to know your conclusions on this when the time comes.

  24. LeAnn--Nice idea to divide blogs so that you get to your favorite ones regularly but not necessarily in one sitting. Thanks for your advice.

    Sandra--I think commenting is important, too, for the reasons you explained. And I agree that it isn't crucial to comment on every post. Sometimes I come to a post too late, or that post isn't relevant to my life. Interesting that you don't seek to expand. I don't make the same effort I made at the beginning, but I like to venture forth sometimes and see what else is out there. It is helpful to hear how you limit your overall blog time rather than time spent on specific activities. Thanks for your advice. And I appreciate the encouragement!

  25. Hi Galen,
    As you can tell, I am very sporadic as a blogger. i tend to post when I 'feel' it and try to visit other blogs as often as I can. I have a few 'go to' friends like yourself who I find lift me up and keep me sane. I used to explore more blogs but find I cannot do it. I am not attracting thousands of visitors so responding is easy...once I get to the computer. Sammy's blog is for me...and to raise awareness of leukemia if I can.
    I have actually read you latest posts but responded here. I don't have time to respond to all posts so I often check the ones I missed and post on one. I do love the lesson we all need to remember about judging others. I was a nightmare teenager too...we should compare notes...but maybe not as I look up to you too much :)

  26. Hi, Katy--No surprise that blogging is not a regularly scheduled activity for you. You have to stay flexible and responsive to other circumstances. You were a nightmare teenager, too?! Wow, we do have these images of people, don't we, without having any idea about their past "stories." I'm always glad when you stop by.

  27. I had tried free traffic generating sites in the past, but that doesn’t seem to attract people on my site. The most effective way to gain traffic is by placing comments on other blogs. When I have time and I’m in the mood, I post comments to other people. I mostly post just once a week, but when I’m not in a mood to blog I just skip. There are more important things in life then blogging, but yes, blogging makes me feel very good and I love to blog; it kind of feels like I’m addicted to it. I personally think that you’re very good in writing; maybe you should consider writing a book. I would definitely buy your book.;)

  28. Sharda--Thanks for this valuable info. That is a good approach to commenting on other sites. I used to spend a lot of time doing that, but I haven't lately, so I'm goig to get back to that. Thank you for your kind words about my writing. I am thinking of writing a book, so I'm motivated to find ways to use my time more efficiently! Thanks for your comment.


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