Oh Susanna – How Do You Decide Which Blogs To Follow?

Batten down the hatches, all my fellow east-coasters!  In spite of the fact that I bought candles on Friday and filled the bathtubs with water this morning, the Frankenstorm appears to be coming anyway. I hope you are all in a safe place with plenty of batteries and chocolate and possibly your floaties and a rowboat!

To keep your minds off whether or not your basement is likely to approximate Lake Superior by tomorrow, let’s dive in to today’s Oh Susanna question, which is one that strikes a real chord with me, and I’m guessing a lot of you will feel the same way.

Penny asks, How in the world do you decide which blogs to follow regularly??? I would love to follow everyone! I would love to comment on all posts! But, if I do that, I have no time to do what I really love, which is writing! I read lots of blogs that I only comment on randomly, so the writer never knows that I read them often. We have become so connected by the Internet that I sometimes feel rude because I can’t spend time with all my writing friends equally. Does anyone have a “qualifier” list for what blogs they will choose to best suit their goals? Do those who blog rely on comments to “keep them going”…or are you going to blog no matter what? Is anyone else as frustrated about this as I am? (I know you covered time management in one of your Oh Susanna! posts…but I think I need a refresher focusing on blogs.)

Yes, Penny!  I am definitely as frustrated as you are! 🙂

As Penny mentioned, we did discuss this a little in the Oh Susanna post on Time Management.  But I decided to post this more specific question because it’s something I think  lot of people wrestle with every day (including me! :)), and I’m very interested in hearing from everyone out there about how they handle this issue.

I think the answer partly depends on what you hope to get out of blogging.  If you’re trying to hone your craft, then you’ll read a list of blogs that focus on craft and you might not need to comment unless you have a question.  This is a very different picture from that of someone who is trying to build a platform and will have to visit and comment on many blogs regularly in hopes of encouraging them all to follow back.

If you, like me, blog for community – for the connection, the interaction, the discussion, the feeling of being part of a group of like-minded people, the friendship – there’s really no limit to how much time you CAN put in, which is where the problem lies.  And from the way Penny asked the question, I think this is at least partially what she’s talking about.

This is a knotty problem, because we do develop friendships.  There is a large group of people out there who I am very fond of even though technically I’ve never met them in real life :)!  I feel guilty if a day goes by when they post and I don’t have time to read, or I read but don’t have time to comment.  I worry they’ll feel slighted and think bad thoughts about me!

But let’s face it: there are only so many hours in the day.  And most of us here have things to do besides blog 🙂

Just for fun, let’s take a quick survey:

#1

#2

#3

I’m very interested to see how these turn out!  And I have a feeling the results may be a very informational part of this post for all of us.  I hope a lot of people will respond.

If it helps to share concrete information, I’ll tell you what I do: (and I will admit straight out that I DO NOT have the answer!)

The blogs I follow regularly belong, as a general rule, to writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, and a few agents, editors, book reviewers, and mom bloggers – at least, those are the blogs I read with commitment.  (I confess there are a couple funny ones I read sometimes that don’t fit into any of those categories :))  These are the people I share common ground with, the blogs where many of my interests lie, that also intersect with what I have time for.  (I would love to read blogs about horses and dogs and a few other things, but I simply don’t have time, so for me blogging centers in a more professional area.)

I like having new posts delivered straight to my inbox, even though it fills up, because then I’m sure to see them.  Anyone whose blog does not include an email option is likely to get sporadic reading from me because I read so many that I tend to forget about some without the reminder.

I try to carve out a chunk of time at the approximate beginning, middle, and end of my work day to read and comment on blogs, but it is rarely that neat… reading and commenting on blogs feels deliciously like being productive at moments when the writing isn’t going well which makes it a nearly irresistible distraction 🙂

I read an average of 30-40 blogs per weekday (fewer on weekends – I’m trying to cut back :))  I comment on an average of 20-25 per day, maybe a little more.  Chances are high that if you ever see comments from me (and you have an email option for delivery :)) I’m reading your blog all the time – every post.

As for comments on my own blog, they are very important to me.  They let me know that I’m not just shouting into the abyss – that I hopefully provide something enjoyable maybe sometimes even valuable on some level.  And I genuinely like hearing everyone’s thoughts on everything.

Truthfully I feel like the amount of blogging I do is both insufficient and far too much.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could agree on some sort of system?  So that we could spend a little more time on our actual work without worrying that our friends are feeling neglected and unloved?  Maybe an “I’m-Up-To-My-Eyeballs-But-I-Took-The-Time-To-Come-Over-Here-So-You’d-Know-I-Still-Love-You-Even-Though-I’m-Not-Reading-Or-Commenting-Today” button? 🙂

What works for one may not work for another, but it sure would be helpful to hear from you all about how you manage.  How do you decide who to read?  How much is enough?  Please share!!!

(And remember!  Only 2 days until the Halloweensie Contest!  Rules HERE!)

94 thoughts on “Oh Susanna – How Do You Decide Which Blogs To Follow?

  1. Julie Rowan-Zoch says:

    I love the poll – I think that will help soothe some guilt feelings! I find it good to step away from it all now and then; it also let's me know which blogs I am missing and which I might not! My personal tip: Every time the phone rings I get up, but I also look for a chore (easy in my house!) to take me away for a bit – to refocus!

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    POSTED FOR TRACY at http://tracycampbell.net/blog/

    I don't usually respond during the day, but this post was way too important not to comment on–now.

    Penny, you hit the nail on the head with your fabulous question.

    I feel exactly the same way as you and Susanna do. I'm referring to “Truthfully I feel like the amount of blogging I do is both insufficient and far too much.”

    And oh, how I wish there was a proper system. Poof! Sorry, nothing happened when I snapped my fingers.

    Most of my working time is spent in my home office, so I need to blog to form relationships. Even though, I've not met most of you. I feel a connection. It's like we've been friends for years. And I need to blog to build a platform. So, the 2 plus hours I spend a day are necessary, but even that time seems inadequate. Realistically, I'd need to spend 4 or more hours to do that effectively. Not happening.

    Like you, Susanna, the posts I receive in my email box are the ones I read and comment on. I know I follow others, but due to lack of time, I don't go searching them out. And not because I don't want to, but because there isn't enough time.

    I still can't access to take part in the poll, but I'm reading from afar. Just wish I could read all the comments.

    I'll end on this note. We're expecting the storm later tonight. We have enough gas to run the generator for a week, and the fridge and freezer are stocked. I just hope the big bad wolf doesn't blow the house down. There is one good thing though–we don't have to worry about flooding as we live way up on a hill in–Noah's Ark.

    Keep safe, everyone.
    Tracy

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you for joining the conversation, Eric. I appreciate your thoughts. It really is tough to find a balance, and, like you say, we all have different personalities. I find it a little easier to talk online than in real life – you probably wouldn't guess it, but I'm shy in person 🙂

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    That's the scary thing, Darshana – I know that if I didn't blog I would write more productively. The act of writing the blog and writing comments fulfills some of that need to write and it's easy to do a bunch of blogging and then feel like you've kind of done your writing for the day… even though in truth you haven't started. It can be an energy sap. I do both, but I know I would write more if I didn't blog. And though enjoy blogging, I also feel the expectation from the powers above to maintain an online presence…

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, Pam. I think what I'm getting most out of this post is a reminder of how nice everyone is 🙂 – how much they genuinely care about each other and how much they want to be there for each other. It's what makes this community so wonderful and special. You're about the 10th person to love that kooky button idea – clearly we've got to find a way to make that work 🙂

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Yeah, the poll is turning out to be pretty helpful, I think! I'm grateful to everyone for responding. Thanks for sharing your personal tips too! (Although my house is a perfection of cleanliness so there are never any chores :)… oops, my nose just got so long it poked the computer screen :))

  7. Patricia Nozell says:

    Reading this as the rains lash at the windows. Just finished making no-bake chocolate thingies – so I think I'm safe for the duration, even when the power goes.

    Such a great topic. Never sure how much/little to read & always thinking I'm missing something (and always so far behind…).

    Will be interesting to read the results.

    Stay safe & dry!

  8. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Penny…your question is one that lurks in the minds of most of us, I'm sure…THANK YOU for posing it!
    Susanna, I loved your answer…and yes, I sometimes wish I could blog 24 hours a day…but my back and eyes (and husband) don't allow that.:)
    I started blogging to get the word out about my book…but now that I have experienced the amazing support, encouragement and friendship associated with blogging…I'd want to do it even if I never wrote another word (other than posts)! In the beginning, I was a little haphazard about what I blogged about…parenting, life, picture books, skydiving. 🙂 Then I became more organized and actually had several months where I blogged EVERY day…Menu Monday (a recipe), Timeless Tuesday (a quote), What's in Your Child's Bookcase Wednesday (picture book review and craft), Healthy Thursday (well-being tips), Follow me Friday (a recap of any school visits or book events of that week), Saturday Ramblings (random posts) and Cinema Sunday (a movie review). Each post was tied in to parenting issues.

    Then my husband almost had me committed (only joking)!
    So I cut back and then discovered YOU (through Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way)…and through you, I discovered Julie's 12×12 and everyone else in this beautiful kidlit community.

    So now I read blogs and comment because I am excited about honing the craft of picture book writing and connecting so I will learn how to put my work out there in the best way possible…and because I love reading the great posts that all of you write. 🙂

    But the time factor is like a millstone around my neck…I would love to follow and comment on EVERY blog of EVERY person in this group…and outside of this group…but the clock ticks away and I often get to bed after 1am…and have to get up in the morning at 6:30. Will things improve after December 31, when I 'retire' and don't have to go to work 4 days a week? Or will I fill up those hours with even MORE blogging and following and commenting? Only time will tell! Time? What's that?
    I've got my Halloweensie story ready…can't wait!

  9. Beth Stilborn says:

    First of all, I hope so hard that everyone in the path of Sandy stays safe. I've been obsessively checking weather reports and facebook updates… I wish there were something I could do besides sit here and hope, hope, HOPE! You're all in my thoughts.

    This question and answer was very interesting — and I learned that although I think I spend a LOT of time reading blogs, or at least scrolling through them on my email and google reader, I really have no clear idea of how many I actually read in a day, nor how many I actually comment on. It might be interesting to take a week and actually keep track, just so I know what I *am* spending time on.

    As for comments, they mean a great deal to me, probably more than they should. When I've worked hard on a post and then get hardly any comments, I tend to wonder what I've done wrong. I'm likely not choosing topics that are of interest to the people who read my blog, and I don't know quite what to do about that. The people with whom I share this blogging community have become my friends, and I hate to disappoint them.

    I confess I don't always comment even when I've read a post, because I don't feel I have anything worthwhile to say about the topic. Hmmm… that button you mentioned, or a “like” button, would be great. I'd like to be able to say, “I was here, I read you.

  10. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Tracy…I know that using Internet Explorer does not allow me to comment on Susanna's blog…I have to use a different browser connection…so I go in with Mozilla Firefox…I think Google Chrome works also. 🙂

    Good luck with the storm…my thoughts are with you. 🙂

  11. Rena says:

    Thanks! I'm not sure if that's true about the discipline part but thanks all the same! I love the writing groups because it takes only minutes to find out what everyone is up to. Twitter is a work in progress for me. I recently set a goal to try to write at least one meaningful tweet a day.

    I use to blog a lot more but it lead to a fight with my husband who wanted me to spend more time with him. So adopting a set time was a must. Now we are both happy.

  12. Carrie Finison says:

    This is a great topic. I just started my blog and have found that it has changed how I interact with other people's blogs. I used to read a number of blogs fairly frequently, but almost never commented. Now, I almost always comment because I know how much it means to get those comments, even if it is just, 'great post' (which is a comment I'm totally fine with, by they way!)

    I am also finding that I need to streamline the way I am reading various blogs. Right now, I have some in a Google Reader, some I'm following via RSS, some coming in through email, and some I am following on the WordPress reader. I'm going to try to do them all through RSS because it's the best way to very quickly see who has a new post.

    I find the blogs I read fall into a few categories:

    1) blogs I read because the content really interests me and speaks to where I am as a writer right now (tend to comment less on these)

    2) blogs I read because I feel a connection with the person who writes them and I want to support that person (always try to comment on these)

    3) blogs I read because someone posted a link on FB or somewhere else about a great post, and the content seems interesting to me at that moment (and I have the time)

    I try to do most blog reading in the evening while I'm watching TV so it's not so intrusive but I also do a lot of reading on the days I post.

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Vivian. I know – in the beginning I posted every day too. Then I wised up 🙂 Like you, i wish I had time to read every blog of every 12x12er but there just aren't enough hours. So glad you're entering the contest!!!! And impressed your entry is ready to go. My sample is not going well!!! And we've lost power three times so far. We've been lucky and it's come back, but I keep thinking the next one will be for real!

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Our power is flickering… I expect to lose it any second so if my comments stop you'll know why! I know exactly what you mean about the comments – I feel the same way. I think if I don't get many comments I've failed my readers, and I have to remind myself that sometimes people just don't have time, or it's August and everyone is on vacation, or the east coast is without power or etc… But in general there are days I notice only a few comments on a lot of blogs I follow, and I sometimes think maybe everyone's feeling the time pressure and a little burned out from trying to keep up. And then there are other blogs with billions of comments that contradict my hypothesis 🙂 Definitely got to work on that button! 🙂

  15. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Yes… I'm familiar with that husband problem… 🙂

    Rena (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Thanks! I'm not sure if that's true about the discipline part but thanks all the same! I love the writing groups because it takes only minutes to find out what everyone is up to. Twitter is a work in progress for me. I recently set a goal to try to write at least one meaningful tweet a day.

    I use to blog a lot more but it lead to a fight with my husband who wanted me to spend more time with him. So adopting a set time was a must. Now we are both happy.

    Link to comment
    IP address: 173.210.210.114

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Really? I looked at it quickly earlier, right before we temporarily lost internet service, and couldn't see how to do it! but that's me and tech 🙂

    Beth Stilborn (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    it's very easy to stop subscriptions on google reader. i find it great!

    Link to comment
    IP address: 65.87.233.107

  17. Beth Stilborn says:

    Go into Google Reader, click on the blog name in the left side bar. When that blog comes up, you'll see various drop down menus just above the post area. One is “mark all read” one is “Feed Settings.” Click on the drop down arrow for Feed Settings, choose “unsubscribe” and voila, you're automagically unsubscribed.

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you! I'll have to give it a try!

    Beth Stilborn (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Go into Google Reader, click on the blog name in the left side bar. When that blog comes up, you'll see various drop down menus just above the post area. One is “mark all read” one is “Feed Settings.” Click on the drop down arrow for Feed Settings, choose “unsubscribe” and voila, you're automagically unsubscribed.

    Link to comment
    IP address: 65.87.233.107

  19. Kimberley says:

    I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I want to craft my blogging too. I want to feel that aha, OMG, nodding my head in agreement more often than not. I love reading other people's thoughts. I also love how my blog is gaining the attention of different kinds of people then when I first began. I have changed too and I like that it shows. One audience is not better than another, but as I change my writing changes, my inspirations changes, I get deeper and wider instead of more in quantity. You are always on my check in list because I feel you are so true to yourself and it's inspiring.

    Kimberley
    First in Maine

  20. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks, Kimberley, I truly appreciate that! I really enjoy your blog as well, although I'm pretty sure it's one that doesn't offer email delivery… (hint hint :)) I know what you mean about your blog writing changing and growing, and your audience changing a bit as it goes. I think we all learn and transform a it as we go along.

  21. Kimberley says:

    Just for you Susanna, check under Follow Me for a sign up to receive my new posts by email. I am HONORED that you would want them.

  22. Donna Martin says:

    Hi Susanna! I follow a lot of blogs. For me, I look for blogs to inspire me, motivate me, teach me things to help me become a better writer. I too come across dozens if not hundreds of other blogs that would interest me to read but I simply don't have enough time in each day to devote to them.

    I comment on as many as I can when the post especially connects with me and I archive the posts which reference writerly things I would like to refer back to.

    The month of November is going to be very hard on me personally so I will stepping away from my own blog as well as others for the next four weeks or so in the hopes I can return in December healthier and better able to handle this life I love!

    Donna L Martin

    http://www.donnalmartin.com

    http://www.donasdays.blogspot.com

  23. Julie Rowan-Zoch says:

    The bookmarks arrived yesterday, and ten are already at the library (not out for grabs yet – they 'screen' everything first). Also, have decided to get back to yoga in '13 to correct the neck and back probs of too much online-time!

  24. Clarike Bowman-Jahn says:

    Great blog post and great comments, Susanna. I can't come up with anything better. I do read your blog as often as I can bc I love it and most of my community is on here. I love this community and blog bc of it.

    Love the polls and topic. Thanks so much for this post. It helps to know everyone is in the same boat. Let me know when you get that button. 🙂

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Clar! I hope everyone sees it. I don't know why my comment system seems to be the only one on earth that causes such trouble – it's so frustrating!

    Clarike Bowman-Jahn wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I have to be already signed in to facebook to be able to comment on this blog. If not disqus deletes me. I say this in hopes of helping someone. 🙂

    User's website
    Link to comment
    IP address: 173.72.185.34

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, that is cool. I wish I had wordpress!

    Clarike Bowman-Jahn wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    yes, a photo gravatar comes up and when clicked takes you to the gravatar of the person liking that post. 🙂

    User's website
    Link to comment
    IP address: 173.72.185.34

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    For me? Really? I'm coming right over!!! 🙂

    Kimberley wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Just for you Susanna, check under Follow Me for a sign up to receive my new posts by email. I am HONORED that you would want them.

    Link to comment
    IP address: 67.251.11.98

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh yay! Glad they got there. I should do yoga, really, it would be good for me. But I have NO patience! 🙂

    Julie Rowan-Zoch (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    The bookmarks arrived yesterday, and ten are already at the library (not out for grabs yet – they 'screen' everything first). Also, have decided to get back to yoga in '13 to correct the neck and back probs of too much online-time!

    Link to comment
    IP address: 174.29.145.131

  29. Julie says:

    I hope this finds you and your family safe from the Frankenstorm. My heart goes out to all of the families who lost their homes. On a lighter note, I love your button idea! Looking forward to your Halloweensie Contest, and I'm glad to join in the fun!

  30. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks, Julie! I'm glad to report that we are safe, and hope you are too! Boy, that button idea sure turned out to be popular 🙂 I hope your enthusiasm for the Halloweensie Contest means I can look forward to an entry from you! 🙂

  31. Jarm Del Boccio says:

    Hi Susanna…hope you were safe in the storm! This continues to be an issue for me. I desire to both receive responses and make comments. I do mostly the latter. Maybe it's the content of my blogposts. I don't know, but I'm working on it!
    As part of my early morning routine, I read emails and blogs, but then I get distracted, and don't find the time to write. Soooo frustrating! Jeff Goins recommends we don't open an email or look at blogpost until we have written a few hundred words.
    This is good advice, but I don't always follow it!
    Maybe we can brainstorm more on this topic…

  32. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    POSTED FOR DONNA at http://www.donasdays.blogspot.com

    Hi Susanna! I follow a lot of blogs. For me, I look for blogs to inspire me, motivate me, teach me things to help me become a better writer. I too come across dozens if not hundreds of other blogs that would interest me to read but I simply don't have enough time in each day to devote to them.

    I comment on as many as I can when the post especially connects with me and I archive the posts which reference writerly things I would like to refer back to.

    The month of November is going to be very hard on me personally so I will stepping away from my own blog as well as others for the next four weeks or so in the hopes I can return in December healthier and better able to handle this life I love!

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