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:




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. Richa Jha says:

    Plenty of food for thought for me there, Susan. Thanks for this post! Having spread myself thin on all sides, am finding it difficult to keep pace with all that is happening in the blogging world. And yet, I know it is imperative that I float around in the blogosphere in an engaged and meaningful way so as to be right up there on the radar of a few at least. I'll be honest, it doesn't come naturally to me and am still learning the ropes. But am sure, soon I'll be able to get into the groove and get better at it. By and by, I am beginning to learn the importance of visiting some sites regularly and leaving comments. Learning learning learning, will get there:)

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I think what makes it hard is that blogging is fun (for me) and I really enjoy reading blogs and connecting with people, but it is time-consuming. It's easy to spend your work time not working 🙂 I just have to set a time limit so I make sure to get everything done. (And no worries about the “Susan” – it was probably auto-correct – gets me all the time! :))

  3. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I enjoy reading blogs, but have been negligient lately due to a heavy homework load and trying to write. I always encourage people to “do what they can.” I do my best to keep up with comments, but don't bother with blog statistics as I know enough to understand my numbers don't reach the numbers agents/publishers want. Of course, I enjoy all the people who visit the blog or communicate via Facebook.

  4. Angela Brown says:

    Hey Susanna, I used to read and comment on dozes of blogs per day then I realized that I was falling prey to not having time to write. Once I started setting a monthly goal to blog a certain amount of time and read/comment a certain number of times per week, I got a little better at opening time for writing. Like you, the blogs I follow are of other writers, agents and writing groups.

  5. Iza Trapani says:

    I took the quiz and am in the 50% bracket but maybe that will change once others take the quiz 🙂 Great question, Penny, and a hard one to answer. Like Susanna, I blog for the community of like-minded people and to stay current in my field and to learn more about the craft of writing and to be inspired. There is such a wealth of information and talent out there, and such wonderful people to interact with! Still, it takes time, and it can be overwhelming. I only post on my blog once a week, or even every 10 days. I know I should be more regular, but I can't seem to manage that. I don't always have the time, so I try to go for quality (I hope) rather than quantity… I follow a bunch of blogs but, like Susanna, I also tend to read the ones that come by e-mail. The ones in my reader and RSS feed have been quite neglected. I would say I read and comment on at least 5 a day, sometimes 10 or more, depending on my schedule. And I do my best to share them on FB and twitter. I know it's not a lot, but my illustrations are so time consuming…Why couldn't I be a minimalist?

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Well this is exactly what Penny is wondering, Angela – how do you schedule your time, decide which blogs to read when? Do you have a list and try to read and comment on one post per week of the blogs you read or something? I know you comment more than that here….

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I think you do a great job, Iza! I always enjoy your posts, and I see you around commenting, and I always appreciate you sharing things on twitter etc – I'm not so good with that although I'm trying 🙂 The only way I manage to read as many blogs as I do is by working long hours… because writing takes a lot of time too – though I'm sure not as much as illustrating… and it gets overwhelming sometimes!

  8. Robyn Campbell says:

    40% bracket here Penny.

    I blog for the same reasons that Susanna does. To learn the craft. But ever since my blog was hacked, I feel burned out. Maybe the hacker did this to me. I am switching over to WP soon. Maybe that will help me. But writing is the reason we're all together anyway and if we don't have any time left to blog, then we've lost our focus. *sigh* Feelin' like I need to visit Penny. *sigh*

    Hugs y'all.

    Susanna, Ivy was playing with Mr. Ed in the pasture while we were cleaning the chicken coop and tack room. He was feeling good. And he bucked. She was in the way. (I thought she was dead) His hoof grazed her ribs and broke her foot. I'm taking her for x-rays, but I'm sure it's broken. Plus internet is spotty due to the hurricane. (We're having bad winds and rain.) If you don't see my entry on Wed., it's because I couldn't get on.

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh. gosh, Robyn! More trouble?! Poor Ivy – I hope she's okay! I got a pretty good bite on my hand the other day but it was my own fault – stuck my hand in the horse's mouth 🙂 I may change the Halloweensie Contest deadline if tons of us lose power and can't get on. I've scheduled the post so that anyone who is on can link up etc, but we may all need some more time! So don't worry if yours gets up a little late 🙂 Maybe you and Ivy can think up an entry together and keep her mind of her hurts!

  10. Tina Cho says:

    Great question, Penny! I don't know how you find time to read so many blogs, Susanna! Like you, I enjoy having posts sent to my inbox. That way I can remember to read them. I read blogs about writing, naturally. I do have a writing blog, but I never know what to post because there are SOOO many great writing blogs already out there. What do I have to contribute? So I try to find my niche and don't blog nearly enough. I also have a devotional blog that I try to post to weekly. Anyway, I love reading everyone's blog who posts it on FB.

  11. Laura Marcella says:

    There are so many amazing blogs out there that it can be overwhelming to choose which ones to follow! Some people follow them all, but do they really read them all? Probably not. I follow the blogs I know I'm going to take the time to read and leave thoughtful comments.

  12. Laura Anne Miller says:

    Penny, I have also felt the same way. I want to keep up and Facebook helps, but doesn't give the 'meat' of each person. I voted – but my numbers of reads and comments desired is probably lower because I'm just starting out. However, feedback on my blog just gives me a lift that makes my day brighter and more productive (um–I haven't had negative comments yet …so far…) I try like Susanna to break reading into 3x day. Make comments-then back to work. I don't get to everyone every day. I try to rotate bloggers and read a few posts at a time when I'm there. On less inspired days I may take more time to browse simply for inspiration. And I do like subscribing to the like-minded blogs (llustrators/writers and humorous–I love the chuckles, and by the way, Susanna, you are one of those.)

  13. Ruth Schiffmann says:

    Such a great question. Though I've thoroughly enjoyed blogging since I started just over a year ago, there is that constant struggle to keep up with reading and commenting on so many great blogs. I follow other writers and really enjoy the connection with kindred spirits. Some days reading the thoughtful posts of other writers gives me the energy and motivation to keep writing. If I read a blog post I always try to comment. I know how important it is to know that someone is reading the words we put out there.

  14. Vanessa Morris says:

    One of the things I love about having a WordPress blog is that it has a “like” button. All blogs should have that. I may not always have a comment, but I will definitely click a “like” button to show some love.

  15. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for sharing, Tina. I think everyone's system is a little different – we all have to do whatever works best – and I'm not sure if there really is a satisfactory answer to this question! Sometimes I think I should try to read 25 blogs each day but not do any of the same blogs twice in a week – then I could read and comment on over 10 different blogs each week. Instead, I tend to be loyal to the people I like best and I read their posts anywhere from 1-5 times a week depending on their posting schedule and don't branch out into new territory as much as I probably should…

  16. alayne says:

    I vote for an
    button 🙂

    I had typed out a long comment but it got lost in the process. No time to retype – sorry. Good discussion.

  17. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    That is a good plan, Laura. I don't like to “unfollow” people, but I probably should unfollow blogs I really don't read. Then my google reader would be less impossible to keep track of and maybe I could use it better! Yours is one of the blogs I wish had an email option so I'd be sure to remember it – I love it! *Special Announcement to anyone reading the comments – go check out Laura's blog, Wavy Lines! :)*

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for sharing your system, Laura. I like hearing what everyone does – although it seems like we're all pretty much doing the same thing – finding a way to juggle 🙂 Thank you so much for finding the time for my blog – I truly appreciate it.

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    So glad you like that idea, Alayne! Let's all add that button 🙂 Sorry about your other comment – I hate when that happens. That happens to me ALL the time when I'm texting – I have no idea what I dod to make it happen but man it's frustrating! 🙂

  20. Genevieve says:

    I started blogging in hopes of joining the writing community. It turns out I am following writing blogs AND dog blogs, which led to cat blogs,hamster and guinea pig blogs, and somehow, I discovered blogs of parents with disabled children, and started following a few of them. I also follow some inspirational blogs and a fashion blog or 2. There are definitely not enough hours in the day, and I agree with you, Susanna, I like when I can follow by email. Those are the ones I'm most consistent about. Fashion, really? Some blogs (like yours) will only let me comment if I'm on my iPad. Others will only let me comment on my PC. I love commenting. So does Cupcake!

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for chiming in Genevieve (and Cupcake :)). I don't understand the comment problem with my blog – it is an endless source of frustration. And Disqus has stopped answering me so I don't like them any more and will not be inviting them to my birthday party. I agree – the commenting is the fun part – that's where we get interaction and discussion which is what makes blogging so much fun!

  22. Amy Dixon says:

    I am so struggling with this right now. As life is full and busier than usual right now, my blog commenting is more rare. Part of my problem is that I am such a perfectionist, I write and edit and re-read every comment I post way too many times. So silly! And I want my commenting to be thoughtful, not just, “great post!” but sometimes all I have time for is a “great post!” so I end up not commenting. So yes, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE one of those kooky buttons! Let's make one!

  23. Kirsten Larson says:

    I read blogs sporadically. I may go a day or two without reading and then skim through 150+ posts. I comment on very few. I mostly use GoogleReader to subscribe to feeds. It makes it very easy to go to one place to look at all my blogs.

  24. coleen patrick says:

    I don't have a great system. I have a tendency to do a crazy amount of reading and commenting on the day I post–typically Monday. Then it dwindles as the week progresses. I really should space it out, but for some reason I feel a sense of urgency on that first day. My fave thing about reading and commenting is the community–love that I get to know friends like you Susanna! Oh and good luck with the Frankenstorm–I'm hoping that we get to drain our bathtubs and go back to normal asap!

  25. Heather Newman says:

    It is a challenge to balance time for blog reading for pleasure and knowledge, time for my own work, time to keep my home from falling into the dog hair pit of despair and, of course, time for my boys. I do read every blog I subscribe to, but I don't always comment. There are times when I can't think of anything to say, or someone else has already expressed what I'm thinking in a better way, or I simply like what the person has posted and it seems silly to post a comment saying “I like this!” It probably isn't a silly thing to write at all, but it sometimes feels that way. The internet has created the mixed blessing of an ocean of information at our fingertips and no more hours in the day to absorb it all!

  26. Heather Newman says:

    Also, sometimes I don't have the time to comment as much as I'm sitting down and reading blogs for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. This is another great post, Susanna!

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    All so true, Heather, and well put. I wish blog comments had a feature like FB where you could like previous comments – I would do that a lot because, as you say, often someone has already said what I'd like to better than I could!

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for chiming in , Coleen! I think a lot of people post M/W/F, including me, so those are my heaviest blog reading days too. I forget where you live – maybe more in harm's way than I do – so far it's windy here, but not too bad – pretty much of a non-event. I'm hoping we keep power. I scheduled my post for Wednesday in case we lost it, but haven't added in my sample Halloween Contest entry yet because I haven't finished writing it! 🙂

  29. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Lots of people like google reader – I think I just followed some blogs I ended up not being that interested in way back when I started so it gets really full and hard to navigate… I should probably clean it out 🙂

  30. Lauri Meyers says:

    Nice use of the poll! I select the blogs that are consistently meaningful to me and subscribe via email, even though I am a member of many others. Every couple weeks I check out the others and add a couple to email if they strike my fancy.

  31. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'll have to get on that kooky button 🙂 But personally, I don't mind people leaving comments like “great post” – at least then I know they came, read, enjoyed. And sometimes I leave “great post” comments for the same reason – I figure the blog owner will appreciate knowing I was there but I don't have time to say more or don't have much else to add.

  32. Joanna Marple says:

    Great question and great idea to use a poll. I use google reader as I am one if those who doesn't enjoy my email box full. I try and read and comment on 15-20 a day and truly have the same motivations as you, Susanna. I love reading, commenting and blogging for the community I am creating, but recognize my stats are way off anything that makes it of interest to agents and editors when it comes to platform-building. When I took a couple of months away from blogging over the summer, I missed it but boy I got more writing done, which does worry me! This is truly one of my favorite blogs!

  33. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    You are so nice, Joanna! Thank you for finding time in your day to read my blog and leave this comment which has made my day 🙂 In the beginning, I looked at my stats a lot. Now I never look at all. I don't have the kind of numbers anyone would be interested in and that's not why I blog (although I suppose it would be nice to feel that thousands of people couldn't wait to read what I had to say every day :)) But then I think you'd lose that sense of community that I love so much – it would be harder to respond to every comment and to feel like you knew people.

  34. pennyklostermann says:

    Susanna~Thanks for posting my question. I love the way you set up the polls for feedback. There has been lots of interesting and helpful feedback…mainly due to the fact that everyone struggles with this to a degree and so, therefore, won't be too hard on folks that can't comment every time they drop by to read.

    I love your idea of 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!!!

    So many comments expressed what I feel…that it isn't easy to always leave a meaningful comment without repeating previous commenters. I am like Amy Dixon…I have a tendency to read and reread to make sure I don't have typos. As far as those who comment on my blog…I love getting comments even if it's just a “great post” or other short comments.

    I blog for the community, too. I have found so many kindred spirits that it just makes my day/week brighter. I know I don't have anything close to a platform. I figure if I spend all my time blogging and not writing…that I will never have anything to set on my “platform”. LOL I mainly blog for Perfect Picture Book Friday. I chose this because I am a retired teacher and I see how helpful PPBF can be for teachers.

    I am slowly getting better at sorting out a system for the blogs I love to read but don't have time to read each day. I am flagging them in my email and then going back to read when I have time during the week. I try not to get too far behind. There are a few blogs I read that, even though they may post 5-7 times a week, I decided I would only read 1-2 times a week. If it's a blog I participate in…like your Short and Sweets, or like Laura Purdie Salas's 15 Words or Less Poems, I try to get there on the posting day. After reading today's comments, I am going to try
    to streamline my methods so that I will feel better about how I am handling my blog reading.

  35. rena says:

    I make it rule not to comment on blogs with captcha unless I have to. It might sound harsh but those things irritate me. I don't always comment but I do share posts via twitter and facebook, which is another way to recognize a blogger you like. I added a list of blogs I love to read to the side of my blog that way with a quick glance I can see if it's been a while since I checked in on some of my favourite blogs.

    Another thing I started doing was writing a weekly post just for myself. I love it because I'm not worried about getting comments. I'm doing it as a way to record my progress as I pursue this crazy writing dream.

    Blogging is only one way to connect with people. I like using a variety of methods to build community. I allot an hour day to reading and responding to blogs. I wish I could do more but then I would never get any writing done.

  36. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm so glad if you're finding this helpful, Penny. I wish I had a better answer. But in a way I find it comforting to know we all struggle with it! You're right – hopefully that means people will be understanding if you miss commenting a few times because they know from personal experience how hard it is to keep up. This whole conversation is inspiring me to rethink my blogging methods – I feel like there really has to be a better way! I'm clearly going to have to figure out how to make that button :)… and share it with everyone else 🙂

  37. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Wow, Rena. It sounds like you have a good system. I admit, I put most of my social media time into blogging – I'm less good about FB – although I like to check in with the writing groups – and I'm terrible with Twitter (although I'm trying to improve my ways :)) I really like you weekly reflection post – you may do it for yourself, but I like reading it. I think you have a lot more self-discipline than I do 🙂

  38. Eric VanRaepenbusch says:

    i read much more than I comment on blogs. Often times, I just can't find the right words for a comment right away. I often feel like I should comment more, but just like in real life conversations, I find myself to be shy.

    Additionally, I almost always feel like I should be doing more. I have so many people that support me in my blogging efforts that I often feel like I am not reciprocating enough. I guess there is always room for improvement.

    Thank you for this post, Susanna, it allowed me to reflect upon my blogging and blog reading practices.

  39. Darshana says:

    Great question and the idea of putting a poll. I follow roughly the same set of blogs Susanna mentioned. I have started doing email subscription from a small set of blogs so I don't miss a post. The rest I read sporadically via Google Reader or their FB post. I try to comment on others as I absolutely need to see a handful of comments on my post, it truly motivates me. The downside of all this is that I don't spend enough time on my own stories. Blogging comes fairly easy for me but writing that's another story. Not sure what to do, just trying to figure things out. Will probably take Dec off from blogging and see if I am more productive with the writing.

  40. Pamela Courtney says:

    This is such a great discussion. And how amazing is that poll of yours, Susanna! Another fabulous idea. I one of those that read and leave few comments. I wish there was such a button that you mentioned, Susanna. I'd really like people to know that I was there lurking in the shadows. Ooh a good title for the contest! I feel so connected to the people whose blogs I follow. It's kind of pathetic actually, I feel like I know you all, intimately. We pray for each other, encourage each other, promote each other and so much more.

    As for blogging, I am want some would call Trifling. I get asked, (only by a couple of people, but still…) when are you going to post again? I've received so much encouragement from the people I've met in the writing community, They are interested in how my little ones respond to the books I read. Yet, I don't have the time, and sometimes patience, to give the people who've made it a point to acknowledge me and my blog. I totally feel like I'm being disrespectful. I'm like Amy Dixon, who stated that she is such a perfectionist. I'm that way, and end up not posting anything. I re-write, research, delete, re-write, then I get frustrated and don't post anything at all.

    Now, that I'm in school, there's NO TIME AT ALL! I do get in a great deal of writing. I have to write a minimum of three papers a week in one class, just one class alone, in order to earn a “B.” However, I must endeavor to personally connect more. Whoa! I didn't mean to go on and on. However, this is such a meaningful post.

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