Are You Letting Your Blog Get Out Of Control?

If I had children I would do all I could to make sure they never got out of control.  I do the same with my dog, Toby.  When he was a puppy I took him to training classes and, on the odd occasion when he does disobey me, I put what I learned at those classes into place to make sure he behaves.  Fortunately, I’m pleased to say that he behaves most of the time.

If we can do this with our children and pets, then shouldn’t we also do the same with our blogs?

Occasionally I hear other bloggers say they feel guilty because they do not have enough time in the day to read all the newly published posts of the blogs they follow.  This is also true of myself.  It’s impossible to read every single new post published by the bloggers I follow.  There is just not enough time in the day to do this.  However, what I have learned is to not allow my blog to get out of control and to make me feel guilty.

I could quite easily sit and read blog posts all day long without doing any writing, but I first came here to write and writing is what I enjoy more than anything else.  I make time to do my writing without allowing my blog to become out of control or to make me feel guilty.

I follow hundreds of blogs and, over the last few months, I have adopted a scheme that allows me to both write and read most the posts of the bloggers I follow.

I’ve divided my followers up into four groups.  Let’s call those groups A, B, C, and D.

Group A: These are the followers that support me the most.  They visit my blog often and are a huge part of my blogging community.  They read, like, and comment on many of my posts.  They also share my posts either by re-blogging them, or by sharing them via social media.

When it comes to which posts I read first I give these followers my priority.

Group B:  These are the followers that visit my blog from time to time (but not as often as those in Group A) and who may occasionally share my posts.

Once I have finished reading the new published posts of those in Group A, I turn my attention to those in this group.  I value these followers just as much as I do those in Group A because they’ve chosen to become part of my blogging community.  They do this by leaving the occasional comment and/or like and the occasional sharing of some of my posts.

Group C:  These followers pop by to say hello to me rarely but, when they do visit, they leave the occasional comment and/or like and are still part of my blogging community.

I’ll visit their blogs once I have visited those of groups A and B, but only if I still have reading time left.

Group D:  I call the followers in this group ‘Ghost Followers.’  Why? Because they follow me but never make their presence felt.

I’m no stranger to this group because I too have been a ‘ghost follower’ but, in an attempt to cut back on the number of blogs I follow, these are the first blogs where I click the ‘unfollow’ button.  Yes, I do unfollow blogs and I am not afraid to say or do so.  Right from my very first day on WordPress I picked up some ‘Ghost followers.’  I received the notification that they were following my blog but, for what ever reason, they have shown no evidence of visiting my blog since then.  I’ve often tried to work out why they followed my blog in the first place, especially as many have blogs of their own, but I’ve stopped worrying about that now.

I class myself as belonging to Group B of many of the blogs I follow. I’d like to be in Group A but time does not allow me to be a member of this group and I no longer allow that to make me feel guilty.

Whilst the above works very well for me, I realise that it won’t work for everyone.  However, I wanted to pass on what I have learned in the hope that some of you will find it useful.

If you are going to want more followers and more traffic to your blog then you are going to have to spend more time responding to comments and questions.  That could mean less writing time for you or not being able to read as many blogs as you would like to read, but don’t follow a blog never to return to visit it.

If you find a blog is not, after all, to your liking then unfollow it.  Don’t be afraid to use the ‘unfollow’ button.  I’ve got to the stage that for every two new blogs I follow, I will unfollow one which falls into my Group D.  Every six months I have a blog clear out and I unfollow blogs in Group D who have never shown any signs of visiting my blog despite having followed me.  I do this so I can keep the number of blogs I follow at my ideal level.

My last piece of advice for today is not to be fooled by the number of followers you may think your blog has.  According to my statistics I have hundreds of followers yet I probably only ever hear and interact with around 30% of them.  I not saying that of the other 70% none of them ever visit, but I have learned never to ignore the 30% that do.

Ensure you become and remain an important part of blogging communities by visiting and interacting with them.  If you are going to follow a blog then become a real follower.  Don’t become a ‘ghost follower.’

What about you?  How do you manage the time for writing and for reading the blogs you follow?

 

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376 thoughts

  1. Guess what, Hugh? I am linking back to this post AGAIN in tomorrow’s article. That makes five links back to this post just from me. I am sure I’ve never linked back to a post even close to that much. Goes live at 2:00 am California time.
    Janice

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  2. I was referred here by a list of awesome bloggers (erik79, Blogs That I love), and I really enjoyed this post. I joined earlier this month, and I found I have an odd love/hate relationship with how I feel about followers and following. I get excited seeing my number of followers go up (which is odd in and of itself, in that this was supposed to just be an anonymous, essentially online journal, but that would go out into the world in some way), and I try to give attention to comments and new followers and be interactive, but it can get really time consuming. I like the way you broke down your system of handling comments and how you spend the time you have available. And I’m thankful that I don’t have that kind of volume problem yet, weird as that may be.

    That being said, I’m compulsively extroverted enough to add that this comment is in no way meant to deter anyone from interacting with me or following me. 😉

    Thanks for a great post, and a new blog to follow.

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    1. I agree that answering comments and being interactive with fellow bloggers can be very time consuming. Of course with every new follower that time will only increase and that is why I wrote this post to let others know how I have handled this situation. Bringing in new followers is always priority to start with but with time I believe the quality of what we publish becomes far more important, and if we get that right then that will do the job of bringing in new followers.

      Thank you very much for your comments and for joining in the debate. It’s always very pleasing to be told that something I have published has helped.
      Best wishes,
      Hugh

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  3. What a great post! I am a fairly new blogger compared to others, and I often wonder how to keep up with other bloggers! It’s so important to participate in the community but then obviously I need to spend the time to create my content too. I love your strategy and will put it to work (although I have no where near the number of followers as you…yet!)

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    1. Well, give it time Deb. Once you build up your blogging community, join other blogging communities and concentrate on quality rather than quantity of posts then the followers will come to you. It takes a lot of time but it will be well worth it. I’ve seen far too many bloggers give up because they don’t get the numbers and it’s usually because they fail to respond to comments, interact on other blogs and rush out poor quality posts. I’m no expert in the blogging field but like to pass on to others what I have learned since being here on WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am glad you shared this post in your Top 10 Posts for 2015. OMG, you are speaking right from my heart. I started doing the same thing as you do and divide the blogs I follow into sections. Those who are following me actively and frequently are in group A too and I even started again email notifications for those in order to not miss a post and honor them too. Then there are those in group B and C as you do it. And the rest is viewed when there is some spare time left. I am glad to see this way of dealing with it confirmed. I have my frequent posts daily and weekly and I feel obliged in first place to keep them up for those who are actively following me and because I simply enjoy it to the max.

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    1. Hi Erika. I’m so pleased to read your comments. When I published this post earlier this year, it seemed to touch on a very raw nerve in the blogging world. I was getting very stressed out about not being able to read every single post of the blogs I followed. Then I looked at who was reading, liking and commenting on my posts and decided to put a plan in place. Hence, my four groups were born. It’s worked so well for me and freed up so much time where I can now write. Glad to read you have a very similar plan in place. Happy Blogging! 🙂

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      1. I hear you so very clearly! I felt so stressed out too because I felt guilty not to read each and every blog but as you said: It is impossible! Finally I just found the “strength” to say “stop”! I can vividly imagine how many could relate to your post, Hugh!

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      2. Many people actually said that I was saying exactly how they were feeling. They seemed to be so relived that I had published a post about a subject that many would find taboo. It seemed to break a mould for many, and that made me very happy. I’ll certainly be writing more posts like this one in the New Year. Thanks, Erika.

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      3. If we are taking our blog, its purpose, and the people we are following serious and when we even get successful with our blog, then we are drifting towards this “problem”. Thank God there are many serious people out there 😉 Looking forward to more posts of this kind!

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  5. I think this is the most important blog I have read in 4 years! I have 1750 blog posts waiting to be read. Some I follow write every day or several times a day. I have other things to do. Like sew, spend time with family and friends, laundry. and do something to blog about. 🙂 So I’m starting to delete most of the blogs and read one a week from those that blog daily. I have a select community of close blogging friends that follow diligently and I follow them as well. The rest I’m starting to be more selective about . Some follow to get me to their site and never read one post. I’ve heard from acquaintances that they read my blog but they never let me know! How could they not at least mention it in conversation??? That feeling of overwhelm has almost stopped the blogging entirely. I’m overwhelmed in so many areas of life that it’s always a toss up as to where to focus my attention today. Maybe I’ll make separate files to put those e-mails in? Thanks so much for this. It’s relieved a lot of guilt. 🙂

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    1. I think many of us bloggers go through this same guilt. I almost stopped blogging because if it. Then I remembered why I had come here and decided to do something about the problem. It worked for me so I shared it on here and many people seem to have related to what I wrote.

      Thank you for your lovely comments. I’m still learning lots about blogging, but I’m now able to enjoy every minute.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said, Hugh. I had a color-coded excel spreadsheet categorizing all the blogs I followed. I got so carried away that I almost ran away from following anyone. Now, I think I am more relaxed about it. If I’m on your blog, I might be looking for what you have to say about something so I can quote you. Or I might just be out for a good time. But whichever, I will probably stay a while. Then like a butterfly, I’ll head out. If you come see me. I’ll be back. If you come see me a lot, I’ll be back a lot – give the parameters of time we all have. So have a great day, Hugh. See you soon. 🙂

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    1. Great advice, Marsha. You sound very well organised with the colour-coded excel spreadsheets. I tend to store all of mine up in my head, but it’s surprising how I so remember who the regular visitors and commentators are. Supporting each other is exactly what it is all about. When it gets one-sided then it’s often the case that sooner or later contact will become lost.

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  7. Wow this has generated a huge amount of interesting and relevant comments and I am not surprised. As a newbie I confess I am struggling. You don’t want to sign up to things and let people down by not bothering but equally if you are a writer you want to work… it’s what we do. Thanks to you, Hugh, and all the people sharing their thoughts for giving me some perspective. Still haven’t quite figured out what lessons I have learned yet.. need to do some more processing… But at least I thinking about stuff I have not thought about before.

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    1. Very true about us all wanting to write, Paul. However, blogging is a two-way road and even if we just read and commented on one blog post a day, it’s far better than none at all. In my almost three years here, I’ve seen lots of people new to the world of blogging come here to write, but never return the visits of those bloggers who visit and comment on their blog posts. Many don’t last long and, as traffic and comments dwindle, those blogs tend to finally get abandoned. My best advice to anyone is even if it’s 10 minutes a day, go and visit, read, and comment on a blog post. Most bloggers live for the interaction and becoming a part of all those blogging communities out there is one of the best things I’ve experienced. There’s so much great free advice out there and the support and encouragement I’ve had from the blogging world have been amazing. I’d even go as far to say that it makes people smile.😀

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  8. You make some excellent points, Hugh – it is impossible to keep up with every single blogger, every day or even every week. I like your ranking strategy, it makes perfect sense. Personally, I dedicate as much time to blog-related activity as I can on Mondays, Tuesday & Wednesdays. Thursday & Fridays I am almost never on WordPress (apart from to answer comments on my own blogs, which I do via a phone app) as I protect these days for writing and/or the business side of things. I try to have weekends off, but invariably some writing work sneaks in. It is so easy to lose hours online that I actively limit that time in order to achieve the things I need to. By the way, it’s not just bloggers I ignore – my own social life is practically non-existent at the moment so no one should feel bad!
    The ghost followers are a little annoying and I unfollow gradually – unless I love their blogs, obviously! And I find people follow just to get you to follow back – I get several notifications from the same, small group of bloggers continually re-following me. And have you noticed there are now invites via email to follow blogs? I don’t like that at all!

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    1. Oh no! I’ve never seen those emails, Lucy, but I do dislike those blogs that keep flashing up “join my mailing list’ every time I log on to read a post. I’ve even come across some, where the message won’t disappear unless you sign up! It’s a sure way to get me to press the ‘unfollow button.’
      I like your plan of taking certain days off to write. Most of us do, after all, want to write that next book or enter that next writing competition, so spending valuable time reading blog posts can sometimes seem rather wasteful to us as authors.

      The ‘follow you, follow me’ game is something I just laugh at now. I have one particular blogger who follows my blog almost on a weekly basis. Over on Twitter, I’ve found a site where you can track those that have unfollowed you. You’d be amazed by how many people have followed and unfollowed me more than 10 times. It’s almost like a game. It’s a shame we can’t track those who unfollow our blogs within 24 hours of us following their blogs. It sure would stop the silliness that some bloggers seem to play, although I don’t think many of them really do last long themselves with the blogging game. It should never be about chasing the numbers (at least not after the first six months anyway).

      Thanks for your comments on this subject.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I like reading your blogging advice, Hugh. You’ve got some good, practical advice. I like the pingback article too. One of my followers does that frequently, and I was wondering what that was about.

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      1. Whoops! Lol I followed you for your blogging tips, and mistakenly thought you followed mine cause your post notifs show up in my email alongside responses to mine. That’s ok. Lol Pay attention Dave!

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  10. Oh my word this post has been really helpful to me! As a newbie one of my biggest ‘blogging ‘ problems I have is, how do you keep up with following other blogs? I mean interacting with them all properly whilst keeping up with your own? I have such a big ‘to do’ list on my own blog. I have found that I tend to try to catch up with the blogs I follow first thing in the mornings with my first cuppa of the day, it’s becoming a little ritual & I do enjoy this time, but hadn’t thought of categorising my followers. I do find your posts helpful thank you 😊

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    1. You’re welcome, Sam. Providing you don’t allow blogging to start stressing you out or making you feel guilty, then you should be OK. I tend to do my writing in the mornings, and then read and comment on blogs during the afternoon. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen, but I no longer allow it to stress me out or make me feel guilty. There are so many wonderful blogs out there that it’s impossible to keep up with all of them.
      Keep on enjoying the blogging experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this, it’s what I needed to hear as I must say it has been stressing me out a little which had meant I’ve actually got very little done. I’m also moving house which doesn’t help, but you’ve made me realise that I need a definite process or more of a realistic strategy to this 😊 And to relax

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