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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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

384 thoughts

  1. Hi,
    Linking back to this post for the fourth time (a Weekly Round Up, a Linky Party, and two spin-off posts) in tomorrow’s article. Should go live at 2:00 am California time.
    Janice

  2. Guess what, Hugh? There is actually going to be a fourth spin-off post of this post!! Ralph Willier is writing a guest post for my site based on your ideas in this post! I will publish it this Tuesday 2:00 am California time. Congratulations! I bet you are breaking blogging records! I, will, of course, link to your site like I did in spin-off post #3.
    Janice

    1. Wow, I’m just gob-smacked by the attention this post is getting, Janice. That’s wonderful news and it’s so good that the advice is spreading through-out the blogosphere. Yes, this post is by far my most viewed and most commented on post now. I look forward to reading Ralph’s post. Thank you very much for promoting my post. I really do appreciate it very much.
      Best wishes,
      Hugh

  3. Hi,
    I am publishing my post about the response to this post in about 9 hours, but if you read this before 2:00 am CA time,
    1. Do you know how many times this was reblogged? Hard for me to tell due to “older posts”. I keep ending up in a different post.
    2. Do you have a comment on why this received such widespread interest all over the Blogosphere?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Janice, sorry for the delay in replying but it’s all to do with the time difference between us.

      1. This post has been reblogged nine times.
      2. I think I hit a nerve when I published this post because it is about a subject most bloggers suffer with but do not write about. It’s never nice admitting unfollowing blogs because we feel that we to may then start to loose followers ourselves. However, I had to put a plan in place so I could get the balance right between reading and commenting on other blogs against writing and publishing my own posts and short stories. I was often spending whole days doing nothing but reading and commenting on blog posts because I felt I had to do so without some bloggers feeling that I was neglecting them. We are all very busy people and lead very busy lives and should never feel guilty about unfollowing blogs or not getting around to reading and commenting on a new post of a blog we follow. I think many people who commented and read this post felt the same way as I did. Blogging is all about fun and having a good time. It should never become stressful and cause us problems or make us feel guilty.

      I hope that helps.

        1. Forget to mention that there has also been two spin-off posts (which I am aware of) from other bloggers about how they are going to adopt my method of balancing the number of blogs they read, comment on, and they follow, against their writing time.

        2. If you get a chance, I’d be curious to see them if you have a moment to send me the links. I consider mine a “spin-off post” since it’s about the reaction to your post.
          Janice
          PS Was I right? Was I in Group C?

        3. Hi Hugh,
          Concerned I did not “make the cut,” I reread your post. Fortunately for me, you still follow the Group C people. It is the Group D people you unfollow. Whew! LOL
          Giving the attention you get makes sense and helps manage the time limitations. I hope you like my post. Thanks for the help with it.
          Janice

  4. Hi,
    I wanted to respond to Ali, but I didn’t know how, so I will respond here. She thinks she is in Group D? I think I am in Group C. I didn’t tell you sooner, because I don’t want to know. Group C is bad! =)
    Janice

    1. Hi Janice, there should be a reply link towards the top right hand-side of Ali’s comment box. However, she should see this reply now that I have approved it.

      No, Group D is the group not to fall into. The others are all supporters and I always appreciate the time they all take to read and comment on my posts. Without these people there would be no point in me blogging. All of these people are very special in my blogging world and I want to make them all feel very welcome here and to visit and become part of their blogging communities as often as I can.

  5. Hi,
    Look at this response to your post! You seem to have struck a nerve all over the Internet! The response to your post is so overwhelming, I am actually planning a blog post about the response to your blog post (a first for me). I will link back to this post and your blog, of course. Kind of exciting, this reverberation of feelings…
    Janice

      1. Interesting! I will be sure to check it out.
        Thank you for those links. I knew about Debby’s post. Actually, I am quoting her and linking to her spin-off post in my post coming out in about an hour.
        I didn’t know about Judith’s. I just read it and commented on it. She seems like she plans on following your system.
        Thanks for the links to your other two posts in the series. I think I read the “living by the numbers one,” It will be interesting for me to see via my stats if you get traffic from my site today. I predict you will.
        Thanks again for the interview answers and all these links.
        Janice
        PS I hope that your 4-Group System isn’t so rigid that I might not be able to work up to a promotion one day! I would love a promotion!
        Janice

        1. I think we all like promotion. I know I certainly do and I’m so very flattered that you are publishing a post about my recent look into the world of the blogging.
          Thanks very much Janice. Have a great Sunday.

  6. Very useful classification, Hugh – and I know full well that I have been a D for everyone in recent weeks. Trying to still the guilt of that is very hard. I think you have the right approach. I think, and hope, that the emotional dust in my life will, eventually settle, and that I will be up and running as a proper follower once more. You deserve to have hundreds of followers! Thousands! xxx

    1. No, no, no, Ali, you’re not in Group D. You’ve visited my blog and left many comments over the months, so you are far from being in that group. I don’t expect anyone to read all my posts because I know just how busy all our lives are. It’s those that follow and never ever come back that I have weeded out of my busy schedule. And boy, how much time that has freed me up. Take your time because I’m going nowhere.
      xx

  7. I’m with you, Hugh. It’s true it’s impossible to read everything. I’m not sure I have a plan, but I also try to reciprocate as much as I can and only try and get e-mail notifications for a few blogs, otherwise I can’t keep my e-mail under control either. 🙂

    1. Thanks Olga. E-mails do try and take over, don’t they? I’m forever trying to empty my email in-box but I think it’s like fighting a losing battle. However, I set myself a limit of the number of items in the in box by the end of the day. It can be tough sometimes but I always seem to manage it. Then tomorrow arrives… 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing your sensible system. I’m rarely a ghost follower. If I like it enough to read it, I respond most of the time. If people blog more than once a week, then I usually limit my responses to once a week. This makes me limit the number of bloggers I follow. My priority is writing, I remind myself. It’s too easy to spend hours reading blogs instead of facing my own blank page.

    1. Sounds like you have a very sensible plan and I’m certainly glad to hear that you spend more time writing. It should always be the number one priority for us writers and authors. Why would we come here if we didn’t want to write? For most of us it was the very reason why we came here in the first place.

      Thank you for your comments, Elaine.

  9. Such a great post, Hugh. Blogging can be addictive, and reading blogs can be so fun because there are so many different blogs out there and in a sense, we travel and see the world through blogging.

    I follow over 200 blogs and like you, I don’t have the time to read every single new post that pops up on my reader. I check my Reader around twice a day, scrolling through but don’t click on each one. The ones that I generally do read are those who I know read my blog and comment on it regularly. I do allocate two or three days a week where I am more active on my blog – and on this day I usually comment on more blogs and check out what’s happening on the Weekly Photo Challenges. And these days are usually when I have a blog post up. Blogging less and not every week has also freed up time for me to visit other blogs. In all honestly, sometimes I feel shy about responding to comments on my blog 😀

    1. Thanks for sharing how you balance your reading and writing of blogs, Mabel. Many people use the WordPress Reader to keep up with the latest posts from the bloggers they follow but I often found that some of those posts never show up. However, and as I have said in the comments on this post, go with what works best for you.

      I would never have thought you as being shy in answering comments on your posts. I know you get lots of comments and, for me, you always answer those comments very well. Not only that but you also take a lot of time in answering those comments as well. You certainly do look after your followers very well, which is all part of being an excellent blogger.

      1. It is true the WordPress Reader has its downfall at times. Sometimes I like to scroll through the list of blogs that I follow and check blogs from there. At times, I’d put aside certain days to check out certain blogs.

        I’m amazed at how you’ve amassed quite a number of regular readers, and how you engage with them through social media, in a short span of time. It’s all part of growing one’s blog. That I’ve yet to figure out, and I’d put it down to real life getting in the way.

        1. Oh, real life often gets in the way of me and blogging, Mabel. I’ve learned an awful lot about blogging from many more experienced bloggers than myself. It’s all about finding the time to do it all sometimes, and that is why I have recently written three posts (including this one) about the subject we all love to discuss.

  10. Great advice…..and something I’ve just started to do myself but I’ve been very aware I’m still a bit haphazard. Thanks to you I now have a clear picture of what I’m aiming for.

        1. Blogging 101 is a great course, Becky. It’s the place where I started to build up my blogging community and where I really felt it all started coming together. Blogging 201 is another course I would highly recommend you participate in.

  11. I’m a slow reader, so keeping up is difficult, and slow. I also tend to spend a lot of time writing and revising. There are only so many hours in a day.
    I pretty much have done what you have done, although I never actually thought about a categorization. And I just don’t get the Reader. I do not like all those emails from my A’s and B’s (I’ve turned off emails from C’s and D’s…but will visit their blog if they visit me or I have time). I haven’t had time for D’s in a while.
    You have a bunch of people responding…what is your number one method for gathering and keeping commenters? Do you have a post on that? I followed you, but can’t promise I won’t become one of your C’s or D’s.

    1. Good question Badfish and that is something I am going to be writing about in a new post which I am hoping to publish later today or tomorrow. You’re already out of Group D as you have left a comment on this post. Those in group D just follow without leaving a comment or any likes and then never return. You’ve already made you presence here in my blogging community. Those in Group D never become part of the community.

  12. Brilliant pointers my friend. I think I may adopt your Group set up. I have often wondered how bloggers like you that are such brilliant followers manage your reading and commenting. Mine is a bit out of control. Bee x

    1. We all get blogs that can go out of control, Bee. Glad you found this post helpful and I hope the methods I have outlined work for you. Once you get to work on it hopefully it will free up some more writing time for you.

  13. I also really enjoyed this post. I remember reading it on someone else’s blog so managed to track you down and read it through again properly. It is difficult fitting it all in as you say. I truly value those who follow me and those who leave me comments – it makes me feel as if I’m part of a real community. I think a bit of decluttering is in order. I like your system and descriptions – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Hi Debbie. Thank you so much for reading the post and for commenting. I’m very glad to hear that my advice is going to help, especially with the decluttering of some of the blogs you follow. It’s always a huge relief when we declutter. I know it means we can then fill the space but hopefully with blogs that are going to be more supportive and which are worthwhile in their reading. Happy decluttering 🙂

    1. Hi Andy, I think as bloggers we go through the stage (maybe several times) of thinking our blogging is getting out of control. It’s happened to me on a few occasions and the last time it happened I knew I had to find a solution. My system is working for me so I wanted to pass on what I had learned in the hope it would help others.

      Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit today. Wishing you a great weekend.

  14. Hi Hugh, I needed to read this today. Thank you so much.
    Before summer I was diligently making an effort to read and leave a comment on new posts of my followers and regular supporters (being it A,B or C) plus posting and replying to comments addressed to them.
    However, I saw myself going very late to bed, and waking up earlier, to be able to do that before work, and have also used every pause during the day to reply to messages. I was not happy with that. It started to feel like an obligation I couldn’t manage anymore.
    I have also followed some courses and met new bloggers, who joined the community. That added more ‘work’.
    I realized that I needed to stop this. When going on vacations, I scheduled posts and replied to comments only after that. Like you, I unfollowed blogs of Ghost Followers. I reduced the number of challenges I used to join, by keeping only the ones of those who are from my active followers. I reduced my own blogging activities and post much less.
    But it was still not enough and I kept having the feeling of lack of time.
    I am now going to follow your suggestions and create my ABCD list, and hopefully feel in peace that I am not letting any active blogger down.
    Many thanks!
    Cheers,
    Lucile

    1. Hi Lucile, first of all thank you for reblogging and sharing my post. Secondly, I hear you load and clear and so do many other bloggers who have all found themselves in the same position. Blogging was always meant to be fun when I first came here but, over the months, it started to become more of a stress and burden to me. That’s when I decided to take action and to look closely at how I could help myself.

      Nobody should ever feel guilty about unfollowing blogs because they either don’t read them or are no longer interested in them. However, more importantly we must continue to support those bloggers who support us and continue to maintain our blogging communities. I’ve no idea why anybody would want to follow a blog to never go back and visit it, but it happens to us all. Don’t feel guilty about not reading all the posts of those bloggers who support you the most either. They’ll understand, and if they don’t then are they really worth following?

      I know the system I use won’t work for everyone and it is very much finding out what works best for you. At the end of the day blogging should be fun to do and something we want to continue to do. Unfortunately I seen so many bloggers give up their blogs because they’ve concentrated on getting their follower numbers up rather than concentrate on the quality of the posts they are publishing.

      Good luck with trying to find the perfect balance and please do let us know how you do.

  15. Still smiling that you think a parent could prevent a child from ever getting out of control…

    Because I don’t have a huge readership, for now, I get daily or weekly digests from the blogs I follow most closely. I also try to visit blogs who like or comment on my posts, often through the links in the email notifications I receive. I admire your organization of your follower groups.

    1. Well I don’t have children of my own but, even if I did, I’d try and do all I could to ensure they had good manners and that they were not rude or behaved badly towards other people.

      Thank you for sharing your method of handling your reading v’s writing, Joanne. Good to hear you have a system in place which is working for you.

      1. I do have children, who are now adults and well-behaved and thoughtful. The secret is to teach children to control themselves. Trying to impose control only gets you so far. Just in case you ever become a parent. 😉

  16. Excellent post Hugh. I always like to read about how others handle reading so many blogs because I am inundated with the ones I follow in my inbox. Also, wordpress has been wonky of late, and it appeared to me that I wasn’t following the blogs I know I was following and hit ‘follow’ again, and now I’m getting repeats in my mail. It’s really overwhelming to have so many inmails coming daily, and because I chose to follow the ones I enjoy, I too don’t have time to read them all, especially when some bloggers post daily.
    Thanks for sharing your strategy. It’s the first one that has made sense to me after asking many bloggers how they handle their ‘incoming’. I’m going to try your method in the coming days. And no worries, I won’t be ‘unfollowing’ you anytime soon! 🙂

    1. Thanks Debby.

      I know the feeling about the ‘ghost’ unfollow when it is not intended to unfollow a blog. It’s happened to me and many others, although once I start to refollow I don’t get the duplicate email as you seem to be getting. Sounds like a bug for WordPress to sort out.

      I also get all notifications of new posts via email and I agree it can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m always unfollowing blogs for the reasons outlined in this post. I try and get around to reading all those new posts but it’s difficult to do so. However, I no longer feel guilty for not reading some of them. If I have the time then I may catch up on previous posts on my next visit to that particular blog.

      Thanks for joining in the debate and sharing how you currently organise the reading v’s the writing. It’s marvellous to hear all the different methods people use.

  17. Excellent advice and insight with ‘Group D.’ I did ‘unfollow’ a few bloggers since joining this community in April and succumbed to guilt that eventually passed. Happy to have read your feelings about making blogging priorities and not be overwhelmed. Fresh air calls me!

    1. I’m very pleased to hear that you have unfollowed a few blogs Olga. Many feel guilty in doing so, but we should not be afraid to unfollow at the expense of following the blogs of bloggers who support us by keeping on coming back and becoming a part of our community.

      That fresh air smells good, doesn’t it? 🙂

      1. Yes, it does, Hugh. Fresh air revitalizes. Too much sitting at the computer isn’t good for my aging body. Glad to hear from you.

  18. Most of time someone follows you because your posts are cool, and some follow you just because they want you to follow them back. Some follow you for both reasons.

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