7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Deciding Whether To Follow A Blog

How many blogs do you follow?

How many of those blogs do you never visit?

How many of those blogs do you regally visit and comment on?

I used to follow over 500 blogs! I merely followed many because they followed me first.

What a big mistake that was!

New blog posts were continually dropping onto my WordPress reader list and into my email box.

It wasn’t long before I started to feel overwhelmed by it all and realised I couldn’t possibly read and comment on every new blog post.

I started feeling guilty about not having enough time to visit and comment on every blog I followed.

Something had to change.

I decided to go through all the blogs I followed and start unfollowing some of them.

Today, I’m following 129 blogs, and I’ve set myself a target of never exceeding a total of 150.

For some, that may seem like a lot of blogs to follow. For others, not enough. But it’s the perfect balance for me.

But what mistakes was I making when following blogs?

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1. Following Blogs That Publish Content I Had No Interest In

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But have a look through the list of blogs you follow and count how many of them publish content you’re not interested in reading.

Then ask yourself why are you following them.

Many of the blogs I unfollowed were blogs that followed my blog first. I felt it polite to follow back even though I had no idea what content they published.

It was like buying a car without having test driven it first.

Before following a blog, check out some of the posts and ask yourself these two questions.

Does the content interest me enough to keep me coming back?

Does the content motivate me enough to leave valuable comments? 

If you answer ‘No’ to the first question, then don’t follow.

Some of the bloggers you unfollow may unfollow you but don’t get yourself all worked up about it.

My blog loses followers almost every day. If readers don’t find my content interesting anymore, then they have every right to unfollow.

However, I take a different view on unfollowing a blog simply because they unfollowed me. That’s just plain silly.  

2. Following unfriendly blogs

Two things that I dislike in blog posts are lots of swearing and belittling others.

I’m adult enough to know that most adults do swear, but when there’s too much of it in blog posts, or there isn’t any need for it, then I won’t follow.

The same goes for bloggers who publish content that belittles other people or criticises them for how they live, look, write or talk.

By all means, warn readers at the beginning that a post contains swear words or may offend, but never swear at or criticise others in the post or comments section.

If you think you’ll be offended by the content on a blog or in its comments section, don’t follow it.

3. Following one-way blogs.

While looking through those blog posts, don’t forget to also look through the comments section and see if the blogger responds to comments. If the comments are all one-way, think seriously before deciding whether to follow.

If they don’t respond to comments (especially on their ‘about me‘ page), ask yourself if the blog is worth following.

If the content is interesting, then, by all means, follow but think hard about whether it’s worth leaving comments.

If they do respond, look at the way they respond.

Are they lazily interacting with their readers? Do they respond to all comments in the same dull manner (e.g. ‘Thanks for reading!’)?

Even though a blogger may respond to all the comments, if they are not actively engaging with their readers, ask yourself if it’s worth leaving comments and following their blog. 

4. Following blogs that could damage your health

There are lots of things that can damage your health when online. For example, too much screen time, becoming addicted to social media, reading too many negative articles or comments.

One of the worse things that can happen to a blogger, is feeling overwhelmed or guilty. This usually occurs when they can’t keep up with reading blog posts.

Feeling stressed and guilty for not reading posts is something every blogger should avoid.

If you’re following blogs that you believe publish too many daily posts, think about either unfollowing them or turning off notifications for those blogs when new posts are published.  

Of course, we can ignore all those posts, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you could be missing out on something if you don’t read or leave comments on them all.

Thinking you’re missing out causes guilt and stress. I’ve suffered from it myself, and know of many other bloggers who also have. Keep blogging fun.

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling obliged, guilty or stressed just because certain bloggers comment on all of your posts. 

If it’s not going to cause you any guilt or stress, feel free to press the follow button, but only if you know that future content will be of interest to you and you can cope with the number of posts they are publishing.

If you believe you are following too many blogs, don’t put off unfollowing some of them. Take immediate action. You’ll feel much better for doing so.

And don’t forget to make the most of setting up receiving notifications on a daily or weekly basis rather than every time somebody publishes a new post.

5. Following ghost blogs

I’ve mentioned it many times before, but the first thing I do before deciding whether or not to follow a blog is to visit the ‘about me’ page of a blog. If there isn’t one, then I consider it a ‘ghost blog.’

If there isn’t an ‘about me’ page, it isn’t easy to find, it’s out of date, or it doesn’t contain any interesting information, I won’t follow.

Why? Because I want to find out about the person behind the blog first before deciding whether to follow or not.

If it’s out of date, then they probably don’t care about updating any content. You could be wasting your time by reading out of date information.

6. Following uncared for or neglected blogs

If a new blog I’m visiting is eye-catching, well organised, easy to navigate around, has excellent content, feels friendly, and seems a great place to be, I will press the follow button.

After all, if it looks and feels good and the content is of interest, I’m likely to read posts and leave valuable comments.

If the design of a blog is poor, takes too long to download, uses a font that is too small to read, has a brightly lit background that produces stars in front of my eyes, hasn’t been updated in years, or has lots of broken links, then I’ll move on quickly.

If a blogger doesn’t care about their blog, they are unlikely to care about their audience.

7. Following the blogs of trolls

We talked about checking out responses a blogger leaves to comments on their posts, but are those responses written in a friendly manner? And do they leave unfriendly comments elsewhere?

Because we blog or leave reviews, not everyone will agree with what we have to say.

I’ve witnessed many rude comments left by the host and by readers on many blogs.

I’ve been the victim of rude and unfriendly comments on other blogs where I’ve left a friendly comment. If the host of a blog responds to me in an unfriendly manner, I’ll unfollow their blog.

If the host of a blog allows other followers to attack readers without taking any action, I will unfollow.

I always respond to comments in a friendly, courteous and professional manner, even if a reader disagrees with what I’ve said.

If there’s evidence of a blogger attacking somebody in an unfriendly manner because they have not agreed with all or some of the contents in a post or in the comments section, then consider whether it’s worth following that blog.

Hosts of blogs should do all they can to stop trolls leaving comments on their blog posts. If they don’t, then they probably don’t care much or have any concern about the welfare of their readers.

By all means, if the content of that blog still interests you, you can still follow and never leave any comments, but be careful when reading negative responses to comments as they can often affect your mood.

Whatever you do, though, never respond to unfriendly comments by attacking the person who has left them. Leave trolls well alone. 

#blogging

I use all the above seven tips before deciding whether or not to follow a blog. And they all help me keep my blogging under control. 

What factors are important to you when deciding whether or not to follow a blog? How many blogs do you follow? Is it too many or too few? Join the discussion by leaving your comments.

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Looking To Save Time When Blogging? Here Are 5 Things That Worked For Me

In my recent post, ‘Why Are Some Bloggers Killing Off Comments Being left On Their Blogs?‘ the most popular reason was – ‘they didn’t have the time to respond to them.’

Do you ever find yourself running out of time when blogging?

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Looking To Save Time When Blogging?

It’s something that used to happen to me. After getting out of bed, I’d sit down in front of the computer and, before I knew it, the time had flown past! I’d feel as if I hadn’t achieved anything.

Many bloggers say that blogging can be very time-consuming. Your work-in-progress will look as if it’s never going to get finished, your laundry basket is overflowing, the house is a mess, and family and friends will start wondering who you are because you seldom join in anymore.

Here are five tips that I implemented to save me time when blogging.

1. Save time by stopping feeling guilty or stressed out about blogging.

I wanted to be everywhere in both the worlds of blogging and social media.

Every time I followed a blog or got a new follower on Twitter, I felt it my duty to read, like and comment on every blog post and tweet of every blog I followed. I felt guilty if I didn’t leave a comment. Can you imagine how much time I was spending reading and leaving comments on those blogs?

At first, that wasn’t so much of a problem (when I only followed a handful of blogs), but I found myself often reading and commenting on posts just for the sake of it. Even if the content didn’t interest me, I still felt I had a duty to read and comment. 

I acted like one of those hamsters running around on its wheel as I tried to get to the top of my WordPress Reader list. I’d spent my days reading and commenting, leaving me little time to do anything else, such as writing!

While some of the bloggers I’d left comments for came back and commented on some of my blog posts, my posts were suffering because I’d rushed them, not put any serious thought into them and published them on the same day I’d written them. Big mistake! I was producing poor quality content.

Unless they’re only following a handful of blogs, nobody can read and comment on every blog post of all the blogs they follow. Don’t feel that you have to read and comment on every single newly published blog post. A loyal, friendly blogger won’t mind if you miss or don’t comment on some of their posts. If they do care, or take offence, maybe it’s time to think about unfollowing them?

Save yourself time by only reading and following blogs that interest you. 

2. Save time by finding out what your ‘high peak’ blogging times are.

What do I mean by ‘high peak’ blogging times? They are the times of the day and the days of the week when you feel that the blogging world is at its busiest for you.

As soon as you have been blogging for a few months, you should start to see when your ‘high peak’ blogging times are. 

If, like me, you start by publishing on different days and times, you’ll soon get a feel for when your ‘high peak’ blogging times are.   

My ‘high peak’ blogging times are –

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 12:00 – 17:00 (GMT).

These are the days and times when I feel the blogging world is at its busiest. I have more interaction with other bloggers during these times. 

However, let’s say that you only publish blog posts on a Saturday at midday. As your audience grows, they’ll soon get used to when you publish posts, so they’ll expect to see new content from you on that day and time. That will be your ‘high peak’ blogging time. 

If you work during the week, you and others may only publish posts and read and comment on other posts during the weekends. Therefore, your ‘high peak’ blogging times will be Saturdays and Sundays.

It took me a while to find my ‘high peak’ blogging times, and they can change.

Now, during ‘low peak’ blogging times, I’m not likely to be blogging very much, although I will respond to any outstanding comments. I use most of the time to get on with other things.

I may also use the time to write blogging posts.

Finding out my ‘high peak’ blogging times helped me cut down my online presence and helped me save time.  

3. Get Yourself A Blogging Routine.

Once you know what your peak blogging times and days are, plan a blogging routine around them. For me, I always begin the mornings by responding to comments left on my posts and those posts where I’ve commented.

Depending on the number of comments your blog gets, this can take up a lot of time. As I’m in my most creative mood in the mornings, if there are too many comments to respond to, then I’ll write first and come back later and respond.

When responding to comments, I’ve implemented the following time-saving rules.

  • I take conversations offline if anyone leaves a comment that has nothing to do with the post’s subject. 
  • If a blog post attracts lots of comments, I delay the publication of my next post (as I did with this post) until comments are at a level at which I can respond to them comfortably without feeling overwhelmed. However, if you run a weekly or monthly challenge, this may not be possible to do. 

My previous blogging tips post, ‘Why Are Some Bloggers Killing Off Comments Being left On Their Blogs?‘ produced lots of comments, so delaying the publishing date of this post helped me save time by not getting overwhelmed with more comments.   

  • I stopped publishing new blog posts just before going offline for a few days (such as going away on holiday). I also stopped publishing blog posts while on holiday. It means I don’t come back to an overflowing comments box that needs my urgent attention.
  • I close off comments on any reblogs I do, requesting that readers leave new comments on the original post. 
  • I close comments off on my Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday posts, requesting that readers leave any new comments on the original post. 
  • Rather than respond to ‘lazy’ comments, I acknowledge them with a ‘like,’     

All have helped me save time when responding to comments.  

I give myself blogging breaks during the day but always stop blogging after 17:00. Occasionally, I will respond to comments during the evenings, but this is very rare. 

I recently decided to stop blogging at weekends because that’s when the blogging world seems to be much quieter for me.

Set yourself a ‘switch-off blogging’ time, and stick to it. 

4. WordPress Reader or Email Notifications?

Because I compared myself earlier to a hamster running on a wheel, I seldom use the WordPress Reader anymore. Instead, I receive notifications of new blog posts by email.

I have created a folder in my email box and named it ‘Must Read.’ I move all the posts with eye-catching titles and which I want to read to that folder. The rest get deleted. It stops my email box from looking like it’s been on a bodybuilding course which, in turn, prevents me from stressing out about there being too many unopened emails in my inbox.

I no longer feel guilty about deleting emails of blog posts I’ve not read or those that have unappealing titles.  

I do like leaving comments, but I no longer allow myself to waste time thinking of something valuable to say. If I can’t think of something that adds value straight away, I may leave a ‘like’ before moving on to the next post. It helps take away the guilt and stress feelings that spoilt blogging for me. Plus, it ‘s saving me time. 

5. Follow For A Follow

Don’t fall into the trap of following every single blogger who follows you, especially those that follow you, without leaving a comment.

Unfortunately, not only will some of these bloggers unfollow you as soon you follow them, but there’s no simple way (as far as I’m aware) of finding out whether they have unfollowed you or not. 

All those bloggers want are as many followers as possible – often without visiting and interacting with any of the blogs they follow. Stats drive them more than content does.

By all means, do check out some of the blogs of the bloggers who have followed you but never feel obliged to follow them back. Only follow the blogs that publish content of interest to you, especially if they are likely to get you leaving helpful valuable comments.

Let’s wrap it up

  • Stressing out or feeling guilty about blogging won’t save you time. All it will do is make blogging less appealing.
  • Save time by not following and reading blogs that do not interest you.
  • Never think that you have to read and leave a comment on every newly published blog post.
  • Find out what your ‘high peak’ blogging times are.
  • ‘High Peak’ blogging times are the times you feel are the busiest for you and often when you interact the most with other bloggers and readers.
  • Use ‘low peak’ blogging times to write or do other stuff.
  • Get yourself a blogging routine and stick to it.
  • Think and implement ways of saving yourself time when answering comments.
  • Set yourself a ‘switch-off blogging’ time, and stick to it.
  • If you’re spending too much time trying to get to the top of your WordPress Reader, consider getting new blog post notifications via email.
  • Move the new post notifications that have appealing blog post titles to a ‘Must Read’ folder.
  • Delete the new post notifications that have unappealing blog posts titles. Never feel guilty about deleting them.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of following every single blogger who follows you.
  • Some bloggers will unfollow you as soon as you follow them back.
  • By all means, check out some of the blogs that follow you, but only follow those that publish interesting content you know will make you want to join in with the conversations by leaving comments.

What do you do to save time when blogging? Share your blogging time-saving tips in the comments section and help those bloggers who are always finding themselves running out of time when blogging.

Looking for more blogging tips? Check out these posts.

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Why Are Some Bloggers Killing Off Comments Being Left On Their Blogs?

I’ve always believed that leaving and responding to comments is the very heart of blogging.

I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about bloggers who do not respond to comments. You’ve heard it all before. But imagine my surprise when I recently read that some bloggers are turning off comments on their blogs for good.

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Are you thinking of killing off the comments on your blog?

Hold on. What? A silent blog? No comments? No place to discuss what you’ve just read and interact with other bloggers? Will these blogs become known as ‘library’ blogs? A place where you can read but not talk?

Are some of the bloggers that don’t respond to comments the people turning off comments for good?

What are the reasons for turning off comments?

The number one reason seems to be time. Some claim that responding to comments is a waste of their time; time better spent writing more blog posts. I got really hot under the collar when I read that statement.

If you’re lucky enough to get lots of comments left on your posts, then responding to them can become overwhelming. And I agree that the time it takes responding could be put to better use, but if we manage our time correctly, it should never become a problem in the first place.

How many is too many comments?

In the seven years I’ve been blogging, I’ve approved and responded to well over 40,000 comments. I don’t know if that is too many, but I’m a blogger who craves even more comments.

Sometimes it takes me a whole morning responding to them. I could have spent that time writing more blog posts or short stories. However, I’ve always had the attitude that if somebody takes the time to read one of my posts and leave me a comment, then it’s only polite to acknowledge them with a response.

“Treat every visitor to your blog, as you would any guest in your home.”

Those were the words I read very early on in my blogging journey. Written by a blogger who had a follower number I could only dream about, she responded to all the comments left on her blog. Her words have forever remained etched on my mind.

One of the first jobs I do every morning when opening my blog is responding to comments. Not only does it makes me feel good (because I know people are reading my posts), but I like to think that the person who left the comment will see that I’m a friendly guy who doesn’t ignore his audience.

Are comments all the same?

No. Comments come in all shapes and sizes. There are the comments where you know your whole post got read. There are the ones that spark new ideas for future posts. And then there are the comments that say little if nothing and get you wondering if all they did was click the ‘like’ button without reading your post.

I acknowledge lazy comments by pressing the ‘like’ button next to the comment. It, at least, shows I’ve read what they’ve had to say.

Do I have a good quote about comments?

I think so, yes. I published this quote on my blog many years ago – one which many readers seemed to like and agreed with.

“Not answering comments left on your blog is like inviting somebody around for coffee and ignoring them.”

Other things comments do.

Comments can often open up debates between readers. I always enjoy seeing two or more bloggers commenting between themselves about the subject of my post. I refer to it as ‘healthy debate.’ Somebody once told me that getting a discussion going on a blog post you’ve written and published proves you’re engaging with your audience, even if some of the comments are not directed at you.

But what about the question I posed in the title of this post? Should bloggers kill off comments on their blogs? I can certainly see why some bloggers would temporarily disable comments. But to disable them all together is something I don’t believe is a part of what blogging is about.

After all, don’t comments allow the reader to communicate with the author, and isn’t that what most bloggers and writers want? – to engage with their audience?

Would you consider turning off comments on your blog? Are there any reasons why you turn off comments on specific posts? How do you manage the responding to comments process on your blog?

Join the discussion. Let’s get talking.

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