A while back I shared my blogging process. Today I’m going to give you a peek behind the scenes into my blog reading. For me, the two are intrinsically tied. Because I find “blogging” to be an experience that is as much about community and friendship as it is about self-expression, and that comes from reading/commenting as much as from writing.
So, speaking of reading, pull up a chair; this may take a while.
I am in “like” with Google Reader.
It’s been a gradual (and sometimes frustrating) learning process, but over the past couple of years I have evolved to the point that I don’t read blogs any other way after my first visit. I’ve gotten pretty efficient, thanks to the knowledge shared by others. I have my reader categorized into folders. And some are even totally unrelated to healthy living! My most recently added folders are one for “favorites” and one for “blogs to check out.” The former is self-explanatory, I think. The latter are blogs that I have recently discovered and have not yet decided if I will keep reading. Sometimes I read posts directly from the reader page; sometimes I “click through” to the original post, which is necessary if I want to leave a comment. I soooo much appreciate those of you who publish your full posts for readers; while traveling or using my tablet, this is often the only way I can read them at all.
Ti-i-i-ime is NOT on my side.
I used to read blogs starting first thing each day. I’m a morning person:) But then I realized that since I am most efficient early, it was better for me to dedicate that time to more “active” pursuits like writing my own posts or clearing out email. So now I get to blog reading when I get to it. Sometimes still pretty early in the morning. (Particularly on days when I have no motivation or creativity to write!) Sometimes not until much later. Some days I save it for the “snacking hours” because when I’m on my computer I’m NOT eating! I’m trying to apply my pragmatic personality to this little hobby of mine rather than letting it take over my life.
Words, words, everywhere, but not a drop of ink.
I admit it – sometimes I don’t read every word. Right now there are 183 subscriptions in my reader and in the last month I read over 1300 items. As you can imagine, that adds up to a lot of words which translates to a lot of time to read them all thoroughly. So, over time I have learned to be selective in which posts I scan and which I really spend time on. I usually start with my favorites. Unless I don’t have a lot of time and want to instead really make a dent in my reader. In which case I start with the blogs that I tend to scan most quickly and find myself commenting on least often. Some days I just like to get rid of the clutter so I go quite quickly through the ones I know I can knock off fast. (Like the onslaught of items I get from my teen’s college that I rarely read.) So many words; so little time.
Here a comment; there a comment.
This is an area where I had to consciously let go of my inner perfectionist and tell myself it’s okay not to comment on every post. So I don’t. But I do my best to comment often and thoughtfully. Sometimes it is a very short “woo hoo” in support of the blogger’s recent accomplishment. But other times it is my attempt at a tactful and loving kick in the butt. (And believe you me, I often struggle to find the balance between the two, wondering what each blogger would most appreciate.) And often it is words of commiseration and understanding. I like to comment. I just don’t always have time or something valuable to say. But for me, comments are conversation and conversations lead to connections and sometimes even to friendships – my favorite things about blogging:) And I love the support that exists in the blogworld. Comments make it happen. But if it’s hard to comment on your blog because I have to sign in or use livefyre or can’t read the word/number verification or …, I won’t comment.
all most things.
If you comment on my blog, I will always visit yours and I will (almost) always find something to comment about. Just one more way that this is about community for me. In turn, if I comment on your blog more than once and you NEVER visit or comment on mine, I may or may not keep reading. It depends what you write. Some blogs are worth my time even if the blogger has never reciprocated with a visit to my little corner of the blogosphere. Some blogs though are only worth reading, IMO, if a conversation or relationship develops. Again – too many blogs, too little time.
You say.. then I say… then you say…or not.
While I do appreciate replies to comments, they aren’t necessary for me to keep reading and I know that not everyone has the time or inclination to do that. Some of you have little boxes at the end of a post that I can check if I want to get follow-up comments. Unless I know that this means I’ll just get a reply from YOU, I don’t check this. I very much like the emails I get from blogs that auto-generate replies when the blogger makes them. (Someday I might dare to add that back to my own blog!) If I know that you typically respond to comments, I will usually look for that the next time I’m on your blog. When I remember. And have time. Every so often I might even reply to your reply!
I enjoy some blogs more than others.
I want to read your blog if I like what you say or how you write. If I feel a connection. If I’ve become “friends” with you. If you motivate or inspire me. If you make me think or give me “aha” moments or teach me about myself. If I want to root you on and think you appreciate the support from the sidelines. If you make me laugh, smile, feel good.
I enjoy some blogs less than others.
Some blogs are just physically harder on my eyes. The font might be small or hard to read. But more common are the blogs with a light-colored font on a dark background. There have been a few that I have visited for the first time and never gone back because it was just too much strain to read. And, to be totally honest here, there is some content that I just don’t care to read. Or that I find uninteresting. For a variety of reasons. I’m sure you are the same. If it’s occasional, I just skip that post or section. If it’s consistent and part of the blog’s theme, I move on.
Looks don’t matter.
Other than having a hard time reading your post itself, it doesn’t matter to me if you have a beautifully custom-designed blog or something basic. If you have a lot of clutter, I just ignore it. If you play music, I turn it off. I’m there for you and what you have to say, not there because your blog is pretty. And, as with people, size doesn’t matter either. I’m just as likely to read a post by new or “little” bloggers as I am to read posts by the “big” bloggers with huge followings.
Broadening my horizons.
Every so often, despite the huge number of blogs I already read, I look for new ones to follow. Call me a glutton for punishment. Or call me crazy. I find new blogs in a variety of ways. First and foremost, from the blogger visiting here and leaving a comment. Some I’ve discovered when they’ve been listed as “award recipients” on another blog or because I happened to catch an interesting comment they left somewhere. Or I may see the same name crop up on several blogs I already follow. And, yes, now and then I might actually click on some links in another blogger’s blog roll. If you have any suggestions of great blogs, I’d love to know.
I worry when you go missing.
The great thing about Google Reader is that I don’t have to pay any attention to how often or on what schedule you post. When you publish a blog, up it pops. The downside to this is that I might not always notice right away if you disappear for a while. In the past, I have sometimes reached out to a blogger who has gone missing. Typically by email. But that feels rather “big brother” to me and I’m not sure everyone appreciates it, so mostly now I will only do that if I feel I know the blogger pretty well. I’m not going to assume that an absence means something horrible, just that you might not feel like blogging. But that doesn’t mean I won’t worry.
So, there you have it. Another long-winded glimpse into this little corner of my life. My blog-reading manifesto.
If I haven’t lost you off yet, I’d love to hear how YOU do it. And what brings you back to a blog or drives you away.
And, if I’ve never visited your blog before, leave a comment below and I’ll pop on over. Just include your URL in the field asking for “website” and your site will be linked.