This week, a blog/Twitter friend, Jaka, tweeted that she was reading 139 blogs and asked, “Is that normal?”
I had to reply and tell her that I read over 200 blogs. I got a TON of questions about this and how I manage it. Some were impressed, and some were incredulous about how I could POSSIBLY read and interact with that many blogs. The truth is that I don’t interact with all of them as well as I could, but I am highly structured about it. My house may not always be clean, but darn it, my Google Reader is ORGANIZED!
Bear in mind that there is no right way to read, respond and interact with blogs. I have some friends who read more blogs than me, but don’t blog and have never left a single comment. Others I know read only 5-10 blogs and comment religiously. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things about blogging: we can all do our own thing. Here’s what works for me.
I use Google Reader to track my blogs. Some people love Google Reader, others hate it…personally, it’s my absolute favorite.
Next, using the “organize subscriptions” feature, I do just that: I categorize the blogs that I read.
The two categories I pay the most attention to are “Blathering” and “Friends.” The Blathering category houses the blogs of all of the ladies who attended The Blathering with me, and yes, I realize that is the most obvious definition ever. I read these ladies religiously because (here comes the cheese!) those relationships are important to me, plain and simple. I like knowing what’s going on in their lives, and try to comment as much as possible. My friends category includes my real-life friends who blog, and the blogging friends I’ve made that I interact with regularly, via Twitter, G-chat, comments, etc. These are the blogs that I do my best to really read and follow, to comment on, and to interact with the best I can. There’s no method to who gets put in the “friends” category, and it’s also my largest folder, but if I have limited blog time, this is where I spend my time, because those are the blog friends who really matter to me. This category also houses “big bloggers” I love and wish I was friends with, like Dooce. Embarassing? Sure. But I really love their blogs and want to make sure I’m following along. I would estimate that this makes up about half of my reader, and is definitely where I concentrate my time.
Next, I have other hobby-related categories—things like crafty blogs, food blogs and a few fashion and design ones that I think are “pretty.” I tend to just peruse these, occasionally taking recipes and ideas that inspire me. I’ll comment occasionally, but in all honesty, I try to enter their giveaways. Maybe that makes me awful, but I’m just being honest. I am not a full-time crafty person, or a designer, so for me, it’s just eye candy.
I also have a folder called “Feel Good” filled with people like Gwen Bell and Patti Digh who write inspirational things that I enjoy reading. I try and save some of those for when I’m having a rough day, or need a dose of inspiration. I comment on these blogs fairly regularly, too.
Perhaps most embarrassing is that I have an entire file entitled “STALKER.” These include people from high school who have blogs about their families, but that I don’t really care to talk to and people who are so completely different from me that I think they’re a bit touched in the head. I realize this may paint me as a terrible person, but it’s MY GOOGLE READER. In short, these are people whose blog I will never, ever comment on, but get a kick out of reading. Don’t judge me.
Last but not least, I have a folder called “Weekly” where I check up on blogs that I still enjoy, but don’t necessarily want to read every single day or even comment on all that often. I like keeping these blogs bookmarked, but I don’t necessarily read them daily.
As far as my commenting policy, I try and comment as often as I can. I try to check out blogs of people who are reading and commenting on my blog. I feel very strongly that if people are reading my blog and interacting with me, I should do the same. This doesn’t mean that I add them to my Reader, but just that I check out who they are and what they’re about. I have met some of my absolute FAVORITE bloggers this way. I know it’s silly, but it really bothers me/hurts my feelings when there are bloggers who I read and comment on regularly, yet I never seem to receive a return comment. I am not talking about the “big names” like Dooce or Pioneer Woman (though, I’d welcome a comment from them!) but people who have average followings. Maybe that makes me oversensitive, or bitchy, but I really believe that blogging and can should be an inclusive, closely-knit community—so, reading and commenting on each others blogs is important, because it grows that community.
I also try and connect with people via Twitter, send emails, and even add some people to Facebook. I know that many people in my “real life” think I’m a nut for spending so much time with people from the internet. But what it boils down to is this: some of my favorite people in the world have come about as a result of the internet. I have found writing that inspires me, people who have similar interests to me, friends who are supportive, and best of all, people I enjoy spending time with OUTSIDE of the computer. I love that there are people who read my words and respond, emails from people who read along, and new friends to be made. If you’re NOT writing, commenting or interacting, I would so encourage you to do so.
But don’t take my word for it.