Reader Rainbow

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.

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21 Comments

Filed under life with titch

21 responses to “Reader Rainbow

  1. It makes SUCH a difference to have an organized Reader! I have mine into about 10 different folders like Favorites, Fashion, Food and Recipes, News & Info, etc. I love your idea of the Weekly category! I will be copying that.

    By the way, who are these “people” who hate Google Reader?! What is there to hate? Does not compute.

  2. Amy! THANK YOU for this explaination!!!! I SOOOOOOOOOO appreciate the info. I am going to sign up for the Google Reader later today. I am still new to blogging with an whooping 12 posts so I need all the info I can get. Navigating through all of this can get tricky and new to learn… BTW, what is a ‘Widget’?? I feel so needy….

  3. Jaka Merriman

    (giggles) I feel like such a dork, now. I feel like I need to get up to 200 to keep up with you and Ms. Constantine! :3

    I organize my stuff, too, but I think my biggest issue is my “Mass Media” folder (holding five blogs). It holds all my subcriptions to stuff like BoingBoing which can have upwards of 20 posts a day; it makes the to-read pile artificially high. Also, because I do most of my reading for the wholestyle roundup, I’m always on the lookout for more things to read. Right now, I’m in the market for science, tech, history, and social science blogs written by women. (My “Sexuality”, “Fashion”, “Sass”, and “Positive Life” folders are practically overflowing!)

    Thanks for the insight! Oh, and my commenting policy is about the same. It’d be nice to chip in my two cents for everything I read, but then I’d never get anything done. :3

  4. ohhayitskk

    omg, i am going to organize my google reader RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

  5. The fact that you have a ‘Stalker’ Folder and admit it makes me love like 100 times more than I already did.

  6. My reader is divided into 6 or 7 different folders- and a lot of them are fashion/style blogs & tumblrs that I only read here and there.

    I used to read about that many, or a little more on a weekly basis and I found that after 6 months of it, it just left me overwhelmed. There are so many inane blogs out there that don’t move me, or where I don’t connect with the authors that I’ve slowly ramped my reading way down. I still try to be familiar with who people I really like are reading & to add new blogs every month or so, but for me, my comments, the blogs I read, and how much I post is definitely based on quality over quantity.

    I love having time for other projects & books & all that- and if I read more than 50 some blogs (or read all 50 all the time) I know for me, it would become a chore. Good work finding that many you enjoy though! I’m totally amazed by that! =)

  7. oh fine, you caught me. I read daily and never comment. for shame.

    Does no one do the old-fashioned “save it to my favourites” thing anymore? I probably will never have google-reader, but my favourites folder is VERY well organized!

  8. barbetti

    You are so smart, seriously. I, too, check up on my Blathering ladies, simply because you all are amazing women and my life was changed in that weekend. But my computer likes to be a big fat jerkhead and has a virus, so I don’t comment as often as I should (I can read them from my iPod, but it’s diffifcult to type comments in).

    I have around 70 blogs in my reader, including all of the Blathering ladies, dooce, PW and a few gems that aren’t as popular as they should be.

    I love how you have it organized, I need to do something similar!

  9. So helpful!! I just started my google reader after years of blog reading and OMG how did I live without it? But I love your organization of it and may be stealing from it…

  10. wordsofwinsome

    THANK YOU Amy!! I just set up the GoodleReader and I have four files…

    Must Reads (your in this one!)
    For Daily Inspiration
    Laughter
    Curiosity

    can’t wait to add more in the future!

  11. You made me tear up a little, honestly, because your relationship means a lot to me, too. I talk about you to my husband and I’m counting down to our December dinner.

    Really, Texas isn’t that bad. We have lots of teaching jobs waiting for you 😉

  12. Hannah

    I never heard of google reader – it sounds like a blog organizer. cool – thanks for sharing. i will check it out. I use a website called FoodBlogs.com to keep up with my food / recipe blogs (that is my addiction) and my browser to keep up with my friends blogs and a few fashion and mom blogs.

  13. Angel

    While this was informative, I couldn’t help thinking one thing: when in the world do you find the time to do that much reading?! It’s not just what you’re reading it’s how much and how often. My days just seem packed with things to do that I sometimes find myself behind on the small handful of blogs I do read now.

  14. Maria

    I must be really dumb. I’ve spent more than 30 minutes on googlereader and can’t figure out how to create the folders. When I got to “manage subscriptions” and click on “folders/tabs” I don’t see anywhere to add or make folders to organize blogs into. When I click on “new folder” or “add to folder” this are light gray and don’t allow me to click on them to take me to another action. Can you please help? I’ve searched on the website and didn’t find help either. Thanks!

  15. I am so impressed. I consider myself extremely organized and yet I never thought of organizing my Google Reader into folders. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks!

  16. So I really wondered how you find time to read all these blogs and post as much as you do! And I never, ever thought of doing the folders like you do! So now I have a project! This was such a great, informative post!

  17. Ah man! I feel so guilty! Frequent reader; infrequent commenter. I love following your blog and vow to do better because receiving comments makes me happy too 🙂

  18. mountainmommamusings

    Can you come over and organize my Google Reader? Or my kids’ toys, your choice.

  19. I just love this entry and I love your blog! I read, never comment, and now I’m making amends. I’ve been slowly adding to my Google Reader and it’s an absolute mess… thanks for the organizational ideas

    It’s fine to have a stalker folder by the way. We all do it.

  20. I also have a Blathering folder! I love reading and commenting on those blogs. SWOON!
    Also! I love how organized you are and you INSPIRE ME! Now if only I had the TIME.
    Also! Your dad comments on your blog and that is THE GREATEST!

  21. my reader is an effing mess.

    my blogroll, on the other hand, organized within an inch of its life. much like your reader. : )

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