February 27, 2014

Get to Work, B----!

Around this same time last year, I wrote a post on my commenting habits that I said was "a confession, a discussion and a serious cry for help." I got great feedback on the post, but it almost stressed me out more. Why? Because I learned that everyone has different expectations and there's really no way to make everyone happy when it comes to commenting. After being stressed about it and letting it negatively affect how I felt about blogging, I knew it was time to make a change. 

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I started implementing this system prior to the New Year, but I haven't really talked about it. I framed my blogging goals differently for this year and focused on what I wanted more and less of in 2014. Commenting made the list, but probably not in the way you imagine. I noted that I wanted less guilt, and commenting was something I specifically mentioned in that section: "And when it comes to pressure, I feel guilty about about not commenting enough or replying to comments quickly." 

A few days ago, I was reading Judith's discussion post - Why I'm Bad at Commenting - and I loved it! It definitely reminded me of where I was at a year ago when I first wrote about my commenting habits. After commenting on her post, I realized I hadn't talked about my system on my blog or shared why commenting was already so much less stressful for me in 2014. So, I decided to turn my comment on Judith's post into a follow-up post here! So thanks, Judith, for inspiring me to write this post.

Let's start with the most important thing:


It seems really simple and dumb to write that sentence, but it was the first step for me. I had to get to the place where I realized that the pressure and guilt came from my own brain and the way I thought about everything. Real life comes first, as does my mental state, so I'm not letting the shoulds dictate how I feel about commenting or blogging. This is a hobby, not an obligation. If commenting doesn't happen, then it just doesn't. It was a total "um, duh!" moment for me when I started thinking of it that way.

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The other big change I've made?

I have almost completely stopped responding to comments on my own blog because it was either a) respond to comments on my blog or b) leave comments on other blogs. I know how important replies are to some people, but I figured most people, when it comes down to it, want a comment on their posts more than a response indicating that I read and appreciated what they said about mine. I don't refuse to reply to comments - it's just not my priority anymore. I do try to make sure I reply to any questions OR continue the conversation on Twitter or via email if there's more discussion to be had.

Whew! I haven't even talked about my system yet. I'd apologize, but I think it's important for me to note that a big part of why my system works for me is that I changed my attitude about commenting. Comments are amazing, but I have to remind myself they aren't the point of blogging. Quality over quantity, y'all. 

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My Five-Step Commenting System

1. Set a goal.
I made it a goal to leave a certain number of comments per week based on what I felt like a) I had the time for and b) I would have the energy to do. The number is completely up to you! For me, it was five comments. If I leave more, that's awesome. But all I really shoot for is leaving five thoughtful comments per week. And, as previously discussed, I don't beat myself up if I don't leave any some weeks. It's a goal, not a rule. 

2. Categorize!
I divide all the blogs I follow into different folders: two have "names" and three are "numbers."

The Name Folders:

There is Read Only for blogs I love to read but almost never comment on. For me, that's something like Forever Young Adult, author blogs, and a few niche topic-focused blogs (like ones focused on Jane Austen) that I like checking but don't feel like I need to comment on.

Next, I have Trial for new blogs that I've just found. Since I'm not sure yet how they'll fit into my numerical folders, I stick them in their own category. Once they've hung out there for a bit, I'll move them to whatever numbered folder they fit into for me.

The Number Folders:

I have three other folders that are simply numbered 1, 2 and 3. The folders, and how blogs go into them, are based on two things: how many of the posts I typically read and how much I usually have to say about what is posted. 

1 is for blogs where I read almost all of the posts and/or want to practically comment on everything.

2 is for blogs that fall into the middle - I read most but not all of what is posted and usually have at least two or three things I could comment on.

3 is for blogs I enjoy enough to subscribe to but don't often read a lot of what is posted (like if we have very different reading taste) and thus don't usually have a ton to say in response to the posts.  

3. Work backwards.
Throughout the week, I work my way backwards based on these categories. Whenever I log into Feedly I always check Read Only first, since I can read through them pretty quickly and am rarely leaving comments. I then move to the Trial folder, then folder 3, and finally folder 2. I work backwards because I like to start with what I can conquer quickest and easiest. 

I'll go to a folder, mark everything as read that I doesn't interest me, and then go back to read what's left. From there, I'll pick around five-ish posts to comment on. It's often five posts between folders 2 and 3, but I do sometimes choose five from each. I don't comment a ton on the Trial folder until I finally move it to a numerical one (or remove it if I never read anything).

4. Save posts.
The posts in the 1 folder stay there the longest. It's the smallest number of blogs in a folder, BUT it accounts for the majority of what's in my Feedly at any given time. I'll save a ton of posts in there for giant comment dumps whenever I have extra time and/or energy. The stuff in 1 can sit there for two weeks or even more than a month. One weekend I may pick one blog from to shower with comment love, and the next weekend I may work through them all. This is the main place where my "system" is totally up in the air. 

I realized that there was always a handful of blogs that I spent more time on, and it was harder for me to not leave my five comments on those each week. So, I separated them out. I want to mix up where I leave my five comments, which is why I try to scatter my weekly five comments among blogs in my 2 and 3 folders. I needed a system that could accommodate both my desire for variety in where I commented and my need to spend a little extra time on certain blogs.

5. Return the love, if possible.
I've already explained how I handle replying to comments on my own blog, but I do also have a step in my system for "returning" comments. First of all, I don't really do it. Well, not exactly. I won't immediately go leave a comment on a blog just because one was left here. I have an aversion to obligation. But I will go check out blogs that have commented on mine, especially if they are leaving really thoughtful comments or keep returning to my blog. If I'm intrigued, I add them to the Trial folder and proceed from there as I've described above. I do try to "return comments" - just in my own way.

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This system works for me because I needed:
  • A lot less pressure on myself
  • A specific, manageable goal
  • A folder system to help me meet my goal quickly and easily
  • A way to still go on longer comment dumps when I had time
Have you found a commenting system that works for you?
And any thoughts on the crazy way I make it work?

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15 comments:

  1. This is such a great post! Like you, I've stopped replying to comments on my blog, but have tried to return the favour. I'll pop by a blogger's blog if they've been frequently visiting mine and leave a comment or two. When it comes to reading through my blog feed, I'm not nearly as organized as you are (although I use Bloglovin', which I don't think has the option of being as organized...perhaps it's time to change!) If I'm reading blogs on my iPad, it's a pain to comment, so I have to REALLY have something to say to make it worthwhile. But if I'm on the computer (usually procrastinating from doing homework or working on my own blog), it's easier to write a long and thoughtful comment. BUT, with that being said, I'm pretty picky about the posts that I do read. Even blogs that I read often and love (like yours!) I'll only click through to read the post if I'm intrigued (although your titles are so mysterious sometimes that I just HAVE to find out what you wrote about!) I mostly read people's discussion posts, with the odd Top Ten Tuesday, special feature and review tossed in to keep things interesting.

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  2. Ah, Britney Gifs - how fun!

    I'm pretty lazy about responding to comments on my blog, but I always try to respond within the week. For example, one of my goals for today is to respond to my TTT comments and comment back on a few of them. Yeah, I'm a little behind on that one!

    I've got a few blogs that I almost always comment on, too and I make sure to comment once I finish reading the discussion/review. Discussion usually get a comment, but I only comment if I have something relevant to say, whether I've read the book or not. I've gotten better this year, but I've still got a ways to go until I'm content with my comment skills :)

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  3. I just add blogs to Feedly, scroll through the posts once in the AM and again at night, and comment on the ones that interest me. Blog comments, I respond if it's necessar, but I always go visit and comment on the blogs of people who leave comments on mine (not usually the same day though). But if I can't get it done - then I just don't. I don't worry about it.

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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  4. What's most important is you've figured out what works for you. I remember that prior commenting post got a TON of comments and I can see how that would stress you out! I feel like my own feelings on the subject have changed a lot in the last year. My own blog is still small, but depending on the post, the volume of comments can be overwhelming, so I think I can appreciate much more how hard it is to keep up, regardless of blog size. I still try to respond and visit back and all that, but you are so right that real life and peace of mind has to be the priority. I think stopping responding to most comments on your own blog is a great way to free up a lot of time given the fact that most people don't check back. Though I usually do check back, it's really only because I feel bad about how much time and effort some bloggers put into responding, not that I'm truly expecting or "needing" a response or anything like that! Still answering questions though is probably a good idea as it's more likely to actually be seen!

    I probably check my feedly too often, but I hate letting it build up too much. I am SUPER diligent about making sure I don't clutter it up with any kind of "obligation" follows though -- I only follow who I want to follow -- which seems so obvious, but it wasn't always so clear to me!

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  5. I think it's always very important to find ways that work for you, whether is has something to do with blogging or commenting. If you find a system that makes it enjoyable for you, that's great :D! I'm glad that you have figured it out.

    I think what really matters is your number 1 rule! I have days where I take off and don't comment, there are days where I spend all my time on catching up. As long as you do what feels good, you don't end up in a slump :)

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  6. I'm a huge commentor.
    And you're right, first thing is finding what works for you.
    I comment on my blog comments but sometimes it takes me a few days to finish them all.
    Every day, I pop around and visit the blogs that are saying something cool I want to see/comment on.
    If I'm not feeling whatever they post that day, I don't comment. I'll try back later in the week.
    I also have my big commentors in a file called Besties and I try to visit and comment more to them.

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  7. Hannah, your commenting system is pretty darn brilliant! I think it's wonderful that you've found a way that works for you to leave meaningful comments, check out all the blogs your follow and also make sure that no one feels neglected on your blog. BRILLIANT. *applause*

    I think it's interesting that we have a similar "folder" system. I have my blogs separated into a few folders as well, and comment based on which I feel I want to give attention to in a particular week. I generally comment regularly on my "must read and reply" blogs, while the other folders are more for trial periods or for commenting on posts that interest me.

    I seriously applaud your amazing efforts, and love that you're doing what's best for you!

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  8. this actually hits me right where I needed it today. I have put a ban on reading/commenting on blogs. It's hard for me to read every post of every blogger I know because I don't want to read reviews of books I plan on reading & reviewing myself until after I've done so and I feel like an idiot saying "great review" and just a short comment to let them know I read it, but I don't know another way to let the blogger know that I've read and appreciated the post. I do read posts in my own sweet time but don't always comment, like you. I do feel, though, that people will read and comment more on my blog if I do the same for them, but that feels fake to me and like i'm fishing for comments, which is not the way I want to get readers to my blog. i'm very frustrated blog-wise right now, but I did want to let you know that I think your system is smart and reasonable, though I'll never be that organized.

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  9. I love that you thought this though so much and came up with a system that works for you. I can't really do something quite as structured because it seems like I binge read blogs now. :( I do try to do as much as I can which is hard & not always enough but like you said, it's not an obligation. There are other things in life and in the blogging world to be done!

    I say this when this subject pops up but no one in the Disney community comments on anything. In fact, a comment or two is a good day. And it doesn't even happen every single week. The interaction isn't the same even though the window is also there. So. I don't know. I think we place too much emphasis on it sometimes.

    GOOD LUCK. :) I salute you.

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  10. I only noticed the title of this post after I read the whole thing and I love it :)

    I also love how organized you are, so impressive. I use two readers: The Old Reader and Bloglovin. The Old Reader has all of the blogs I want to read every day, most of which are blogs I regularly comment on. Unlike Bloglovin, The Old Reader loads full posts so it saves time even if I don't want to comment (although I do feel bad I'm not always giving other bloggers page views). I'm a lot less discriminating about who I follow on Bloglovin, often if someone follows me I'll follow them back to be nice and then see if I want to keep following them or later unfollow them based on their posts. I like Bloglovin for blogs I don't regularly comment on because it's really easy to just scroll through and look and post titles and decide if it's a post that interests me and I want to click through or if it's not for me and I just want to mark as read and not actually read it.

    I do try hard to visit and comment on the blogs of people who comment on mine. Sometimes I do and I realize I have nothing to say about any of their posts (which is rare, but it happens) and then I don't comment. I used to try to reply to all the comments on my blog, but now I try to only reply to comments where someone asks a question or makes a point I want to address. I love having the reply notification emails so commentators can see when I reply. Without that I kind of feel like there's no point because I don't think people are really checking back to see if I've replied (although good for them if they are!).

    When I comment on other blogs I don't generally expect a reply. If someone has comment reply notification like I do it's always nice to know they've replied, but I don't think it makes me more likely to read their blog. I also like when people reply to one of my comments over Twitter or email, I actually think it's almost easier because it's a more direct way to keep the conversation going.

    Wow, I did not set off to write something so long!

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  11. I'm so glad the system is working for you!!! I kind of started doing the same thing. I just do NOT have the time to comment on everything all the time and I'm SURE other bloggers feel the same way! I also chose commenting on posts over replying to things on my own blog too. I feel like that's more important and I DO appreciate the comments on my blog but I can't choose all of them all the time!
    Great post. I definitely think a lot of people feel the same way! We're in it together lol!

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  12. This is such a fantastic idea! I love organisation like this. I currently have three separate folders, although I don't really have a system for them. I should probably get onto that, because at the moment I'm checking posts from two of them, and completely neglecting the third folder. Your system is great!

    I'm slowly getting better at commenting, although I have days where I don't want to do anything at all. Sometimes I just have nothing to say, and I feel awful about it, but I don't want to leave meaningless comments on my friends' blogs just to have left a comment, if that makes sense?

    I'm terrible at commenting back, though. That's something I need to work on in the future.

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  13. "This is a hobby, not an obligation."
    "I have an aversion to obligation."

    YES. Do what works for YOU. I have nothing further to say. xo

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  14. For a while anytime a new blogger started following my blog, I'd immediately add them to my reader and then try to read everyone of their posts. But that didn't work because most of my new "followers" seemed to only do it to get a follow back and never returned.

    I've since tried to get rid of a lot of blogs in my reads, but it's still a pretty huge amount, although I think I've got it more under control. But for that reason I don't add a ton of new blogs to my reader, unless it's one i really love.

    I have started to "comment back" more lately. I know there's times when I get a "comment back" that feels a little forced and fake. But when I have the time I at least like to go to the blogs of people who are commenting, and leave at comment myself as long as it makes sense.

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  15. Yay, I already mentioned this to you, but I love your system and I am actually starting to use it TODAY. (As you can probably tell by all the comments, haha.) I have made shelves for "Read All Posts", "Read Most Posts" and "Read Some Posts", and I think it will work. I love your point of not commenting when you don't feel like it/don't have time, because that's exactly what I think I thought do. Uni takes up a LOT of time, and I don't want to spend my life online either.

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