Following, following back, and keeping up

When I first started blogging — almost three years ago! — I really had no idea what I was getting into. I was focused only on the “me” parts: I’d write my book reviews and other content, and people would read what I wrote.

Ha! I really knew nothing about blogging, obviously.

Readers don’t magically appear. It’s all about connections. If I want people to visit my blog, I need to reach out and connect with other bloggers. It’s a back and forth — you comment on my posts, I comment on yours; I visit your blog, you stop by mine.

It’s not a quid pro quo, really, just simple networking and connection. We all want visits and views, but people have to know we exist in the first place in order to come for a visit.

Over the years, my circle of favorite blogs has grown and grown. Here’s the challenge: How do I find time to cultivate and nurture my own blog when so much online time is devoted to visiting and reading other people’s blogs?

If people follow my blog, I tend to follow back. (Side note: If you’ve followed me and I haven’t followed back, it’s probably an oversight, so let me know!)

For WordPress blogs, new posts show up in my reader, and I can opt in to receive daily or weekly email alerts. For non-WordPress blogs, I tend to subscribe by email for ones that I really don’t want to miss, or else I’ll follow via Bloglovin’ or Twitter. (Twitter is least effective for me, as I’m not on all that much and I miss a lot).

At this point, with all the blogs I follow, it’s an enormous task to try to read everything every day. I get about 20 – 25 daily emails about new posts. My Bloglovin’ feed is huge, and so is my WordPress reader feed. There just isn’t enough time in a day for me to read all the new posts and still have time for reading books and writing my own blog posts.

I’ve been trying to prune a bit lately, so I’m trying to make sure I’m not following the same blogs on WordPress and on Bloglovin’, for starters. For WordPress blogs that I interact with less frequently, I’m starting to turn off the email alerts. I can still read new posts in my WordPress reader, but that way, the daily list of emails with blog updates will hopefully be a bit more manageable. Plus, there are some blogs that feel like priorities to me — people who share similar tastes with me, or write pieces that I find particularly engaging, or those who I’ve developed a virtual friendship and rapport with — and those are the ones I want to see in my email inbox each day. When I get email alerts for all the blogs, it’s hard to separate out the ones that I really want to read from the ones that I might read if there’s time.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about the whole following back thing. If someone is nice enough to follow me, I really appreciate it, and I feel like following back is the right thing to do. And yet, if I see that their blog is focused on a genre that I never read and that our book tastes have no common ground, I’m less likely to actually read their posts.

What’s your approach to following? Do you automatically follow back when someone new follows you? And do you actually read your blog feeds every day? How do you manage to keep up?

I’d love to hear how others handle the challenge of keeping up with other bloggers. Please share your thoughts!


45 thoughts on “Following, following back, and keeping up

  1. First of all, miss you at work! I am at the beginning of this process but even i can already identify with the challenge. I want to be able to read people’s words but i want them to read mine and it is already a tug of war to get people to notice my little niche of blog.

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ We’ll have to catch up on Monday. Getting started in the blog world is tough, no doubt about it! I have a teeny little idea for you… let’s talk.

  2. It is a tough balance (one which I’ve been struggling with more and more lately). For me, I’ve had to stop feeling guilty about the blogs I don’t follow. If I find myself skimming or even skipping the majority of posts (this has happened more and more since I stopped reading reviews), then I just make sure I’m following that blogger on Twitter, but there’s no point in all those posts showing up in my Feedly, taking my focus away from the ones I really am interested in reading and commenting on.

    I really do love Twitter, though. It allows me to keep up with more people, even if I’m following fewer blogs.

    • That makes a lot of sense. One thing I should probably do is change my preferences for WordPress blogs to keep the ones I really want to make sure never to miss coming via email, and then get in the habit of checking my reader feed in case anything slips through the cracks. I want to be supportive of other bloggers, but sometimes by the time I finish reading all the posts for a day, I don’t have any energy left for writing!

  3. These are great comments and questions. I have been blogging for about a year and a half and I often think about the same things you mentioned. If someone follows me I almost always follow back, unless, like you say, it isn’t a good match. I also have a Twitter account and I have learned that some Twitter followers only follow you until you follow them, then they drop you. I don’t do that!

    As for reading everyone’s blogs, I try very hard to read what’s posted, but not all of it. If I see something that’s relevant to me in some way, I will read and try to comment. But I never force a comment just to get traffic. I had someone follow my blog and for about three months and she immediately “liked” my post as soon as it went up. I’m sure she never read them!

    I do have a little community of blogging friends and I always look forward to their blogs. I really enjoy the connection!

    • Right, that drives me crazy on Twitter, the people who drop me as soon as I follow them back! I used to take it personally – now I try to laugh it off. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I also feel like I have a circle of blogging friends whose posts I look forward to the most, and try to keep up with others, but it does get difficult!

  4. I’d follow-back based on interest alone; as much as it does seem like I’m stingy. (I follow 60% of the number of followers I have–woops!) And as terrible as it is to say: it’s less onerous to just peruse through WordPress reader than having to check up on Bloglovin’ and then e-mail subs (so I’m pretty thankful for feeds). Although in hindsight, I could technically run the same process through any other RSS feed (but that takes more bandwidth load time–it all adds up, I’d say).

    But in terms of random posts that I actually comment on…I don’t know, maybe it’s a guy thing?
    It takes me a while to conjure up a response. I don’t know how people blog hop and shoot out comments so quickly LOL. I have to think on what I’m saying (even this comment is taking a bit of time). Not to say that it’s burdensome to comment…but perhaps I’m just slower at it and therefore become selective with where I spend time leaving messages.

    It sort of makes me a hypocrite in some ways. I like the idea of people commenting and building a body of discussion on what I post but I don’t always do that for others. What a dilemma.


    • “A guy thing” – LOL. You always have such thoughtful comments and it’s clear that you put effort into whatever you say. I know we all get frustrated by the “Nice post!” comments that don’t offer any other content or contribute to the discussion. I think we’re all in the same boat, really — we want people to read our posts, and have to figure out how to keep up with other bloggers without getting swamped.

  5. I auto-followed-back a lot more often when I first started out, but I won’t do that anymore out of obligation because I don’t have the time (or the desire, honestly) to keep up with everyone JUST because they followed me. I try really hard to at least visit once and find a post to read and comment on, but I will only follow if it seems like a blog that jives with my reading interests. If I follow, but then never read anything, I don’t think I am really doing that other blogger any favors. If I do follow, but find myself constantly skipping posts, I will unfollow because I really need my feed reader to be manageable for my own sanity. I also have my reader set with a separate folder for my favorite book blogs set aside so that when things get really crazy, I can just peruse through those posts and clear the rest of my queue (hey, it happens sometimes!) I have sometimes *dismissed* a blog as *not for me*, but if that person visits me a lot and we develop a commenting rapport, I will often give their blog a second shot and have often been pleasantly surprised that way. In the end, I just think following can’t really be a tit for tat sort of thing without getting totally out of hand or purposely trying not to gain new followers, but whoever wants to do that?! lol

    • It sounds like you’ve figured out an approach that really works for you! It makes a lot of sense to separate out the favorites in your feed, and that’s probably something I should try. If I find that I’ve followed a blog but I never see posts there that interest me, I’ll sometimes just turn off the email alerts altogether but keep them in my feed so I can at least see the topics of future posts and decide if I want to read them.

  6. I used to follow everyone who followed me, but I’ve stopped now, since a lot of them I’m not interested in. I always comment back though! I try to spend time browsing through my feeds and reading whatever looks interesting, but it’s so hard to find time!

  7. I follow most blogs who follow me but if our interests are too different I have stopped because I realized I didn’t read them in feed. That said I check back from time to time if they continue to like or comment .on my blog. I may have been wrong or read the wrong posts. I have been wrong once or twice but I don’t like to stay wrong.

    • Great approach! I try to give at least a chance to anyone who follows me, so long as I can see that we have even a little bit in common. I love how you put it — “I don’t like to stay wrong”. Terrific attitude!

  8. Great post! I generally try to follow people who follow me. I only follow by Bloglovin though. It’s easier and more convenient to just have the one site for me to visit everyone’s blogs. I did just prone my list a bit as well. Mainly I got rid of a couple of bloggers that never read books that I am interested in. I do agree that commenting on others’ blogs are important for building a base and letting people know you are out there. But I also don’t want to comment just for the sake of commenting. I want to actually have something to say. So if there is a blog where I haven’t commented on it in quite a while because I have no response, then I may get rid of it. But I do try to comment on people’s blogs who regularly comment on mine and I will follow them if they follow me. So those bloggers are ones I keep. πŸ™‚ I follow you on Bloglovin, but I honestly don’t know if you follow me back. I tried to check, but I am having Bloglovin issues. Ha. Great post though!

    • THanks for the comments! Actually, I follow you via email — and one thing I’m trying not to do is follow the same blog in more than one place… although I don’t always keep track of who I follow where. πŸ™‚

  9. I go through phases, depending on how busy I am. The same goes for posting on my own blog!
    I make an effort to read people’s book reviews, simply because that’s why I started blogging and I know that a thoughtful review takes time.
    Lately , I’ve spent far less time reading memes such as Top Ten Tuesday. Although they’re fun to write (and read), they are often repetitive. Memes are a massive blogging time-suck and I really only do 2-3 meme posts a month.
    Honestly, I don’t always follow those that follow me – I pick those who have similar reading taste to me. That goes both ways obviously – there are plenty of blogs I follow that don’t follow me.
    I like WordPress Reader and Twitter best – emails drive me nuts and if I’m busy I just lean on the delete button and feel guilty about it! At least with WP and Twitter, you only read as far back as you can manage/ what grabs your interest.

    • I’ve gone back and forth on my feelings about WordPress Reader vs getting emails. On the one hand, it drives me nuts when I see 20 emails waiting for me each morning and I feel like I should really take the time to read them all — but when I pare down the emails and rely on Reader, I find that I’m often missing the blogs that I care about reading. I have yet to find the right balance, I guess. πŸ™‚

  10. And another thing…. I’m careful about following in the first place. I always have a really good look at books people have read (and loved) to see if we’re ‘compatible’ before I hit the follow button. Easier to be choosy rather than having to prune.

    • Very true. I usually will go visit another blog if I see that they’ve “liked” one of my posts, and I try to find something they’ve written to comment on myself — but sometimes, I just really can’t find anything.

  11. I follow a lot of blogs, but it’s because I’m interested in them. Maybe it’s not proper “blogger etiquette”, but I rarely do the follow back thing. I don’t have the time to scroll through blogs I’m not interested in!

  12. I don’t automatically follow people back, but if I notice someone has commented on my blog a few times, I’ll go look at their blog. If I find we have similar interests and I like their posts, then I’ll follow back. So I guess I feel more of an “obligation” to check out the blogs of people who actually interact with my blog in some way. I don’t mind people who just follow, of course. As you mention, it’s hard for people to comment on every blog they follow! But I think I’m less likely to “notice” someone who doesn’t comment, if that makes sense.

    • Makes total sense. I care most about people who’ve taken the time to comment or interact with me in some way — then I want to show them some support in return, either by following or by reading a few posts and adding comments, if possible.

  13. Lisa, this is a really good question! In the beginning, I followed everyone who followed me, and my feeds exploded! And it made it impossible to actually keep up with the bloggers I really wanted to interact with.
    I have made different ‘groups’ of blogs I follow on feedly (which is RSS), so that I have one list of my favorite bloggers, one list of other bloggers I want to keep up with, but this time based on the genre they review the most in. I have one for very young bloggers, who may not post all that often, or whose posts are less dense, and yet another one for bloggers who only post new posts once or twice every week. This has really helped me to be able to keep up with all the blogs I want to visit, and the different lists also help me not miss posts.
    I should probably do some pruning, too, because I have noticed that some blogs haven’t been active in a very long time – so I should really not be following those blogs anymore.
    I hope you’re having a great weekend! Happy reading.

    • Thanks, Lexxie! It sounds like your system for organizing the blogs you follow would be very helpful. I haven’t used Feedly at all yet, but maybe I should — I’m just hesitant about having yet another social media outlet to keep up with. But I like the idea of being able to sort the blogs I follow rather than just deleting the ones I want to read less often. Thanks for the great input!

  14. I don’t automatically follow back, normally I follow blogs I’m interested in, but if someone comments on my blog, I’ll go have a look at them and if I’m interested in what they blog about, I’ll follow. I think this is the only way to interact. If I follow people who blog about completely different things from me, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever have the possibility to post a meaningful comment on their blog.

    So, for me following is more a matter of interest.

    I normally read new posts on my reader. I didn’t know about bloglovin, but now I want to check it out πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t paid as much attention to my reader as I should, and I’m going to see if that works for me so I can perhaps unsubscribe from some of the email notifications I get now. Bloglovin is good for keeping up with non-WordPress blogs, and I like that they send a daily summary of new posts which makes it easy to skim through and see what I want to read.

      • I’m still debating. I follow most of the non-WordPress blogs through my reader too (I follow the few my reader doen’t accept by mail notification). I had a quick look at bloglovin and seems to me it does the same job as the WP reader. So I don’t know whether I want to just add a similar feature to my online engagements.

        Following blogs in a meanigful way is time-consuming, but it’s such fun. I think the best thing to do (well, at least this is what I’m trying to do myself) is choosing the ones that give something to you and (reluctantly) leave the others. There’s only a certain amount of hours in one day… unfortunally 😦

  15. I check a few blogs regularly, and then visit other blogs via blogloving or interesting comments on other blogs I follow about once a week. I just don’t have time to read things daily, and barely stop by my own blog during the week (I try to schedule all my posts) although I do try to answer comments! I only follow blogs that review the books I want to read though. Otherwise it’s just clutter. Lovely clutter, but still!…

  16. nice Post Lisa! Almost every blogger and reader would agree with your points!

    I do try to read every post from my wordpress feed everyday. Monday is a daunting day for me cos I have three days work to read πŸ™‚

    For the readers and comments, yes you need to appreciate others if you want others to come and read your rants. When I see comments and likes flowing to my blog, I feel happy and I can understand how it would make others feel as well. So, I do share my thoughts and appreciation whenever I can.

    • That’s really nice to hear! I think I’m going to try to use the reader more rather than relying on email notifications. Maybe if I set aside one time each day to read new posts, it’ll feel less time-consuming than getting so many emails.

  17. So I have a question for the WordPressers using Bloglovin. Are you able to comment on blogs using your WordPress account? I haven’t been able to make that work, and it ruined Bloglovin for me.

    Also, do you feel like WordPress sometimes doesn’t show you everything you want to see in your feed? For example… I missed this post when it was first published, even though this is one of my favorite blogs. I can see why many of you rely so much on email!!

    • Interesting — I haven’t had a problem with commenting using my WordPress account, but maybe we’re approaching it differently? When I’m in Bloglovin’, I only see the beginnings of posts in my feed, and if I click on the post title, it takes me to the blog itself and I can comment as usual. I usually just look at my daily email from Bloglovin’, though, and click through to see any posts that interest me.

      I’ll be honest, I don’t check my WordPress reader feed as often as I should, which I guess is why I rely on emails! I was finding that I missed some of my favorite blogs’ new posts without the email alerts, maybe just because I wasn’t checking often enough and there were just so many posts in the feed.

      Thank you, by the way! I appreciate the nice comment. πŸ™‚

  18. Great post Lisa! I’m honestly still trying to figure out what’s the best way to follow blog posts. There’s obviously Bloglovin but if I don’t log in for a few days the posts accumulate to some 300 and it’s hard to wade through all those posts, lol (as for the WP reader, I don’t log in as often either so it’s not a good base for me). There’s Twitter, which is great, but sucks if I miss some good posts out there because I wasn’t on at the time it was posted onto my feed…Have yet to try the email option, but I reckon it might not work because I don’t read the newsletters I sign up for :3 Tricky, tricky…

    I don’t do the automatic follow-back thing though. I feel bad about it sometimes, but I do only follow people whom I either talk to on a regular/semi-regular basis or have some similar interests with.

    • It sounds like there’s no one solution that’ll meet 100% of our needs. Any of the post feeds still take time to sift through, and it gets frustrating so quickly when I fall behind! I’m really trying to make sure that I keep up first and foremost with the people I interact with regularly, but it’s hard to balance that with meeting new and different bloggers and trying new things. So little time, so much to read!

  19. I tend to follow everyone back who follows me too (there are some exceptions where the blogger has NO posts or is a spammer). Plus, I am always using the very helpful “Tag” system where I type in the keyword of my choice and find new bloggers to connect with.

    I have switched off all email alerts, it gets too messy! I go through my Reader everyday but I haven’t developed a proper system of reading blogs yet. At the moment, I guess what I do is, I visit the blogs which I really enjoy reading and the bloggers who have connected with me from the very beginning and go through their posts. It’s fun to catch up, read their posts and and leave comments. πŸ™‚

    Occasionally I’ll go through Bloglovin’ too. Twitter is really not my thing because information is being shared too fast on it for me to catch up and look for interesting accounts there.

    • Your system seems to make a lot of sense. I keep debating what to do about email alerts. I have mine set to “daily” rather than “Immediate”, which helps a lot. I’m with you on Twitter. I use it a little, but just don’t have the patience to sift through it every day to see what’s going on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • Thank you so much! The email alerts were actually creating a lot of clutter so I opted to remove them. I had fun reading your post. I think it would be nice if WordPress had an ‘alert’ system for each blog we would like to be notified for (like Twitter) so that we would be able to read their posts when they go up. πŸ™‚

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