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January 17, 2013

Tips on Thursday: Blog Reading

The comment challenge I issued at the beginning of the year is going strong. I mentioned then that I needed to organize the blogs I read so that I can comment better. A tip I picked up from My Blog Traffic Sucks! was to have tiers for the blogs you read.

The top tier should be powerhouse blogs with great content, large readership, and lively discussion. These blogs you visit every day (or every time they post something new if they don't post daily). I think the book recommended having 10 such blogs.

The next tier are mid-size blogs. These blogs may be more specialized than the top tier blogs which results in smaller audiences. These are the blogs you visit weekly.

The third tier consists of blogs that you check in on maybe once a month. These blogs may be have good content, but they don't post regularly or the posts don't encourage discussion.

The point of the My Blog Traffic Sucks! is to drive more traffic to your site by making your name more visible to new audiences. It also expects that a blogger has 15 hours a week to devote to their blog. I know I don't, so I'm working on a system that will work for me.

I do like his recommendation of picking out "Must Read" blogs and organizing what blogs you read. When I started my comment challenge one of the first problems I encountered was finding blogs to comment on. I want my comment to be more meaningful than just "great post" so I needed to find blogs that were posting discussion motivating content.

Back when I started blogging (I just had my 2 year anniversary!) Google Friend Connect (GFC) was the way EVERYONE followed blogs. It has been phased out to a Google-user only product, meaning me on Blogger can still use it. However, there are a number of Wordpress bloggers who I like to read.

Shortly after the discontinuous of GFC many people went looking for other blog subscribing programs. One that was recommend to me was BlogLovin. I signed up for it and put in a whole bunch of blogs. Daily I'm sent an email with recent updates. But you know what? I get so much email that I usually don't even open it. It just gets deleted.

I also recently purchased a tablet and thought wouldn't it be great if on the home screen I could easily see what blogs have updated recently.  That way when I had a few minutes (I'm the queen of squeezing the life out a minute - one of the reasons I can wear so many hats) I could quickly see what was new.

It is obvious that I am firmly on the Google bandwagon. I have a Google tablet. And guess what! Google reader has a widget that I can display on my home screen. YAY! I added it immediately and started using it the next minute.

But then I quickly realized a problem. I'm following a ton of blogs. How do I decide which to read and which I have to pass on. Again, taking the advice from My Blog Traffic Sucks! and modifying it for my schedule I'm looking at the ones that offer content that I can easily comment on.

My Game Plan:

First, cull some blogs. I imported my GFC follow list to Google Reader and soon discovered several blogs had moved and no longer was I following the right address - when possible I subscribed to the new url and deleted the old one. Also, a number of blogs hadn't updated in 6 months or more- they were deleted. Some of the blogs I haven't visited in forever. For the last bunch, I will monitor them for a few weeks to see if they offer content I'm still interested in before I deciding to delete or keep. You should sort through and cull your blog list every 6 months.

Second, there are blogs I read pretty regularly that I wasn't subscribed to. I pick up their links from Facebook groups or Twitter. I started adding them to Google Reader. It will be easier and more efficient if all the blogs you read are in one place.

Third, skim through posts. On my tablet I can easily swipe through a number of blogs to see what topics are being shared and what I might be able to add value to with my thoughts. For posts that I'm interested in, I either click through to read and comment or mark it as "unread" so I can go back to it when I have more time. There will be posts - mostly memes type posts - that I can quickly dismiss, though I occasionally share them directly from Google Reader. Sort through your reading list daily to see which posts you will read and possibly comment.

That's my 3 part game plan for being a more active participant in the blogging community.

How do you find time to produce content and connect with other bloggers?

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  1. My game plan is similar to yours, I skim & comment on the posts I'm interested in. I don't rank my subscriptions because some of them would post a real interesting piece and I don't want to miss out.

    How do you delete subscriptions though? I tried the unsubscribe option but it doesn't seem to work.