Blogs — How Do You Follow Them? Part 2

Two weeks of poll results are in for the first post in this occasional series. On a personal note, that post became my first to garner more than 100 comments. Of course, half of those are my responses to other comments. Still, it’s nice to top that century mark for the first time.

Depending on the number of views my fellow bloggers typically get, these numbers might impress you—or make you laugh. Either way, 49 readers graciously took time to answer my three questions two weeks ago. At the very least, that number qualifies as a statistically valid sample. So these results have meaning. (Okay, maybe not in the grand scheme of the multiverse, but in terms of this blog post at least.)

What do we see in this sample of responses from Blogland? Let’s check the numbers. Our first question was:

Are You a Formal or Casual Follower?

The overwhelming response was formal following. Now, this might be deceptive. Casual followers may not have seen the post and thus didn’t reply. Or they may choose not to sign up by email or with the blog host and so can’t respond to a poll or make a comment. But 42 readers replied that they follow formally. The four “other” responses might also fall in this category. I didn’t include the “Reader” option in WordPress, so some might have chosen “other” as a response. Three people, at least, follow casually by bookmarking blogs they like or simply browsing around.

Our follow up question was:

Who Do You Follow?

Here again, there is a clear leader in responses. Thirty-five readers replied that they follow blogs similar to their own as well as others with topics that interest them. Fewer readers went only for specific blogs or followed everyone who follows them. The casual readers also chimed in with “don’t follow.” Most bloggers who commented said they don’t follow everyone who follows them. Sometimes this is due to blog content that doesn’t interest them. Others, like me, can’t keep up with so many blogs. My hat’s off to those of you who can follow more blogs than I can. But some readers who follow everyone who follows them said they don’t follow all blogs equally.

That’s a relief. I’d have really felt guilty and incompetent if others could comment regularly on 200 blogs while raising a family, working 9 to 5, and writing novels.

And our final question was:

How Many Blogs Do You Follow?

At first, I though 101-200 blogs would run away from the pack like Secretariat in the 1975 Belmont Stakes. It still won, but  only by 6 votes, not 31 lengths. At the end, 11-30 blogs made it a race with 10 readers. Based on the comments, I think we’re seeing a blend of newer and more established bloggers/readers in the responses. But I’m impressed with the restraint in following shown by some newer bloggers. They commented that they don’t have unlimited time for blogging and that their other creative endeavors need to take precedence. Some of us who have been at this longer could learn something here.

The Comments Were Amazing

Much as I enjoyed seeing the poll numbers add up, what I really liked was all the insightful and thoughtful comments that so many of you shared. Did you go back and read them? Trust me, it takes a while!

If you did, you know what stands out. Everyone who commented on this post strikes me as conscientious, polite, nice, thoughtful, respectful, and a host of other good adjectives. As a group, we tend to feel guilty about not following someone who follows us. It bothers us when we can’t comment as often as we’d like. And we all recognize our blogging time is limited and has to fit into our overall lives. Most of us are struggling to find that balance, though. And many of us appreciate the bloggers who limit the posts to three or fewer per week. It’s easier to follow and interact with those bloggers.

In the not-too-distant future, I’m going to do a post related to this topic—how do readers decide when and how to comment. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on that one, too.

Did these results surprise you? Do you see yourself in other readers’ comments? Are you rethinking your posting frequency or following habits? Other thoughts?

61 thoughts on “Blogs — How Do You Follow Them? Part 2

  1. Good morning, JM. The results didn’t surprise me at all. You’re right in that our blogging time is limited and that is why I post only once a week. 😉

    In regards to comments — I reply to every comment on my blog. When it comes to commenting on other blogs, I will if I have something to add to the discussion. However, if it has already been expressed by someone else, I leave a like. 🙂

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    • Hey, Christy, thanks for checking back. 🙂 You’re jumping into my next set of questions already—stop being so well-prepared. Just kidding! 🙂

      It sounds like you’ve got your blogging schedule and habits under control. I’m getting there—slowly. But I’m getting there, too. 🙂

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  2. JM, you continue to amaze me at every turn. What a great idea with the bar graphs to show the results.

    I guess I’m not too surprised at the results–especially after reading through the comments. In fact, they make me feel better regarding my methods and strategy with blogging. I definitely saw myself in many other readers’ comments–I am facing the same struggles and considerations as many other people.

    As you know, I have been rethinking blog habits for a while now. With the start of school, my habits were forcibly changed–nothing I did on my own–and it was actually quite a wake-up call. I simply can’t keep blogging with the same ferocity and attention that I’d been doing. Not if I want to be working on my novels.

    Once again, I was too busy to make my weekly post this week. And while I’m frustrated because it means my blog sits there unattended for a few more days, I also know that it means I have to reconfigure my schedule. One thought I had is to just stretch my 7-day posting schedule to a 10-day schedule and see how I do with that. It helps to write for Limebird because I consider that to be another way I’m networking. But even trying to get posts written for LB is a struggle.

    I do have some other ideas brewing, I just need to actually implement them and see how everything pans out.

    Congrats on your 100 comment mark! It is well deserved. 🙂

    Oh, btw, yes–I got your email regarding Death. I LOVED the info you gave me. So very helpful. I will write you back…I promise it won’t take me as long as it does to write a blog post. 😉

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    • Don’t feel obligated to reply quickly—I know I sent you a ton of details in that email! 🙂 And it was a good way for me to verbalize some of my ideas. Now I can see if they’ll really work or if I need to tweak them for better continuity and potential story lines….

      But, back to the post. 🙂 If these results and discussions can help more of us find the right blogging “fit” for our individual circumstances, then I’d really be happy for us. We don’t have to read every post. It’s okay not to comment on every post we read. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about not following everyone who follows us. At least when it comes to this corner of the blogosphere, we all seem to be very understanding and respectful of other people’s needs to live a life beyond our blogs. 🙂

      I know you’ll find that balance for you, even if it takes until the kids are older and don’t need (or want!) as much attention from you. And by all means, the novels must come first. I’ve been lucky to read the manuscript of the first one. But I want to hold the published one in my hands, too, because that means the rest of your blogging buddies finally get to read it!

      (And you could always do posts about the difficulties of setting that workable schedule. I can think of a few hundred people who would connect to those!)

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  3. Congratulations on hitting the 100. That’s fantastic.
    It’s reassuring to know I am not alone in finding the time to keep up, but there are so many good blogs. There are so many great posts. Some more hours would be nice.
    I was found to be very much in the majority of the following trends as far as your poll went.

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    • Thanks, Kate, it was a real milestone for me. 🙂 I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll see that many again.

      The one thing we all want — more time — is the one thing we can’t change. We only get 24 hours in a day. All we can do is manage those as best we can. And while it’s comforting to know others have the same difficulty in doing that as I do, I wish we weren’t in this position! At the very least, I hope we stop beating ourselves up for not being able to “do it all.” Because in reality, no one can. 🙂

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  4. Congratulations on hitting 100 comments! I really loved that post and intended to go back and comment on it too. I fit into the majority on most of your questions as well. If someone follows my blog, I try to go visit theirs to see if it is something I’m interested in. When I clog up the reader with polite follow backs, sometimes I miss posts from the people that I really want to read and who regularly visit and interact with me, and those are the people that I really try to focus on with reciprocating likes, comments, feedback and support.
    Great follow up post! Loved the graphs.

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    • Thanks, RFL. 🙂 I still rely on email notifications because every once in a while the reader seems to go wonky on me, and I’m never sure if I really saw all the new posts. But it would unclutter my inbox….

      I went through a stage of following everyone who followed me, and I shouldn’t have. I ended up following some blogs that really don’t interest me. And that doesn’t mean the blogger isn’t good! It’s just not the blog for me. I know I follow some bloggers who don’t follow me, either, and that’s okay.

      And I totally agree on reciprocating on the feedback. If a new follower consistently leaves comments for me, I’ll usually end up following them and trying to do the same.

      Graphs are fun. They look so official and scientific. And they really can show good information. 🙂

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  5. Great data and post JM! It must have been fun digging and sifting the data. Probably came up with a few points and flakes also. (Sorry, couldn’t pass it up) Thanks for taking the sampling. It tends to let us all know where we stand. Have a great weekend.

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    • Thanks, Wally. 🙂 That reminds me, I should probably clean off some screens…. Meghan might need one for an upcoming Poetic Archaeology. 😉

      Beautiful weather here this weekend—hope yours is the same!

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  6. Give me bar graphs, give me statistics, give me a ‘study,’ and I’m there. 🙂

    The one thing that surprised me were the number of blogs people followed. I thought at around 120, I would be the exception. Glad to learn that so many bloggers follow around the same number as me. Luckily, these 120 blogs aren’t posting daily, or I’d be in trouble!

    And it’s nice to see others face the same challenges and methods. There’s always safety in numbers. 🙂

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    • I thought you might like the graphs in this post! 😉 Statistics? I’m not so fond of them. Toughest course I ever took in college. Of course, because I’d taken calculus, they made me take the heavy duty math department course, not the social sciences class. Wait a minute, folks, I was going into the social sciences…. Where was the logic in that?!

      Oh, man, if everyone I followed started blogging even 4 days a week, I’d be in serious trouble. There’s no way I could keep up with every post. I probably shouldn’t do it as much as I still do. But shaking that Midwestern guilt? With a Catholic upbringing on top of it? You know it’ll always be with me. 🙂

      But yes, it’s good to know I’m not alone in it. 🙂

      (Doesn’t your press know how many of us are chomping at the bit for your book?! If we could light a fire under them, we would! 🙂 )

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      • Ha ha–I’m not even sure if they’ve visited my site. I suspect what will get their attention is sales. A sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. But thanks as always for your interest. 🙂

        I enjoyed my stats courses–of course they were biostatistics, but statistics nonetheless. But mostly I enjoyed playing with the various statistical software programs like SPSS and SAS. I was just getting into SAS when I decided to take this year off for writing. I had also been introduced to R, but that seemed quite confusing. Not sure if you’ve ever played around with those or if you use mostly Excel, which actually has some pretty decent stats options.

        Oh, boy, did I just come off nerdy or what? Pretend you never read that last paragraph…

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        • SPSS, SAS. Now you’re getting into hubs’ speak. 🙂 He took courses using those, and there were courses in research design and exploratory data analysis…. Things that make my eyes glaze over. 😉 Excel is plenty for me. No surprise that’s where my graphs came from.

          And I think if your press requires you to have a web presence, they should have to check it out! 😀

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          • Maybe they have–I don’t know. Even though I don’t really hear from them, they’re obviously paying attention, because so far they’ve met my needs. And gotten rid of Connie. 😉

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            • Connie had to go. She wanted to steal your thunder. 🙂 And I think there’s a book in there.

              A new writer submits a potential bestseller to a press. And someone there decides to make it her own. Can the writer reclaim her life before the usurper takes her out permanently?….

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              • Ha ha–I’ll leave that one to you. It would probably make me too mad to write. I’m always tense in movies or books like that. Or in movies or books where the wrong guy is accused.

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  7. I used to do email subscriptions, but I had to turn the emails off because my inbox got way too flooded. I probably follow about 20 blogs and mostly go through the reader or have to remember to check the ones on Blogspot, etc. There are too many for me to visit regularly, but I try to make the rounds when I can!

    Interesting post. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Emmie. 🙂 The emails do build up, but the reader acts up on me now and again (in both IE 9 and Firefox). So I rely on the emails. And it’s easy to forget to check my bookmarks for blogs on other hosts.

      I’ve had to cut back on my reading and struggle with feeling guilty about it, even though I shouldn’t. But the novels can’t write themselves, and they’re the most important writing projects for us. If only we didn’t need to work those day jobs…. 😉

      Keep up the Zombie Apocalypse training! 🙂

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  8. Congrats on the response to your study. Shows you struck gold with the topic and intrigued with the process.
    The comments from this and the original post were interesting – and felt familiar! Might cut frequency of reading down (read multiple posts on a blog at one sitting) – but the writing? Writing has to come first.
    Soooooo, must go now (have a nice weekend….trying to get out before the rain here)

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    • I’ll definitely follow up with some other questions in the near future. I enjoy the discussions these posts bring. And as others have noted, it’s nice to know that others have similar experiences and feelings. 🙂

      It’s a beautiful weekend out here, so hopefully the German is getting some nice play time. Make sure Molly gets some before the rains come! (We get those early next week, so the walks could get muddy.)

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  9. I loved the survey, and really liked the charts of the results! So many respondents really feel the same as I do!

    One thing I wonder…how many people visit blogs on other platforms? I’ve got probably 8-10 non-WP sites I visit regularly but rarely leave comments ONLY because I have difficulty getting them to go through without time consuming error messages and bounce-backs. It bothers me sometimes; were they on WP, I’d be commenting regularly!!

    Great series, this is!

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    • Oh, blogs on other platforms is a great point. There are only a few I follow that aren’t on WordPress. And you’re right—it’s hard to do if you don’t have an account with the other platforms. WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr….? You might generate MORE traffic if you’d make it easier for us to sign up once and be able to communicate easily across platforms!

      We’ll be following up in a few week with how we all interact with other blogs. 🙂

      Like

  10. Pingback: Wow – A Short One! « Kindredspirit23's Blog

  11. I’ve tried posting fewer days a week. Know what happened? Fewer hits on those days. Yes, DUH you may say, but the over-acheiver in me FREAKED OUT. I really need to calm down and not pay attention to my numbers, but if fewer than 100 people stop on my blog in a day, I feel like I’ve failed. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

    What I do though, is stick to a schedule.

    Every Monday I post on a topic related to my writing.
    Tuesdays are Write a Story with Me
    Wednesdays are Flash Fiction
    Thursdays are book/Movie Reviews
    Fridays are Serial Topics
    Saturdays are what ever strikes my fancy that week
    Sundays are either Six Sentence Sunday or a flash topic that I simply must blurt about

    Basiclly, that keeps me in-line… and also my readers know which days to show up, and which days to avoid if they are not “into it”

    Wow… I’ve been blabbing to long. No more tea at midnight for me!

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    • Jennifer, please step away from the stats. Your readers are with you whether you publish one or seven times a week. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Good. 🙂

      Your ability to maintain that posting schedule, quality content, a family life, work responsibilities, and creative writing is amazing. Most people who read your comment (including me!) will feel a pang of jealousy, I’m sure! I’ll bet you were always at the far right of the bell curve in school. 😉

      The key is you found the balance that works for you. And you recognize that not all viewers will read every one of your posts or comment on them equally. Some of us need to work on that!

      And don’t you stay up too late! 😀

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  12. I’m loving the way you’re using the data. It’s teaching me a lot about blogging 🙂

    There are so many great blogs out there, it’s really hard to keep up at times. I have my favourites (like you) but at times I just go wandering through cyberspace to see what else is out there.

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    • Thanks, Dianne. 🙂 I really enjoy seeing how other bloggers handle their interactions with others. And like you, I’m impressed with how good so many are. In this world where we see such a proliferation of new writers, how will any of us manage to rise above the crowd? It should required a well-written book, but what other factors will come into play? There’s a whole other series of posts! 🙂

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  13. It’s all quite fascinating isn’t it. I mentioned somewhere else, might have even been in a comment on my own blog when I was talking about blogging networks, but there’s a whole PhD there in studying blogging habits, I would love to study it all a lot more. When we started blogging, I don’t think any of us imagined quite how many other blogs we would follow and how much time it would take; maybe we would have steered well clear if we had known! But now that we are here, we enjoy it, and learn the best ways of managing it as we go…

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    • And where will it all lead? And as I just mentioned to Dianne, how can we stand out in an area where there are so many other good writers/bloggers? There’s another PhD for someone! Or a marketing survey….

      I know if I could start over, I would do a few things differently. Mainly, not follow as many blogs so quickly. But the interaction with fellow bloggers and the support/help/encouragement is irreplaceable, especially for a shy introvert like me. Joining a “physical” writer’s group or approaching people in “real” life for critiques would be very hard for me. But a blogging cohort? Absolutely perfect. 🙂

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  14. I must have missed that post JM. Sorry! More and more I’m becoming a lurker…I read when I can, comment occasionally, and I as for following other blogs I try to stick with those whose interests are similar. Like a few others, I don’t follow everyone who follows me either. I love the interaction of blogging friends but sometimes, the sheer numbers are so overwhelming I can’t possibly reach out to each and every one much as I would like to. Guilt is involved here too. 🙂 Nice post!

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    • Hey, Jeannie, don’t worry about missing a few posts! Of course, this post shows most of us understand completely that not everyone can read or comment on all of our posts. But we feel guilty when we can’t read all of theirs! I think for our long-term blogging health, we must get past that. 🙂

      Shameless plug here, but if you can only get to one of my posts each week, I’d catch my new “Poetic Archaeology A” series on Tuesdays. I’m incorporating a serialized short story for Meghan along with the haiku. It’s getting some nice reviews. 🙂

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    • Maybe not so superhuman—we’re the ones breathlessly trying to juggle them all! And write, and work, and spend time with family and friends…. If you’re at a manageable level for you, don’t feel bad about staying there! 🙂

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  15. Wow, people follow 100-201 blogs? That’s mad! I wouldn’t able to visit all those blogs, how do people have the time! This is a brilliant post, nice to get an idea of what other people are doing in their blogging adventures! 🙂

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    • Hi, thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation! The only reason the 101-200 blogs can be managed at all is that not everyone posts everyday. 🙂 But even if most of them post twice a week, it’s impossible for me to follow them all equally. I just can’t comment on all of them.

      For now, I’ve found a workable balance. But I’m really trying to limit my blogging time. Otherwise, I’ll never finish writing my novels! 🙂

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  16. 100 comments, what a great milestone. Congrats! 🙂

    I’m really pleased to see these results as it reminds me that we’re all in the same boat with regards to time and commitments. I wish I had more time to read through the rest of the comments – as I bet that would highlight it even more – but its almost midnight here and the boys want feeding!

    You’re right about the community too; I’ve experienced everyone to be kind, giving and thoughtful, with comments that are often deep, insightful and always a pleasure to respond to. I find its a shame I can’t follow more blogs to expose myself to more of the same.

    Here’s a question though, sive I realised something the other day – do all ‘ formally’ followed blogs come up in one’s email (this is just talking about WordPress blogs), because I’ve just realised that some recently followed blogs don’t show up in mine. 😦

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    • The email notification seems a bit glitchy. If you use the “follow” button on the black menu bar, sometimes they only show up in the reader. But I’ve used it for others, and I’ll also get an email notification.

      I always use the “send me an email notification” widget (or whatever wording the blogger used) when that’s an option. But make sure your notification settings haven’t gotten set to “never,” which happened to me and some other bloggers I know.

      Check the settings for “blogs I follow” in your reader by clicking the “edit list” option. Sometimes that’s been set at “never,” even though I didn’t choose that option. Hopefully that will fix your problem with them!

      Someday, those nighttime feedings will end. 🙂

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      • Thanks for the tips. I’ve been going to my Reader lately to try to pick up the bits I’ve missed and I’m stunned by how much is in there that never makes it to my email.

        I thought bloggers were just being quiet, but that’s not the case at all! Seems like I still have catching up to do.

        …though I may just start from now, this time. o.O

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    • Thanks, Kourtney. 🙂 Now I’ve just got to convince myself it really is okay not to follow every blog or comment on every post. I’m not a bad person if I don’t. 😉

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  17. Very nice, succinct recap; I liked seeing how I measured up (or didn’t) to those around me. 🙂 Those graphs were a nice touch, too- it’s always easier to grasp stats visually. And, it helps cut down on time! LOL!

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    • Thanks, Mayumi! The last thing I wanted was to write a boring, statistical post. 🙂 So Excel helped save the day with some simple, colorful charts. I really prefer simple to complex, even though I can’t get away with it when I write archaeological reports. 🙂

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  18. I guess the surprising thing is that most people follow less than 200 – I’m not even sure how many I’m following but it seems like a lot more than that. But, I do follow back whenever anyone follows so that’s probably why. I have that midwestern and Catholic guilt thing going too though! 🙂 Thanks for this – now I don’t feel so bad about not doing enough posts. Still wish I could comment more, but sometimes I just can’t keep up with it all (so it’s good to know others feel the same way)!

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    • If nothing else, I think these posts and comments gives us that feeling of “whew, I’m not alone.” And sometimes that’s enough to take some of the pressure off us. And personally, I think it’s better to err on the side of fewer posts than too many. If we’re overtaxing ourselves, the quality probably won’t be there.

      I’d rather read fewer excellent posts than many forgetful ones. And I understand that not every reader can (or wants to) comment on every post I write. So you shouldn’t feel bad. Take that Midwestern upbringing and Catholic guilt! 🙂

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  19. Loved these answers. Sorry I didn’t read the post with all the questions and put you even higher than 100 comments. I’ve been spending every free second hacking out my 2nd book as my readers get changes and suggestions back to me. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of revising to do and I’ve been a harried mess and have put off going through all my blogs. I’m trying to pick up a few more blogs a day now, and slowly get back into the groove without neglecting the revisions that still are not close to being complete. You are one of my favorites though, so I stopped by you today, and will try to do better now that I’m kind of getting back into a routine after summer.

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    • Please don’t apologize for spending more time with your manuscript than with blogs—the manuscripts must come first! Revisions are tough, but so essential, and they deserve our full attention.

      And even though I feel guilty when I can’t keep up with all the bloggers I follow, I don’t expect others to feel the same way—even though most seem to. 😉

      So spend as much quality time as you need with Book 2 before your sisters tie you to your computer to finish it. 🙂 (But also take time for yourself and family, of course.)

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      • Thanks for soothing my conscience. I do feel bad when i miss out on my blogs though, because it feels like I’m ignoring friends. Just know that if you are ignored for a while, I will come back someday. I love the things I learn through blogs.

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  20. Interesting stuff here and the comments are great. When I first started blogging I read that you should blog everyday until you gain a following. I am happy to hear that many people appreciate blogger who blog only 2 or 3 times a week. That takes the pressure off! I have a nice following and so I can back off.

    I wish the folks who post multiple times a day would read your scientific study here. Even if it is great information, it is too much to keep up with!

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    • Haha—fortunately I don’t run into too many people who post multiple times a day. And frankly? It’s not usually great information. Blogs shouldn’t be Facebook, thank heaven.

      When I dropped from 3 posts to 2 per week, the decrease in views was tough at first. But I got over it soon. And I think the post quality improved, which attracted more readers. I think that’s a better system for me. 🙂

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      • You are right. The folks who post multiple times a day often do posts that are blah, blah, blah. I glom on to people who interact, post interesting information, and are respectful of my time . . .

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  21. I am naturally skeptical of statistics. However, like most people, I tend to forget that when those statistics match my previously-held beliefs (confirmation bias, I believe it’s called), so I agree wholeheartedly with your findings!
    When I first started reading blogs, I would bookmark them, and check them regularly. But I find that having them sent directly to me is a lot more convenient. However, the ones I want to comment on often sit in my inbox for some time. It seems like this one has been in my box since 2006!

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    • Yes, statistics are wonderful when they match our thoughts and deeds. 🙂 And sometimes it feels good to be part of the majority. (Although other times I’m happy not to be.)

      I’ve had to get more selective about follow backs and commenting. If I wanted to comment on every blog equally, I’d have to blog full time. And giving up the day job’s income isn’t something I can afford to do. Plus that still wouldn’t leave me much time to revise the novels. And I want them to see the light of day before too much time passes!

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