Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Commenting 101: Fitting it All In

Welcome back to my Commenting 101 blogging series. If you'd like to read from the beginning of the series, please click here.

I'm sure some of you are wondering how this series could possibly have stretched out over 7 weeks, but I really have wanted to try and address as many aspects of commenting as possible. Because, as you've read, it's really so much more than just "leave me a comment."

This week's topic is: Fitting it All In

After reading over comments left throughout this series, I've noticed that many of my readers who are new bloggers tend to just sort of fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to blogging and networking.

If you are blogging solely for recreation and not concerned with growing your audience, then it really shouldn't matter when you blog, how often, or how you return comments.

If you have a goal for your blog and seeing growth in your readership is important to you, then you need to consider being intentional in the way that you spend your time on the computer.

1. Why have a blogging schedule?
  • If readers know when to expect posts from you, they're more likely to stop by regularly.
  • If readers know that you are a blogger who makes a point of interacting with your readers, they'll be eager to leave you feedback.
  • If you are a wife, husband, mom, or dad then you have additional responsibilities outside of your job/blog/home/family. It makes sense to fit in regular time for blogging rather than make those other activities come to a halt whenever you feel inspired to write.
  • Keep a notebook or a Drafts folder to jot down notes when you feel inspired. Then you can write that post when the time is right.
2. How to get started with a blogging schedule?
  • Decide which time(s) of the day you'll have to carve out for projects, writing, and networking.
My girls are old enough now that they play on their own/together quite nicely. If they see me working on a craft they sometimes like to watch or "help," but for the most part they stay occupied with Barbies, dollhouse, and Polly Pockets. When Natalie is at preschool, Michaela Byrd and I usually run errands. I spend parts of naptime and an hour or so after they go to bed networking and writing/scheduling the next day's blog post. 
  • What works for me might not work for you.
We all have different schedules and lifestyles. You may be an uber early bird who likes to write before your family wakes for the day. Maybe you write your posts on your lunch break at work. Find what works with you and stick with it.
  • Be consistent!
Again, most readers like a blog they can rely on...not only for solid content, but for a blogger they know they can interact with. If you have a small blog that hasn't received many hits or comments yet, being consistent in visiting the sites of your readers and leaving feedback for them is a great way to grow!

As a new blogger, scheduling a bit of time to network with your readers should be just as important as writing your posts. 

3. Rome wasn't built in a day.
  • Wait, we're not talking about history, we're talking about blogging...the point is, don't expect for every blogger you visit to hope over and become a dedicated reader right away. Finding good bloggy friends takes time and effort
  • Don't rely on link parties for your sole source of traffic. 
Participants can be fickle (sometimes they visit other blogs and sometimes they just "link and leave"), and parties are time consuming, particularly if you link to more than one a day. And when you get burned out and decide to stop linking up, where does your traffic go? I truly believe that stepping back and building trust and relationships with your visitors makes for loyal readers.

4. Content is King!

  • No matter what, focus on publishing good, solid content first. When I have one of those ridiculously crazy weeks, I do my best to make sure I have time to write a new post or pull something fun from my Drafts folder.
5. When should you stop returning every comment?
The title of today's post is misleading because you can't fit it all in when you find your blog expanding. You just can't. 
  • At some point you'll start experiencing continued growth, more comments, more traffic...and less time.
  • Take a look at your life.
If you are overwhelmed by the number of comments you receive each day and you spend more time replying to those than with your family, it's time to reevaluate. 

Lately, I've been feeling tied to my computer, staying up an hour or two later each night than I normally would because I feel compelled to reply to every comment, whether via email or personal blog visit. I'm missing out on time spent unwinding with my husband, and (let's be honest!) folding the pile of laundry on the couch. I knew it was time to take a step back yesterday when I was feeling guilty for not being able to comment on each of the 90+ posts that linked up to my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. I had to remind myself that I'd spent the weekend with family at a funeral!

Contrary to what some readers think, bloggers are not magical robots that can add hours to their days to fit in projects and type up emails. In order to be able to write posts that make sense and have some notes of humor or interest, you have to be able to live. And you can't live when you're tied to your laptop replying to the 40+ comments left on your blog each day. That's a lot of computer time!

My friend Beckie offered some great advice for bloggers whose inboxes are consistently packed full of comments:
Read each comment, appreciate them, and then move on. 

It seems simple enough, but it's hard for those of us who cherish that interaction to let go! I'm not advocating just deleting all your messages without a backwards glance, particularly if you regularly link to blog parties. I firmly believe that blog parties imply some form of participation, and other readers will wise up when they see your posts linked to multiple sites and they don't see your presence in the comments sections. Even today, if I link a post to a blog party, I do my best to return each comment for that post, particularly when someone mentions that they are visiting from ___'s blog party.

I'm learning to read each comment the way I've always done, respond via email or a quick blog visit to the ones I can, and be happy with what I am able to accomplish for the day. I tend to visit regular commenters first, because I value loyalty. And, of course, there are some spots on my Blog Roll that I consistently visit, even though I know the writers receive far too many daily messages to respond to each one. Commenting is just my way of showing support because I know those ladies appreciate comments just as much as the smaller blogs!

Obviously, new bloggers or bloggers who receive a small amount of comments on their daily posts should make interacting with their readers a priority because that is one way you will see growth. I can't stress this enough! But for bloggers who are seeing lots of traffic and are starting to feel torn between living life and typing up emails and comments...the choice needs to be life.

I hope this post was helpful to those of you who have mentioned feeling stressed out about trying to squeeze everything in. When you're just starting out, interaction with your readers is so important. Fewer comments means more time to spend on writing, scheduling, etc. As your blog grows, you have to adjust along with it!

Thank you so much for staying with me through this series. This post was incredibly long, but I really felt led to share this with you all today. I have a new series in the works for when this one ends, so you won't get bored! Next week, we'll discuss some Commenting Technical How-Tos and we'll wrap the series up with some Highlights.

Linking to The Stories of A 2 Z and Homebody.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. What especially resonated with me was your point about not being able to write a decent blog post if we don't LIVE. So true.

    I also need to build up a Drafts folder. You could write another series on how to do that! Other than recipes, I can't think of many topics that are "evergreen."

  2. I am so enjoying this series Amanda! I've only had my blog for a year now, and while I had great intentions of posting everyday it just hasn't happened. Unfortunately, life has. I like the idea of scheduling "blog time". Like anything else, if time is set aside for it I'd be more likely to get it accomplished. I agree, those that have established blogs with large followings couldn't possibly reply to each and every comment. I too feel leaving the comment is more for encouragement and to show them I love what they are doing.

  3. Great tips Amanda. I've been following (quietly) your series on commenting. Thanks for sharing!

    My blog is small enough that I can still return every comment, email new commenters and even a blog visit. I do hope to keep it up somewhat, but as you say, life always comes first.

  4. Another awesome post - thanks Amanda! This series has been so awesome - as soon as I see a new post in my blog roll, I come right over! I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

    - Jenn @ Social Salutations

  5. "You need to choose life." Isn't that always the right thing?

    This series is wonderful, Amanda. You most definitely know whereof you speak. Thank you for sharing your insights and your wisdom!

  6. This has been such a helpful series. Thanks so much for putting all of the effort into it, especially for us newbies. :)

  7. I have really enjoyed this series and learned a lot of valuable information that I am already putting to use. Thank you!!!

    And, no, you don't need to respond to this comment...hehehe....

  8. Another great post! I'm starting to compile a draft folder, even just for keeping ideas in one place its a great thing to have!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this series - the information you provide is great and so relevant!! I'm pretty new to blogging and the info is very helpful!! Hope you're having a great week:)

  10. Great post! I try to schedule myself to blog in the mornings when my son is still sleeping and then during his afternoon nap. Sometimes I get busy doing other things though. I think it's great that you comment on all the links at your party and you usually comment back if a comment is posted on your site. It makes me feel good that you take the time to look at projects I link up, but I'm sure it is quite time consuming for you. I can't imagine.

  11. This was a great way to wrap up your commenting series Amanda! I love Beckie's advice to and I should probably try to take it more often:)

  12. This post was exactly what I have been praying for (literally) -- I am struggling so much trying to know how to balance my blog with my other responsibilities.

  13. Hi Amanda, I just wanted to let you know that I am loving this series. Unfortunately I missed this series so I had to start back at the beginning to get the full impact.

    You bring up some wonderful points and "just good ole blog manners". Thank you for the time you invested in this series.

    BTW, I am verily new to your blog and have LOVED every minute scouring the pages. Keep up the great work and I will be back.

  14. Thanks for the advice. As a new blogger I am focused on providing good content. Glad to see I am on the right track. :-)

  15. I know exactly how you feel. One of my favorite things about blogging is the relationships. I love commenting on people's posts and visiting blogs. As my site has grown, my time has become more and more tight and I have had to give some of that up and it makes me sad. I am still trying to figure out how to have the personal interaction and still get everything done.

    Your comment box works fine for me. Maybe it's something with your computer??


  16. Excellent post! I've just finally gotten to the point where I have some drafts and can work ahead a bit. It's making a HUGE difference.
    Thanks for sharing so much valuable info!

  17. I love this series! I am a very very VERY new blogger ( as in I only started craft blogging last October!) and am always looking for tips to help bring traffic through my blog. Thanks so much for all these great tips!

  18. Thank you for sharing this. I feel (now) that I have to reply to all comments. It might be a day or two (or three) later but I do reply, to those I can. Thank you for the tips!!

  19. Thank you so much for a fabulous post full of great info! I've had my blog for a few years, but just recently have made a commitment to regular posting and making new bloggy friends. This post was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!!

  20. I'm still small enough that commenting back to each comment isn't a huge ordeal. But these tips are SO great to keep in mind for if I ever do grow too big to comment back to everyone. Thanks Amanda!!

  21. Wow! I appreciate your tips and your style of writing. I have been struggling with my blogging schedule which is why I am taking a break to reevaluate. Thanks for your ideas!

  22. Thank you Amanda for this good advice! I really love this whole series. My blog is still very small and I'm able to respond and keep track of everyone who comments on my blog.

    I do have a question though about link parties. I always comment on at least two other links, often blogs I've never visited before. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of which blogs I visit (Lets say 2-3 link parties per post is at least 4-6 new blogs). Do you have any advice for this? I wasn't sure if I should subscribe to each one or keep an excel spreadsheet or what. :)

    Thank you! And take your time responding, live life first!

  23. Yes, choose life. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the insight, Amanda.

  24. I think the schedule is key. I've never quite been able to make it a regular process for me, but I know when I do it, it makes things run more smoothly.
    Thanks for linking to my party :)

  25. Another wonderfully informative post. One of the challenges for me is that the tool I use for blogging (Blogger) doesn't really support that kind of interaction. I can't directly reply to readers' comments, and even if I put in a comment responding to theirs, since they can't sign up to receive replies via email, unless they check back, they won't even see my reply. Humph. I make a point of visiting my visitors' sites (if they have blogs of their own) and leaving comments there. But it's frustrating not to be able to have the kind of interactions you describe.
    As you can see, I'm fed up with Blogger lately and considering a switch.

  26. I've been thinking about this post all day... first because I was feeling majorly guilty for not visiting more people & commenting directly on their site after they leave me a comment. Because people do that to me & after the initial comment excitement, I remember, oh yeah, I was just on their site the other day, that's why they are visiting. Of course, I love the comments but it feels like they are only visiting because I visited them first. Then I feel a little bummed.

    henry  happened

  27. This has been a very helpful series! I have been having time finding even the time to write my posts. Sleep is becoming less and less lengthy and that's rough sometimes. I like the idea of scheduling things so I can structure my day.

    Don't feel the pressure to respond to this one...I know you are reading it! :)

  28. Just found your blog today. I really enjoyed reading through your entire Commenting 101 series. I'm fairly new to the blogging world, and your advice was very helpful. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  29. I love that you said, "Choose life." Great series! Thanks for all of the comment love that you have left me so far. It has been very encouraging!

  30. This is my first visit and ironically this has been bothering me of late...I will be posting this concern later this wek, bbut wonder your thoughts on it. I have about 250 readers a day, however my comments are very low (10 -20)...how can that be?...or more importantly, WHY?...I do many "drive-bys" and don't comment, but I try to at least leave a comment a week to someone I visit daily...I rarely leave a comment to someone who has 100 comments because I can't be bothered with all that "scrolling" to find the comment screen :-)....so any thoughts?

  31. Thanks so much for the great advice and I really enjoyed the tone of your writing as well, you genuinely shared your opinions, which are valuable!

    Oh, and please don't feel the need to respond to this comment, it is only meant for you to enjoy and then go hang with the family (and fold laundry, ugh!)

    Take care,

  32. So helpful, friend! Love that line...the choice needs to be life. I agree- and while I want to reply and talk to everyone who comments, I just can't! Maybe in summer, though (: You always have the best advice (:

  33. I like the idea of scheduled blogging time. Right now I'm 'flying by the seat of my pants'! I love responding to comments and have made a great number of real connections that way. But, I can totally see that blogs larger than mine have to be organized in order to maintain a life balance. Thanks for another great post, Amanda!

  34. What a great post. It is definitely a fine line, and juggling act to try to fit it all in. And I don't get nearly the amount of comments that I used to when I was really trying to grow my blog, and visiting dozens of blogs a day.

    I try hard to visit the small group of blogs that are my, I don't know, circle of blog friends that I have interacted with since I first started blogging, and visit new commentors as well - but it is sometimes hard to get to everyone with everything I have going on in my life right now! You are one of my first bloggy friends, and I'm so glad you don't forget me with how much your blog has grown! Great series, Amanda!

  35. Wow! I just finished reading this series in it's entirety and I have to say, it was very useful! Thanks for taking the time to type it up and share it.

    I like the idea of blogging and have some things I would love to blog about, but it has always seemed like I was just typing things out to leave out in the internet with no one to read it. Your series has really helped me to understand how to start building relationships with other bloggers out there!


  36. I have learned something new in every one of your posts from this series...which is great for someone just dipping their feet into the blogging water...thank you! Now I REALLY need to figure out how to fit all of this into my already busy schedule! :)

  37. Amanda, this really has been a thoughtful, wonderful series. Comment guilt still is an issue for me. These lovely people are taking time out of their day to leave me a little note of encouragement and I can't respond to each one personally?? But, in 20 years who is going to benefit from my time the most? my family.

  38. As a new blog writer with a small audience, I do try to interact as much as I can. But I have to say, as a blog reader and commenter, my expectations are not very high. It is certainly NICE to get a comment or email back. But I honestly never expect it nor does it typically change my likelihood to read that blog. For me, it's about the content and the personality, not whether they replied to me. Again, replying is nice, but for this reader, it's not the thing that keeps me sticking around.
    Great series, Amanda!

  39. Thanks for the great series! I am new to blogging except for my personal family site. I have learned some great tips from this series and plan to change a few of the ways that I was commenting. Thanks so much!

  40. Well I must say Miss Amanda, you sure are amazing! I am REALLY enjoying your little series ...on to the next one:)

  41. In the spirit of your fantastic article series, wanted to say thanks for posting your tips. As a new blogger they are very helpful. Much appreciated!

  42. This is EXACTLY what I needed tonight. I am definitely in the "how do I still maintain a life?" phase. I must find balance!

  43. Hi Amanda, thank you for this series. I read every one. I have a question. Sometimes I get a lot of comments and I don't have the time to respond by email or to return a visit. I felt guilty so I decided to hold a giveaway every week as a thank you for the kind comments I get. Is that all right or is that tacky? (btw, i found your blog through Pinterest) :^) Patsy from

  44. Hi Amanda: Thank you so much for your tips for fitting everything in. I am having such a hard time with this right now. My blog is small, but starting to grow, and I'm having a hard time doing everything I need and in all honesty, want, to do with the blog and have time to do the other things that I need to be doing for family and work. I will try out some of your tips and see if they help me. Thank you very much.


I love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave comments...just don't send me spam asking me to buy stuff off your website! I've got three kids and no money to purchase your magic weight-loss pill or bust enhancement, or whatever else you might be selling. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you! :)

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