Doing Discussions: Balancing Blogging Priorities

June 17, 2018 Uncategorized 34

Even aside from balancing blogging with other things in my life, I often feel torn between the many elements of maintaining a blog. Today, I’d like to talk about what those elements are and how to balance them.
For me, the main elements of maintaining my blog are the following:

  • reading
  • writing reviews
  • writing other posts, including regular features and one-offs
  • reading and commenting on posts from bloggers I follow
  • finding new-to-me bloggers and commenting on their posts
  • responding to comments
  • tracking reading and challenge progress
  • posting to social media

Reading feels less like something I have to do to maintain my blog than the other things on the list. I tend to just do it when I want to. What made me decide to write this post is that writing reviews and regular features is definitely my next priority. I’m not sure it should be, but it feels to me like the most important thing is to keep my blog going. Given how much I enjoy using my blog to interact with other readers though, I’m currently wondering if I should do a better job of prioritizing the commenting and social media related items. I suppose the counter-argument to that is that my blog posts give me something to talk to other readers about.

Anyway, at present, the order things are written in above is generally the order in which I prioritize things. I tend to read when I want, write reviews whenever I have time to blog, and once my reviews are done, I catch up on whichever of the other items feels most pressing. I’m not sure this is the best way to enjoy my blog though, so I’m curious to hear how you all handle all these different elements of blogging. Are there any items you’d add to or remove from my list? Do you prioritize these parts of blogging differently?

34 Responses to “Doing Discussions: Balancing Blogging Priorities”

  1. Liz Dexter

    Hm, interesting one. Here’s what I think I do …

    Reading – with mini-priorities:
    – books for review by their publication dates
    – Iris Murdoch challenge book as early in the month as I can
    Writing my reading blog posts – with mini-priorities:
    – posting my Iris Murdoch round-up on the last day of the month
    – posting my State of the TBR on the first day of the month
    – Posting my reviews so I can link to NetGalley
    – Posting a note and link if I have a Shiny New Books review published
    – Normal book reviews
    – Posts for my professional blog (if doing in my “spare time”)
    Responding to comments on my blog
    Reading other people’s blogs and commenting
    Checking for replies to my comments on other people’s blogs
    Doing some Twitter retweeting stuff

    • DoingDewey

      I like your idea of breaking down these tasks! I also prioritize books by pub date or library due date. I think my posts all get approximately equal priority.

  2. Laura Roberts

    I must admit that sometimes I am just blown away by how dedicated book bloggers can be. There are plenty of books I have started and never finished (either due to lack of time, having to return it to the library, inattention, or actually not liking the book enough to go on with it), books I just can’t think of anything witty enough to write up in a review, books that seems like they deserve a better review that I’m able to give them, books that just didn’t quite hit the mark for me personally… and, of course, being a fellow author, I hate giving negative reviews, so things get pretty complicated when I think about writing book reviews, even with a personal disclaimer that these are just one person’s opinion. The fact that book bloggers continue to put out reviews on a regular basis — whether that’s every day, once a week, once a month, or just once a year — is quite miraculous!

    So, I guess what I am trying to say is this: would you consider your blog more of a hobby or an occupation? If the latter, it’s all about deadlines and sticking to them, making connections, keeping the content consistently churning, etc. But if it’s a hobby, something you enjoy and want to keep on enjoying, none of that is really very pressing.

    I love reading, but I don’t love reviewing, and I hate feeling *forced* to review things, so even though writing is my profession, reviewing is just a hobby for me. So I try to keep it light, review only books I actually enjoyed, and only if I feel moved to say something. My preference is to champion the “underdog” books with fewer reviews than the big blockbusters, too, but sometimes I just like to jump in with a few words about the heavy hitters, too. It all depends on my mood!

    • DoingDewey

      That’s a good question! I want it to be a hobby, but sometimes I have to make myself take a step back when I’m feeling like I ‘have’ to do something and remind myself I’m doing this for fun.

      I will sometimes write negative reviews, but like you, I only write reviews if I feel I have something to say. I do a few book tours, but it’s rare that I end up having to write a review when I don’t want to as a result.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Interesting to hear from the perspective of someone who is also an author 🙂

  3. Susie | Novel Visits

    Katie – This is such a great question. Before I started my blog I had NO idea how many balls I would need to keep in the air in order to keep it going. I thought, “Read a book. Write a review.” How naive! For me reading is the easy part, but of course everything has to go with it. Sometimes the reviews flow easily, but many times they don’t. Before I started blogging, I wasn’t much of a procrastinator, but now I totally am.

    I know I could do a better job with following/commenting on other blogs and social media if I had more time. Both of those are total time suckers, even though they can be so worthwhile and I love making connections with other book lovers. Finding the balance between my job, blogging, and my personal life is a constant struggle. Maybe someday I’ll get it right!

    • DoingDewey

      I agree with this so much! I started my blog expecting to use it as a reading log for myself, so all the other aspects of blogging were a surprise to me. And I love all the social aspects, but I also always wish I had more time for them 🙂

  4. @NancyElin

    Reading: This is my main priority. I am never without a book @home, Kindle in the train or IPOD audio book on the bike!
    Writing reviews: try to keep reviews short with emphasis on strong and weak points. I don’t read blogposts that are 80% rehash plot. I’d rather read the book myself.
    Extras: I do not write other posts, regular features, popular memes (6 degrees or WWW etc) or one-offs. I use my blog time only for books.
    Blogrolls: I read a few blogs…rarely comment because people have no time to reply nor feel the need to.
    I do not spend time finding new-to-me bloggers and commenting on their posts. I prefer to investigate new books…reviews in newspapers, magazines…long and short lists of upcoming awards.
    Planning: I like to plan my reading. If we fail to plan…we plan to fail! This year I am trying to read 60 book from TBR and try to uphold my ‘buy books embargo’.
    I post my review link on twitter….that’s about it.

    • DoingDewey

      I agree about not re-hashing the plot too much in reviews! I write a summary and if I’m finding it hard, I’ll lead with the book blurb instead.

      I mostly just do book reviews myself, but I’d like to do more extra posts. I like reading them and I feel like I’d have fun doing something fresh with my blog. I definitely prioritize reviews though.

      Looking for new books sounds like fun! I also like looking at book lists, but haven’t done much reading of professional book reviews. Now I want to give it a try!

      I was planning all of my reading at the beginning of the year, but I’ve found that too much to keep up with. Now I’m just planning my challenge reading and that’s been enough to keep me on track 🙂

      Thanks for sharing how you balance all the different parts of blogging! It’s helpful to hear what someone else is doing.

  5. Angela

    This is a tough one! I think reading would be my top priority, because if I wasn’t reading, then I’m not generating reviews and I have less content. Everything else for me kind of all flows together, and I do whatever needs to be done at that particular time. I like to schedule ahead as much as I can, so I use that to judge what I need to work on, whether it’s reviews or “original” content. I usually take a bit of time each morning or evening to catch up on other blogs. Memes like Top Ten Tuesday or Can’t-Wait Wednesday are somewhat lower priorities, so I just try to do a bunch of them at a time and then not worry about them. Social media is probably the lowest priority for me, I’d rather be reading other people’s posts than be on Twitter, but on the other hand, if I was more active on social media, I might find more readers.

    • DoingDewey

      I would like to schedule ahead more, but I have a hard time staying ahead. I also enjoy reading people’s posts more than spending time on twitter, which probably explains some of my priorities 🙂 And I agree with you about reading as a top priority. Not only do I enjoy it, even without blogging, blogging doesn’t happen without reading.

  6. iliana

    I think this is a struggle a lot of us can relate to. If I can keep a list of things I want to write about then that makes it easier. The hardest part for me is really keeping up with visiting blogs and responding to comments. I love visiting blogs but when you fall behind for a few days sometimes it feels like you’ll never catch up and then you get further and further behind. For that reason, I pretty much just stick to my blog. I do have FB & Instagram but only post a few times a month there and it’s always a bit more related to my crafty stuff.

    • DoingDewey

      That seems like a great idea! I used to keep a list of discussion post ideas, but I’ve hardly had any lately. I’m hoping to get back into it over the next month though.

      And it’s true, it can feel overwhelming when you get behind on the social stuff. I’ve been going easier on myself when I get behind on reading blogs I’m subscribed to, letting myself skip all but the posts about books I’ve read or topics of particular interest until I get caught up and that can help. Whatever it takes to keep it fun is a good approach, I think 🙂

  7. Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

    I just kind of do whatever I’m feeling. I’m so busy in my non-blogging life that I try not to let blogging stress me out. If I feel like reading, I will. If I feel like catching up on comments and stuff, I will. If I feel like scheduling a bunch of posts, I will. It really just depends!

  8. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I wish that I had a good established way to find new-to-me bloggers! That’s the piece that I most often feel like I have not succeeded at! Because I know there are tons of amazing and wondrous bloggers who I DON’T YET KNOW and who I want to know. I was one of the co-hosts for Book Blogger Appreciation Week a few years ago before everything was on fire, and I made several amazing new blogger friends that I cherish.

    This does not speak to your priorities and how to prioritize them, because I don’t have an answer to that. I just wish I were awesome at all the parts at the same time. :p

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, I have some ideas for that! What has worked best for me is seeing who is commenting on the posts of bloggers I already follow. That tends to get me to bloggers who share my taste in books. When I run out of new people to find that way, I also google for reviews for specific books (I usually try nonfiction books) and have had pretty good success with that too. Trying to find bloggers on twitter or via book blogger directories has been less worthwhile.

      Gosh Jenny, how dare you not solve all my problems! :p Doing all of things would be my ideal solution too.

  9. Kelly @ Wandering Through Books

    I feel like I don’t… totally manage things. Partly because I’m still in the process of coming back from a year-long hiatus… it turns out disappearing from a blog for a year is not ideal, who knew?

    My system has lately been more or less centered around feeling like it’s been way too long since I’ve done any given blogging thing, trying to do that thing, and questioning if I should be switching to a different system since the actual tech component of blog maintenance is still a big challenge for me. Any sort of one-off discussion post tends to stew in my drafts for ages too just because reviewing always feels like it should be given priority, especially if it’s an ARC.

    I’d love an easier way to find new-to-me bloggers, I always feel like I’m missing some really fantastic content just because I’m not looking in the right places…

    And now I’m thinking that I should be setting up a calendar or something rather than frantically laying down the tracks before the train. That might help… anyway. Thank you for a thought-provoking post!

    • DoingDewey

      Coming back after a break does sound hard! best of luck getting back into things.

      Some tech things that make my life better are the Editorial Calendar wordpress plugin (free) and the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin from Ashley at NoseGraze, including the extension that lets you auto-post reviews to goodreads (not free). I’ve also made a discussion post image template, which helps reduce the work of creating a new one a bit.

      The best ways I’ve found for discovering new bloggers are seeing who is commenting on the blogs I follow and googling for reviews of books I’ve enjoyed.

      I’d love to be scheduling my posts in advance, but I rarely manage this! Sometimes I get ahead, but eventually I always fall behind again. So, if you find a system that works, let me know 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  10. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    This is such a good question! For me, it’s about trying to figure out the balance between all of those things. If I write more posts, then the social media/commenting/visiting part of blogging increases, which can stress me out. For the moment, posting once or twice a week seems to be the right balance for it all, but that changes with different seasons of life too.

    • DoingDewey

      Ha, that is a great point! I have noticed than when I’m doing a really good job of writing posts regularly, that can actually contribute to me falling behind on answering comments. I’d consider scheduling posts to go live later when I have many posts written in the same week, but I kind of like discussing books with people closer to when I read them, so I’m not sure what a good solution is for that problem.

  11. Heather @ Book Addiction

    Reading and posting reviews are definitely my top two priorities. I try to visit bloggers I “know” somewhat regularly but getting to know new bloggers almost never happens (although I would love to prioritize this more) and the social media thing doesn’t happen at all. Unless goodreads counts as social media? Because I do some stuff there. It’s hard enough to find time to read/blog with work and personal stuff, and I’m so impressed with people who manage to make time for all of the things on your list. I think you’re doing an amazing job.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Heather! I think you’re doing an awesome job too 🙂

      A decent amount of my social media activity comes from other activities. I automatically share my blog posts on twitter and I’ll also share posts from other bloggers as I’m reading them. I try to get on and just chat with people sometimes, but less than I would like.

  12. Geoff W

    The only thing I would change would be to bump this one: responding to comments up higher on the list. I’ve not been so great about going to others (you’ll see a few comments from today and yesterday) and especially not about finding new ones! I do find that I have to reply to comments on my blog because it would make me feel bad that I wasn’t keeping up my end of the conversation 😀

    • DoingDewey

      You know, I think I should probably bump that up my list too. I felt like all my commenting activity was of similar importance as I was writing my list, but I am at this moment catching up on responding to comments on my blog before catching up on my comment on new-to-me blogs challenge 🙂

  13. Brona

    Your list resonated with me (except that social media is higher up the list for me). My lack of time to comment thoughtfully has been bothering me a little lately. I don’t like to leave quickies but do so sometimes just so that people know I’ve been by. Even reading bloggers that I like has been a bit hard lately & I tend to just go for the reviews of books that I know/have read/am curious about or memes I enjoy joining in sometimes like yours:-).

    Reading is always fun and natural to me, but blogging is something I have to work at a little more. Most of the time writing is also fun and natural, but sometimes I do get myself into a muddle of shoulds, coulds and musts. When I feel the need to reconnect and be more social, I make a conscious effort to join in memes.

    It’s interesting that quite a few of us are thinking about this at the same time.

    • DoingDewey

      I feel like you always do a good job leaving thoughtful comments when you stop by! But I am also happy to just get a quick, nice comment saying someone has visited.

      I also have to balance commenting quickly and commenting thoughtfully – this reminds me of the balance I’ve been trying to find with my reading as well.

      And like you, I find blogging more fun and natural without blogging. Reading slumps are much more rare than blogging slumps for me and it’s far more unusual for reading to feel like work.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about this! It seemed like a general book blogger problem and I’ve really enjoyed hearing how everyone else is dealing with it.

  14. Sarah's Book Shelves

    Aaah – thank you for writing this! I’ve been struggling with this lately. And, it’s the visiting/commenting on other blogs and responding to my own comments that’s really fallen by the wayside. Sometimes it’s over a week before I sit down to respond to blog comments. Also – responding to requests for reviews.

    I’ve been trying to think about how to manage all this. I used to try to respond to every review request b/c I feel bad for these authors trying to get their books out there, but now there’s just not time for that and I’ve started to remind myself that this isn’t a fully paying job. So, now I don’t respond unless I’m interested in reviewing the book (which is almost never). I’ve also been visiting fewer blogs and trying to be really diligent about loyally following very favorite ones.

    I schedule all my social media and don’t spend nearly the time I should actively on each platform, but I need breaks from it and am often times happier when I haven’t checked social in a long while.

    • DoingDewey

      I’m glad it’s not just me! Like you, I’ve decided that authors can do without responses to their review requests. I currently say I’m not accepting review requests, so that makes me feel better about it 🙂

      I also really relate to how you use social media. I mostly just schedule posts as well. I’d like to do more talking to bookish people online, but I find that twitter has gotten so bogged down in politics, I don’t get much joy out of spending time scrolling through it. I know the politics stuff is important, but it’s certainly not very uplifting.

  15. Karen Hugg

    Wow, first off I have to say how impressed I am with how consistently and thoughtfully you keep up with your reviewing and writing. It’s really amazing. And second, you are mighty thoughtful to be worried about things like writing reviews versus replying to comments. I just can’t believe you do all of the work you do.

    I know what you mean about staying on top of it all. I’m a writer and writing my novel versus blogging to promote my writing can be exhausting. On the other hand, it can also be gratifying. It’s a difficult situation, especially for little to no money!

    Also, I love that your giving nonfiction a spotlight. I only write and publish short nonfiction but it’s a genre I’ve had mild success with. Thanks for giving it exposure! Cheers.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Karen! Haha, as evidenced by my slow reply to your comment, I do my best, but definitely fall behind on some parts of my blog sometimes.

      I can see where being an author would require a similar balance! That makes me think about the fact that this has generally been true of my jobs as well. There’s never just one thing that needs to be done and balancing everything required some effort.

      I really love featuring nonfiction and am always excited to find someone else who loves the genre too 🙂 Cheer!

  16. Naomi

    This whole discussion has been so interesting to read. I haven’t thought before about how I prioritize blogging activities. I do know, however, that I find it hard to sit down and write my own posts without getting distracted by everyone else’s! I had to do something about this, because I was getting behind on my own schedule. Then, once I got better at focusing on my own content, I fell way behind on visiting everyone else. Ha! I guess I don’t have enough time for both, so I just do my best! 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! I think I may have shifted more towards focusing on generating my content over time as well. Maybe time to re-balance a little bit 🙂

  17. Rachel

    I struggle with the same priorities. Though with my life as changing as it is now, it’s hard to keep any priorities at all in mind, lol. Good luck!

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, I know what you mean! I had a few weeks this year with lots of travel/guests and then I’ve also had shifting priorities in my own hobbies – gaming and photography and hiking versus blogging and reading. And none of those are even really big life changes, but it’s still enough that sometimes I have a hard time making anytime for blogging.

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