The Commenting Conundrum

OK. I’m just going to come out and say it.

My name’s Michelle and I’m a stataholic.

There.

I know what I’m meant to say is that I blog for myself, I don’t care who reads it (if anyone) and I never really bother checking my stats. If you’ve mentioned my blog to me out and about in  Real Life, this is more than likely the line I will have trotted out in a (possibly) convincing manner. On a good day, I’m so convincing that I even start to believe it myself, until a quick peek at my wordpress dashboard brings me down to earth with a crash.

This isn’t just about blogging – my obsession with measuring up to self imposed standards runs through all aspects of my life. Run around the block without collapsing? Start planning for a sub 4 hour marathon. Figure out how to make a link no-follow? Oh, yay, I’m going to learn to code and build my own website by the end of the month! Make the perfect fried-egg sandwich? MasterChef here I come!

But the difference is with having a blog is that it’s easy to measure your progress, or lack of. A quick flick around the analytics and you can see how many people read your posts. You can see where they are in the world, you can see how long they hang around reading your shizzle, you can see where they came to the site from (I imagine the person who ended up at LearnerMother because they were searching for ‘Teeny Dicks Tumblr’ was VERY disappointed).

Having this knowledge at my fingertips means I constantly have a stick to beat myself up with. I always want to come out ahead of last month, to reach the next milestone, to have the post that goes viral, to get that call from Lucy Mangan to say she’s up the duff again and could I just look after her Guardian column for a few months.

One accepted way to get more readers to a blog is to read and comment on blogs written by other people. I already do a lot of reading around but not so much commenting – if I like a post I’m much more likely to tweet the blogger to say so, and reshare it, rather than going in and commenting on the post itself. I feel like it’s  a much quicker way of showing my appreciation, and to be completely honest, it’s much easier than getting caught up with captchas, disqus, the weird and wonderful G+ comment system – all of those give me blood pressure!

However, in a quest to get my blog ‘out there’ a bit more, and also to find some new blogs to read and enjoy, I’ve recently made a concerted effort to go out there and comment on other people’s blogs via a couple of blogging groups on Facebook. This has been brilliant in some ways – I have discovered some amazing new blogs to read, my stats have improved, a couple of fun review opportunities have come my way, and my blog has become more ‘visible’ in the blogosphere – I’ve had a couple of shout outs from established and well respected bloggers recently, for which I am very grateful.

So where’s the problem, I hear you say, because there’s obviously a problem if she’s still wittering on about this after 558 words…well, you lovely folk, HERE is the problem.

It’s that I am very much a part time blogger. I try and post twice a week, plus a photo at the weekend. In a normal week, I can carve out two or sometimes three bloggy sessions of around 90 minutes, squeezed in before work, or during dead time waiting outside clubs, or the like. I try and limit all blog related activity to those sessions, whether it be writing, social media, tinkering with the layout, or mending my site when I’ve broken it (to be fair, it’s mostly the amazing Ryan from SW Broadband who does the mending).

Add commenting into that list and it dramatically reduces my time for actual writing. I try  to comment on a wide variety of blogs, and reply to all the comments people leave, even with just a brief ‘thank you’ – and of course I visit, read and leave a comment back on the blogs of people who’ve taken the time to visit mine. And I quite like doing this, to be honest – dipping into other blogs means I’m always learning something, or getting inspiration about something I could write about. But – and it’s a big but – I don’t have time to write! And when I do get something written and published, it tends to be rushed, unpolished and even, on occasion, have an auto-correct induced ROGUE APOSTROPHE  *shudders*.

Since one of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to write, I’m left in a bit of a commenting conundrum. Carry on with it, and reap the benefit in terms of my stats, Google page rank and Tots100 score – while knowing I am not writing as well as I could or should? Or give the commenting a rest, accept the inevitable drop in readers, but know that I have more time to write as well as I possibly can, every time?

I guess I know the answer, in my heart of hearts. It’s all very well using commenting as a way to chase the stats, but when I spend more time in a week commenting than writing, then it defeats the object of having a blog. So I’m going to pull back a bit from the quest for more readers and try and concentrate on just writing stuff, which is after all the bit I enjoy. And I’m going to take the inevitable hit on my stats and tell myself that it doesn’t matter. In a very convincing fashion. Hell, I might even disconnect Jetpack and Google Analytics…but then how will I know if anyone’s read this post?

*hits publish, runs to stats*

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19 thoughts on “The Commenting Conundrum

  1. It’s a conundrum we all face, and I’m not sure I have an answer to it (or ever will).

    I spend on average 12 hours a week writing across three blogs, mostly late-night sessions that can go deep into the small hours (to the point where the hours themselves have grown up and moved out into a 1-bedroom flat of their own). I read and comment where I can (a few minutes here and there, maybe another three hours a week in all) – partly because it’s fun to feel like part of a community, but also because I know in the back of my mind it will improve my rankings and stats.

    I keep trying to remind myself that I’m a writer first and a commenter second – as a blogger if you’re not focussing enough on the first, there’s no point doing the second. I guess my rule of thumb is that I draw the line when it feels like I’m commenting at the expense of other stuff because I have to, not because I want to.

    So, no answers – but reassurance that you’re far from alone.
    Tim recently posted…Mightier than the swordMy Profile

    1. That seems like a good ratio to work to – and you’re right that it’s fun to be part of a community – I did not realise when I started that I’d be opening up a whole new avenue for meeting people, exchanging opinions and offering and receiving support, and it’s definitely something I value.
      Ironically this post has generated some very heartfelt commenting so I am reassured by you and others that I’m not alone in this!
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  2. It is a tough one. I spend a lot of my time writing, as I publish a fair few posts each week, but then I also do a lot of reading and commenting, as I join in with linkys, I like scrolling through my Bloglovin (as I am now!) and I run two linkys which of course means I comment on all posts in them. I’ve deliberately not worked out the amount of time I spend doing this part, as I think it’ll shock me! And then there’s the social media side – that takes time, too! It’s a never-ending loop, and it’s hard to find a balance. I think you’re spot on to prioritise your writing, though, and best of luck disabling those stats – I couldn’t do it!
    The Reading Residence recently posted…Creating a Wildlife GardenMy Profile

    1. I haven’t managed to do it yet – and if I’m honest I am not sure if I will manage it, ha!
      I do enjoy the time I spend reading and commenting on other people’s writing, I just wish I had more time to do it – I really don’t know how you manage everything but one thing’s for sure, you’re doing an amazing job!
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  3. Ah, this rings so many bells on all fronts (including Ryan helping me out in some sticky moments, too). I’m a part time blogger; I day dream about giving up the day job and writing all day, but a) I’d be broke in no time, and b) I’d run out of things to write about by day 5.

    Keep on writing! Loving your blog. x

  4. Over time you just work out what works for you, what you are happier with. I have stats turned off on my blog and I do love good comment, but there comes the quandary I have of late with commenty groups. Some folk read the post and leave engaging comments and others just ‘nice post’ and you get sucked into a plughole where you start to feel that people only visit you because you visit them and it all gets a lot depressing.
    Hence my avant garde I don’t care anymore attitude of late.
    (and charts and ranking really don’t make much difference at all, I’ve been from the bottom to the top of them and then taken myself out when the Christmas Day anti-climax is revealed x)
    Mammasaurus recently posted…Gone Yurting….Family TimeMy Profile

    1. I have enjoyed the commenting groups and met some lovely bloggers through them, as well as come across new blogs that I haven’t before – so THANK YOU Annie for all the work you put into them x x

      I know what you mean by the plughole of depression though – someone (not a Love All Blogger) left a comment about what a lovely daughter I much have on a post that mentioned ‘My Biggest Boy’ in the TITLE!! Ha!

      As you say, it’s a journey to figure out what works best. I’m getting there, slowly! x
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  5. I completely know where you’re coming from. I am very much a part time blogger. I work full time, am coming up to the end of a degree, applying for jobs and going to interviews, home educating my little ones and part time carer for three family members. The weeks where I write more, comment more, tweet more etc are fantastic. I love the interaction. But as soon as I have a busy week again it fades away into the distance.

    I don’t really care about stats, I check the last day of the month just to update my media kit but other than that I don’t care. All I want is interaction, and people to keep coming back. I’ve tried the comment groups, and they are fab when you have the time. When I’m on annual leave I love to join in, or maybe once a week or two but I just don’t have the time to do it more frequently anymore.

    I think for stay at home mums it is a bit easier to comment more and get that interaction, I’m not saying their day is any less demanding than those of us who work outside the home, but the opportunities are there. When I do a day shift I only have access to internet from 5am-5.30am and from 10pm till I fall asleep. When things like eating, showering, cleaning and writing my own posts are taken into account there is no way I can fit in commenting on other blogs etc.

    I wish it were easier, because stats or not I LOVE reading and commenting on other peoples blogs… But for the time being I just have to accept my limitations!
    Charlotte recently posted…Mental health and me. {TW}My Profile

    1. ‘Accepting my limitations’ – very wise words indeed! I think part of this (self imposed) problem is that I have never been very good at that, and always feel I ‘should’ be writing more, commenting more, tweeting more – and then blogging becomes like a job, and I have enough of those already, ha!

      Love Winegums and Watermelons by the way x
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  6. I veer hideously between swearing I’ll never look and poking refresh on my jetpack stats thingy about fifteen times an hour. When I discovered the Google Analytics thingy with the live whatsit (as you can see, I’m incredibly technical about this stuff) I spent ages watching my three visitors popping on and off the blog. I don’t think it’s a problem…. I can stop any time. Tomorrow, for example. I could stop then. (Just going to sneak off for a quick check.)
    Rachael Lucas recently posted…30k in 35My Profile

    1. Ohhh the live stream, as I equally untechily call it, I secretly and guiltily LOVE that – it’s a good thing I can hardly ever find out how to get to it or I’d never even eat!

      As an almost-runner and a (secret dreamer) writer, I loved the post 30K in 35 by the way x x
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  7. This post was really interesting for me as i feel the same in that i spend so much time commenting that i don’t have time to write which seems nonsense! I don’t know how to get out of the circle though as i am very lucky to get lots of lovely comments on my blog and i feel incredibly rude if i don’t try and return the favour but i’m drowining.
    A hard one. But i think the balance should always be in favour of the writing and i try very hard to not get caught up in my rankings! xxx
    Hurrah For Gin recently posted…What makes a good parent…..My Profile

    1. You have hit the nail on the head – I’m genuinely delighted when someone takes the time to read something and then comment on it, and I do feel rude if I don’t reply to comments and comment back…If the responses to this post have shown me anything though, it is that everyone if more or less in the same boat whether they blog for three hours a week or thirty, so I’m going to try and stress a bit less!
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

  8. It’s always nice to see that others have read and even commented on our posts and I think that deep down most bloggers get a kick from seeing good stats. I am relatively new to blogging and I am hopeless at social networking – I enjoy Google+ and am just getting the hang of Pinterest! I do enjoy reading and commenting on other peoples blogs though.

    I agree that the reading, commenting on and writing posts takes time and I used to get into a right kurfuffle – probably not a real word, but I like it! Now I try to alternate days, so that if I read and commented on blogs last time then I write a post this time – I call it my PR and post routine! It seems to work for me and I try not to take my lack of blog views to much to heart – slowly, slowly, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    Debbie recently posted…How To Make Fresh Pasta – An Easy RecipeMy Profile

    1. I like the idea of alternating sessions. I already have a couple of fixed sessions when I try to blog in the week, so perhaps instead of trying to do everything in both of them, I should read/comment/social media schedule in one, and write with no distractions in the other…Cheers!
      Just had a poke around your blog, it’s lovely! x
      LearnerMother recently posted…Silent Sunday 18.05.14My Profile

      1. For me I am sure that it is the lack of distraction combined with knowing what is planned that helps. Before I found myself wasting too much time deciding what to do and once I had decided, I would worry that I should be doing what I had decided not to do.

        Thank you for taking the time to nose around on my blog and I am glad you like it!
        Debbie recently posted…How To Make Fresh Pasta – An Easy RecipeMy Profile

  9. Exactly this!

    Disclaimer: Not that this comment is anything other than just a comment of shared empathy, and in no way trying to improve my meagre stats. After all my blog is mainly just for me and my daughter….

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