On a BlogRoll: do you have what it takes?

The other day–in my spare time–I trolled my blogroll and commented on the blogs I follow.  As I continued down my list, it struck me that many of the bloggers are inactive or mildly active.  Some blogs have changed focus or been deleted altogether.

Besides being a product of the normal summer slump, I think part of the blogging blues stems from the message that writers must have a platform and a presence to do well in the sales department.  Years before our manuscripts are ever considered for publication we scramble around trying to garner a large following of potential book buyers–whether we want to or not.

We hop on the blogwagon, completely unprepared for the time and effort it takes to maintain a web presence of this magnitude.  Instead, we simply hear the message and, in one knee-jerk moment, we contribute our words to the ever-growing cyber monster, only to let them peter out when we realize what, exactly, blogging entails. 

Blogging has a personality of its own.  It is hard work.  It requires vigilance and demands a certain stamina.  Nobody tells us this before we sign up for Blogger or WordPress.  Nobody has a ready-made quiz to determine our blogability quotient.  In fact, the only handbook out there is a hodgepodge of words written by bloggers themselves. 

No wonder so many writers start a blog only to have it die an uncertain and painful death.

And so I bring you the dubious, most unscientific-est and completely unreliable blogability quiz: Do you have what it takes?

  1. Do you have more time on your hands than the lazy grasshopper?  IE, can you spare the hours it takes to blog and comment on other’s blogs?
  2. Are you more organized than a garden ant?   IE, can you balance your writing life and your real life without having your tunnels crumble?
  3. Are you more prolific than a rabbit?  Can you provide new and unique posts as  frequently as Mama rabbit populates the garden with offspring?
  4. Are you as regular as the sun rise each day?  Can you stick to a blogging schedule without fail, even if you’d like to sleep in for a change or hide behind the cloud cover for a day?
  5. Are you devoted to your blog like a mama bird is to her fledglings?  Will you feed it, nurture it and help it grow even through the worst storm?  Hail?  Rain?  Tornado?  Earthquake?  Life?
  6. Are you more social than a dolphin?  Can you cultivate and maintain relationships by hanging with other bloggers at their pad?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may need to rethink your blogability quotient.  Still uncertain?  Answer the next two questions.

  1. Are you a caterpillar, dreaming of the day you change into a beautiful blogging butterfly, but doing nothing about it besides eating all the chocolate in the house?
  2. Do you have the attention span of a gnat with ADHD, zooming from one idea to the next to the next to the next…?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you undoubtedly should not start a blog.

All joking aside, what difficulties have you faced in starting or maintaining your blog?  What tips do you have to encourage longevity on the blogroll?  And by this I don’t mean how do you get a large following.  I mean how do you physically and emotionally manage the task?

To all the bloggers out there–active, inactive or newbies–I wish you the best as you navigate the ins and outs of blogging.

41 responses to “On a BlogRoll: do you have what it takes?

  1. As I have started this process I have tried to avoid those blogs that do not post very often. It is tricky sometimes though.

    • There are so many great blogs out there with so many unique and interesting focuses. I’ve barely scratched the surface. Best luck finding those that intrigue and support.

      Are you blogging? Usually I see a web address for blogs and websites, but haven’t seen one for you yet. If you are and would like to share, feel free to pass it along so I can check it out.


  2. Cate, you have the distinction of being one of those blogs that every day posts something truly worth reading. I promised myself (and my subscribers) that I would not post for the sake of posting and would only offer something that was truly worth reading. I suppose I could be more diligent about it, but it is summertime, you know.

    Now excuse me, I have a tee time.

    • Peter,

      You’re already on my Christmas cookie list, so there is no need to keep flattering me. I might write every day, but half of it might not be worthy of reading!

      As to your blog, I love when you post. And I’m glad that you had a vision for it going in. Post something worthy, not just to blab. Knowing your goal and sticking to it is a feat in and of itself.

      How did you golf? DH rocked a 34 on Tuesday and plays in a tourney tomorrow. If you ever do a book signing our way, you may have to shoot a round with him.

      • That’s only half a round. Tell DH my most memorable round was during a wedding weekend. 54-34 There was alcohol involved.

      • Yeah, they only play nine for league, then another nine after. Can’t remember what his total was, but it was his best ever.

        Out of curiosity, do golf and alcohol always go hand in hand? I’ve heard more stories that involve the two of them…

  3. This was pretty funny, Cat, and had me wondering where I fall…. I’m not a lazy grasshopper or a fat caterpiller but nor am I regular as the sun. If it’s necessary to post often to have what it takes than I guess I don’t. I post when I have an idea I want to share or when I want to do something fun like the 55s (thanks for the last awesome comment you gave me!). But I do enjoy it and don’t envision letting my baby die on the vine. The one problem I have is balancing this with the actually writing. Sadly, blogging has taken time away from that so the baby may have to take longer naps. I could post shorter, zippy entries to keep my name out there instead of the longer posts that take me days to compose. Maybe that’s the answer. Right now I’m off to the garden. Tomorrow is market day!

    • Uhhhmmm, just for the record, I love when you post. Your Flash 55’s rock my socks off. When I was a kid I had a book called 365 Bedtime Stories or something like that. If you would write 365 Flash 55’s I’d read one every night for my betime story.

      Personally, I’m a committed to my blogging buddies regardless of how long or short their posts are or how often or infrequently they post. It makes me happy when I see a fresh set of words written by a writer friend.

      Hugs and enjoy your market day.

  4. LOL, I’m probably one of the ones on your list as ‘mildly inactive’. I like blogging, and I try to stick to a Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays schedule. However, there is that thing called real life. I’m not going to neglect my family, health, spiritual life, or my personal writing (my books) because of a blog. So I guess all of that means I post when I can, but if real life interrupts, I’m OK with that.

    • I can totally empathize with the real life thing. Blogging feels frivilous when I think about it. It takes time away from my family, my fiction writing and my friends. However, I have learned that I need this balance. I am much happier now with my writing (and myself) than I have ever been. I think it’s because I finally gave myself permission to make writing important. It took many years to actually spend time on myself, but I feel more centered because of it.

      Thanks for commenting. And I love reading your mildly active blog! It always makes my heart smile.

  5. As far as my blog, I never viewed it as a way to develop an audience. That I continued writing blogs as long as I did, was surprising. In the span of over a year my blogging has petered out. There were other reasons for that also: That period coincided with a bad manic episode..

    Blogging was another way I could communicate. It started because I developed wirh the help of my wife a web site(not a blog) which I wanted to aid other writers. And does not every web site have a blog?

    My blogs really almost completely eliminated my journals entries which I have kept up since the seventies. So I am back to that.

    It is really much easier to write in my journals. My journal entries are made in bursts and they are very unpredictable. They just keep coming. And poems, essays and stories, etc. are developed from my journal entries.

    Blogging was really work and also an artificial way for me to communicate. I do not type well. It was never about the money. Or developing a “base”. I just did it for a while. It gave me a forum. And I believe it is ended.

    • Siggy,

      I hope that you still hang out even if you are no longer blogging. Please keep in touch and let me know how things are going.

      While I have tried journaling a gazillion times in life, I was never able to stick with it. Blogging satisfies that ache for me. My posts have a bit of my personal life and my writing journey in them. In this way, they chronicle my life much like a journal would.

      Take care~ cat

  6. I started a blog over a year ago…and failed mightily. I tanked out after only two weeks. Then, in a month or so, I picked it back up again, and I’ve been going ever since. I think it’s important to be realistic about what you will and won’t do as far as posting as concerned. I tried to post every day. Couldn’t keep up with that. So, I said, I’ll try and post every other day and on weekends if I can, so basically two or three times a week. So far, I’ve been able to do it (most of the time), but I know people who only post once a month or so because that’s all they think they can handle.

    Also, commenting on the blogs of others helps keep me in the groove. ^_^

    • Barbara,

      I think it’s important to determine your time frame ahead of time. If you know going in how much time you want to dedicate to blogging, then you don’t feel pressure if you can’t keep up with what everyone else is doing. I’m usually good for five or six posts a week, though I know that schedule is likely coming to an end. It might be a bit of a struggle to find a pattern that works well with my new business.

      *le sigh*

  7. Blogging…it is time consuming. Sometimes not the posts so much as the creating and maintaining of community. I admire the way you are able to blog so consistently and comment so regularly. I find sometimes, after I created a post, I just can’t read everybody elses blogs and come back to them later. Even the responding to my own comments is iffy.

    So to keep from going insane, I made a deal with myself. I don’t have anything set, no set days, not set amount of blogs I have to have done within a week, nothing. This way, the pressure of blogging is removed, and is purely a joyful activity, not something i have to do. It also makes it easier to ignore when I decide to focus a little more on my writing. Not that I don’t love the diverse group of people I’ve slowly uncovered here.

    • Elisa,

      All friendships require time and attention. Blogging is no different. And since I love writing, even blog posts and comments, it is an enjoyable way for me to hang with my writing buddies.

      I like your attitude toward your blogging schedule. There’s no reason to put any more pressure on ourselves. Writing a novel does that all on its own. Nothing truly horrific will happen if we fail to blog for a week or two. No wars will be lost, no children will starve, no agents will die from grief over not reading an update of our lives.

      Keep your priorities straight and working for you.


  8. Cate, my big issue is finding the time to leave comments. So often times I wind up being a lurker and leaving comments here and there (but for sure here). 🙂 It is time consuming and I do have to watch that it doesn’t become a black hole of my time. Have an awesome weekend. Oh reviewed a book I know your DD would love on my blog.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

    • Lisa,

      That is my killer too. For some reason, I have a difficult time leaving posts on Blogger blogs. It takes forever and sometimes I go through the process only to have my time wasted with a no post. Then I get frustrated and quit trying for a few days. If it didn’t take so long to follow through on the technology part, I’d be a much better blogging friend and far less strapped for time.

      Checking your review! Thanks for the heads up.

  9. Those are all great questions! I started out blogging M-F, but switched to only MWF for the summer. I love the writing community and the bloggers. That’s my favorite part. I admit sometimes I wish I hadn’t started a blog and just made a profile to comment on others’ blogs! I thought you had to start a blog to have a profile. I like my blog, but I love writing my stories and novels more. And sometimes I do think it’s silly for me to “start a platform” when I’m nowhere near the querying or publishing stage. I think it makes more sense for writers to start blogs when they’ve gotten an agent or when they’re ready to start querying. I know some bloggers write about their life other than writing, which I’ve done on occasion, but I kind of wanted my blog to be a good resource for writers. And I just don’t have enough experience to produce a quality blog about writing yet. Meanwhile, I do what I can manage!

    • Laura,

      Your blog is a great and I’m glad you decided to go through with it.

      Like you, I love the writing community. It has been fun and enjoyable to meet so many new people with many of the same goals and passions that I have. I also got sucked into the idea of blogging because of a writing conference I went to. Then Twitter, Facebook and blogging were hot topics on AQ about a year ago. I signed up for all three. Blogging is, by far, my favorite of the three.

  10. I agree Cat- blogging (actively, that is) takes a LOT of time and effort… But in return, you become a part of a wonderful community, the more you write, the more you push yourself to get more creative and be original…
    I’ve learned so much (on craft, market, agents etc) since I started blogging and of course there is this other reason to why I blog… I LOVE writing 🙂

    • Lua,

      I love it too. Time or not, I feel like I accomplished something. And writing is writing is writing. Not everything is written for publication in a novel, but every word I write and every sentence I hone makes me a better writer for those novels.

  11. I can’t maintain that sort of schedule. All of my posts are written ahead of time, after a huge brain storming session. I usually do go back and edit them a few days before they’re scheduled to go online, and sometimes move things around if I have something exciting and new that just can’t wait. (WriteOnCon for instance.)

    • Wow, I’m impressed. How far out do you write?

      My only experience with a brain storming blog session was just before my trip to New Orleans. I love blogging so much that I didn’t want to miss a day, so I prewrote. I may have to take this tip under advisement for when I go back to work full time in September.

      That will definitely put a time constraint on my blogging time : (

  12. I’m like Lisa in that I look at a lot but only comment on a few, mostly because of time constraints.

    My own blog has decreased in postings (although I still do at least two a week), mostly because after 100 posts, it’s harder to think of meaningful topics. 😦

  13. Hmmm. I totally flunked your test, Cat. 🙂

  14. I’m usually consistent except when floods occur, so I should be right for the next few months.

    Occasionally life happens and you get side tracked or your internet breaks down but I agree with you in that if you have a blog, you have to commit to it. If you don’t, why should your readers.

    • Cassandra,

      You are about the most rock solid blogger I’ve run across. You amaze me with your stamina and creativity.

      And yes, floods do occur–real or otherwise–that need to be attended to instead of blogging. That’s expected.

      Good point about the committment level of readers. If we don’t take ourselves seriously, no one else will either.

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  16. I’m all over the board in terms of consistency, but I am determined that I will find my own blogging rhythm. I’ve often thought I would like to write several posts ahead of time and parcel them out as needed, but I’ve not done that yet.

    One of the hurdles I face is that I have a website still in development, and the platform I use does not have a very good blog component. Readers have a bit of difficulty in figuring out how to comment, etc. I’m still figuring that part out.

    In the meantime, I plug along and am always happy to find blogs like yours!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Melody.

      I hope you get all the kinks worked out of your blog. Developing a website can take a ton of time, energy and brain power. Kudos for working on yours so diligently.

      Best luck blogging and I hope to see you around.

  17. It really only comes down to one question: do I really want to do this? Of course that can be broken down into the whys, hows and what fors. I loved the post. I try for 2 or 3 posts a week, but don’t beat myself up if don’t accomplish that. I’m hoping that I get busy enough to post weekly, and use my blog as a schedule of events. By that time there the blog will be filled with enough information to be a resource for people interested in my work. The best posts have been the ones about my life/day, a few photos, 200 words, so that shows me that the blog will continue.

    How do I balance everything? Can I hide and sleep on your couch for three days? It’s a lot of work, but worthwhile. I followed a link at Patricia’s to get here. Hi.

    • Thanks for tracking me down and commenting. It’s always fun to see a new face.

      It sounds like you have a great handle on the blogging gig and you definitely bring up a valuable point. It is important to know why you are blogging before getting or staying into it. Our reasons have to benefit us in some way otherwise we are simply following the “online presence” trend.

      I can’t promise a clean blanket or a homemade caramel roll, but you’re welcome to see chaos at its finest!

  18. I’m not a writer in the sense of writing books, but I do consider myself a writer in the sense of blogging and, for me, it’s worth the effort to keep going. I tend to blog regularly for a few days and then take a break but I need to because my health won’t let me do otherwise.

    I believe that the usual commitment one makes or doesn’t make to a blog really depends upon why one blogs in the first place. The commercial/affiliate-linked blogs obviously need to have regular and committed posts. Personal blogs are a different matter. Some people are happy to post occasionally as they use their blogs like an old-style diary, others need the response from other people to keep them going. I think that some of the latter don’t realise that in order to make that happen – and to keep it happening – they’ve got to put a fair amount of effort into keeping their readership. And to do that, as you note – it’s essential to be active in other people’s blogs too.

    I’m the least sociable person I know in the ‘real world’ but in cyberspace I’m on the go nearly all the time. I spent an inordinate amount of time on my ‘blogging habit’! That said, I don’t like the newer stuff like tweets and sharing via buttons, etc.

    • Val, I appreciate your wise commentary. Thanks for stopping by and adding a comment for us to consider.

      It’s true, unless we blog as a personal journal (for ourselves), we do need to interact with our readers if we wish to keep them as readers.

      Isn’t it funny how much easier cyberspace is to navigate for the shy writer? I love the freedom I have in writing my words and thoughts. Keep up your habit and enjoy all that blogging has to offer!

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  19. Oh god, yes, it is VERY time consuming and I have found that out recently. However, it can be a very rewarding experience though I still only blog when I truly feel I’ve got something to say and I do not plan ahead. I’m sure it’s something I’ve got to get organised about.

    • Greetings, fellow blogger!

      Thanks for visiting us here and letting us know how you’re doing in the cyberworld. It’s nice that you can blog without the pressure. It’s even better that you are getting so much out of it. I have found blogging to be a wonderful experience myself–especially meeting so many like-minded people.

      Discovery is half the fun!

  20. taking your test!
    1) yes, but I had to learn to discipline myself (that’s why this comment is “late”, I read and comment other blogs only twice a week)
    2) yes!
    3) absolutely (said the write-a-holic or manic-writer)
    4) oh, yeah!
    5) yep – just another baby, only slightly different from the others! 😉
    6) I hope so – I’m not a very social person offline, but maybe in writing…
    part 2 is “no” to both questions. How am I doing? 😉
    Keep blogging on!

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