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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BBAW: How Do You Find Community

It's Day 3 of the BBAW. Today's topic is finding and keeping community in the book blogging world despite the hectic demands on our time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. We are discuss how to find a place within the book blogging community, our concerns and our struggles.

Well, I'm going to approach this from a reader's aspect and a blogger's aspect because to me they are essentially one in the same because you can't have an active blog without reading other blogs or participating on your own blog in some form or fashion. I will be speaking in general terms, so my concerns may not apply all the time and does not apply to ALL blogs.

Issues I find as a writer of my own blog. 

  • Setting up post in advance ~ I use to do this in the beginning. But then life happened once the release date of my book started fast approaching. So right now I'm struggling with time management.
  • Book Reviews ~ I'm so overwhelmed with the number of requests I get for book reviews. I remember a time when I had to ask for them or read books I already owned. Now my inbox is overflowing. It's hard to tell someone your schedule is full and you can't read their work. But I can't read everything. 
  • Memes ~ I know there are tons of memes out there. But honestly, I only know of the same few I see on other blogs. I would love to mix it up sometimes. And often when I get to the blog host of the meme, the linky list is so full I'm at the bottom or in the middle and many won't ever make it that far down the list to visit. So I struggle with deciding on whether to participate or not. Or just do me and let it ride.

How I find ways to interact 

  • I comment often on other blogs. 
  • I try to post at least three times a week.
  • I try to be creative by trying different things. I get bored easily. So if it's boring to me to write it, I assume it's boring to readers. I love to crack myself up. I like to be the first person to laugh at me or something I did.
  • I try to remember that bloggers are real people. Behind the blog is a breathing, living human being with responsibilities and loved ones demanding their precious time. And not every blogger is always having a great day. So I will generally comment on a blog when the post has no comments at all. I remember the feeling of posting and not having a single soul coming by to reply to my brilliant ever so enlightening posts. :-)

From a reader's standpoint I'll go over three issues; community, concerns and struggles.

  • Community ~ As a reader, I want to know when I happen upon a blog that I am valued as a reader. That my interaction is easy to facilitate with other followers. What I mean by that is I don't want to jump through hoops to comment on your blog. The point in reading the blog is to gain information and relay that information back to you as to whether it was effective or share some of my own ideas by expounding upon your central idea. Make your comment tab highly visible or at the least put it in a common place. 
  • Struggles ~ Get rid of CAPTCHA! It the most annoying aspect of blogging as a reader. Most blog followers follow many, many blogs. In order to respond to them in an efficient manner I need to get in and get out so I can move on to find other valuable information. But if you have on captcha (the little box that pops us and says enter these letters before your comment can post) you have just slowed me down in my blogging schedule. And most of the time after I comment I immediately hit the X and close out the window. So if you have on captcha I won't know it and my comment will not have posted. So in order to make sure it did I have to wait even longer to see if the captcha box will appear before I close out. Once this happens, I make a mental note to check that blog last on my round of blog visiting because it's too time consuming and I assume other bloggers value my time more. Unless you have thousands of followers where the potential for spam is greater, you shouldn't need captcha. Just monitor your blog daily and check your spam filter.  ALSO, be mindful that not everyone is using a computer to respond to your post. I often use my iPad and do you know how frustrating it is to type in words over and over because of auto-correct or to type them in using a touch screen? So be mindful that not everyone uses the same technical instruments to comment. Also keep in mind people who use their cell phones to reply to your post. I'm sure captcha isn't making it easier for them either.
  • Concerns ~ Another block or concern in forming community on blogs is when the blog owner doesn't respond to comments. Sometimes I do check back to see if there was a response to my comment, especially if I asked a question. Again, it goes back to feeling validated as a reader and as a person who's time is very valuable. Make me feel welcomed and appreciated.
  • Community, Struggles and Concerns ~ "Follow me" gadgets. Sometimes I'll find a blog that I just adore. But I can't follow because I can't find the follow button and it takes me several minutes to search all over to find one little gadget. If you want followers and repeat readers, make it easier for them to find you again and again by allowing them to follow you either by RSS, GFC or Email. Put it at the top of your page. Again, it goes back to time. I don't want to struggle to keep up with you.

As a blogger some of my issues regarding community, concerns and struggles are:

  • Assistance ~ I don't know how many times I've come across a blog and asked a question on how to do something that they have implemented on their own blog and never received a response. I know bloggers are busy, believe me somedays their just isn't enough time in the day. But at the very least provide an email and set the email to auto-reply with a message. But to not to respond to a question in comments I find is a turn off and it feels like the blog owner is apathetic to other bloggers. I look at blogging as a community, and in communities people help each other. I know some people can get out of hand with their questions and how to's but just be honest and say in your auto-reply, I'm really busy, but this site has tons of info that might help you. Or set up a page just for FAQ's.
  • Overpopulation ~ Another issue and it could be just me. But I often don't follow blogs with thousands of followers unless the blog is so valuable that I will likely visit it more than once a week. Why don't I follow blogs with thousands of followers? Because most blog owners won't ever know I exist. If they don't know I exist, there really isn't any way to network with that blogger or exchange ideas. I basically feel invisible to that blogger. I regard blogs with more personal interaction as more desirable. That's my personal preference.
  • Reciprocation ~ Lastly I struggle to find blogs that are reciprocal. Have you ever found a blog and followed it for weeks never to see that blogger come to your blog to even say hi, thanks for following, thanks for stopping by, nice blog you have or I followed you back? This is probably my biggest pet peeve. I admit I have a rule, if I give you a week, maybe two weeks of my time in consistent visits and comments and you don't return the favor not once, I will unfollow you. I think it's rude. It's like walking into someone's house, saying hello to them and they never look up to acknowledge you ever came into their home. I'm not saying you have to comment everyday on my blog, I'm simply stating be courteous, introduce yourself. You don't have to follow me back (that would be nice) but it's not necessary. Just be polite and considerate. I often think that people who don't reciprocate are like that in person and in life outside of blogging. And I'm not that kind of person outside of my blogging life. I'm a hug on you, wish you well, sending you good vibes kind of person. I desire those same kind of people in my blogging circle as I do in my personal life.
  • Empathy ~ P.S. I think on occasion some bloggers forget what it was like to have no followers or that one faithful, lone commenter day in and day out. None of us started out with tons of followers right out the gate. Someone encouraged them along the way, helped spread the word or gave some helpful advice in how to be a better blogger. All I'm saying is pass the baton. When you help one blogger, you could be helping them help another newbie in the blogging world.
What are some of your concerns or struggles as a reader or blogger?


  1. Oh dear, I read your post and since it's all about community and commenting, I better comment!

    Well, actually, I do enjoy leaving comments so it's no hardship. :-)

    I agree about the captcha thing - so annoying! I usually move between tabs on my browser and often enough I go back to a tab where I left a comment to find that the comment is still open because I have to do another step. Or: as I close the particular tab, I notice that the comment needed another step and hasn't published. Sad!

  2. Wow, so many good ideas here. I agree about making commenting as easy as possible and avoiding having to sign in or use captcha. Also overpopulation - I think that was an excellent point.

  3. Thanks Leeswammes and Playing by the Book for stopping by. That captcha...oooh-weee. I could ramble on about that all day long.

    Hope you two enjoy the rest of BBAW today. Happy commenting!

  4. A very thoughtful post! I love that you pay specific attention to posts with no comments. I hate having those, and that person who finds something to say always brightens my day.

    I also love that you looked at the topic from a reader's perspective, too. I am SO with you on CAPTCHA...ugh. And I didn't even think about trying to do it with auto correct! You raise a valid point with the bigger blogs, too. Your post gave me a lot to think about -- thanks for sharing it!

  5. Hi-I now subscribe to your blog in Google Reader and I will go back latter and read this post carefully-thanks very much for stopping by my blog and following me

  6. Thank you Erin for coming by. Ahhh the lonely post with no comments. What a terrible feeling to write something and have no one respond. It's like talking to yourself. So I try to comment, even I just say hello or talk about something else on their blog that caught my attention.

  7. Thank you Mel-U. You are welcome. I enjoyed your blog.

  8. Thanks so much for this post. I'm relatively new to blogging, and some of these things I hadn't thought about before. I just went back and looked at my blog from a reader's POV and changed a few things like you suggested, I moved my google friend connect box up and got rid of captcha. Thanks for your advice.

    PS. I absolutely love your pictures up top. You are gorgeous!

  9. I try so much to post in advance, but never happens, bummer! I also try to reply back on my blog to people who comment, but most times, it's the weekend before I can start doing that. Great suggestions!

  10. You covered a whole gamut of community stuff! Loved it..

    Community has kept me going in a MASSIVE reading slump. Or I would have fallen apart!

    Here is my post:

    BBAW: Community thingy II

  11. Lena I LOVE this post and I have to agree with you on every single point that you made. I feel the way you do about all of your points. I particulary agree with making commneting easier. Sometimes I hate all the hoops I jump through just to leave a comment on a blog. Signing in a thousand times, captcha. There has got to be an easier way. I also try to comment back to all my commenters. It just promotes a sense of community and lets your readers know that you do appreciate them coming by and taking time to leave a comment. I too have consistantly commented on blogs to never recieve a visit or response. I have unfollowed many people because of this. Anyway...I could ramble on forever about your the points in your post. Excellent post and I wholeheartedly agree.

  12. This was a great post. I loved how you looked at it from both perspectives and you raised a lot of good points. I'm not the best commenter out there, I admit, but I do try.

  13. lots of great advice here! I agree, it is so frustrating to follow someone and have them never give the courtesy of a visit or thanks or follow back. I love how you remind us that we all were just starting once, and a word of encouragment can make a difference to someone new.

    I wonder if many users know that the captcha is a default setting - it is easy to change it in blogger settings. I didn't know I had it until someone told me.... I don't use it anymore, and have never ever had a spam comment make it through.

  14. Thanks everyone for commenting. I think reciprocation is the key to gaining followers. And if you utilize it and the other blogger doesn't then you have to decide how valuable that blog is to you to be maintain a relationship where you are basically non-existent.

    I could ramble on and on but that would just get my pressure up as my grandma use to say. :-)

  15. Way to say some things that we (well at least I) were thinking but were afraid to admit! I agree with it all.

  16. Oh, I loved your post! I'm annoyed by the things you CAPTCHA. Especially when I have to squint and struggle to read the letters...and then they say I got it wrong! LOL

    I also have a beef with certain bloggers who NEVER come to visit, no matter how many times I go to theirs. I finally decided not to visit them anymore.

    Is that petty?

    But reciprocity is important, and I get that sometimes it's not possible...but an effort needs to come from all.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Here's MY BBAW POST and

  17. You make some great points from both the blogger and the readers perspective. I completely agree that it is a nice touch for a blogger to stop by and say hello if they know you are a new follower. (hello!) I don't expect someone to auto follow me because I've followed them. I hope that they'll follow because they want to continue to read what I have to say.

    That really is too bad that you've experienced bloggers who are unwilling to share their knowledge. So far, I've been pretty lucky when I've asked questions like that.

    I'm also of the camp to get rid of CAPTCHA!

  18. I fell off the wagon with pre-scheduled posts long ago...I'm lucky if I can schedule a post to go up the next morning. I agree about those stupid little words with comment me crazy. I would prefer moderation to that, at least I know they will have to read my comment then.

  19. Hi Lena, Glad you are enjoying the BBAW 2011. I agree those Captchaw are annoying. Sometimes i skip commenting because I've grown tired of those darn captchas while visiting the many blogs. I think you covered some good points in this post.

  20. I agree with all of your points - but ESPECIALLY the difficulty of finding the 'follow' widget on blogs. And so many don't offer the e-mail option, even when I do find the widget :-(

  21. Thanks ladies for taking the time to stop by and comment. That captcha issue seems to be a bothersome for alot of people but I keep running into so many blogs that have it. Go figure huh.

  22. I loved your post! Especially the part on reciprocation! All of that was so spot on. Thanks for being so honest!

  23. I absolutely love your post and it really made me think and I completely agree with everything. I think this topic is awesome for discussion, especially the points you brought up.

    I too get frustrated when people don't reply to comments and it definitely makes me feel like I'm a stalker rather than a welcome visitor. But then again, when I started blogging, I didn't know which blog comments it was okay to not to reply to. I used to have the philosophy that I didn't reply to comments on memes like blogger hop unless someone asked a question. But then I didn't know if people were offended.

    My blog kind of had a growth spurt out of nowhere. Not that I'm complaining, but I had a very difficult time adjusting and creating a system where I...knew what I was doing. There was a point in time where I was so overwhelmed that I just couldn't keep up. There are probably tons of people who showed up and I didn't acknowledge or follow back but I honestly didn't know how or couldn't get caught up.

    I guess I'm saying that large follower numbers can be seriously misleading. People think...oh they've been around forever or assume you know what you are doing when you have no idea what is going on (that's me by the way). I'm not complaining. I'm just adding my two cents.

    Again, awesome post :)

    P.S. There are blogs that have CAPTCHA and they require approval before your comment shows. Those blogs really piss me off.

  24. Oh my gosh. My comment is so long that I'm slightly embarrassed.

  25. Awesome post, Lena. I'm sure all of us can relate to the points you've mentioned. They niggle at me too.

    Something I notice that different in the writer/blogger community and the book blogging community is that writers are more responsive to comments and come around to visit your blog. Book blogger are a little different. I don't visit as often as I should - life and all that - but I've gotten to the where if I know how to unfollow, I would. It's a little disconcerting to comment on someone's blog a few times and not be acknowledged in some way.

    Definitely good points to ponder.

  26. Hi
    A fabulous post that articulates some great issues.
    I find Captcha annoying too - especially on my slow connection.

    I also think reciprocity is a huge issue. Out of 40 blogs I visit for a meme for example I get maybe 10 return visits. I visit every blogger who stops by mine because its polite if nothing else and I comment on probably another 30+ more a week just randomly.
    I also don't think its enough to only respond on your own blog either - you need to visit and comment on theirs

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  27. Very well said! I think you said what a lot of bloggers think but won't say flat out -- that repricocity and building a give and take relationship is one of the primary rewards and functions of blogging. I have tended to stop visiting blogs that never visit me or interact with me. Not out of pettiness but because it does feel like a one way street that is unsatisfying. But you have to give before you can receive too … and I can only visit so many blogs given the amount of time I have so I feel like I've reached the limit of what I can handle. Perhaps my blog will stop growing because of that but that is OK with me. I'm happy in my little corner of the blogosphere.

    I also don't like getting followers for "false" reasons … like having to follow me to get extra entries in a giveaway or something. I try to make it easy to enter and I hope that the books go to regular readers. But it is what it is.

  28. You make some excellent points here, especially in the section where you talk about making it easy to comment.

    I'm not always great about making return visits to the blogs that leave me comments, but I do try to be diligent about responding to all comments on my blog. I think that counts.

  29. Absolutely fantastic. You captured a lot of my struggles as a blogger. I need to schedule posts, plan better, post more, comment more. Plus, I totally agree with your CAPTCHA issues. I think I'm getting better at reciprocity. Largely, my issue is not planning ahead so that when life interferes (which it does often), I have my blog covered. Thanks so much for this post.

  30. Hi Lena! I truly enjoyed reading this! You are the exact type of person I prayed God would send my way, as I go along my journey as a writer and newbie blogger. All your advice is so refreshing, and needed to me right now. I know the (lone) feeling right now as a new blogger. I pour my heart and soul into my writing, but I don't hear a peep out readers on my blog. Perhaps, if you consider a devoted personal friend or two, who believe in you. I am a very interpersonal person, I love entering into the feelings of others. A kind word goes along way. Along with (effect) criticism. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. It gives me both!

  31. Thank you everyone for the kind and generous words of encouragement and compliments. I'm happy that it was of some use and that some people could relate in how I feel or felt as a newbie blogger. Nsoroma, just hang in there. I will definitely stop by as often as I can. I enjoy blogs that are heartfelt and sincere or that take the time to share valuable information for writers or bloggers.


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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

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