I was not a follower before I became a blogger; I only became aware of the enormous number of wonderful book blogs once I started writing one myself two and a half years ago. Once I did learn of this abundance, I had to find some way to navigate it that made sense for me. My methods have been evolving constantly ever since, and I’m still not quite satisfied.
I started out when I was using Blogger by putting a widget in the sidebar, with a small list of blogs set to show links to the latest post. I would just scan that and click on the ones that sounded interesting. But that quickly became untenable as the number of blogs I wanted to follow exploded. I now only show a fraction of the blogs I follow in my sidebar, which I feel somewhat guilty about — but I don’t like enormous sidebar lists, so some people will have to be left out. (Can someone invent a widget which would randomize a rotating selection from a larger list? That would be cool.)
Anyway, then I started using Bloglovin’ and that worked well for quite a while. I could follow as many blogs as I wanted, and could mark posts I wanted to save and put them in different categories. I made one category for “comments” so that I could go back and look at posts I had commented on, and another for monthly favorites to collect for my Link Love posts. Bloglovin’ increasingly annoyed me with unnecessary changes, intrusive emails, and pushy advertising, but I didn’t have a better alternative.
But then I discovered the WordPress Reader. (Along the way I had switched to WordPress for my own blog.) Here I could easily browse, comment, get comment notifications, and also “like” posts and comments — but most of these functions worked only blogs on or connected to the WordPress.com platform. I really liked having all these features in one place, but Reader does not allow saving to different categories, or distinguishing between “favorite” or liked posts and saved posts. So now I’m using two different formats, and it’s starting to get confusing.
I also like Feedly, but it only allows 100 sources in its free version. However, I might try using it for the blogs I don’t follow with the WordPress Reader, and ditch Bloglovin’ altogether. (If you’d like to join me in checking out Feedly, here’s the link to my ECBR feed.)
Then there are the other forms of comment notification, like Disqus and those few blogs that use the Comment Reply Notification plugin. I try to remember which these are so that I don’t have to bother to tag them in Bloglovin’, but that gets confusing too. And there are blogs I comment on for various reasons but don’t want to follow all the time; how do I mark those?
I’ve started using Pocket to mark posts that I’ve commented on, and that could be a good solution. It’s easier to navigate to than my Bloglovin’ collections, which they have now buried so I have to make multiple clicks to locate them. And I’ve just figured out how to tag posts, which has the same effect as creating collections. Hooray!
If you’re not an organizational nut like me, you probably haven’t made it this far, but if you are, I hope you might have some suggestions for me. What are your tips for following blogs and comments?