Sure, I did comment on blogs.
But, only on blogs that I guest posted on (fortunately, I did guest post a lot, so I had no problem with generating traffic to my blog).
Now that I look back, I regret not investing more time into commenting.
Commenting makes things so much easier. Heck, commenting could be considered as an opportunity to write mini-guest posts (Just check the length and quality of comments left by bloggers such as Harleena and Adrienne).
I am no commenting expert, but over the years, I have picked up a few commenting tricks (all thanks to my love for experiments).
My main goal was to reduce the amount of time I spend for commenting, while maintaining the quality of comments I leave.
Who wouldn’t like an extra hour of free time? (Which you could spend with your family, or maybe for entertainment, or perhaps for finishing up blogging tasks. Okay, that last one seems kind of redundant).
I could go ahead and talk about the importance of time management, but I am not going to do that, instead I am asking you a question:
What is time management?
(Don’t tell me it is about managing time…).
What is time management to you?
- Is it getting things done and having free time?
- Or is it getting things done according to a schedule?
- Or is it something else.
To manage time effectively, you need to define time management. You need to define what it means to you. What do you want to accomplish?
Time management (to me) means getting things done and having enough free time to cultivate my interest in learning new things and habits.
And to accomplish that I had to formulate a strategy (or in my case, a set of strategies). My plan was to find what worked [best] for me, and tweak it to make it even better.
And, I did.
With time blocks (dedicating a certain amount of time to a particular activity).
The Commenting Time Block
How would you measure your productivity with commenting?
The amount of articles you commented?
Average amount of time you took to comment on an article?
The length of your comments?
Can you guess what I did?
I decided to go with all of these options. I tracked the amount of articles I can comment within a certain amount of time (if I am focused, I can read and comment on about 10 articles during 1.5 hours. More, depending upon the actual length and “thickness” of the article).
Right now, I have two commenting blocks (a 1.5 hour block and one hour block – so, total of 2.5 hours daily devoted to commenting).
Step 1: How many hours do you spend (daily) on commenting? (Do you already know? If not, try to keep track of it for a week).
Step 2: During this week, record the amount of articles you read (vs. the amount of articles you read and comment vs. the amount of articles you skip).
Step 3: Once you acquire the rough sample data, you can start digging deeper. How much time do you spend on each article (you need to record at least 2-3 weeks of data to get an actual representation because every article is different. Some articles are short and easy to read, some are long and hard, some are lengthy videos/podcasts).
I spent about 10-12 minutes per article for reading and commenting. Most of my time is spent on commenting itself – formulating and commenting and typing it.
Step 4: Once you acquire all this data, start analyzing. What do you want to improve? How’s your typing speed? (I am working on developing the proper typing technique. Right now, I only use 6 fingers for all my typing).
Identify your goals. I don’t care if you are Batman, your plan will only work if you have clear goals in mind (then again, Batman will usually have his goals in mind).
The Social Media Time Block
Yeah, I have a social media block, but before I go into that, let me ask you:
When do you share? When do you like to share?
Am I asking too many questions?
I like asking questions (don’t you?). Because I believe questions are the first step to finding answers (and those answers will help you to achieve your goals).
I used to dislike the idea of automation. I felt that it is not real networking.
But, I am different now. I am still against complete automation (like sharing every article written by an author), but I do support semi-automation (picking out articles and scheduling your updates using a tool like Bufferapp).
I get it. People do write good quality content. But, no one, I mean no one writes good content all the time (I suppose the definition of good content is subjective. To me, good quality content is something that isn’t too old, something that has a different spin to in, and something that is relevant to me and my audience).
So, I pick out articles and I share them.
At first, (I mean, just after I got from the one year blog vacation) I decided to share my articles (or buffer in my case) only after reading them. This gave me an opportunity to add my own thoughts to my shares (personally, I find this an effective technique, but I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that to you).
It worked at first. But, then I noticed the amount of time it required me to do all this. So, I decided to form a social media block (30 mins dedicated to just social media).
Nowadays, I just look at the title and skim over the post (The truth is I planned to do it. But, I didn’t actually follow it. So, I don’t actually add my thoughts anymore, at least not to twitter updates) I still do look over the title (and the blog/post writer) and I buffer up the articles. The real advantage here? I can get it all done in less than 30 mins (when I did sharing along with commenting, commenting block got longer. I had to skip many of my daily activities to get things done).
So, what do you do?
Sharing while commenting? Or sharing before commenting? And do you add your own thoughts to you shares?
My least favorite task in commenting. But, the truth is that you have to skip. No one has the time to read and comment on every blog in their reading list (unless your reading list is less than 50 blogs. In that case, I really recommend you to work on expanding it).
I will get right to the chase, here is what I do:
Step 1: Identify the blog/blog owner (and ask yourself: did I comment on the last blog post? When was that? The best way to build a relationship through commenting is make your presence known. If the particular blog publishes two times a week, commenting once a week is more than enough to build a strong relationship with the blog owner). Note: This also depends upon the quality of the comments you leave.
Step 2: Blog post topic. Skim over the content (I mean, just look at the headings, bullet points etc). Is it the same old content? Even if it is, does the blog owner write in a different perspective? Does it have any new tips?
Step 3: Read.
Step 4: If you have any thoughts to add, just comment (You don’t need to do this every time. I understand that not all readers are familiar with all topics. So, your comment – even if it is just talking about the same thing – may help someone else. But, your time is more important than anything else. So, try to balance it out).
My strategy: Skip every other article
I do make exceptions every time, depending upon my relationship with the blog owner, the publishing schedule and the quality of content.
Replying back to your replies
Not a lot of people actually bother to reply back to their comment replies (even if you don’t have much to add, just reply). It really helps to build the relationship (shows that you actually care).
Keeping track of replies
The most important part of replying back is keeping track of reply notification emails, I have tried three different methods for keeping track of all the comment replies I get:
Try creating a dedicated email for your comments (like email@example.com or maybe firstname.lastname@example.org). You can then use a email app such as Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft
Outlook to manage your emails (Frankly, I hate managing my emails with the default email apps. Apps such as Thunderbird and Outlook offer way more features). Then again, it is not necessary if you are okay with using the default email app.
Forwarding emails to primary email ID
If you want to manage everything within one email, you can send forward your emails to your primary email ID (I know, you are asking why we should bother creating a separate email address if you are going to forward the emails?
1) Organization – It is easier to organize forwarded emails (easy to create email filters. All you need to do is create a filter with your separate email address).
2) Branding – Why do you create email IDs with your hosting provider? I have read that using your brand name based email IDs makes you look for professional. I don’t particularly see the difference, but hey, that’s what I have heard 😉
Alright, the last thing I want to talk about is my strategy with Feedly (if you don’t use Feedly, see if there’s a way to use a similar strategy employing categories with whatever you use).
Using Categories (My Feedly Strategy)
I use Feedly to keep up with my favorite blogs. To learn more about feedly, check out their website: feedly.com
If you do not use Feedly categories, I recommend that you start immediately. Categories make your life easier, let me explain:
I have three different categories:
- Popular Blogs
- New Blogs
the friends category is for my blogging buddies 😉 I trust these guys to produce awesome content. I usually comment more on these blogs (except when I find newer blogs to comment). I have already built a solid relationship with my “friends”, which means I can also skip more often (although that is not recommended).
Popular blogs – I don’t visit these blogs for commenting. Just information (most of the popular blogs are filled with guest posts, which are useful to new bloggers, but not experienced ones). The real gold is when the blog author themselves publish something.
New Blogs – In terms of commenting, these guys are high priority. I haven’t built a relationship with these folks, at least not yet. So, I need to comment more often. I can’t afford to skip the articles on blogs, at least not yet.
I recommend that you experiment with a similar system. See how it goes, if it works for you, stick with it 😉
The next thing I want to talk about is something fairly simple…
Opening Up Everything vs. Dividing It Up
For me, opening up everything means I know how much I need to cover; I have the specific goal in mind (I would also have an approximate on the amount of time needed to finish commenting). But, a lot of unread articles may overwhelm you. It has happened to me many times (I take entertainments breaks to avoid the problem).
Lot of tabs also affects browser performance (amount of time it takes to submit a comment increases). I use apps such as Tabs Outliner to store some of the tabs (give it a try and see how it goes).
Dividing it up is also an excellent strategy. Why do we divide things? To reduce the work load. Or at least make it seem like you have reduced the work load.
Personally, I have found it much more rewarding to comment on 5 articles and then open up another 5 to comment 😉
But, at the end of the day, it’s all up to you. Experiment and figure out what works best for you 😉
Commenting on the Shortest/Easiest Blogs First
Short, in terms of length.
Easy, in terms of design and wordiness. Some blog posts are relatively easier to understand and grasp because of the formatting (bullet points, bold text and lots of white spaces) while others are hard to understand because of wordiness (I might not be the best example for wordiness. I do tend use a lot of words, more than necessary to explain the things I need to explain).
I tend to comment on the easiest/shortest blog posts first. Get them out of the way and then go for the big ones. Just think about it: When you were in school, did you prefer to study the short questions/answers or the long, difficult ones first?
Before I can conclude, I want to thank Alan for giving me an opportunity to guest blog for him. Thank you Alan 🙂
So, let’s go over everything we have covered so far:
• Commenting Block for focused commenting
• Social media Block for all your sharing needs
• Skipping Posts to save time
• Replying back to comment replies (and keeping track of email notifications)
• Feedly Categories to categorize based on your goals and your relationship with the blog owner
• Opening all unread items vs. dividing them up
• Reading easiest (and shortest) blog posts first
Okay, that’s seven. So, I suppose I could go with the title “7 time management tips for commentators” 😉
Let’s see how it works out.
Anyways, let me know of your thoughts – share your commenting experiences. How do you comment? Do you keep track of your commenting time?
If you have any tips, don’t forget to share them. Thank you!