Not long ago, I wrote a post about how I try not to focus too much on stats because I could easily drive myself crazy (and because I never know what to do about any of that information I see!). Well, today I want to talk about the drawbacks to growing your blog bigger. Feed Your Fiction Addiction isn’t a HUGE blog, but it’s getting bigger, and I’ve noticed a few drawbacks that I wasn’t really expecting – or at least hadn’t thought about.
This post is in no way saying that I don’t think you should try to grow your blog or that you’re wrong for trying. But there ARE some things I wish I would have realized earlier. I thought I’d share! (By the way, it’s hard to write a post like this without sounding like I’m either A: complaining or B: making excuses for my own blogging shortcomings, but I’m going to try!)
Top Five Things I Wish I Would Have Realized When I Had a Smaller Blog:
You can’t do it all (at least not well). Sure, I can hang out with people on Twitter and post pictures on Instagram and write great blog posts and create pretty Pinterest-worthy graphics and interact with authors and … you get the idea. But I can’t do all of that all the time. Focusing my efforts is the best policy, but I’m still working on that balance, if I’m being honest. My current method is just to do what I want when it strikes my fancy and not worry too much about it. It’s working pretty well, for me, but I still need to remember this lesson occasionally!
It takes longer than you think to reply and comment back. I used to have this idealistic notion that I would reply to every single comment and always comment back. I have to confess that it was a bit of a point of pride for me – I loved building relationships with other bloggers, and replying and commenting back was a great way to do it! Problem is, once I started getting more and more comments, I started realizing how much TIME that takes. I homeschool my kids and edit part-time. Plus, let’s face it, my family doesn’t want me to be on the computer (or with my nose in a book) constantly. I could easily spend three hours a day replying, reading posts and commenting back. But I don’t always have that kind of time!
It’s harder to form deeper relationships with more commenters. This is the biggest thing that affects me. I just didn’t realize how much the time constraints would affect the time I spend on blogs I love. Even though I have more commenters now, I can’t keep on top of all of the blogs anymore, and I’m starting to visit even my favorites a little less (Paper Fury is one that comes to mind – I LOVE Cait’s blog, but by the time I reply and comment back on everything, I feel mentally exhausted and don’t end up going to visit. I end up heading there like once a week and binge reading, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Need to fix that.) And since I’m spread thinner, that means my relationships sometimes get thinner as well. I think I’m finally starting to find a happy medium with that, but I’m one of those people who wants to make everyone happy, so I fret about this a lot.
You’ll never be happy with those stats. I always thought that there would be some point at which I would feel like, “Yes, I have arrived. My blog is exactly where I want it to be.” But the fact is, no matter what size your blog is, there are challenges – there’s never a “perfect” sweet spot. (And no matter how many goals I reach, I’ll always have at least a little niggling voice at the back of my head that wants more.)
Pure numbers don’t guarantee publishers will notice you. I used to think that if I just got my follower count up to a certain number – or maybe my pageviews or something, the publishers would notice me and want to send me their books. I do think that pure numbers helped me get my standing on NetGalley and Edelweiss (as soon as my numbers got pretty high, I could generally get approved on those and even ended up auto-approved for HarperCollins Children’s), but it doesn’t seem to be a simple correlation between numbers and publisher attention. (Though I’m sure if my pageviews got really high that would help.) I’m actually fine with this, for the most part – but every once in a while that little voice in the back of my head tells me that publisher attention is what makes a book blog “successful.” (Darn pesky voice!)
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the things that come to mind easily. Mind you, I’m not complaining at all here. I LOVE that my blog has grown and that it’s a fun and vibrant place to hang out! But sometimes I have to remind myself that bigger isn’t always better. Instead of striving to get bigger, I need to remember to be happy with “just right.”
This was such an interesting post! I would love to grow my blog further (I still feel like my blog is quite small to say I’ve been going almost 2 years), and have even thought about a few extra blog-related ventures I want to look into, so it’s good to know the drawbacks if I do ever get to where I want to be. I already seem to take ages to get to people’s comments, and I don’t get that many (although I think this is largely because it’s hard seen as I still don’t have wifi), so if my blog grew bigger I would really need to make a concerted effort to keep on top of it. I think people probably understand in your case though if it takes longer, because you can see that your get quite a few.
Yeah, I don’t know how you manage anything with your limited wifi situation – I’m impressed that you manage to blog at all!
I don’t think you sounded like you were complaining or making excuses at all 🙂
Oh my gosh, yes, whenever I respond to comments, I always feel like it takes SO MUCH time. I feel like maybe I’m thinking too hard about each response because there is no way it takes other people that long lol. But I do think about how much time it must take for people who get lots of comments since I don’t even get a ton.
It does seem like higher numbers helps immensely with publishers though :-/ For the most part it’s not a big concern of mine since I actually do often prefer indie and self-pub books, but there are times when a book I want is released through a bigger publisher, and it’s always a bummer that I can’t get it, especially since those are also the most expensive ones to buy. But hey, I suppose there are benefits and drawbacks no matter how big or small your blog is!
That’s definitely true – no matter what size your blog is there are positives and negatives! And I also agree that it takes awhile to reply to comments when you aren’t just giving a quick, “Thanks for commenting!” I like to say more than that, so it’s not a super fast process.
This is such a great post! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, how I’d love to continue seeing my blog grow but how harder it would be to continue keeping up with visiting other blogs and commenting back on my own. Being realistic about the time I have for blogging, I think I’ve just about reached an ideal place. I’d love to have more time to devote to blogging, but it just seems to keep taking more and more of a backseat to real life, lol.
Yes, it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you grow. I never realized how much more time it would take to respond to everything and how much I’d feel like my time and attention is spread thinner!
I appreciate your honest voice in this matter and thank you for giving me somethings to think about. Cheers!!
Glad I could make you think! It’s easy for us to think about the benefits of growing our blogs, but sometimes it’s good to think about what we’re giving up, too.
I think you explained yourself really well, and it’s something that a lot of us who have been blogging for awhile understand. It’s hard to keep up with it all – even if you’re a smaller blog, but the bigger you grow and the more comments you get, it can be harder to do everything. I love to comment on people’s blogs and get back to everyone and I Feel like I do a fairly good job but there are weeks that are harder than others. I think most of us understand that though. Real life still awaits after you blog.
So true! I think I just have to come to terms with the fact that I can’t keep on top of everyone’s blogs, even when I want to. I find myself feeling guilty when I go to someone’s monthly wrap-up and I realize I’ve ONLY caught their discussions that were linked up to the discussion challenge that month – but I have to try to let that go. Actually, the monthly wrap-up round-up is kind of nice for that because then I can see one or two posts that I may have missed that I want to catch up on!
Great post Nicole! And I agree- it does get harder to keep up with comments and everything else as you get more attention. I also used to think I wanted to grow my blog as much as I could but lately I’m kinda content- with RL and everything else I kinda like where I’m at, more or less. My blog is not big but even now it takes me longer to reply to comments so I get it. There is a happy medium in there somewhere… 🙂
Glad you’ve found a sweet spot. I think I hit mine about six months ago, but just didn’t realize it. 🙂 Which isn’t to say, I don’t LOVE my new followers, it’s just that I’m not keeping up with everyone as well as I used to.
I relate so much to this post, Nicole. I don’t think that desire to want to grow your blog, get more people to visit, will ever go away, but at the same time, it’s so much work. As much as I love blogging, I never want it to take up too much of my time. When I jumped from my own blog to co-blogging, I saw a lot of growth – I was stagnant for a while there on my own, and while I so appreciate that more people caring about the content I put out, it also puts a ton of pressure on me. I used to spend maybe 20-30 minutes on a review. Now, I can’t get one written in even 1 hour because I want to try and make them better. It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure if I’m entirely happy either …
I tried out Bookstagram earlier this year, and it didn’t work for me, because it’s time-consuming and frustrating for me. I do try to make graphics for my post, but I can usually do those fast because I’m used to making them now and that’s something that I also enjoy doing.
I agree with how tough it is to keep up with comments too. I try to get back to every comment, but it’s really not that easy. And there are days I just let them pile on and on, and then I never want to go back and I feel bad.
And so true about what you said about the numbers not really meaning anything to publishers. I’m not sure what is that we need as bloggers nowadays, but even with my good stats, I don’t get noticed and just last week, I was declined for a bunch of books by a small publisher.
Anyways, this is a great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Yeah, I think we fool ourselves into thinking that there’s some certain “big blog” status that will lead to blogging fulfillment, but we forget that said status comes with A LOT of work. I’ve been thinking for a long time that it would be nice to have a co-blogger, and my mom is going to be helping me out with reviews sometimes, actually, but it’s still a lot. And sometimes, like you say, I just get overwhelmed and need to take a break!
I can’t figure out the correlation between numbers and publisher attention completely. Sometimes I think my actual problem is just that I’m not persistent enough – I’ve only really contacted publishers for books a few times (besides through NetGalley and Edelweiss), and when I didn’t hear back, I just took it as a no. There’s one book I REALLY want, though – Scythe by Neal Shusterman. I have vowed not to give up on that one. I’ll let you know if it works out for me!
I can relate to so much of this. The comments issue in particular is one I’m not happy about. I do like to respond to every comment and just about manage to do that but it’s hell to keep up with blogs I follow. If you want to do more than just click the ‘like’ button, it takes time…..that I dont have.
Yes, I don’t like to just leave super quick meaningless comments on people’s blogs (“Great post!”), but sometimes it can be so hard to do more!
Nicole, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking. Not only does trying to read and comment, visit other blogs, and network take increasingly more time – I find it also takes the creative writing time. I think we all look at our stats and like to see the numbers climbing, but the reality is there are only so many hours in the day. Thank you for sharing this important issue. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles
Yeah, you don’t want to sacrifice writing good posts for commenting and replying, but sometimes it feels like a choice you have to make!
Everything you said is 100% on point. I am not a BIG blogger either, but I almost feel like I need to cut back on posting just to comment back (not that I am complaining) I wish I didn’t have to work so I could just blog and read blogs (oh and books) everyday.
I actually HAVE cut back on posting to comment back. I used to pretty much always post six days a week, but I just can’t do it right now. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to visit other blogs too. For now, I’ve decided to stick to four or so posts a week and try to take more time to reply and comment back, but I still don’t have a really good system down.
Such great advice! I have a pretty small blog, so these are some important things to keep in mind going forward.
It’s just good to know when you’re thinking about how to grow.
[…] Do you think there are some Perils of Growing a Bigger Blog? […]
My blog is small, but I hear you. The main reason why it’s small is that I don’t have enough time – or am not organised enough – to make it grow…a.k.a. provide content and connect with more people. But just imagine what would happen if it actually grew. I can’t keep up with it as it is! Like you, I make a point to reply to comments and comment myself, but it’s both time and brain-consuming. (Not the “replying to comments” part, because, again, it’s not like I get a ton of visitors. But the “visiting blogs” part sometimes is). I wish that my blog could get bigger, of course…but on the other hand, I’m afraid for it to grow. I’m afraid that, if I won’t be able to reply to and/or visit every one of my readers, I will come across as an ungrateful b**ch. Also, like you, I would miss the dialogue in that case…On the other hand, people like you, who honestly and openly admit they’re not superheroes, make me realise it’s just part of the game not to be on top of it :).
Some publishers are willing to work with you even if you have a small blog, on the strenght of your reviews alone. They are probably few, but I have built at least one relationship which gives me faith in the human nature, so to speak :). Curiosity Quills Press has been very nice to me, just because I’m really into one of their authors (I virtually “met” him before they even picked him up) and have recently liked another book that they generously agreed to send me. Miracles happen sometimes :).
Oh, and…if you aren’t able to reply to this comment, don’t worry, I know the reason ;).
Yes, finding the time to really plan out an approach to growing your blog can be tough. (Plus, it’s confusing sometimes!). I’m glad that me admitting my struggles with this helps other bloggers – sometimes we look at other bloggers and think that they have it so much more together than we do – finding out that they don’t can be a relief! 🙂
What a timely post for me. I’ve really been struggling with deciding the role I want blogging to have in my life. With a full time job+, it’s hard to decide what I want my focus to be. I highly value my relationships with family and friends as well, so fitting in blogging can be hard. I have enjoyed it, but is it worth it if only a few people are reading it? Am I willing to give up other aspects of my life to have a bigger blog? Summer is almost here for me, and I’m hoping to find some clarity on this issue.
It is a hard balance because if you don’t have many readers at all, it hardly seems worth it (none of us wants to talk to ourselves), but as you get more readers you have to realize that it takes more time. It can be a tough choice!
OMG DID YOU JUST READ MY MIND NICOLE?!?!? THIS IS 100000% ME TOO. I always always dream of having a gargantuan blog and I’ve worked relaly hard for it! Except…there are drawbacks. Agh. I actually really suffer from the commenting-back one. ? I love commenting back! It’s my #1 thing for blogging because I think it creates loyal followers and epic friendships (and I won’t lie; getting people telling me they enjoyed my post is SO NICE for my confidence??) But omg I NEED 939 MORE HOURS IN MY DAY SERIOUSLY. *weeps* I have at least 200+ comments I haven’t replied to at the moment. 0_0 I’m kind of pretending that isn’t the case or I’ll die of overwhelm. And by the time I’ve replied and visited back blogs…I rarely get to my own bloglovin’ feed. I LOVE YOUR BLOG A LOT BUT HOW COME I NEVER GET OVER HERE?! *wails* I’ve started reading a half dozen posts from my bloglovin’ feed in the morning but erk. I mean, there’s only so much blogging you can do before your brain combusts too, right?!?
So *sends you chocolate* I 100% agree. I feel a bit stretched thing. xD Not that I regret it! And not that I’ll probably change anything…but I do think that building your blog does have slight downsides and I guess we have to learn to manage them before our heads combust of overwhelm.
Oh, Cait, I don’t even know HOW you do it! I went to your blog yesterday and I saw the number of comments on one of your posts and all I could think was, “Just replying to comments has to be like a full time job for her!” I am amazed that you stay anywhere close to on top of it all. Seriously, you have to give yourself a break and not stress about it because otherwise you’ll end up with an ulcer or something. 🙂 I think we all dream about having a blog that gets hundreds of comments on every post – but it’s good to realize the amount of work that goes into something like that! I am in awe of you!
For the first year I had my blog, I wanted to grow it bigger. I thought the more followers I had, and more page views, the more likely I’d be approved by publishers. And then I realized a lot of it is pretty much luck. I totally lucked into my Penguin contacts when my blog was only about 5-ish months old? (Still no idea how I managed that!)
Now that I’m closing in on 2 years old, I keep finding I’ve somehow gotten on mailing lists for physical books that I don’t know how I’ve gotten there. Or added to a publisher e-mail list for genres I don’t actually read. Which is kinda cool, but also kinda not because I hate having to respond back saying basically “thank you so much, but no thank you!”
I also used to be so good about keeping up with review books. I always managed (before this year!) to read them all and submit feedback before the book was published. But this year? Not so much. The fantasy and sci-fi, I’ve still gotten done in time, though I have a few still waiting. The cozy mysteries we’re not going to talk about… *laughs*
I’m falling behind on commenting on other blogs, and am down to only once a week or so replying to comments left on my own blog. I don’t know how bigger blogs like you and Cait manage! (Granted, summer is high season at my job, so that’ll pick up again in fall, but I still feel bad!)
Though on the plus side (unless it’s a minus side? *ponders*), it looks like I haven’t lost my ability to ramble on forever! *snickers* Sorry about that!
Rambling is welcome here at FYFA – I’m very good at it myself!!
I think you’re the person I’ve talked to the most about my lack of publisher attention woes (you must be getting sick of it by now!). Honestly, I’ve still only TRIED contacting publishers a handful of times, but I never hear anything back, so that gets discouraging. Still, I DO have my Harper Edelweiss auto-approval, so I really can’t complain!! (Or I shouldn’t – apparently I’m still capable. LOL!)
Since I am so new, I have been adding every blog I find to my RSS feed. After taking a bit of time off this last week due to family visits, I opened it to find I had over 2,000 new posts! I have decided that I am going to have to develop circles of involvement. I haven’t decided what those will be yet.
That’s what I did at first too, and then I discovered how impossible it was to keep up with that! I still follow a crazy number of blogs on Bloglovin’ but I have them organized into folders and always start out by checking my “Active Followers” folder. Even with that, if I get behind, it can be overwhelming!
Yes I think commenting back is the worst for me, because there’s just so many blogs to check out, and plus I have to read to have blog posts. And that’s that thing with stats too, they can drop! So unless you don’t take a hiatus or you churn out top notch posts every day, it’s not going to stay the same! As of now, I’ve just been doing what I can handle, and that works for me 🙂
Yes – I feel like my stats used to be higher when I spent more time visiting blogs every day, but I just don’t have the time or mental energy to keep up with it all. So, it’s easier for me just to ignore the stats and not stress about it – I have to realize that I can’t do it all!
This post hits home for me. I’ve been trying to grow my blog and my readership because I’m going so slow at doing that for my books, but I wonder if a lot of my good habits will fall by the wayside if it DOES grow bigger. Hmmm. That gives me something to think about. Still, I often go through your comments and look for other bloggers to follow that I like, and I keep trying. One day, I will just have to hire an assistant, I guess! 🙂
Yes, hopefully if you grow your blog to the point where its overwhelming, that will have translated into bigger sales and you can afford to hire an assistant! 🙂
Great post. I love seeing these kind of behind the scenes things. I agree with the commenting. Somethings I see people on twitter on a comment spree and I’m just like “how?” because it always takes me ages. It’s kind of sad that there is no “perfect” blogging stat spot. Stats are evil and necessary at the same time. I started forcing myself to not pay attention to them except for when I update them for publishers because otherwise I focus on them and not on blogging for me.
Yes, it’s easy to fall prey to staring at those stats and forgetting that your blog is supposed to be for you!!
I think all of us will always want our blog to grow but it’s true that you can’t be as personal with more commenters. Nothing is ever perfect in life but you just have to keep being true to yourself. I know what you mean about social media though, that’s why I focus on my blog and commenting more than being on Twitter. I am addicted to Pinterest and my couple of IG accounts though LOL!
Twitter for me is just an occasional thing – I go through periods where I’m really active and having fun there and then periods where I just don’t have the energy. Right now, I’m in the latter phase, so I skip it most of the time. Oh well!!
This post came at the perfect time for me, I’ve come to realize that I’m okay with where we are because my personal life can be beyond crazy busy at times and I’m grateful for all of the blogging and Goodread friends I have and I’d be devastated if I couldn’t visit and comment on their posts and find books that I must read from them. (wow, longest run-on sentence ever lol!) So thank you! We continue to grow and this post has made me grateful for where we are. ♥
Yes, you can’t let your blog overwhelm your regular social life – sometimes we have to get off the computer and pay attention to the people around us IRL!
This obviously struck a nerve with a lot of us! It’s such a pertinent issue no matter whether your blog is new and tiny or, well, Paper Fury. I am always so grateful when I see that yet again you’ve taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment on my little blog, and also a little bewildered, because seriously, how do you make the time? The last time I checked, I had literally five followers. FIVE. A “good” post for me gets 30 views and two comments (one from you!). Yet I still struggle with not being able to do it all, and having to figure out where to put my time, energy, and learning.
I don’t have any interest (right now) in getting ARCs, so that takes one kind of pressure off. My blogging goals areI to improve as a writer, connect with other readers, learn about books and authors, and maybe build some tech skills along the way. I’m starting to feel like I need to get pickier about which blogs I follow and which books I add to my TBR, because I will never get enough time to read all of it. But when I discover a new blogging voice that I enjoy, or hear about a book that sounds interesting, I can’t resist!
Your blog and your online presence are such great examples of how to be an involved and supportive part of this community!
Thanks, Wendy!! That’s such a sweet thing for you to say! I honestly love your blog, with your stories about school and your kids, so I try to make an extra special effort to get over there whenever I can. Of course, as you can tell, I often only make it over once a week or so and then read a bunch of posts at once!!).
I think that everyone hopes to grow their blog but I think it’s important that we don’t let the growing numbers consume us. Things have been pretty hectic in my life for the past few months and I can definitely understand how something like replying and commenting back can be so time consuming. Before now I have spent hours upon hours replying to comments, visiting pages and commenting on them but now I just don’t have the time or patience to do that. I will always try to reply to a comment but I don’t worry so much about replying within the same day.
At the end of the day it’s all about trying to find that balance between blogging, commenting, utilizing social media and tackling real life and right now it seems like you are doing a good job of maintaining that balance. 😀
As you can see, I obviously don’t manage to reply same day either. (Um, this one was nine days ago!) I do my best, but lately I just feel like I’m drowning! Still, I do try to get back to all those comments eventually!
This is such an interesting post, Nicole! I have been struggling to keep up with my commenters in terms of replying and commenting back, and my blog is nowhere as big as yours! I like how you pointed out that, as humans, we’ll probably always want more no matter how big our achievement is. At the end of the day, I think connection should be more important than numbers (though I have found myself staring at my stats, hoping it would climb a little bit further!)
Yes, connection IS better than stats, in my opinion. After all, the internet would still feel like a lonely place if tons of people clicked on my posts, but nobody stopped to say hello!
Same with me! When I first start blogging, I always reply to each comments and comment back on their blog, plus visiting my favorite blogs. But now? I can’t even reply to the comments on my blog. Since it’s summer right now, I’m trying to be like when I first start blogging, but like you said, you can’t do it all so I’m not going to pressure myself xD Anyway, great post! 🙂
Yep, as you can see, it’s taken me quite a while to get back to some of these older comments – I’m working on it, but I’m trying hard not to stress too much about it!
Great post, for so long all I wanted was to grow my blog and I always thought bad of bloggers who didn’t reply to every comment. But now I know just how hard it is to do it all. I’m by no means a big blog or even have a ton of comments to show love back to but it stresses me out. I have realised getting bigger isn’t all I thought it would be and now I’m happy to stay the size I am but instead want to work on putting out quality posts that I’m happy with and making connections with other book lovers.
Me too! When I was first starting out in blogging, I got frustrated when I’d visit blogs and the bloggers wouldn’t reply or comment back. I had NO idea how many hours a day it actually takes to keep up with it all!
[…] Nicole @ Feed Your Addiction discusses The Perils of Growing a Bigger Blog […]
Oh my goodness, Nicole! Commenting back is sometimes like a chore these days, and that makes me so, so sad! I love getting to know new blogger, but you’re right, it’s hard to keep nurturing those deeper online relationships when we also want to get to know new to us bloggers better. And it makes me feel really bad if I’m not able to comment back in a timely manner. And I’m really wondering how to deal with this in a good way. I’m preparing a discussion post on that very subject for next week…
Yes, and I don’t want it to be a chore – my blogging relationships should never be reduced to chore status!
I adore this post! I have been wanting to write something similar for ages and you pretty much nailed all my points!
I also want to mention that being bigger puts a larger spotlight on you. More people are reading, more people are sharing and it can be nerve-wracking.
Commenting back as always been a tough thing for me, which is why I can’t dedicate my time to doing it. Plus, you know my views on it LOL It’s just HARD for me to do it.
You’re right, the bigger I get, the more pressure I feel to “measure up.” More people are looking, so I suddenly feel like my graphics need to be a little better or my posts need to meet some sort of random standard I’ve set for myself or my Top Ten posts (when I do them) have to be more “worthy” somehow. I didn’t think of that drawback! (Though the pressure is pretty much self-created.)
[…] Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I want to talk about commenting. I think one of the best rewards for bloggers – at least it is for me! – is to see comments on my posts. I love reading other blogger’s opinions, and if they’re nice enough to come and share theme here, I’m extatic . Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction had a post that tackled this subject partly last week, in her The Perils of Growing a Bigger Blog. […]
My stats are back down lately, since I’ve been busy and writing less, but before I stepped back, I’d just reached the point where I was getting enough comments it was hard for me to get back to everyone. As you wisely point out, it’s not like there’s some point at which I’m going to stop wanting to grow my blog, no matter what my stats are. For me, I think part of that is that growth indicates to me that I’m doing something right. However, the relationships formed through blogging are my favorite part and in that regard, there are decreasing returns to growth because my time limits how much I can interact with people. Great post!
Yeah, I’ve successfully avoided looking at my stats. When I do my June wrap-up in a few days, I know I’ll glance at them, but I try to ignore them otherwise. I don’t want to lose the relationships I’ve gained, though, so that’s my focus!