Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How to Read Blogs and Not Waste Time, Part I

I love blogging. I find it to be a fascinating way to learn, to share, to connect, and to promote. Unfortunately, not everyone grasps immediately just how much fun and how useful it can be to participate in “the Bloggosphere”.

Let me first clarify something. Blogging is not just the act of writing and maintaining a blog. It also includes reading other people’s blogs and joining in their discussions. It involves expanding your immediate circle and discovering just how broad the world really is.

Often when I talk about this, a common response is, “What, these people have no lives?” Do they spend all stinkin’ day reading and writing blogs?”

Well, yes, that’s true of some of them. The internet is full of people who seem to have nothing better to do that surf the web, and fill it with more stuff. The cool thing about that is that these people have money, too, and many of them would buy your products, if they just found the link to it.

To get them there, it helps to sort through the often overwhelming amount of information out there and see just what’s valuable. It does take time, but not as much as it might seem. Over the years, I’ve found ways to waste less time with irrelevant blogs, and spend more effective time with the ones that are valuable to me.

Here’s my tips on reading blogs effectively.

  1. Find Some Good Ones

First of all, find some good blogs to read. By “Good” I mean “blogs that have valuable information that’s interesting for me to read and applies to my life”. I say it that way, because there are many, many good and well-written blogs out there that I don’t care about. Because they hold no interest for me. Many of the blogs I follow, as well as many of the ones I write, will have no interest to you, either, for the same reasons.

A good way to start this search is to go to Google and simply search for “something-I’m-interested-in blog”. For example, I might type “music blog”, or “dutch oven cooking blog”, or even “underwater basket weaving blog”. This will pull up a lot of blog sites and blog postings that are about what you’re searching for. Begin clicking in and begin reading.

Pretty soon, you’ll likely find a few that seem to qualify as “good”, according to what I wrote above. Bookmark those, because you’ll want to come back to them and read them more often.

  1. Find Some More Good Ones

Once you’ve found a good one, check the links that are on the side or below that particular blog page. Many of those blog links will be on a similar topic, so check those out. Bloggers tend to “run in packs” so often I find that if I like one blogger, I’m likely to find that other blogs he/she reads will have similar opinions, and appeal to me as well. When you find some of these that you like, bookmark those, too.

These first two steps can be time consuming. Once you’ve got some blogs you enjoy in your bookmarks, it’s not so necessary to go out and search so much any more. I still do, on occasion, but now that I’ve got a lot of blogs I read regularly, I don’t go out searching aggressively, like I did when I first started.

  1. Check Every 2-3 Days

Once you’ve found some blogs that you think will appeal to you on a more regular basis, check up on them occasionally. Go back every few days and see if there’s a new blog posting.

Now, there’s a system called RSS that can be used to track when a blog gets updated, and that makes it so you don’t have to check each one every day. What a timesaver! We’ll cover how to set that up and how it works in the next article.

  1. Skim topics

I don’t read every word of every blog. I’ve learned to skim. Scan down the page and catch words and see if it’s about something that interests you. Even though I enjoy reading many blogs on a regular basis, I don’t read them all completely.

  1. Look For Reasons To Comment

If all this work is going to be effective for you, in terms of running your website business, you’re going to need to actually make it work. As you’re doing all this reading, look for opportunities to post comments. Not just saying “Yeah, that’s right!”, but actually adding insight to the threads and the conversations. In doing that, you establish linkbacks to your own website, and as others read your comments and find them to be valuable, they often will click to your site to see what you have to offer. In following my site’s traffic, I frequently see visitors that came from blogs where I left comments.

  1. The 80-20 Rule

Someone once said, “Eighty percent of anything is garbage.” That’s true on the net, and especially true of blogs. So much of what I see as I approach the blogs is irrelevant, inaccurate, or just plain immaterial.

I accept that. Most of the blogs I encounter are going to be a waste of time. But rather than throw out the 20% of good, informative, effective reading and lose the whole thing, I skim through it. But I also don’t waste a lot of time or effort on what I can quickly see is in the 80%. If I can’t see an immediate interest in something I’m reading, I skip on to the next thing.

“But what if you miss something important?”

Let me tell you, my life was fine before blogs came along, and it will be just fine if I don’t read any one particular blog. If I happen to miss something, the sun will still rise, and my kids will still love me. Blogs are cool, and a great way to learn things and to promote your site. But let’s keep it in perspective here. It’s just not THAT critical.

Why do I want to read blogs?

At times, some might wonder why I bother. Is it worth the effort. As I read blogs, I get a lot of benefit from it. I learn about what’s going on. I refine my own opinions by reading the feelings of others. I learn new strategies. I bring traffic to my website. I think of things I want to write about in my own blogs. I connect myself to my world.

But I also don’t waste a lot of time doing it.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment