Chatterbox: The Guilt of Not Responding to Comments

October 12, 2018 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox

There comes a time in every book blogger’s life when you realise just how much time it takes to blog, and you realise you simply can’t do it all. Not only do you have to read books (especially new releases), write reviews for them, format your blog and create new content – on an ongoing basis – but you also have to interact with the community to keep up with the latest news in the publishing world. Some bloggers seem to do everything flawlessly – yet other bloggers prefer to focus on one element, like writing brilliant content, or being superstar networkers in the blogging world.

For those of you who have been following Happy Indulgence Books for a long time, it’s no secret that things have changed around here. We used to write a lot of discussion posts, post more frequently, and also – which is what this post is primarily about – comment on a lot of blogs. Sadly, over the years, the ball has dropped somewhere, and it’s something that I’ve definitely felt guilty about. Inspired by Rhiannon’s Youtube video, that eloquently described what a content creator owes to their community, she hit the nail on the head – the fact that we feel guilty about not being able to leave and even respond to comments, despite doing what we can.

Blog hopping and engagement

Don’t get me wrong – blog hopping and leaving comments on my favourite blogs, and everyone who leaves a comment on Happy Indulgence used to be something that I did regularly, and dedicated hours to every weekend. A few years back, when each post used to get about 15-20 comments, this took me about 2-6 hours a week. It’s something that just came with the job description – I wanted to reward anyone that left a comment on Happy Indulgence, but I also loved discovering new blogs, following along with my favourite blogs and not missing a post – as well as getting to know you guys. Sadly, this came with a lot of guilt for weekends where I didn’t have enough time to keep up with everything, or when I left a comment unanswered for a while. As Happy Indulgence grew, and we received more followers and engagement, what seemed like fun at the time actually started to become a chore. Responding to comments would start to take longer and longer, and even between Aila, Jenna and myself, it was difficult to keep up with everything that seemed a bit easier when we first started out.

Expanding my platform

It’s been a few years now, but I’ve also expanded from being a book blogger, to a content creator over time. Not only do I blog at Happy Indulgence, I also keep an active booktube channel, Twitter and Instagram account. I review new release #LoveOzYA books on ABC radio once a month, host a monthly book club, run two Facebook groups (Aussie YA Bloggers & Readers and #LoveOZYA Buy Swap Sell), am actively involved in local Brisbane book events and am lucky enough to host author panels and be invited on interviews. And that’s just the part of my life that I dedicate to book blogging – like the rest of you guys, I do have a life outside of book blogging including working full time (and becoming a soon to be mum!). I’m lucky enough to be afforded these opportunities, to have such amazing followers, and to have met so many amazing people as part of this hobby. But I digress. Book blogging has become so ingrained in my life that sometimes I feel like that’s all I have time to do – and maintaining self care is something that is so important to an all consuming hobby.

Maintaining self care

So what does it mean to look after yourself as a book blogger? There’s so many things that this hobby lends itself to. There’s countless hours we could spend just on one element of blogging, and that could just be reading books, taking book photos, or spending all your time on Twitter (*cough* sounds familiar). But at the end of the day, the most important thing we can do is to set boundaries for ourselves when it comes to this hobby, and realise that in itself, this is only a hobby that we contribute to as a labour of love. There have been times that I wished it could evolve into something that was paid, simply because I love and dedicate so much time to it, but sadly this isn’t a popular opinion – especially since so many other bloggers and content creators offer publicity services for free. We already get free books, promotional items and advance copies and to some, that’s enough. (It’s only when you are asked to promote a company with a specific request to publicise them that I believe should be paid, but that’s another story).

What this means for you

Just to come full circle, if you leave a comment on Happy Indulgence and we don’t reply for a while, or if you’re wondering why we no longer comment on your blog, or interact with you as much as we did before. It’s not because we think we are better than you, or because we no longer care about our followers and fellow bloggers. It doesn’t mean that we don’t read every comment – or appreciate the time that you’ve taken to interact with us. It just comes down to the time we have now that we’ve expanded and have different life priorities (fun facts – Aila started here when she was a school student, and is now in college. Jenna was studying her PhD in Australia which she has now completed and has also lived in Canada. And I wasn’t married or expecting a child then too)!

As a book blogger and a content creator, I choose to focus my time and energy on creating content on a regular basis, no matter what platform you follow. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching other booktube videos, or read your posts or blog hop every once in a while. It just means I’m not able to keep up with it on a regular basis. While it’s not ideal, and I definitely feel guilty about it and wish I had time for it – I can only hope what I do is enough.

What do you think our content creators owe us? Do you feel the guilt when it comes to commenting as well?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.


33 responses to “Chatterbox: The Guilt of Not Responding to Comments

  1. Recently I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed with book blogging. Having to write content, take photos, network, etc., has put me into quite a creative slump. It’s a rut that I’m struggling to get out of but I find that letting go and posting less for a while helps me out a lot. I want to focus more energy into bookstagram because, difficult as that platform is, I enjoy taking creative photos!
    Cam @ Camillea Reads recently posted…Find Your Halloween Reads with the Halloween Creatures Book Tag 2.0My Profile

  2. OMG #relevant!! I am constantly stuck on 300 comments. Mostly because I have to blog hop back… And I want to! But man. Time is just not my friend right now.

    I think this happens to all of us after a while. I’ve been blogging for two years now, and I just had to slow down. My work hours have increased, but also, man… I want to slow down. I want to have time to appreciate things, and not just run run run. That’s now what blogging used to be like. I guess there is some good in being a new, small blogger? Cause after you’ve “made it” you just start feeling like a hamster in a wheel. And I haven’t even “made it” all that much. I’m not very big. Yet big enough for me to not be able to reply to comments from JULY in OCTOBER 😀 (dude. DUDE.)

    I am relating to this post like 120%.
    Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks recently posted…“Guilty Pleasure” Labels: Is It Just Schoolgirl Mentality You Can’t Let Go Of?My Profile

  3. This is so relatable Jeann. I used to love blog hopping/blog walking, leaving comment and responding to comment. Now I did not have that much time like I am used to (and when I have time, I focus to bookstagram), so I rarely do that anymore. I agree with Marie @ DRIZZLE & HURRICANE BOOKS, it’s important to practice self-care and think of their own health before anything else, so I think it is okay not replying comment as fast as you used to be
    Hana Bilqisthi recently posted…The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie ThroneMy Profile

  4. I feel like I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with comments. I love the idea of commenting back, but I 1) like you said it takes A LOT of added time. 2) book blogs are one of the only communities that I know about, that focus so heavy on comments, and feel some kind of way when comments are returned. 3) I would much rather have 1-2 genuine comments on my blog post, then 5+ of WOW GREAT POST, ya know?

    I try to comment as much as i can. But I don’t take it personal when comments aren’t returned (replied is different) but I understand how so many others do!

    Try not to stress. You do an amazing job and the people that are here for YOU and your content, will stay.

    • Thank you so much for the reassurance Tonyalee! After putting this post up I realise everyone is in the same boat and most feel like rather than forcing the comment situation, they would rather prefer genuine comments from readers who are interested.

  5. In an ideal world, I would be able to respond to every comment within a day and comment back on for every person who leaves a comment. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and some things have to be sacrificed. When it comes down to it, I can either write more posts or return comments. Even though I love comments and eventually respond on my own blog, that is all I can commit to.

    I figured out a long time ago that I just can’t comment back on blogs. I do my best to blog hop (mostly on the weekends) but I can’t commit to visiting everyone. And it sucks. I want to have a relationship with my readers, two-way conversations, that expand beyond more than a single blog post. I also feel guilty that I am not showing the same enthusiasm and courtesy that someone showed to me.

    As content creators, I do think that we owe it to our community to pay attention to comments and foster a community, but I don’t think that necessarily has to include comments. Especially with all of the social media out there, communication isn’t limited to blog comments. I like to think that my interactions on Twitter and Goodreads are just as valuable as comments.

    Great post! This is something that I think every blogger can definitely relate to!
    Tessa recently posted…The Beauty of Ridiculousness | Takeaways from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyMy Profile

    • That’s so true! If we spent all our time responding to comments and commenting on other blogs, then we won’t get much time to ourselves. I always feel guilty as well about it, but it seems like everyone else feels the same because of it! I completely agree, as long as we are showing an interest in interaction, it’s okay to let slip sometimes. Thanks for your lovely comment!

  6. I definitely understand this. I mean, it’s one of the main reasons I QUIT book blogging three years ago. I loved responding to comments on my blog and commenting on other blogs, but the bigger my blog got and the more comments that would appear (oh gosh, sometimes there was like 60 comments, RIDICULOUS), the more I felt this overwhelming guilt that I couldn’t keep up with it all. For some reason I just couldn’t allow myself to create content without delivering on the comment front, so I had to step away altogether. And that’s really sad. I feel like I lost everything I ever built and that it was all sort of for nothing in the end. But ah well. My health was really deterioriating at that time (especially with the stress of my Master’s degree ending and having to move back to the States away from Dave) so it really was the best for me.

    I don’t think you should ever apologise for not commenting. I do think showing your appreciation for your content consumers is a good thing becuase people do want to feel like their dedication to your work is valued, but do it on your own terms. If that just means saying thanks every once in a while or only responding to comments when a question is asked, that’s fine. Do what you gotta do to stay happy and healthy. We’d all rather you comment only when you can and focus instead on your great content than crash from it all and disappear like I did.

    (Sidenote, I think it’s CRAZY how you manage all the things you do. I mean, you didn’t even mention it up there but even playing The Bookish Games can take up a great amount of time between reading everyone’s comments and trying to figure out who is who. Even if it all changes when you have your baby, I think you should be proud of yourself for all the things you’ve managed to do over the years. I wish I were as bad ass as you. <3)

    • Oh man, I have totally been there Asti, sometimes the comments can be so overwhelming and every time new posts cropped up you’d feel so obligated to keep on top of it! I’m so glad you’re back somewhat though Asti and hopefully able to start from scratch with what YOU enjoy. Thank you so much, you are too lovely <3! I guess I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't enjoying it. Haha Bookish Games is definitely an obsession/distraction to everything else happening. I don't think anyone expects you to always be a commenting machine, but nonetheless, the guilt is always there!

  7. I relate to this SO MUCH. Like, when I first started, like you said there’d be a few comments here and there, and so okay easy peasy responding, right? Well- I was posting 5-6 (sometimes even more!) times a week at one point, and getting at least 20 comments per post (more on discussions!) and it was taking me literally ALL my time to respond and comment back. Like- there were days I’d go without sleep. It was taking such a toll on my mental health, and somehow I was finally able to just… let it goooooo.

    Here’s the thing- I DO still feel guilty. I now only post maybe 3 times a week, just so I have time to *try* to respond and comment back. But it doesn’t always happen. It’s like, life is in the way! I have two kids that I care for 100% on my own, I am starting a job that makes me want to die inside, moving to a new place, and like, I need a few minutes to BREATHE. And have I lost followers? YEP. Lots, I think. But you know, if they were only stopping by for a tit-for-tat comment situation, then they’re better off looking elsewhere. Because I try- I try SO HARD- but there are times that it just isn’t possible, and it is not worth trying to sacrifice *everything* else to get a few more pageviews or whatever. Honestly? I am more happy now commenting with the people I genuinely care about, knowing they won’t suddenly pretend I don’t exist if I happen to be a little MIA for a few days.

    AWESOME post, Jeann. And I am glad for you standing up for your own self care too!
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Reviews in a Minute: Authors I Love EditionMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh Shannon, I don’t know how you keep on top of everything especially since you were posting so regularly at one point! I’m glad you’ve kind of let it go somewhat. I think for me, what helped was that I continued to post while not being so “on top” of the commenting thing and people would still be reading my content. So at least I knew that hey, people were here for ME not neccessarily just for my commenting!

      I feel somewhat reassured after this post though that a lot of people are in the same boat, and are pretty forgiving that we have our own lives! What you said about people leaving tit for tat comments really resonated with me, because that’s something I really struggled with too – trying to force myself to read and engage with content that really wasn’t my thing (eg. adult romance novels or something) while leaving a meaningful comment just kind of took the fun for it. Somewhere along the way, I’ve learnt that we have to do right by ourselves and if that means stepping away for a while or deciding on posting/blogging the way we want, then so be it!

  8. Ugh, I hate WordPress! I wrote a comment and it simply disappeared.

    Okay, here’s what I said. I do always return the favour of a comment, with a reply and a visit to their blog, if they have one, but I don’t get anywhere near as many comments as you do, though I do get a lot of hits, and I’m certainly not trying to juggle all those book-related things you do. I just blog regularly on one site. Mostly – not entirely – I’ve stopped commenting on those who don’t return the favour. It does save time.
    Sue Bursztynski recently posted…The Idylls Of The Queen by Phyllis Ann Karr: a RetroreviewMy Profile

  9. I feel this as a blogger. I don’t get many comments but the main ones are from family members who post “nice review” – occassionally I get from my Book Bingo buddies, and people in the Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge and the latter two groups are ones I usually respond to because we’re chatting about the content, and linking the content. I work from home as a quiz writer and editor, and that takes up so much time during the week, I have to save blogging for the weekend.
    Ashleigh Meikle recently posted…Book Bingo Twenty – A Book by an Australian Woman, A book that’s more than 500 pages and a foreign translated novel.My Profile

  10. Love this. I don’t often get more than 12 or 15 comments on my posts but I’ve experienced the overwhelm when I consider all the other things I have to do. Blog-hopping is like stepping into a vortex of blogs you never want to leave so it’s really time consuming.

    I think overall content creators own acknowledgement. Even if it’s a like or a comment or a post like this, telling their readers they appreciate their support and that they do read the comments. As a reader I do like to feel like my contribution is acknowledged in some way, specially when you really look up to the people you’re interacting with.
    Pamela recently posted…I still haven’t read these books by my favorite authorsMy Profile

    • That’s so true, that’s why I found that setting up your own boundaries and how much time you’re willing to put into blogging to maintain the fun is important. Acknowledgement is definitely important, even every once in a while!

    • Exactly, I know how it feels to spend so much time commenting on other blogs and to never get that acknowledgement, but on the flipside you kind of understand as well that they have a life outside blogging! If anything, it seems like everyone else feels the same, which is reassuring.

  11. This is such a great post Jeann, thank you so, so much for sharing. I do feel that guilt a whole lot and I know I personally spend A LOT of time commenting on blogs, blog-hopping and answerin to my own comments, sometimes even more than I actually create content, which is, for a content creator, sort of an odd balance? Thing is, I feel this exact guilty feeling, because I want to do my very best to keep up with everything, but sometimes life just happens and I can’t dedicate as much time to that as I would like to, or, well, honestly, I just want to do something else, too? Finding the right balance is one of the hardest things ever, for me, to be honest.
    To answer your question, I honestly feel like content creators owe us… well, I don’t know, I feel like saying nothing is a bit weird, but… I feel like content creators owe it to themselves to take care of themselves before anything else. I mean, they are creating content and talking about things that they’re passionate about and, to keep their passion, it’s important to practice self-care and think of their own health before anything else, obviously. (something I’m definitely not doing but that’s nooooot the point here right haha).
    ANYWAY I am rambling but this was such a fantastic post, Jeann, thank you so much for sharing this <3
    Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books recently posted…Shattering Stigmas – My story with mental healthMy Profile

    • You’re welcome Marie! It’s so hard to find the balance especially when there is so much we could be doing when it comes to blogging – something has got to give. I love and appreciate your comments and how you spend so much time engaging in the community, and it’s definitely appreciated! I’m so glad to hear that you say self care is the most important for content creators, because no one is going to know when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or stressed, or not enjoying things anymore and the last thing we want is to see people quit because of that. I think people should give the time that they can to their hobby but also learn that it’s not the be all and end all.

  12. Awesome post, Jeann I’m feeling less and less guilty about replying to/leaving comments, simply because I just don’t have unlimited time like I used to. I strive to leave meaningful comments on blogs when I can, and if a post just isn’t interesting, I don’t feel bad about not leaving a comment. It’s tough for sure to find the right balance!
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [319] – MAGIC FOR LIARS by Sarah GaileyMy Profile

    • I completely agree Tammy! I’ve only gotten busier since first starting to blog, and I completely hear you about not bothering to force ourselves to read articles that we aren’t interested in (let alone leave a comment)!

  13. Agh I feel this SO MUCH. I’m currently in the throes of guilt trying to answer comments and read blogs from 2 weeks ago. (Like my tab is literally exploding with all the blogs I’ve pulled up to read after answering like 50 comments tonight haha.) I do feel guilty about it because I don’t have as much time or energy as I used to. omg in 2016 I freaking commented on at least 80+ blogs ALMOST EVERYDAY. I don’t even know how I did it!! But now I focus a lot of time/effort into Bookstagram too…which I didn’t before. And I write…a lot. I need to write more. I should be writing right noooooow. Whoops!

    And I also feel like a lot of people aren’t blogging as much anymore?! So it’s hard to keep up motivation sometime when it feels like shouting into the void. I still love love love it. But I definitely am trying to let myself take more breaks now and not panic if I have to skip a weekend of posting.

    So definitely agree and understand how you’re feeling here!! I guess I don’t think content creators “owe” us things, but I still do throw a lot of myself into replying to comments, especially to newbies because I remember feeling so ignored as a newbie blogger myself. But that saying, I’m definitely not beating myself up for having to skip days/weeks of working.

    WHY CAN’T WE GET PAID UGH. Like literally any other blogger for any other brand usually can be monetised but for us it’s this mass taboo?!
    CG @ Paper Fury recently posted…#AmCurrently September ~ Updates For My 2nd Book! Hosting a Bookstagram Challenge! No One Feeds Me Enough Cake!My Profile

    • Oh my gosh, I remember those days when that’s all we would do! it was fantastic for discovering new bloggers but then I didn’t realise just how much it would grow into a chore sadly. Yeah, so many bloggers I used to know aren’t blogging anymore, so whenever I venture out into commenting world I feel a bit out of place! But yes, I think I’ve learnt to let go a bit as well and not stress myself so much over it. UGH I KNOW CAIT ITS SO ANNOYING

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