Reading time 6 mins

In late 2015, I decided to enter Nori at ReadWriteLove28‘s 365 Commenting Challenge. To complete the challenge, I had to comment on 365 different blogs in 2016.

Nori tried to make this easier by compiling a list of bloggers who submitted their blogs to be part of the challenge. I went rogue almost right from the start and decided to find blogs on my own. This was easy at first, I know loads of bloggers. The beginning of my list is mostly comprised of blogs I already knew about. Even down into the 200’s I am still commenting on blogs I knew about, but haven’t visited in a while. Finding new blogs got a bit more tricky as time went on though.

I thought this would be a fun way to meet new-to-me bloggers. I love blogs, so this was a pretty fun challenge. I didn’t realize how many book bloggers were out there. By no means did I comment on every single one of the book blogs that are out there. I did make a few important observations during this challenge.

85% of bloggers do not have a blog roll.

I just made that percentage up, but it seems about right. I like to see which blogs a blogger reads. Is that too much to ask? A blog roll is suppose to show people other blogs you like. It is a nice thing to compile for your readers, and for the blogs you love (free advertisement). Of the few bloggers that actually had a blog roll, some were badly in need of updating. This killed me because I was actively seeking new to me blogs. Is your blog roll updated?

Book bloggers run in the same circles.

For the most part, the same group of commenters visit each others blogs regularly. I know “clique” is bad word, but all the blogger cliques I found were welcoming. This warmed my heart. Looking through comments (in loo of finding a blog roll), I found a bunch of new bloggers to visit within that circle. There are not too many bloggers branching out. I saw just a handful of bloggers that go circle to circle.

Book bloggers do challenges from their own group.

Some of the challenges and hops I found were of that circle exclusively. We are doing much of the same types of read-a-thons and challenges, but we pretty much only do them within out own clique.

Book bloggers comment back 99% if the time.

Commenting back on the blogger that visited you is an unspoken rule that almost all book bloggers know about. With the exception of a very few, all of the new blogs I commented on came and visited my site. I know some of the random commenters I gained this year were because I was on that list that Nori compiled, and I turned around and visited them in turn.

Comments do not not always make a great blog. 

Not every great book blog has been “found” yet. I discovered some new-to-blogging blogs that really deserve more love. The number one way to get your blog out there is to comment, so this works for some blogs that have not so great content. They know that #1 rule and use it to gain comments.

Inviting people to comment is important.

I stopped by at least 20 blogs this past year that I didn’t see wanted comments. It is sad to see there are still book blogs out there just posting book blasts and cover reveals exclusively, with no original content. A blog post should engage readers. Otherwise, what is the point?

Hundreds of subscribers isn’t a great indication of content quality.

Subscribers are fickle. I saw some blogs that had so many subscribers and pretty generic content. Some bloggers use calls to action to get subscribers, and that helps. Some use giveaways, and that is also a good method. It also has something to do with how your subscriber emails are delivered and how you advertise yourself. Some blogs had low subscriber numbers and I could see no reason why. The number of subscribers is not always a good indication of the type of content they are putting out.

Competition is fierce.

There are hundreds of bloggers that only read new release books. I found absolutely no criteria for publishers to base mailing lists on. Just because you don’t have pubs sending you all the new books, doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong. There are a lot of people wanting those books, that’s all.

Most popular book blogs by genre I found commenting 365:

  • YA books
  • Mystery (including cozy mystery)
  • Romance
  • Everything else

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of exclusively YA book bloggers. I don’t mean to say that the niche is saturated, rather that YA books are very popular.

Recommending books is important.

I like when people recommend books to me, even if they are out of my usual genre. My favorite blogs had loads of book recommendations and/or their reviews where very convincing. I want book bloggers to recommend books. That’s what we do! I don’t really do recommendations outside of reviews, but I plan to start.

Have I been looking at all the wrong things to grow my email?

That was actually the main thing I questioned during this challenge. Reviewing books I think are interesting, having an easy to use layout, talking about yourself, and engaging reviews and discussions are the most important things to me. If I found any of these, I adding that blog to my email. My own blogroll grew by leaps and bounds in 2016, and then got thinned out. I found I was subscribed to some blogs from way back that I never found good reason to visit. I hate hitting unsubscribe, but I needed to make room for some new blogs. I am narrowing my focus and broadening my email list.

Some new-to-me blogs I ‘d while commenting 365:

(In no particular order)

I kept myself accountable throughout the challenge each week by posting which 7 blogs I commented on with my Weekly Wrap Up’s. I also kept track on my 2016 Challenges page. It got a bit difficult to comment on different blogs as I found some blog names almost went up twice (i think there are no repeats). I literally had to search my own blog towards the end of the year to see if I had listed that blog before.

I am so glad I did the challenge. I found I wanted to change things about my own blog based on things I observed in 365 blogs. I had fun visited new blogs. In 365 blogs, they all had one thing in common: they all books.

Do you follow any of my new-to-me blogs?

Did you do the Commenting 365 Challenge? Would you?

Do any of my observations surprise you?

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