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Do You Read Too Many Blogs?

Do You Read Too Many Blogs?
Are You Reading Too many Blogs?

    Ades of AdesBlog.com has a theory: that top bloggers don’t read other people’s blogs. To test his theory, he asked several big-name bloggers — Michael Arrington, Darren Rowse, Jeremy Schoemaker, and Yaro Starak — about their blog-reading habits. Except for Darren Rowse, they all said they read few or no blogs; Rowse said he subscribes to 700 but only skims the whole list occasionally — there are about 50 he looks at on a daily basis.

    This is far from an exhaustive sample, but it’s got me wondering: how do you know when you’re reading too many blogs? I can’t imagine dropping blog-reading entirely — I get too much useful information, both for my professional life and my personal life, to consider blog-reading a total waste of time. On the other hand, though, do I read too many (I’m subscribed to 295)? Should I be more selective than I already am — or should I have a better system for processing the ones I do read?

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    Pros and Cons of Blog Reading

    There are lots of good reasons to read blogs, including:

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    • Inspiration: Reading blogs gives me ideas that I can use or build on in my own work.
    • Keeping up with current events: Since local news is useless, and cable news only slightly less so, blogs are often where I learn about the most important news of the day. I also learn of important news that the regular news outlets aren’t even covering (or are covering badly).
    • The pulse of the times: As someone with a professional interest (as both an anthropologist and a writer) in how people and society act, reading blogs offers me insight into the way people see and react to the world around them.
    • Things I wouldn’t think to ask: While I am an adept Googler when I need answers to some pressing question, a lot of time I’ve learned things from blogs I wouldn’t have Googled because I didn’t even know I didn’t know them. For example, I learned this year that I can deduct mileage between my home office and my classrooms, since I don’t have an office on campus.
    • Entertainment: I find reading a strong writer’s thoughts on the topic of their expertise a far more entertaining prospect than watching 22 minutes of sit-com pablum (with 8 more minutes of commercial nonsense).

    Are those pros balanced by the cons, though? The negative side of blog-reading includes:

    • The echo-chamber effect: I read blogs that, for one reason or another, I like, which means it’s possible that I’m hearing viewpoints and opinions that resonate well with my own to the exclusion of others. To be honest, I don’t think this is a big problem, since blogs aren’t the only medium through which I engage with the world, but it’s something to think about.
    • Time consumption: I’m not really sure how much time I spend reading blogs every day. An hour in the morning and again in the evening seems about right for most days. I that time that could be better used for other things?
    • A sense of urgency: I sometimes feel pressure to go through more posts, because even a day or two of scant reading leaves my Google Reader inbox at “1000+”. A thousand of anything seems like a lot of work to do — am I setting myself up with a great deal of unnecessary stress and anxiety?
    • The other echo-chamber effect: There’s only so much news in any niche, so when something noteworthy happens, chances are several sites will end up running the same story with only slight differences. I can either spend time reading each story to make sure I don’t miss any subtle detail, or skip them (which also takes time, and may mean I miss some key detail).
    • Headlines that don’t pay off: You can process a lot of RSS feeds in very little time if you just look at headlines and delete anything that doesn’t look promising. There are two problems with this:
    • Lots of bloggers are better headline writers than they are post writers. They know “10 Ways to Be Sexier” will attract readers, but only know 3 good ways to be sexier.
    • Lots of other bloggers are better post writers than headline writers. Their incredibly insightful posts are given useless headlines like “I hadn’t thought of it like that…” and “Another Story I Like”.

      Developing a Blog Reading System

      One way to deal with some of these blog-reading downsides would be to change how I organize my RSS feeds. Currently, they’re organized by topic — I have a set of feeds for “productivity”, another on “writing”, a third on “education”, and so on.There are a few topics I try to read at least partially every day, and some I only read when I get around to it. But maybe I should adopt a system I’ve seen some others use, categorizing by priority?

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      Like this:

      1. Daily reads: Top authorities in their niche; the top 10 or so blogs worth looking at every day.
      2. Weekly reads: Strong blogs that post less frequently or post stuff I really want to spend some time on, so I could review them on my day off and not worry about rushing through them.
      3. Occasional reads: Blogs on topics I enjoy reading about but which aren’t essential to my day-to-day life. To read whenever I have free time.
      4. Probation: For new subscribes while I figure out a) whether I really want to give them my attention, and b) how high a priority I should make them.

      I’m not especially thrilled at the prospect of re-tagging all my feeds in Google Reader, but maybe that’s what it takes to make sure that I’m not wasting my time on unessential reading when I could be doing something more important.

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      What about you?

      I’d be interested in knowing how other people handle their blog-reading. Are Arrington and the others mentioned above anomalies? Do you read a lot of blogs? How many? Do you have a system for limiting the time you spend reading blogs? Do you not have one and feel like you do? And while we’re on the topic, what blogs do you consider “essential reading”?

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      Last Updated on June 20, 2019

      50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

      50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

      Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.

      1. Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
      2. Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
      3. Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
      4. Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
      5. Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
      6. Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
      7. Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
      8. Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
      9. Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
      10. Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
      11. Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
      12. Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
      13. Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
      14. Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
      15. Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
      16. Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
      17. Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
      18. Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
      19. Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
      20. Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
      21. Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
      22. Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
      23. Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
      24. Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
      25. Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
      26. Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
      27. Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
      28. Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
      29. Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
      30. Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
      31. Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
      32. Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
      33. Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
      34. Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
      35. Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
      36. Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
      37. Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
      38. Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
      39. Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
      40. Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
      41. Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
      42. Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
      43. Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
      44. Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
      45. Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
      46. Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
      47. Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
      48. Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
      49. Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
      50. Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.

      There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.

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      Featured photo credit: Omar Prestwich via unsplash.com

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