For the last couple years, I’ve really made an effort to stay up to date with what fellow designers and freelancers are talking about on their blogs. At any given time I have 10 – 20 blogs that I keep regular tabs on that are written by web designers, freelancers, or something closely related. For a long time, I was what is known as a “lurker,” I would regularly consume the content, but rarely chimed in with a comment or Tweet about my reaction to it.
It wasn’t until I really got into blogging myself that I realized how important the commenting side of the process is! Writing a blog with no interaction is only a sliver of the full blogging experience.
At the beginning of the year I made a conscious effort to get more involved in the discussions going on at the blogs I followed and in the last few months, I took a few steps to try and make this easier for me and to encourage others to start interacting as well!
Subscribe to Feeds
The first thing you can do to make staying on top of multiple sites easier is to subscribe to their RSS Feed. I use Google Reader to keep track of my subscriptions, where I am able to organize the various feeds into categories. Depending on what types of content you follow, your folders may include all types of categories and sub-categories.
Because I wanted to focus on joining in more on the discussions from other designers sites, I made a folder specifically for blogs written by designers. The items in my “Designers” folder focuses more on smaller sites maintained by one or two designers, whereas larger sites like Smashing Magazine or NetTuts fall into my “Designy Stuff” folder.
I recently shared this tip on organizing your feeds in response to Brian Hoff‘s post at The Design Cubicle, How To Become A More Effective, Proficient and Informed Designer.
Having something to Say
Since my aim here has been to get into the discussions and/or feed off what other people are talking about to continue related topics on my blog/twitter, I try to not comment unless I really have something to say. It is always great to let a blogger know you appreciate them posting, but what’s better is sharing what your thoughts are on the issue… even if it seems like you’re going off on a tangent, share what went through your mind when you read the post!
Promote Interaction within the Community
I’ve made a decision to ReTweet any stories I comment on for the next week and see if that is a good method at promoting the dialog on various sites, also I have revamped my vanity URL, lizandrade.com and started linking any item I comment on from there.
So part of why I’m writing this is to promote those of you reading this to also make a greater effort to join in the discussions going on. With each of us having our own personal experience, we all have something valuable to contribute!!!