It’s been a slow week over here at NMNPHX, due to a short freelance gig I picked up this week (resume writing) along with nursing a cold/sinus/allergy thing. Changing of seasons never does agree with me.
Times like this I find it is helpful to turn to the ol’ Daily Post to see what writing challenges await for the current week. However, this week’s challenge was about trying a different form of writing than you are used to. After scanning the list, well this might be slightly arrogant of me to say but I’ve at some point tried most of the suggestions and forms of writing listed.
However, yesterday’s post regarding Comment Moderation piqued my interest as I struggled my first few months of blogging to get comments on my posts. I read through the article to see if I could pick up any new tips. I believe I’ve tried most of these suggestions, and have found moderate success with a few of the tips. Let’s take a closer look at each suggestion (my comments to each tip are in red).
- End with a prompt. At the end of each post, encourage comments by asking a question or requesting feedback. This lets your readers know that your blog isn’t just a monologue – you value their opinions and want to hear from them. This RARELY works for me. I tried this in the majority of my early posts with very little success. This only appears to work if you already have a healthy amount of followers.
- Reply to comments. Your job doesn’t end when you hit publish. When readers leave comments, keep the conversation going with a thoughtful reply. You can even reply directly from the notification email, before it has time to slip your mind. I typically do this. Not only does responding to comments make your readers feel their opinions and feedback are valued, but it raises the overall comment count on each post. Also, the reply by email feature is a GODSEND! I respond to about 70% of my comments directly through email.
- But don’t reply to every comment. If you have quite a lot of comments and you reply to each with a simple ‘thanks,’ your comment thread isn’t going to be as interesting to readers. Think of your replies as a way to add something substantial that will build on the discussion. Ah come on! I am guilty of doing this, but I don’t believe this has hindered the overall discussion thread on any one post.
- Police (politely). Ok, I’ll admit that an occasional train wreck in the comment section can be luridly entertaining, but for the most part, it’s best not to encourage or allow nasty and abusive comments. They intimidate new readers, derail conversations, and distract you from good blogging. Give them a polite warning, and if they don’t shape up, give them the boot. Thankfully I haven’t had this problem. I do have my comments set to hold comments from new posters in my comment queue until I can review them. If you do find you have a significant amount of abusive commenters, you may want to consider leaving comment moderation on for all comments.
- Post commenting guidelines. If you find yourself doing a lot of policing, an excellent way to be transparent about the type of comments you will and will not permit is to post some simple guidelines. This can help you attract the kind of commenters you want, and deter unwanted behavior. (For an example, check out the Daily Post’s!) See above. So far not a problem.
- Don’t approve spam. Sounds like a no-brainer, but spam can be tough to recognize. While approving spam might up your comment count, it will discourage real readers from participating, and it will attract more spammers to your site. See dear readers – this is why I continue to post a Spam of the Week article. I view it as an educational post to help other bloggers recognize sneaky spammers.
- Return the visit. Developing friendships with your readers is one of the best parts of blogging. If you have loyal commenters, make sure you visit and comment on their blogs, as well. If they like what you write, chances are you’ll be into their stuff, too. This is probably the best way to attract others to comment. You have to devote time each week to not just “Like” other blog posts, but to leave thoughtful comments. At the very least, most bloggers will click back and check out your blog if you comment on their blog.
While the tips above are helpful, below are my tips for building comments on your website.
- Don’t overthink your blog posts – blog with a genuine voice and don’t be afraid to try out different topics and forms of writing. Yes, this is essentially what this week’s Daily Post challenge is all about which means that the Daily Post knows what they are talking about. If you keep posting the same types of things over and over and few people bother to comment or like your post, then that is a sign you should try something else. Ultimately, if your content isn’t very interesting, no amount of promotion will sustain regular comments on your blog.
- Gain exposure – You can’t get comments if no one knows that your blog exists. Participating in Daily Post challenges and linking back to Daily Post challenges is a great way to drive new readers to your blog. Joining blog communities such as 20 Lines or Less is another great way to exposure your content to a large audience.
- Related Posts- This is an extension of the above point. Adding a Related Articles section to your blog posts is another great way to get your blog additional exposure. Before you publish a post, pick out the main topic of your blog post and search for similar posts through the Reader section of WordPress. Add a few links to recently published blog posts on the topic you searched. The bloggers you link to typically will visit your post and leave a comment. After all, they just wrote about a similar topic and have something to say on the matter.
Well, those are my words of wisdom for building comments. I’d invite you to leave a reply to discuss what strategies have worked on your blog, but I’ve already pointed out that prompts haven’t been very useful to me.