Comments Anyone?

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.

 

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43 thoughts on “Comments Anyone?

  1. wow… that was a really good one!! Similar experience for me too… and learnt a lot of mistakes I had made as well.. do write more about this…I would have given you an award for this post….;)

    • Thanks! Although some bloggers seems to hit gold with their first few posts, I think most of us take awhile to figure out our style and attract followers who will comment.

      Well, just the fact that you stopped to comment is a reward for me, so thank you!

      • nytime… im still a learner in this field and reading your posts just makes me wonder…”such a good style of writing, when will i get to have a thought like that”

  2. I was so happy to see your list. You echo many of my thoughts as I was reading their suggestions in the first place. I totally disagreed with “don’t answer everyone”. If someone has taken the time to leave a comment, no matter how small, I think it would be cyber-rude to ignore them. I am grateful for every visit to my blog, and if they leave a comment, too, it gives me a chance to say thanks.

    • I agree. To me, just leaving a simple “thank you” back to a comment at least acknowledges that you read their comment. I’m sure I may have skipped a comment here and there by accident, but for the most part I try to reply back with at least a simple thank you to every comment.

    • Definitely try the related post tip on a few of your blog posts. You seem to have a healthy amount of followers, but it never hurts to reach out to more bloggers.

      Thanks for stopping by Francine!

  3. Great post. I find my biggest problem is finding the “right’ words to say while commenting. I want to be polite, perhaps humorous but am always concerned how my thoughts translate. So I usually go with my standbys…. “Great post” and “thanks for stopping” …. used WAY too frequent on my part. Ah, something for me to work on 🙂
    P.S. Hope you get over that cold real soon…..changing weather? I laughed at that. Come to Colorado, I’ll show you ‘changing weather’ lol

    • LOL – Hey, when the weather goes from 92 and hot to 75 and blustery then back to 90 something…that’s our transition. October is usually when my sinus/allergy problems wreak havoc because the wind starts to pick up again and the temps bounce back and forth…hot to mild, hot to mild. Then you wake up one day in November and all of a sudden it’s like 50 degrees outside.

      I have been to Colorado many times. I have to say I laughed when I visited Denver one summer and people were complaining about the July “heatwave”. Highs of 91 or so. It was like, well, the way the weather is here now in October! I thought it was great. 🙂

      As I was replying to Pat, I think we all fall back on the “great post” comment. I do because sometimes you want to take time to let the blogger know you really enjoyed the post but aren’t sure what to say.

      As always – thanks for stopping by! I’m always appreciative of comments – no matter if its just a “great post” comment or something longer.

  4. I found your post via Sharechair and thought if she likes you then most probably I will too. Know what I was right about that, your writing style is clear and easily understood and the content of this blog is informative. I’m following you now and am looking forward to reading more from you.

  5. Erm – I’m guilty as charged with sometimes saying the minimum. But just often I write screeds! Or I might just ‘like’. I am unreliable and inconsistent!

    • I think it depends too on how much time you have to comment. Sometimes I realize I haven’t been on WP for a few days and I’m just logging on for a limited time to read people’s blogs and shoot them a “Like” to let them know I”m still paying attention to what they are writing.

      Other times, I read something and want to comment but just can’t figure out what exactly to say, so I go with something like “great post” as well.

      I’ve left a few screeds here and there.

      It’s hard to be consistent!

  6. Those are good suggestions! I feel guilty that I just found out today that wordpress had automatically set my email notifications to “never” – so you’ll be getting more comments from me now! 🙂

    • Nah, don’t feel guilty. I have my email notifications set to the default as well. It can be a little overwhelming to receive emails for every post if you follow many blogs.

      I just check my WordPress Reader for new posts from blogs I follow. Sometimes I’ll look at the entire list of blogs I’m following and go down the list to click over to the ones that I haven’t heard from in awhile, make sure I’m not missing anything. It just depends on what is easier for you.

      If you like the email notifications, I would say that as you follow more of them, just set your preferences to receive email notifications for those blogs you frequent the most.

      I look forward to your future comments!

  7. Hi,
    I found your blog through Shareachair, and after browsing your posts, I am glad I did. Yes, I sometimes also go with ‘great post’ as we all do, but try to avoid it!
    Daniela

    • I applaud your efforts to try and avoid the “great post” tactic. I can’t say that I will be able to shake the habit anytime soon.

      Well, I’m glad that you found my blog, and through an excellent site such as Sharechair. Welcome!

  8. I always reply to every comment too, even if it’s just to say thanks. It’s only polite!
    I agree with everything you said, though as regards the first point… finishing off my post with a prompt or a question always seems to work for me!

    • I have noticed that- your prompts always generate a healthy discussion.

      I tried prompts when I first started blogging and could rarely get people to comment. People would stop and “Like” the post – but no comments.

      I figured that I just needed more people willing to follow my blog who would be more invested in reading my posts -OR- my questions weren’t interesting enough to warrant a response.

      For me, the comments didn’t start to roll in until I built a steady rapport with other bloggers. It could be that my posts just got better over time, which prompted others to stop and comment.

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad to hear that questions get the comments on your blog. 🙂

    • LOL – I haven’t noticed who your “screeder” is. Hopefully I’m not the one you are referring to – I know I’ve left some lengthy comments but I try to balance it out with short comments as well.

  9. Ireally like this post, Nicole. I try to catch up with as many of my followers as I can during the week to see what they are up to and what’s happening in their world. Because some people post once or twice a day I get to miss a lot of what they write (and have to go back through every post for the week if I have time). I try not to just say ‘thank you’ for their comment, but find I do it more often than not – particularly if they have written ‘great post’. It’s almost like a text where someone writes ‘how you going?’ and you respond with ‘good, how are you?’ – it’s just to let them know that I’ve read their comment and appreciated that they’ve taken the time to come on over and read.

    I like to make sure I answer everyone and sometimes I look back over my posts to see I’ve missed someone out and wonder how that happened. WP is playing up for me at the moment and sometimes my responses to posts don’t show up. I also haven’t been able to ‘like’ a post for sometime because the button just doesn’t work for me 😦

    • I agree. I think we’d all like to leave more substantive comments, but a “great post” lets the other person know you read their post, and a “thank you” back to commenters lets them you know read their comment.

      Ah, good luck with the WP glitches. It happens. I’ve had my share of frustrating experiences with WP at times.

  10. Hello Nicole, I just found your blog via Pat Wood and thought I’d stop in. This post is very helpful for us newbies trying to get our virtual voices out there. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to have stumbled my way through correctly…well, on some levels that is. It’s always nice to read others suggestions and be able to take something new away from what they’ve said and try it out – so thank you for that!

    • Hi Sonya! I’m glad you took time to visit my blog. Increasing interaction on one’s blog is something that I think many bloggers struggle with. I had such a rough start in the beginning and although I now have a blog with a steady amount of readers, it never hurts to look for tips to improve.

      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

    • Ah yes, frequency of blog posts. I think it’s a challenge for many of us bloggers. I for one, would never be able to commit to the Post a Day Challenge, so I applaud those bloggers that do post daily. I aim for 3x a week myself, but some weeks even that is a lofty goal due to time constraints.

  11. Thanks for visiting – alot of the points in your post have been on my mind lately – I do enjoy comments because it means that I have engaged the reader and not just wasted their time; one also wonders whether some people actually read what we are writing or are they just skimming over it and pressing like because we entered their challenge or have been following them… sometimes I get so busy just trying to get exposure by being in challenges that I don’t have time to post what I have really been thinking about. Could be worse, I could be doing laundry…

    • I think there is definitely a good number of people that are just skimming and hitting like. I try to leave comments on blogs I’m following on a regular basis, but I do tend to “like” posts more than I comment. When you follow a lot of blogs, it becomes too time consuming to leave a comment each time. I try to leave at least a few comments each time I hop on WordPress. Sometimes after reading a post, I can truly say I like it but I have no idea what to say that either hasn’t been said or can add to the discussion.

      Challenges can definitely help you gain exposure, but I know what you mean about challenges getting in the way of writing about other more pressing items on one’s mind. I usually participate in challenges when I truly find them inspiring.

      • Yes, definitely all good points and must admit that I do the same – blogging can become a full-time “job” if you let it! I often wonder where people find the time…

  12. Pingback: Comments Anyone? Part II | NMNPHX

  13. Pingback: NMNPHX Year in Review | NMNPHX

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