Want More Comments: Start a Conversation
Do you want more comments on your blog? The most common whines from new bloggers are the lack of traffic and the lack of comments.
It takes a while, sometimes a few weeks, maybe months, or possibly a year or more before a blog generates enough consistent traffic, and in turn, comments. So many are impatient, especially when it comes to comments. After all, isn’t the whole point of a blog the comments?
Let’s clear some myths about comments up first.
Comments are not an indication no one is reading your blog. They are the start of a conversation.
There are many sites on the web, including blogs, which get high traffic and make great money and have nary a comment. These are considered successes. There are also low traffic blogs that get hundreds of comments a week, and these are also considered successes. Blog success is defined by your personal standards, but if you want blog comments, you have to start the conversation from within the blog content.
If you want comments, you have to invite the conversation. You have to encourage someone to answer back. You need to help them help you keep talking.
Think about the last party you were at where there were a lot of people talking to each other. Did one person control the conversation, talking to the whole room with little interaction? Or did the party break up into small groups with people talking and listening to each other, with some moving from group to group to jump into interesting conversations? Probably the latter.
Blogs are like social get-togethers, places within the web people move to and from, overhearing interesting conversations and wanting to add their bit or lean in closer for more. You’ve done that. Walked through a party and overheard something, then pushed your way in closer to learn more. Or heard something that made you want to debate the issue. Right?
Conversations at parties don’t start when people come up to you and ramble on about a subject, then turn and look at you and say, “What do you think?” or “Got anything to say to me?” That’s annoying. It’s annoying when you do the same thing with your blog.
Your blog post is the opener, and the phrasing and content within invites comments. Your blog post opens the conversation, the comment box continues it.
Blog Conversation Tips
Here are some tips to change how you blog to invite blog conversation and open the comment box.
- Open the Comment Box: If you have comments turned off, how do you expect people to comment? I actually had one blogger complain that they never got any comments. I checked their blog and found the comments were turned off. They never noticed. Check first. Do nothing to get in the way of the blog conversation. Turn off comment moderation, get rid of time-wasting CAPTCHAs and quizzes that don’t work, and change your blog’s comment encouragement to be welcoming, not accusing. Just let your readers get to the comment box and leave their comment quick and easy.
- Write Something Worth Commenting On: Not every blog post needs a comment. If you have written something worth commenting on, people will comment. If you haven’t, don’t expect a comment. It’s that simple.
- Write Linkable and Recommendable Content: A trackback is a comment, so write content worth linking to and recommending to others. This will open up the conversation between blogs, not just on your blog.
- Don’t Tell It All: If you tell them everything you know, you’ve left nothing for them to say.
- Write with Active Listening Techniques: Active listening is the technique of responding while listening. If you write your blog posts with listening to your readers in mind, instead of writing with your needs in mind, it changes the tone of your writing style. You are writing with your readers in mind, thus writing with comments as the goal. You want them to respond, and you want your readers to know you are listening to them. Write accordingly, as if you are already listening before they get a chance to have their say.
- Don’t Beg. Invite: Working with a huge fundraising company, they told me a joke I’ve never forgotten. What is the difference between a charity and a street beggar? Charities ask for money indirectly. In other words, begging for bucks doesn’t work, but asking nicely does. Begging for comments will not get you the comments you want, compared to asking nicely. People want to feel like they are contributing to something special and worthwhile. Invite your readers to participate by how you present your blog content. Encourage them by your own responses, welcoming them to your “blog community” and showing your appreciation for their comments, no matter how bland, and setting an example for others to follow. People like to give money to “safe” organizations. Blog readers like to comment within “safe” environments, comment environments that lets them have their say freely and easily.
- Write as If You Want Comments: A blogger told me that they really wanted more comments, that comments were a measure of his blogging success, but he was actually afraid of them. If you are afraid of comments, your readers can tell by the way you write. Blog readers are very savvy and they know what’s going on behind the scenes, whether you tell them flat out or not. They can tell. If you are writing with the fear of comments in your head, they know and won’t comment. If you want comments, write as if you want comments. You readers can tell the difference.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Excellent post! I always find it weird to be posting a comment about an article whose issue is comments. My blog/site (Uses WordPress, but is not really a “blog”) does not have much traffic yet and even less comments. Wit the kind of material I am posting it is hard to invite the readers to comment.
Most of my posts are band profiles and I want the comments to be about the band itself. Anyone have any ideas as to how I could implement an invitation to the reader to comment without being to intrusive into the band’s profile?
– Jack Rugile
@ Jack Rugile:
Not every blog needs a conversation, so if yours is not conducive to chats, don’t bother. If it isn’t, and you want it that way, then you have to find a way to open the conversation – no differently then you would at a party or social gathering. For your site, you’ll have to experiment to find out what gets your readers talking. It may take a few months, but give it a try. Since they aren’t used to jumping in, you’ll have to work hard to help them break the ice.
“What do you think” isn’t the way to go. Instead of getting them to contribute with Q&A which not go more viral and ask them to create a video, podcast, or help support the group in some fashion that involves participation. Have a contest. There are a lot of ways to break the ice on your blog if it has been frozen from the conversation. You know your readers best. Decide which will work best for them.
start a conversation