90 Days of Blogging: Lesson 4 – A Comment on Comments

This is part 4 of a series. Catch the intro, part 1, part 2 and part 3 here.

Blogging would be nothing without comments. It’s what makes it unique. What keeps people coming back. What makes it interchanging and fascinating.

It also leads to lots of good traffic, good content and overall good blogging karma.

I’m not great at commenting; I need to do a better job. But I have noticed quite a few benefits of it since starting Brett’s Blog in January, so here they are:

  • Comments inspire your own content.
    If you have a blog, you’re gonna go through times of inspirational drought. Comments can pull you out. Surf through a few of your favorite blogs, read through the comments and become a part of the conversation. Either your own reaction to the post or someone else’s will inspire a great post for you to write.
  • Comments drive traffic like nothing else.
    If you want traffic, then commenting is the foundational thing to do to make it grow. When you comment, you leave your blog’s address. Readers click on it, and see if you’re worth their time. They are obviously interested in at least one thing you are, so chances are pretty good that you can get a steady reader out of it. The key is to have posts that are relevant to much of what you comment on.
  • Make commenting a part of the posting process.
    If you want to get systematic about it, write a post, then do a Technorati search or a Google Blog search on the same topic. Find out who’s writing about what you just wrote about, read ’em, and comment. And leave the link to your specific post that relates. It’s a great way to gain additional perspective on what you’ve written, and drive traffic at the same time.
  • Respond to comments as quickly as possible.
    If someone takes the time to comment on your blog, respond to them. Soon. It shows appreciation, and it increases the chances of keeping the thread going.
  • Ask for comments.
    I’m not great at writing in a style that begs for comments. Brian Heys is awesome at it, and because of that, he gets good comments. I’ve noticed that he often ends his posts with a question for the reader to answer. That’s brilliant, simple and leaves a great call to action for your readers. Remember, this is the web, so make it as dynamic as possible.
  • Add a personal touch.
    One of the best techniques I’ve seen is writing a quick email to someone when they comment on your blog for the first time. Ron at Marketing ROI did this with me a few months ago, and I haven’t forgotten it. It’s great “customer service,” and it’s kept me coming back to his blog religiously. And it only takes 30 seconds. Just be sure you require an email address in order for someone to post a comment.
  • Comment first for the conversation.
    Ever been around someone who blurts out something irrelevant in the middle of an otherwise good conversation? If you start leaving random comments that don’t really have much to do with the post you’re commenting on, you will become the blog equivalent of this person. Traffic is important, but relevance is more important. Don’t stoop into the gray area between healthy commenting and spam to boost your site traffic.

That’s about it. The benefits of commenting are pretty straightforward, but it takes time and a little thought to do it right. That’s why so few people do it. If you want your blog to really soar, it’s a must.

Here are the top commenters so far on Brett’s Blog – thanks to all!

  • CWD – no blog, but a lifelong friend. Very entertaining comments.
  • Moth1 – TheHapps (aka the Jack Bauer of Search Engine Optimization)
  • Harris – 1Lord.org
  • Few4th – Frank’s Blog
  • Bruce Clarke – Write On!

So what advice do you have on commenting?

13 responses to “90 Days of Blogging: Lesson 4 – A Comment on Comments

  1. Great post! I absolutely agree with your second point (comments driving traffic). My wee blog experienced a stratospheric jump in traffic after a good comment on a much more trafficked website. (And my traffic has been considerably higher ever since! 🙂 )

    I also find it handy not just to go out and comment similar posts, but to actually list links to them at the end of my post as a service to the reader. You get trackbacks, and the reader gets a lot more information, win-win.

    I’m conflicted on the requesting a comment idea. IMHO, it looks sad if you ask and nobody comments! (It’s embarrassing too, I know from personal experience!)

  2. If you don’t mind me adding a point, here’s what I would throw in:

    1) Don’t comment to steal the traffic. There’s one guy (who I will NOT name) whose comments I regularly see on the sites I read. He almost always comments to say “I’ve written about this, too, click here” with the link to his site. I can guarantee you that, out of principle, I will never click on those links.

  3. I have absorbed your wisdom. Thank you.

  4. Brian – good idea on listing the links. I’ll probably make that one of the next parts of my 90 Days of Blogging Series. And on the asking for the comment, I should rephrase – don’t literally ask for the comment. Ask a question which therefore encourages comments (like I did at the end of this, or like Brian Heys does at http://www.BrianHeysWrites.com).

    Rshevlin – You know I don’t mind a point. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve actually been tempted by it myself. But it’s not worth it. Add to the conversation, don’t take it away.

    I Am Blog – Keep the change.

  5. Thanks for the props. Have you thought about hosting some workshops and clinics so that you can make some $$ instead of dispensing all of this free blog advice?

    I have to admit that I am seeing that English degree being put to use.

  6. I think emailing someone who comments on your blog…after the first comment, can go either way. On one hand, it’s a nice way to say hello and welcome to my blog but then again, people like to be left alone on the internet. This isn’t a blog but I think it’s still relevant, but On my advocare site http://www.nutritionalhope.com I have emailed a few customers to thank them for the order and offer some instructions on how to take products I’ve never heard back.

    Because of this I’d probably be a little hesitant to email someone after one comment. maybe after two?

  7. Nobody says you should email everybody who leaves a comment. But it seems to me that someone leaving a comment on a site is implicitly asking to “get in on the conversation”. Not a sign of wanting to be “left alone on the internet”.

    Also, what’s in the email response to the commenter is important as well. My original email to Brett (I went back and looked) didn’t simply say “hi, welcome to my blog” — it included a response relevant to Brett’s comment on the site. It was a response I didn’t want to make public on the site.

  8. Thanks for the praise Brett. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this post. I don’t like the over-used phrase ‘content is King’, but in blogging, it could be fair to say comments are Queen!

    It also goes the other way, too – linking out to other blogs is just as important as commenting on them.

  9. FYI – I’ve broken the rules of this post. I haven’t responded to my comments quick enough. Shame on me!

    CWD – I’m glad my education is amounting to something. Where can I send you the bill?

    Moth1 – Good point. And looking at Rshevlin’s comment, it’s probably best as a case by case basis. He’s right, his email wasn’t just a “hello;” it was relevant to my comment.

    Brian – You’re right on the links. With trackbacks and pingbacks, they’re often more powerful.

  10. Pingback: 90 Days of Blogging: Lessons Learned « Brett’s Blog

  11. Great series, Brett! I started at part 5 and had to go back and read the whole thing…

    One technical note that may save you some work on trackbacks… In one of the earlier parts it sounded like you were manually entering your trackback links–that’s not necessary with WordPress any longer. It will find any links in-line of your post and do the trackback automatically. Technically, it’s using ‘Pingbacks’ now, but that’s not here or there. 🙂

    In regards to RShevlin’s Post #2, that comment is not a valid comment–it’s SPAM and should be deleted. End of story for that commenter. Any post that is not ‘on topic’ or close or perhaps from someone you know, is classified as SPAM in my book, and does not make it to the public.

    Thanks for your great blog, you’ve got a new subscriber here!

  12. Dan – thanks for the tip. I had noticed that it happens a lot of times, but I like to be thorough, you know . . . .?

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