Chris Brogan’s recent post No Comment, acknowledged the very real discouragement you can feel when you’re blogging away with seemingly nothing (meaning comments) to show for it. If you haven’t already read the post, go and check it out. The comments in particular are revealing. They show just how deeply disappointing it can be not getting comments. It can hurt. So what can you do about it?
We may have many different reasons for starting to blog. As I said in my own comment on Chris’s post, my own experience in going from zero comments on my other blog to nearly 4,000 comments in about two years, showed me you have to be passionate and persistent about blogging and have a goal… so you can keep going in the face of “no comments.”
Struggling to gain an audience and increase your comment count?
I thought I’d share what has worked for me over the past couple years on my first blog and how I’m using that experience on my latest blog – the one you’re reading now.
I recall looking at my once dismal comment count one day and visualizing thousands of visits a day to my blog. I affirmed it out loud. I had no idea how I’d do it. I knew I had to do something differently. I just didn’t know what. (Note, I said visits, rather than comments?)
Fast forward to 2008
This is my dashboard for blog 1 with about 3,931 comments. I also have nearly 400 posts. I never forget the early days and it comes in useful now I have a new blog. This didn’t happen overnight for me. In the big scheme of things some bloggers have more, some less… what’s important is that people enjoy reading what I write and find it useful enough to return.
Here’s what worked for me. If you’re not already, start doing these and see what happens.
1. Be clear about why you’re blogging
- For your personal pleasure,
- To get something off your chest?
- To learn something new?
- To teach?
- A personal diary?
- Because someone said you need a blog?
- To showcase your expertise?
If you don’t know, neither will your readers.
When I started blogging I did it on a whim. I said I’d never blog “because everyone had a blog” millions of them, and I wasn’t about to add to the clutter. But I changed my mind. And I decided I’d blog to share my opinion – a different opinion. I liked to write. And I had an opinion. Hello World!
I wasn’t sure who would be interested, but I decided to have a go anyway. Nothing ventured nothing gained. But there was a difference, I put a satirical spin on the topics I wrote about, which ranged from movies, books, political, news, current events, people who’d decided not to have kids (like me)… and even the World Cup 2006 (which I blogged from beginning to end). Basically I blogged my thoughts on anything that caught my fancy. I did start getting comments.
Figure out why you are blogging. Clarify your aim. It may take time to so so, but it will help streamline your efforts.
2. Narrow it down
Pick a niche and stick to it. In many ways, to blog effectively you must decide on a niche and seek to dominate it. Sound familiar? It’s a marketing fundamental. While you may have lots of subjects that you’re interested in, you must decide on one or two you want to blog about. Otherwise your readers will be confused and not know what to expect. You cannot serve everyone, you must decide on who you want your audience to be.
After several months of blogging with few comments I began to notice a trend. I have always been a stats junkie. I am fascinated with what my stats tell me. I use 3-4 stats packages both free and paid on both my blogs, including Google Analytics. They show me different aspects of my blog when it comes to content and traffic.
I always looked at what content was being read and where people spent the most time. A pattern emerged. People seemed interested in one particular theme of post. Sure, my movie quizzes and funnies were also getting hits and a few comments, but not in the same way. What to do? I decided to drop all the other topics and just focus on one topic. I announced it and said that although I loved writing about these four/five/six other topics I was changing my focus to blog on just one. I lost some readers, but I gained a good many more.
What happened was liberating. I had new focus, my blogging “voice” strengthened and my blogging tempo soared…as did the visitors and comments, even when I reduced my blogging from 3 times a week to twice a week. I zeroed in.
3. Write quality compelling content
There is no short cut to this. And it takes both work and lots of time. The best of both worlds is to write content you enjoy writing and that resonates with, and is useful to, your audience. That encourages comments, but still doesn’t guarantee them. I used to check my stats to get ideas on what search terms people were searching on to find me and then use that intelligence to do new blog posts.
It brought more readers and more comments.
4. Write regularly
I started with blogging three sometimes four times a week and later reduced it to once or twice a week. The reason you must be consistent is partly for your reader expectations, but also so that Google will crawl your site frequently. Google loves fresh content. I also became obsessed with increasing my site visits from Google, which in mid 2006 were less than 10%. I knew the key to getting more comments was getting found and known about. It was a turning point for me. See graphic below.
5. Tagged! You’re It!
I think the one turning point for me was getting my blog designer to make some upgrades to my blog. I asked him how he thought I could get more visits. He said I wasn’t tagging effectively and suggested I install the Ultimate Tag Warrior. I think that one bit of advice did wonders. My page ranking shot up for my search term in Google, and more people started finding my blog – through Google. They started commenting - Hurrah! And my referrer traffic looked very different.
This snapshot is simply to show the importance of getting Google juice” for your blog. To get found you need Google.
6. Get quality backlinks
This really should be near the top. I didn’t realise how important it was until much later. Backlinks are incoming links to your blog/site. They are important for getting good page ranking from Google. They are also important for getting organic traffic, which helped me in getting organic traffic. There is an excellent article on building backlinks and why they are important here on One Cool Site.
7. Comment on other blogs
This is one of the top ways of having people learn about you, check out your blog and perhaps comment. I found that after I commented on other blogs, people often came over to mine, and, better still returned and became regular readers. When you comment on another blog, add something to the conversation – a point of view, some feedback on the post, even an alternative viewpoint. Also, try to initiate conversation not just with the writer of the article, but with others on the comment thread. Share something. It helps with the acknowledgement – everyone wants acknowledgement. As much as you can visit other blogs and leave a meaningful calling card. Bloggers do love comments!
Note: don’t just comment on big name blogs. Look for people who aren’t as well known. You will stand out more.
8. Acknowledge comments on your blog
At first I used to do one reply for each comment, but didn’t like the way it inflated my comment count. So I responded to most in one long comment with @name. Responding to comments is time consuming – it can take longer than writing a post so don’t underestimate it. However my thinking is that if someone has taken the time to respond to a post then they deserve some recognition of that, even a tiny one.
The more comments you get the harder it is to respond to individual comments all the time. It can become a balance between putting the posts out there, commenting and visiting other blogs. Something had to give with my limited time resources. In my case I reduced my posting schedule, assured readers I would respond when I can, and that I read all comments. What happens now is that they can generally carry on the conversation without me – and I still respond when I can.
9. Blog other blogs
Perhaps this is more linked to content, however another thing I did was to look for articles on blogs that were not getting a lot of comments and do a post with a twist, link to their blog and invite my readers to go on over and visit that blog and leave a comment or two. You can now do similar in Twitter – except that the tweet isn’t as lasting as a blog post. Whatever it is you want, you must give it away first.
10. Make it simple for people to leave comments.
It’s amazing how many blogs make it so hard to leave a comment. I am not kidding! Google/Blogger is the worst culprit, followed by Typepad with all the security functions on. I hate spam, but get a decent Spam nuker like Akismet or Spam Karma 2 rather than make people jump through hoops to leave a comment. They won’t bother. In most cases I won’t bother either.
11. Be persistent – don’t give up!
Ultimately receiving comments on your blog is the result of several often little things done over and over again rather than one big thing. There is no magic bullet. Be realistic and above all be patient and don’t take a lack of comments personally. You have a platform for your voice…and what you say matters. There’s now more information than ever (and more tools available) on how to promote your blog, so take action – go out and give attention and it will come back to you.
12 – Don’t be discouraged
You don’t have the luxury. Start doing something different.
If your blog is under a year old and you’re not getting comments, or only one or two comments it’s normal. In my case it took about 18 months give or take on my first blog. I didn’t do a lot to promote it, I just put my heart into it and blogged what I had to say. I truly enjoyed it. People connected. found it helped them and now they love my blog. It remains “my take on things” however it’s been informed and energised by the experiences of others. I am continually humbled by the time and energy readers spend commenting, reading and sharing.
Here we go again with blog #2
My new blog has a different focus, however I am applying many of the same foundational principles and doing more to promote nickyjameson.com. While it is a little daunting starting off with no/few comments I don’t sweat it. My main limitation is time since I work full time. There is much to learn and some great people to learn from. People have to know you exist before they can read your great content.
Your actions – should you choose to accept them
- Pick 2-3 things from the list above to do on your blog. Do them
- Go out and find 3 blogs to comment on. Then find 3 more.
- Focus on getting yourself found/known
- Keep blogging.
- Be patient
In part 2:
RSS-ing, Stumbling, Social Networks, Pimping your blog and why people don’t comment.
How do you encourage commenting on your blog? Does receiving few or no comments worry you?What’s your view? Share your feedback by leaving a comment.