This blog post is part of a series of blog posts focused on how to blog more effectively.
A going concern for many bloggers is the number of comments they receive on their personal blogs. Many bloggers consider comments on their posts a mark of endorsement, approval or popularity; this is true, to some extent. Should you follow some of the tips and suggestions I would be offering, you should be receiving more comments on your blog post than you are, presently.
I will treat this issue in reverse mode: suggest the possible problems and proffer some possible solutions.
1. Spam control
Some blogs simply reject comments, as you would see from this real example:
Your comment has been blocked because the blog owner has set their spam filter to not allow comments from users behind proxies. If you are a regular commenter or you feel that your comment should not have been blocked, please contact the blog owner and ask them to modify this setting.
The message simply means the owner of that blog had set the comment spam control so high that legitimate comments are blocked. While it is necessary to control spam especially when your blog is popular, it is important to maintain a critical balance that ensures that comments from real people (as opposed to spam bots) get through.
2. Egoistic writing style
A personal blog can be a medium for personal expression but then it is still necessary for the content to be crafted in a manner that elicits comments from readers. Whilst expressing an opinion on a subject matter, the blogger could craft the opinion in a way that leaves the window open for people who agree or disagree to share their thoughts as well, without them feeling intimidated or insulted. Poising direct questions in your blog posts is a good idea. In essence, you can style your posts in the format of a discussion, where it is feasible to do so. This not only directly asks for comments, but makes the reader have a sense of belonging to your blog.
As much as you want to celebrate yourself on your personal blog, make it about your readers. A blog without readership is essentially a public diary.
3. Core audience
Do you have a core audience of people who share similar interests to yours? They are more likely to comment on your blog regularly. They are more likely to have a good knowledge of whatever you focus on, and share their views as well.
Example: You blog about iphones and over time have built-up a core audience of just 1,500 regular readers. Chances are that most of your readers would be iphone users and enthusiasts. At that point, any opinion you express would necessarily elicit comments from those who agree but want to add to the discuss or others who disagree and have facts to prove you are wrong. Compare this to someone who attempts to blog about everything and thus has no core audience. Unless you are Oprah Winfrey or some other celebrity, you are better-off focusing your blog on a subject matter.
Is your blog a one-way traffic? Do you engage your audience in a meaningful way? Do you reply to your readers’ comments?
Some readers would throw questions at you through the comments area. They expect responses from you. Regularly replying to comments endears your readers to you. Such readers are likely to come back just to read your replies and even continue the discussion.
While replying to readers’ comments is proof that you care about your readers’ views, it is critical to reply in a warm and friendly manner. Being harsh in your responses where you disagree, would go against you as hurt readers are not likely to come back.
Some blog posts are so long that not everyone would read it to the end. I read some blogs while at work for example. If the blog post is too long, I do not read it to the end no matter how compelling the content is. I simply skip it. It would thus not make sense for me to comment on a post I did not read in its entirety.
It is necessary to keep your brilliant ideas & important opinion short and sweet, as much as possible. That way, busy readers not only get a hold of the views you are expressing but have enough time to comment as well.
6. Compelling content
Some posts would necessarily generate lots of comments no matter how long or egoistic they are:
- Controversy: The world loves controversy. The media feeds on controversy. When you share a view that is different from what is mainstream in your locality, you are bound to receive strong comments. Whilst doing this, be careful not to be libellous.
- Timeliness: When you have an exclusive scoop (that is relevant to a lot of people) and share it in a timely manner, you are likely to receive loads of free traffic. Readers would share comments even if it is just to thank you.
- Authority: When you share useful knowledge through your blog, readers would necessarily comment, to ask further questions about the information you have shared. You don’t have to be an academician to be an authority. What you need to do is research deeply about your topic before writing.
- Exclusive photos or videos of events that are of international relevance are bound to attract thousands of comment. While taking photos though, don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
7. No blogger is an island
Do you comment meaningfully on other blogs or do you just keep to yourself? Life is what you give it. It is best to identify some blogs that are relevant to you, and take time to visit them regularly. Whilst there, go ahead and share your views on the posts. That way, the blog owner would feel compelled to visit your blog and reciprocate your gesture. Its human nature. In addition to that, you will gain even more readership as people reading your sensible comments on other blogs would find their way to yours. I call this phenomenon “cross-pollination”.
You not only have to comment on other blogs, you can cite fellow bloggers as well, when composing your posts. Link to fellow bloggers. Credible blogging platforms have a way of informing the bloggers you link to. Its called “trackback“.
No blogger is an island. In addition to leaving comments on other blogs, citing other bloggers from within your posts, it is critical to network with other bloggers with whom you share common interests. Such people are likely to visit your blog regularly.
In conclusion, whilst comments are a great way to feel the pulse of your blog readers, it is not the absolute means of measuring popularity. I have received a lot of feedback from readers of this blog who never comment, but read regularly: via Twitter, via Facebook, or when we meet in person. The role of comments can still not be over-looked. It is thus necessary that you engage your audience, write in a brief & polite manner, share compelling content and network with fellow bloggers, to ensure that your blog is the place to be.
This is my longest post (that did not cite any sources) ever. I hope I have not imposed my views on you, and I hope this is compelling enough to drive you to share your thoughts.