Can you name the biggest difference between blog posts and print magazine articles?
It’s the comments.
Blogs are a designed to be a conversation. Good blog posts invite discussion. Where articles tend to impart information with the expectation readers will go on their merry way without offering feedback to the author.
If you’re trying to monetize your blog, the first step is to get readers to the site and then learn what those readers need from you, so you can sell it to them. The first place you typically get that vital information is in your blog comments.
Even if you’re not trying to earn from your blog, you probably want to get a conversation going. It’s just gratifying to hear back from readers and know how they reacted to your post.
Without comments, your blog feels lonely. Who wants to see that nasty “0 Comments” notice staring back at you?
It’s a real chicken-and-egg problem too — when you go on a blog and see no comments, you tend to not leave any, either. Next person — same thing.
As a newbie blogger, how do you break the cycle and get people talking?
First off, realize you’re not alone. Pretty much every brand-new blog starts at ground zero, with no readers and no comments. Including me.
Once, I had no comments…
This blog began in 2008 as a tab on my caroltice.com writer site, so it wasn’t even the main page.
Talk about a challenging situation for getting comments! Looking back, I don’t even know how anyone even found my blog. But I knew I wanted to turn my blog into a money-maker, and that I needed to begin building relationships with readers — and getting comments.
I read a lot about how to get comments — one post from the Blog Herald was especially helpful.
I quickly learned you need to get rid of spam comments from obviously fake robots, even if you’re desperate for comments. Once people see those, they think it’s not really a place for meaningful chat and move on.
It’s also important to make sure the dialogue stays respectful. Disagreement is great, but personal attacks are not allowed in my blog comments. You don’t want your comments to look like The Jerry Springer show or something! That will scare a lot of commenters off.
When I started to tinker with the types of posts I did and what I wrote in my posts with the conscious intent of eliciting more comments, things started to change. Soon, I could usually get at least a few comments.
7 Reliable comment generators
Here are my seven favorite no-fail, simple approaches that reliably produce blog comments:
- The old-fashioned way. Blogs may be online, but remember your commenters are real, three-dimensional people. If you make in-person connections, be sure to have your blog URL on that business card and talk up your blog. People who have met you in person are highly likely to leave a comment when they visit your blog, even if it’s just to say, “Hi, it’s me from that networking meeting last week!” Last-ditch strategy here: Get in a mastermind group with several other new bloggers, and comment on each others’ blogs to get the comment ball rolling.
- Great headlines you share in social media. It’s vital to learn to write great headlines that contain an obvious benefit, and indicate who should read the post. Then, when you share those headlines on Twitter and other social-media platforms, more folks will click and come over.
- Useful information — but not too much. One early mistake I made was trying to make blog posts utterly comprehensive on a topic. I’d go on and on! That leaves no room for questions, or for readers to weigh in with their own tips. So provide great value, but leave room for more info to come in the comments.
- Actively request comments. One big leap forward I saw in getting more comments happened when I began ending my posts with a question for readers, and an encouragement to leave a comment, a habit you can observe continues through to this post today. Shy readers may jump in if they see that direct invite to comment.
- Tackle a controversy. Know what the big issues are within your blog niche — and write about them. People love to debate you in the comments, OMG! When I look at the posts I’ve done that have the longest comment threads, many are on hot topics such as writing for content mills, or whether you need money to start a freelance business.
- Go negative. For those of us who try to think positive, read Yes! magazine, and strive to create a more peaceful, beautiful world, it’s sad to learn this…but negative headlines get more traffic and engagement. Study after study proves it out. If you’ve got a choice of writing “How to Find Freelance Clients” or “How to Drive Freelance Clients Away,” the latter will reliably drive more eyeballs and get people more stoked up to write you, as we saw with the post earlier this week — How to Aggravate Top Bloggers So They’ll Never Help You (44 comments and counting). Obviously, this can be overused…but consider taking the dark side angle sometimes.
- Hold a contest. If you’re really having trouble getting those first comments from readers, bribe them. Take a poll and give a prize for the most interesting response. Even if it’s just 15 minutes on the phone with you, or a free e-book that’s usually a big $2.99, or maybe a chance to guest post. People will bite, I promise.
Once you start getting comments, of course, the next step is to respond. That starts a conversation, and soon other readers will join in.
What gets you blog comments? Leave a comment and let us know.