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BK Blog Post
Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place!
Is your lack of blog comments giving you the blues?
A friend of mine recently complained to me that his blog posts weren’t getting enough comments. He was worried having no comments made him look bad. Do you have the same worry?
Time to calm down. Working for a publisher, I know a lot of best-selling authors. Even moving in these rarefied circles, getting lots of blog comments is more the exception than the rule. Inc.com has even published an article called, Three Reasons Blog Comments Are Dead. But before you close the comments on your blog and hold a funeral: WAIT! There are things you can do to build your commenting karma and turn your blog around.
How can you get tons of blog comments? I asked the experts.
Two of Berrett-Koehler’s authors, Jesse Lyn Stoner and Rob Jolles, have blogs that defy the odds and rake in dozens of comments every time. People don’t just leave a phrase or two either; they usually write long, heartfelt paragraphs. Unlike what we see on most major news sites, the comments are overwhelmingly constructive. So I emailed them to ask for their secrets to success. It boils down to these three points:
1. Give blogging your 100%. Rob writes, “Put your heart and soul into every blog. If it isn’t your very best, don’t post it.” Along the same lines, Jesse urges, “Write content people want to respond to - new thinking or new ways of thinking about old thinking. Don't just regurgitate what people already know.”
It’s easy to get into a rut with blogging, if your employer requires it or if you’ve enslaved yourself to your editorial calendar. If you write out of obligation or duty, I think people can tell you’re feeling stale.
2. Show your readers you are listening to their comments and care about what you have to say. Jesse writes, “ Respond to comments immediately. To me this is common courtesy. When I leave a comment on someone's blogs and they don't respond to my comment, it makes me think they don’t care if they get comments.” She furthermore adds, “Respond in conversational mode. Don’t just thank them, but respond to a particular point they made and discuss it further.” Rob’s advice is the same: “Treat every comment as a gift, and respond to every comment.”
Ask yourself: why do you really want comments? Do you care about having a conversation with people? Or do you just feel like your brilliance deserves recognition? Rob and Jesse don’t feel entitled to comments; they feel honored by them. Even though they are important and busy authors, they genuinely value every interaction they have with others.
3. Be open, patient, and giving. On this topic, Rob and Jesse had lots of suggestions. Jesse suggests thanking comment-givers via Twitter, and commenting on other people’s blogs if you have time. Rob gives a gift to everyone who subscribes to his blog, and refuses to use his blog for selling. So what if you don’t get instant results? Rob says, “Be patient. Like a twitter following it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
There are many ways to be giving. You can give your expertise, but giving another person a chance to shine may be even more meaningful. Jesse writes, “Leave space for people to add their thoughts. Early on, when I used to write the way I was taught in school, I would state my premise and provide a lot of supporting evidence. Now I don’t try to completely nail it, and leave some open space so others can jump in.”
“Get famous quick,” advice is a pack of lies
Some people view the Internet as an automatic provider of instant fame. On the surface, it can look that way. When my friend Seth Adam Smith’s blog post went viral, everyone thought it was this insanely lucky and magical thing that happened. But Seth had been writing excellent blogs for years before he went viral. Luck doesn’t happen without persistence.
In the five years I’ve been blogging, I’ve definitely noticed that getting comments and traffic is harder than it used to be. There’s just more competition as more and more people start writing. But think of it this way: this is a magical time to be alive! We’re living in the center of a gorgeous explosion of creativity. Creators used to be a minority; now they’re a grand majority.
Sure, this might mean getting attention for your blog will be an uphill journey. But, looking at Rob and Jesse’s example, I think the people who are the most heartfelt, sincere, and giving, are getting the most attention and notice. And there’s a kind of cosmic justice to that.
If I'm going I'm going to tell Charlotte what a gift it is to receive a comment, then I sure as heck am going to offer one. Interesting that Jesse and I have never spoken about this and yet we have similar opinions. Coincidence? I think not! Great job putting this together Charlotte. Enjoy the journey fellow authors!
Thanks so much for sending me so many detailed thoughts. I think this will be helpful to many different authors! I also shared this on Medium.com, where it got a good number of favorites. I think a lot of people are curious about this topic.
I'm honored that you reached out for my thoughts, Charlotte. As I told you when you asked, I wasn't sure what the "secret sauce" is, but you do a beautiful job weaving my thoughts, Robs, and your own, and I think you have pulled together some helpful ideas. I especially apprecaite your last sentence: "I think the people who are the most heartfelt, sincere, and giving, are getting the most attention and notice. And there’s a kind of cosmic justice to that."