Your Blog, Your Way: Post 6

Tips on blogging by Seth Apter

In the first five posts in the series Your Blog, Your Way, we have discussed four of the ten Cs of blogging: Consistency, Continuity, Community, and Content. Today we turn to the fifth C: Comments. Receiving and leaving comments are integral parts of the experience of blogging for me. And while there are some bloggers who disable the comment function, by far the majority of us welcome and desire comments.

Of all the aspects that differentiate a blog from a website, the ability to leave a comment is primary. Comments foster a sense of interaction and community by allowing a conversation to take place. They provide feedback to the blogger and can provide reassurance and validation. And they allow the blogger to know that he or she is not just speaking to the air.

Comments are also important to the reader. They provide the reader with an avenue to express their own feelings about the blogger and his or her art. They enhance the readers experience by making the artist behind the blog more accessible. They allow an opportunity to ask questions, offer critical feedback, and provide a sense of belonging to a larger community.

Furthermore, comments can add valuable content to the original post and are often quite interesting themselves to the reader. 49% of the respondents to my survey often or always read the comments left by others. An additional 43% sometimes do. In other words, comments are the gift that keeps on giving.

Comments in the world of artist blogs on the whole tend to be uniformly positive. The words amazing, great, cool, and inspiring frequently appear, as do multiple exclamation points!!!! Highly critical comments are rare and, when they occur, are often left anonymously. Nevertheless, bloggers love to receive comments and hate to see a big, fat zero in the comment box.

There is usually a large discrepancy between the number of visitors to a blog and the number of comments left. In my survey, when asked to provide the most typical reason a reader did not comment, 46% said it was because they didn’t like the content of the post. 23% of respondents said it takes too much time and 18% said that they are more comfortable behind the scenes. The remainder said that they were insecure commenting publically, had no interest, did not know how to, or the blogging platform wouldn’t always let them.

So how does a blogger go about increasing the number of comments received? The survey results suggest that one key approach to increasing comments on your blog is to provide interesting, creative, and inspiring Content, a topic reviewed in the prior posting.

Blogs that receive many comments are often run by bloggers who themselves leave comments on other blogs. It seems natural that this type of reciprocal exchange would increase commenting. Communication is equally about talking and listening and the best relationships are among people who actively do both. In other words, if you want comments . . . it is probably a good idea to leave comments.

Homework: First, see what posts on other blogs elicit comments from or spark ideas in you. Do they present art that speaks to you? Do they ask a question of the reader? Do they present a controversial topic? Try to characterize what it is that is interesting to YOU and translate that though your own voice to YOUR blog. Second, make an effort to increase the number of comments you leave. Do your best as a blogger to reply to comments left on your blog, either via email or as a comment on your own blog.

Any thoughts? Leave a comment . . .

Next month: Composition

Seth Apter is a regular contributor to CreateMixedMedia.com, the voice behind, The Altered Page and the author of the forthcoming book, The Pulse of Mixed Media. (North Light Books, Spring 2012)

You can listen to a podcast with Seth right here.


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27 Responses to Your Blog, Your Way: Post 6

  1. DycheDesigns says:

    I’ve developed some wonderful relationships with other bloggers through visiting and commenting on their blogs. I also love receiving comments and engaging in conversation with those that do..

    I often find I stop visiting blogs that have no way to comment because it ends up frustrating me.

  2. lootsvele says:

    I love to leave comments on blogs, but I find that Blogger likes to fight with me a lot. Not able to sign in, or comment box will freeze. Very frustrating and I move on. Also, if I’m in a hurry, I hate having to go through the hoops of entering a code proving I’m not a spammer.

    I also found that it’s hard to respond to comments on my blog. I just realized that many responses I sent out never made it to the recipient! The email has a “no-reply” blocker on them, so they get left in limbo…

    Lotus

  3. Seth says:

    I totally agree with you Kathryn. It is all about the conversation that can develop from writing a blog post, receiving a comment, and answering in return.

  4. Seth says:

    I have had the same experience Lotus. The “no-reply” that is so common on Blogger, which is the platform I use, is endlessly frustrating. I often end up checking on the commenter’s blog for their email to use…but often that is not so easily found either. Perhaps that is why some people respond to comments by leaving responses in the comment section of their own blog.

  5. It is through comments that I have gotten to know many other bloggers and artists. To me, not leaving a comment of some sort is rude! I try to not only leave comments but also to reply either through an email or on my blog to any comments left on my postings. This “conversation” is important to me!

  6. Seth says:

    You and I are on the same wavelength Dave in terms using the comments as a means to get to know my blog readers. For me, it makes the whole blogging experience more meaningful.

  7. PennyA says:

    I, too, love and encourage comments on my posts — I have tried to increase the likelihood of comments from my readers by asking a question in the post. Only having been blogging since the beginning of this year, this method seems somewhat ‘hit or miss’ for me :-\

    I respond, on my blog, to every comment I receive. I wonder, though, if anyone comes back to see that? I have revisited other blogs (if there was not an option to subscribe to follow ups) to see that for myself… It seems like the more I learn about this ‘beast’ (blogging), the more there IS to learn :-? I have gleaned much from this series *as well as from the ol’ School of Hard Knocks methodology of learning.*

    Many thanks, sir!

  8. jaeartworks says:

    great info! so glad i found your blog.

  9. Seth says:

    There is both an art and a science to blogging Penny. And nothing beats experience when it comes to learning all about it. I too find that asking a question is hit or miss. Sometimes though, the right question can spark a lot of conversation. I venture to guess that many of your blog readers may not know to look back to see your responses to their comments. Maybe there is a way for you to acknowledge that somewhere on your blog.

  10. Seth says:

    Thanks so much Julie. So glad you found my blog too!

  11. Interesting article Seth; and very revealing.
    I follow so many blogs that it would be very time consuming to leave a comment on every post, and often, I like the post but can’t think of anything constructive to say that hasn’t already been said. However, I agree that it’s about the interaction and forming a community, so I do try to leave comments when I have to spare time. I felt very ‘apart’ from the art world until I discovered blogging and now I feel firmly within it!

  12. Seth says:

    Blogging connected me to the art community too Julie. And like you, I struggle with the time it takes to leave comments. I have often heard the debate between leaving comments that are detailed versus leaving comments that are brief. I venture to guess that many bloggers would appreciate a comment no matter how short it is. That way they feel even more connected to their readers.

  13. Marit says:

    Your post is very interesting (as always!) Seth, and the comments are too! For myself, when I started blogging I visited back all the people who left a comment – and more. After three years of bloggin, my RSS list is packed and it takes me hours to visit everyone. I do try to visit everyone at least once a week though, ánd leave a comment that says more than the usual ‘amazing, gorgeous’ stuff… I feel that if a blogger takes the time to write a post, put thoughts into words and show his or her art, it is only fair that you read it and react to the post in a serious way. It is sometimes difficult for me because English is not my native language and I can’t always find the right words (as a writer, that’s frustrating!) but I do try!

    To PennyA: I found out that some bloggers respond to comments on their own blog only after a year of blogging… I myself don’t go back to a post that I’ve already seen/read, so I never check for possible ‘answers’. If I want to ask a question, I send the person an email. I reckon, if the blogger wants to react on my comment, they can email me too or come to my blog (I always leave the address) On my blog is a button to email me personally. I react to my own commenters by email because they always (have to) leave their address. That way, i’m sure they will see it.

  14. Seth says:

    I totally agree Marit. The longer one is in the blogworld, the more contacts you make, the more blogs you follow, and the harder it is to find the time to visit them all and leave comments. I appreciate the fact that as a blogger, you recognize the fact that all bloggers put time and energy into their postings. And in some way, a comment (especially when content-filled) is a reward. I also like your idea of emailing a blogger as well if you have a question. That is one way to be sure that a conversation and a connection occurs.

  15. rasz says:

    First off Seth, thank you so much for this series in blogging. I have only been blogging for six months. The blogging world experience has been wonderful, along with wonderfully challenging at times. Comments really fuel me. I always try to reply back to my comments through the blog post comments as well, to let my readers know how much I appreciate their (always) kind words. I leave comments on other’s blog posts as well, unless I cannot due to a technical snafu.

    Over the past couple weeks my stats have dropped down to almost nothing and after reading this post I realized how I have not been following any of the 5 Cs lately. When posting I have been busy, sporadic, rushed and definitely not consistent in my focus. Time to go back and review the previous Cs! I am so glad I took the time this morning to read your post and again, thank you so much for your guidance and encouragement in the blogging world.

  16. Seth says:

    I am happy Rasz that you have found my posts in this series helpful. Getting back to the basics is always a good strategy when somebody gets off track. And I couldn’t agree more — comments are fuel for the creative fire.

  17. QuinnCreative says:

    Leaving comments (and contacting people who leave comments on my blog) has brought me new friends, ideas and projects. I can’t understand why people who blog turn off comments. What frustrates me? Dealing with Blogger, which doesn’t recognize my WordPress identity, having to go in circles proving I’m not a spambot, then losing the comment and starting over. Biggest peeve: bloggers who want me to give up my name, address, zip code before I can post. I skip those.

  18. Seth says:

    ‘New friends, ideas, and projects’…me too Quinn. Since writing this post, I have heard more and more about the problems that the blogging platforms themselves cause as a result of the design of the comment portion of the blogs. Frustrating!

  19. madelaine says:

    I don’t always leave a comment. I often visit people’s blogs and see what they have done, and if i do not have anything to add to all the attaboys, I don’t say anything. And yes. blogger… drives me crazy. how many times do i leave a comment only to see it disappear? And there’s no rhyme nor reason, one person’s blogspot blog might be easy to comment on and the next one just acts like i didn’t just type a heartfelt paragraph.

    One more comment, while I am commenting. I am really not a mixed media artist, but i had to SUBSCRIBE to create mixed media just so I could comment here!!! I was so moved that I did, but that really seems silly.

    I have found one way to increase comments to my blog; that is to ask a question.

  20. Seth says:

    I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to join this site Madelaine so that you could leave this comment. Now that is spirit! And I can see you are a member of what seems to be a large club — those who are frustrated by the blogging platforms themselves. Perhaps that issue should be its own post.

  21. madelaine says:

    oh yeah, another favorite; people whose blogs only let me sign with my google profile!!!
    thanks for responding to me today.

  22. Seth says:

    You are so welcome Madelaine. I am always happy when somebody joins in the conversation. That’s what it is all about!

  23. jilly says:

    Great post on comments Seth. When I was new to the blogging world, I was one of those silent readers who felt like an outsider peering in- not comfortable to leave a comment. When I started my own blog, you were the one to comment on my posts and helped me gain the confidence to start leaving one or two comments on other peoples’ blogs. Over time, I felt more comfortable for me to be able to comment and feel good about it. Your posts inspire, connect people to one another and generate interest to want to comment. A+ for you in all you do to bring bloggers together and share the conversation through commenting!

  24. Seth says:

    You make a good point Jill about that the fact that it takes some time to become comfortable with the world of blogging and eventually jump in to leave comments. But for all those people out there still hesitating — give it a go because it makes the blogging experience even better.

  25. Jsparco says:

    I use to not allow comments on my blog, ever since reading this article and allowing comments, I’ve seen a huge increase in traffic and returning readers. People enjoy reading comments, some of my articles get dozens of comments! It’s a great start to my blog and look forward in learning new strategy.
    – Jessica
    Direct Response Agency

  26. Seth says:

    Glad to hear that adding back the comment feature has brought such a good response on your blog Jessica. To me, blogs are the perfect format to get the party started!

  27. LisaHoffman says:

    Am I the only one whose family (and friends) will ask me about my Blog IN PERSON, but never leave a comment? Although I clearly Blog for my own amusement, I find it stunning that people will seek me out to ask a question or kindly compliment my Blog when I have NO IDEA that they’re “checking in”. My Blog is intentionally directed at the masses in that I don’t chat on about uber-personal stuff. I attempt to post things that appeal to artists, non-artists, females and males…..everyone. When I ask WHY they don’t leave a comment, it’s usually some version of “…it’s not my thing…” I guess it’s a good thing that I try to look away from those stats!…..thanks for the invigorating topic, Seth.

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