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
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