A vibrant blog with active commenters takes more than “If you write it, they will come.” Take the time to create a blog that’s ripe for comments, and your fans will find you.
Blogging is 50% self-expression, 50% community — bloggers who don’t want to connect with others are few and far between, and most of us get a little frisson of excitement every time we’re notified that one of our posts has moved someone enough to leave a comment.
If your comment section is populated mainly by tumbleweeds, never fear! Try one (or all) of these to up the odds of starting a conversation with your readers:
- Have an opinion. Opinions are the lifeblood of blogs — your unique perspective gets us reading, and reacting to that perspective gets us commenting. You may want to appeal to the widest audience by keeping your blog blandly balanced, but you’ll miss out on the thing that makes blogs compelling: point of view. Without a point of view, you won’t get negative comments… but you won’t get positive ones, either. (Worried about being too blunt? We’ve got some tips that’ll help.)
- Share a personal story. We read blogs because we get glimpses into the minds and lives of the people behind those blogs. When you’re open about your life, it creates a welcoming atmosphere for readers to open up, too. Humans are storytellers; we love sharing and comparing our experiences. Get more personal in your posts, and your readers will start doing the same in your comments.
- Link to and quote others. Can blogs have two lifebloods? Let’s say they can: if opinions are one, links are the other. The internet without links is like a road with no intersections; blogs thrive on interconnection. Link to other posts, or quote other bloggers. The person you link to will likely pay you a visit to say thanks or expand the discussion, and they might just tell their own readers about you, too.
- Ask a question. We don’t just love reading others’ perspectives, we love sharing ours. Your readers will eventually get comfortable engaging with you via comments, but you can give them a gentle nudge by asking them questions. Stay away from vague questions like, “What do you think?” and try asking something specific and direct — solicit readers’ stories, and watch your comments section grow as people react to you and to other commenters.
- Leave comments. The best way to encourage people to engage with you? Engage with them. Read others’ blogs, and leave the bloggers real comments. Say “Thanks!” or “Great post!”, but then go further and leave something substantive; be specific about what you enjoyed, ask a question, or offer a counterpoint. If reading and commenting isn’t already part of your blogging routine, work in small chunks of “engagement time” each week — call it an investment in your blog.
Once you’ve got some conversation going, make sure you nurture it. Take time to respond, prune out irrelevant or offensive comments, encourage commenters to engage with one another, and show your readers that you’re really listening by grappling with their ideas in future posts.