Feels a little lonely, hmn?
Well, if you’re looking to build your blog, you have to start with the most basic of all things: creating community. And the lifeblood of a thriving community is the discussion. Not only does good discussion enhance your readers’ experience on your blog – it’s also great for your search engine optimization (SEO). The tips I’m giving here aren’t just good for getting people to leave comments – they’re good practice for community building in general.
So how do you get more people to leave comments on your blog?
I’ve got 12 tips to help you get people talking:
1) Step out of the shadows and leave comments on other blogs. Not just “thanks for the post,” but actual, insightful comments. Ask questions and engage your favorite bloggers. Be a friend. When people see you commenting on their blogs, they’re likely to follow the link back to your blog and they’ll be more open to leaving comments when they get there.
The blogging world is fueled by generosity of spirit. Expect to give long before you get anything back.
2) Make it easy for people to comment on your blog – take as much hassle out of the process as possible. If you’re blogging on WordPress, let Akismet do your spam filtering and leave out the Captcha code. If you want to moderate all your comments, be sure to approve them in a timely manner. Don’t leave us hanging.
3) Take the time to reply to the comments you receive – even just a word or two. Let us know you care. If you want to take this a step further, then follow up with not just reactions to your reader’s comment, but further questions. Encourage your readers to share more. Bring them out of their shell. Just try engaging a handful of your commenters in a two-way discussion, and see what it does to grow your community.
4) Use a WordPress plugin like Comment Reply Notification to let commenters know you’ve responded to them. No one wants to “haunt” a blog after commenting to see if the blogger responds, and if you use this (free) plugin, they won’t have to.
5) Share the love – Some people use comments as a blog growth strategy, and why not make this easy for them? Use a plugin like CommentLuv (free) or CommentLuv Premium (which I use here) to add a link to your commenters’ latest blog post right below their comment. When other readers can see the titles of a commenter’s own post, they’re more likely to follow that link and check out that blog. What a great way to reward your readers for leaving comments! (Psst – wanna’ give it a try? Leave a comment below and see how it works!)
6) Feature another blogger’s work on your blog. When Jimmie (of Jimmie’s Collage) posted about her favorite homeschool blogs, people came out of the woodwork to leave their comments of appreciation. Generosity of spirit leads to conversation – and new friendships.
7) If you really want your readers’ input on something, create a poll that’s easy to participate in. We all love to share our opinions, so give your readers a good way to interact with you (and each other!), and maybe they’ll find it easier to leave a comment on your next post. You can create polls through a third-party site, but if you’re a WordPress user, Polldaddy has a plugin that brings their polls right to your blog.
8) Every once in awhile, take a stance on a controversial issue – it doesn’t have to be aggressive, just enough to “stir the pot.” Because whether people agree with you or disagree, they’ve likely got something to say.
9) Don’t make your life look too perfect on your blog; Share even your “bad days” that people can relate to. I recently saw this in action on Gypsy Forest, where Stephinie posted about a tough week she’d had. From the tone of the comments she got, a lot of people had the same experience. This is community building in action.
10) Request ideas for posts, or suggestions for things you want to learn more about. People LOVE to share their expertise, so let them.
11) Don’t sound like the ultimate authority. If you’re approachable, people will talk to you. Show your personality in your posts. You want to sound like a (very nice) person, not a computer.
12) I hesitate to list this last one because it’s so overdone…but it’s okay to ASK for comments. Just not in every post.