5 Reasons to Be a Better Commenter in 2014

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Unless you're a major news site, you may have noticed how hard it is to get comments on your blog. Even if you are part of a major news site, you may notice.  Every year, I see the number of comments dwindle.  Massive blogs that used to receive 600 comments a post now receive 50.  Blogs that received 50 now receive 15.  If you've got a small site like I do, then what may have one been 10-20 comments per post now rings in at less than a handful.

And yet… we all believe that comments have value in blogging. And they do! So maybe it's time to put our best foot forward for 2014, and bring back comments.  Why should we… ?

Comments are the basis of community.

As a blogger, you're trying to build a community, right? An active, engaged community… it's what we all fantasize about. Lots of traffic is great, but no one sees those numbers. They're faceless, nameless persons who came, saw, and left our sites.  But our readers… those who leave comments… they're gold.

So how do you feel when you don't receive comments?  Without them, you don't know whether your community is around. You can't gauge what they're responding to, or what they want to see.  Realistically, comments are the foundation of a community, and community doesn't just exist on your site.  Being a part of community means taking your voice & thoughts to the blogs of others and sharing it! With a comment, of course.

Comments force you to slow down, read, & ENGAGE with content.

How easy is it to skim through blogs – via email, via your feed reader, and never actually absorb the content?  Your eyes glaze over and it's just about getting through the 300+ posts that have accumulated in the last day.

But really… what good is that doing you or the bloggers you follow?

Take the time to stop just endlessly consuming information and make time to INTERACT with it. If you think that's impossible to do when you follow hundreds of blogs, cull your blog reader.  Focus on certain sites each day of the week. Actually READ the post. Think about what the blogger said. Can you respond to it? (If it's complicated or controversial, step away for 20 minutes.) Formulate thoughts, and share them.

You may find that you're more inspired by what you're reading… and who doesn't love a good dose of inspiration!

Comments represent you, your content, & your site.

That thoughtful comment you just left?  It represents your site. It represents YOU.

Every line we write online is a digital footprint back to us and our sites.  Your thoughtful, engaged comment isn't just seen by the author; it's seen by all of their fans.  If that's the first comment you've left for a blog, this is your chance at a great first impression – for the blogger and their readers.

Make it count.

Relationships begin in the comments.

Relationships – that's what blogging is about. If community is the foundation of a great blog, relationships are the glue that hold it together and keep it strong.

Building relationships with other bloggers, and comments are a natural way to build that relationship.  A relationship isn't built by leaving one comment, nor is a new fan found that way.  It comes from continually reaching out and having something valid to say. It grows from there – to email, social media sites, and more.

But if you're really looking to build your relationships with other bloggers, start with a comment.

Comments show you care.

There are a lot of bloggers who don't respond to their comments. (I'm guilty of this – I went through a phase where where I couldn't keep up with my comments because of my day job.)

Making the time to respond, even to a few readers?  It shows you care about what your readers have to say.  It tells your readers, “Hey! You're golden. Thank you for responding, and I know you're there. I can't do this without you. Your support means everything.”  And wow… isn't that just amazing to think about? How much your readers care for you and what you have to say?  It kind of blows my mind.

As you're writing up goals & resolutions for 2014, put this one towards the top of your list. Be a better commenter. Rediscover the joy of connecting with your community.  It's an easy part of blogging for us to put by the wayside. It also becomes the part of blogging we miss most quickly.

 

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41 Responses

  1. Bike Pretty

    I started my personal blog during the decline of comments, so I rely on other metrics to gauge reader-interaction.
    But I would love to be better at leaving comments.
    I feel stymied by the wisdom of Thumper, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” and the tediousness of saying “great outfit!”
    I mean, there are only so many ways to say “I love your style”! And it’s not like that really adds a lot to the discussion.

    Reply
    • Ashley Robison

      Maybe make it less about the style? Sometimes if I love an outfit, I’ll talk about what I love – the unusual color palette, how the shades make the blogger glow, how I’d never have thought to pair that way… at the very least: it’s something NICE and helps provide constructive feedback!

      Reply
  2. Monika Faulkner

    I think quality comments (not just a vague “great look!” but something that refers SPECIFICALLY to a particular part of a post) are incredibly important…both on the leaving and the receiving end of things!! How else does the blogger know that his/her post was actually read?! It’s like sending a thank-you card that says “I love the gift”…do they even remember exactly what you gave them?! Do they care, or are they just going through the motions?!

    http://www.StyleIsMyPudding.com

    Reply
  3. Diane Taha

    Comments are great but I try not to get bogged down about receiving or writing them. A lot of readers comment on my posts on twitter, and sometimes even share my posts. I would love to create a community and I think I’m slowly getting there but community doesn’t just exist on the blog, it’s on your social networks, too.

    http://stylecontext.com

    Reply
    • Ashley Robison

      Diane – I agree that community exists on Social Media, too! But I would argue we shouldn’t focus on building community that drives traffic away from our sites – that they all need to have a symbiotic, nurturing relationship with one another. I’d hate to write a really thoughtful post, and then have someone use 14 tweets trying to convey how they felt… when it’s just easier to do it in one comment on the blog!

      Reply
  4. Corinne

    This is a great post! I try hard to visit the blogs of everyone that comments me and leave them a comment back, something that relates to the text rather than the picture! Although it can be hard if it isn’t a blog in English. I sometimes get frustrated when people don’t read properly. I have some people that I have formed a bit of a relationship with after months of interacting, it’s so much easier to find things to write on their blogs, and fun.

    Corinne x
    http://www.skinnedcartree.com

    Reply
    • Melinda's Musings

      Hey Corinne,

      I see that you have lots of commenters on your posts! I also like to leave comments on blogs I follow, or bloggers that visit my blog. But how do you attract so many readers – especially so many that comment? That’s pretty rare these days. I’m curious!

      Reply
      • Corinne

        When I have time (which is not often), I will go to other peoples blogs and leave comments if I feel I have something to add, that sometimes leads them to leaving me a comment back, sometimes it doesn’t. About 70% of people that comment on my post are bloggers that I have been communicating with for several months. I like to think of it as a balance between keeping my current relationships up (I ALWAYS visit my ‘friends’ or ‘loyal readers’ before the new people on my blog.. unless it is a question or a comment that has really caught my attention) and making new relationships.

        Try to comment on 5 new blogs a day. It will probably take you about 45 mins if you read/comment properly but you should see some feedback.

        There are also bloghops – if I join a bloghop I visit every blog on there, I probably comment on about 70% of them (time consuming again and can’t be done daily). Some, I just don’t feel like I have anything to add, so I just leave. Bloghops are frustrating though because I feel most people just link up and leave, so it’s hard to network that way. It is through reaching out and making an effort to get to know somebody, or relate to them that gets them interested in you. It’s not quick, or easy. You get out of something what you put into it.

        I hope this is hopeful. If you have any other questions then please feel free to ask.

      • Corinne

        That is a really great challenge, thanks for sharing those old posts with me. It would be a great 2014 goal, to comment on a certain amount of new blogs per week/day/month?

        There is always a lot more activity when I make effort to comment, I saw views and comments go down when I moved house and had a busy summer. The good thing about that is it really gave me chance to see who my loyal readers were and make sure I always make time for them as a priority. It can be hard thinking about what is more important, especially when there are loads of blogger fashion programs out there offering samples of clothing to bloggers with a certain amount of followers – I think that is where the whole ‘Would like like to follow each other?’ comments come from.

        You have to stop to think though – although you do get a new follower in your stats, is that person going to really come back to your blog once you have followed each other? What’s the point in having 2000 followers when only 30 of them actually read and comment. It can be hard not to get caught up in this strategy! I’d much rather have less followers but be invested in them. Like I said – it’s all about balance. Spend time on your current audience as well as reaching out to new people.

  5. Shannon

    As per usual, this is a great post. I credit the growth of my blog entirely to the comments I leave on other blogs and to the conversations I have on my own blog with the readers who take the time to say hello.

    And you’re right, genuine heart felt comments are absolutely gold which is why responding to them is such a big deal in my book. I’ve stopped reading a handful of my favorite blogs because the comments I left and the work I put into helping build community were never acknowledged You can’t build a relationship with someone who doesn’t engage. Now I realize that some blogs have gotten to be really big and that responding to 100 comments every time you post is probably out of the questions, but if I take the time to write you a heartfelt comment, I’d hope that eventaully you’d take the time to get back to me (even weeks later).

    I’ve found that by editing my reading list I’m able to connect and grow with a core group. At one point I was reading 300+ blogs which was exhausting and let’s face it, you can’t really build strong relationships and community with that many people.

    Thanks for the insight!

    Shannon
    http://www.brasshoney.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Ann Krembs

      Wow! So you grew your audience by commenting!? I find that phenomenal. I am just stumped at how to grow an audience. Then I feel like I could start thinking about comments.

      I definitely have felt frustration when I ask questions or try to engage, and my comments get neglected. I then think, “Why bother…?” I like what you have said Shannon;D

      Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

      Reply
    • Ashley Robison

      Great suggestions & information, Shannon! I loved hearing about your experiences… I related to so many of them!

      “At one point I was reading 300+ blogs which was exhausting and let’s face it, you can’t really build strong relationships and community with that many people.” It’s so true! A lot of times, we focus on bigger = better, which isn’t the case in blogging. People always argue it’s about quality… and I’d rather have quality relationships with 20 bloggers I genuinely support (and who support me back) than 200 people whose names I can’t even remember!

      Reply
  6. Judi Easley

    Great article! This is something that we found out on Polyvore (not blogging). By leaving a comment that applies, you reach out. By responding to a comment, you connect and start to build community and relationships. Continue to do both and you build friendships and a supportive network.

    Reply
  7. Nasreen

    I always leave comments. I almost feel compelled to do so!! Even if I’m not a huge fan of a blog but stumbled across their post, I want to let them know because I know how it feels. It also teaches me to find something I like even if the post as a whole doesn’t move me.

    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Stephanie Nwaiwu

    I definitley agree! A comment from someone on tumblr, totally sparked this blogging oppurtunity. I also have made friends through the process and perhaps that is the most priceless part of it.

    If i could comment on everything I could and being a person with an occasionally strong opinion I would love to engage with someone through just a comment.

    Great Post!
    -xxWeeWoo
    http://lustforleather.blogspot.com

    Reply
  9. Oh K

    That’s why I use Blogger and not Tumblr! It’s hard to find a Tumblr comment application, and even then not many use it!

    I love comments & I love commenting. In my niche/community, people are amazing commenters. It really encourages me to stay on top of my game with commenting, while giving genuine thought and opinions. I think that’s what matters most.

    Down with the follow back/generic comments, anyone?!

    doitfortheirony.blogspot.com

    Reply
  10. Melinda's Musings

    Thank you for sharing this post! This is a great way of expanding your blog network and attracting new readers to your blog – and it’s advice that’s surprisingly rarely shared in the blogosphere.

    Reply
    • Ashley Robison

      I think people don’t share it because it’s kind of “oh duh” to some veterans… but as the medium has changed so much over the years, I feel like new bloggers DON’T realize how important commenting can be! Whereas, when I started blogging, commenting was the ONLY way to communicate with other bloggers (other than email).

      Reply
  11. Katerina

    Yet another useful post of yours….I love getting comments on my blog! I’m new at this and I don’t have that much of an audience but I’m so excited when a reader takes time to say something. I don’t make a living out of blogging, it’s just a hobby for me, but I can relate to almost everything you write for. That’s why I always look forward to your next post (no pressure)..

    http://katerinaloves.blogspot.gr/

    Reply
  12. Noemi

    I usually comment a lot on other blogs, when I say something to say. My blog is receiving more visits respect to some months ago but basically nobody leaves a comment. I’m getting used to it. So, at this point, even if I would like to have comments, I think I’m not gonna leave comments everywhere to “beg” for comments on my blog.

    Reply
  13. Ann Krembs

    Ashley,

    Great post! I will give it a try…but like I was replied up above to Shannon, I am more eager to get an audience. Maybe I just need to realize that by commenting I could increase my audience. I don’t like it when you just see generic comments though. It’s seems a bit tacky. And then I get frustrated when I stop to take care and no interaction is formed. (Don’t worry–you don’t need to respond to this one as I’m just making an actual comment.) But, for example, when you replied to my tweet earlier, that made my day, so thank you!!

    I plan to search for more of your articles. You write some real good ones. Maybe you can write one (unless you already have, and I will double check right now and look) on how to gain an audience–pretty please!

    Thank you Ashley.

    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

    Reply
    • Ashley Robison

      You know, it’s funny… everyone says they hate generic comments, but somehow they keep happening. I always wonder how and why that is! Luckily, you can leave any kind of comment you want – which is what is so amazing about it. It may be a slow process, and I’m sure along the way, you’ll come across A LOT of bloggers who leave generic comments (and don’t respond to those on their sites). Finding an engaged audience anymore is like kissing a lot of frogs…

      And you’re welcome! It makes me so happy to receive feedback about my IFB posts and know they help someone!

      Reply
  14. mike field

    Great reminders Ashley.

    I tend to talk myself out of leaving comments, I guess I am never sure how to say the blog impacted me or my thought life. Since I am new to blogging, and now commenting, I don’t always feel like my comments matter.
    Your insight to the community aspect of blogging brings a new perspective and motivation. My world is so structured and agenda driven, I find it awkward to slow down and engage, I find it harder to relate through the virtual connections, yet rewarding.
    Thank you for sharing, it makes my goals for 2014 list very easy….maybe I will start early.

    Reply
  15. Lesia

    A really hot topic huh? I think that article really hit the spot. As a new blogger I am really facing the lack of comments and feedback, so even if I see numbers in my statistics, I’m unable to communicate and gather info on what my readers like and dislike (uh-oh, quoting the article now).
    I also hate pointless comments just to link back, but when I have something to say I always comment honestly and then leave a back link just to identify me 😉

    A community is always valuable and I can’t really add anything to what has been said in the article and the comments because it’s just true and I hope we bloggers will build stronger and more powerful communications in 2014.

    http://taleofthegreat.com

    Reply
  16. Erin @ Loop Looks

    Excellent post! I completely agree that comments are the way you know people are actually reading or doing more than skimming your content. I try to respond to every single comment I get, even if it’s just someone saying “I like your outfit.”

    Although, like most people, I find that I don’t always comment on the blogs I read. So, your post has inspired me. I’ve started unfollowing blogs that I just skim because obviously I don’t feel a connection to them. But the ones I do feel a connection to, in whatever way, I’m going to work on commenting on more as well as commenting on a post when I come across it via a link-up or other source.

    Reply
  17. Sarah-louise

    Absolutely agree with this post! It’s already on my “resolution list” for next year to make the time to comment on other blogs and not just one liners to acknowledge the post but thought-out comments – on content that I appreciate and enjoy reading. I’ve realised that this can be just as time-consuming as actually writing my own posts so I definitely need to build it in to some sort of schedule.

    I also used to follow a lot more blogs than I do now – I think part of this is because my tastes and what I like to read has changed so I look for different content now. Not just fashion blogs, more-so fashion lifestyle blogs as I really enjoy getting to know the blogger – which I think aids relationship building of course.

    Info consumption is also another reason I stopped following so many. By the time I had skimmed them all in my bloglovin feed I had little time to write thoughtful comments – and I hated that I had started to skim them too and not take time to take any information in.

    Great post as always 🙂

    Sarah-Louise
    http://notlikethemoviesblog.com

    Reply
  18. Amanda

    This is exactly how I felt with my old blog. Although I was not as “active” as I will be with my new blog (that I just launched yesterday), I noticed how hard it was to get people to comment. Err why!? I stressed in my About Section this time that I wanted to build a community (much like how you said) with my followers/readers. I want to know what they are thinking. Did my post appeal to them or not? is this something they want to see the future? Give me SOMETHING. I 100% agree with this post, it is so important to leave a comment, even if it’s one word “great” ..anything to help us bloggers.

    Great work Ashley.

    Reply
  19. Maiah

    Love this, and promptly went and commented on a few blogs following your post.

    Such a helpful call to action, especially as I think about how to revamp my personal brand (and in turn my blog) for 2014.

    Thanks! xo
    -Maiah of maiahunedited.com

    Reply
  20. Everyday Heights

    Couldn’t have said it any other way. Thanks for the advise cause I think I really needed to read that. I must say I am guilty of some, but thats the beauty of seeing your flaws and making it work. Good work.

    Reply
  21. nordie

    It’s one of my New Years blogging resolutions, to comment on several blogs a week. I’m doing my best to post only relevant comments, and not just the “leave link and run” type.

    A lot of the blogs coming in at the minute are “what books did you get at Christmas?” posts, and whilst I have my own post (which I share a link to), I also try and tailor it to the post I’m commenting on – e.g. by relating back to a book mentioned in the post where I’ve read the book previously. Just shows a little respect back to the person who you’re commenting on

    Reply
  22. Plamena

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article and share it. It really reminded me what really is important. Caught up in goals and statistic, in the whirl of the daily routine I have almost forgotten. I rarely take time anymore to respond to the lovely, inspiring people who leave comments on my bog. Opening my feedly account I feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of unread posts so I just press “mark as read” and move on to whatever I find more important at that moment. And that is not right, because being a good blogger really starts with being a good reader first. So thank you again! The goal to become a better and more thankful commenter is now on the top of my list.

    Reply
  23. Eve G

    I don’t get why people don’t like the small comments saying “great post, follow me” or other stuff like that. Maybe it is because I only want to see the good in people, but I chose to believe that they’ve actually read my post before commenting. Plus, since I don’t have a lot of comments, I do treasure all of them.

    Once, I commented on Wendy’s Lookbook website. I really wrote what I was thinking and I meant every words I said because at a point, she really was a big inspiration to me. What I liked is that she has to approve your comment before it appears online, so I chose to believe that she read it.
    Actually, somehow, that day, I ended up having 60 pageviews. And I never got near that amount ever again. But it was really cool and made me smile ^-^

    Comments are so powerful.

    Reply
  24. Camille

    I completely agree. Personally I believe comments are the foundation of my writing. Unfortunatley because I just started seriously blogging I dont really receive many comments. Its always a good feeling when a reader leaves a comment that is specific to a specific portion of what I wrote about. It shows me that not only did they like the pictures they took the time to actually read my writing (which is surprisig how many people don’t).

    xo
    Camille
    Guilty of Glitz

    Reply