This post is by ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke
Do you wish more readers would comment on your blog posts?
Some bloggers think commenting is dead. And while that’s not the whole picture, there may be some truth in it.
When I started blogging back in 2008, Twitter and Facebook were only just taking off. And if readers wanted to respond to a post, they’d normally leave a comment on the blog itself, rather than tweet or comment on a Facebook thread.
You might think that if you had more readers then you’d get more comments. But that isn’t necessarily true. Some of the big blogs I read only get one or two comments per post. And smaller ones can often get dozens.
The truth is, readers do still comment on blog posts. And there’s plenty you can do to encourage them to do so more often.
One very simple way is to deliberately invite comments by asking a question at the end of your post. But this isn’t your only option.
I’m going to go through five key ways to encourage more comments, and encourage readers to keep coming back and commenting. As you read through, think about which one you could put into practice this week.
#1: Comment on Other Bloggers’ Posts
How often do you leave comments on other blogs? If it’s rarely or never, it might be part of the reason you don’t get many comments on your own blog. Not because of karma, but because of reciprocity. If you leave someone a comment, they may want to repay the favour.
But for this to work you need to comment on the right sort of blogs. Commenting on big, well-known blogs may get some initial traffic to your new blog. But chances are it won’t bring the busy blog owner over to your blog to comment.
Instead, look for smaller blogs that are at a similar level to yours. Maybe they have few or no comments, or they’ve just been launched.
Where can you find blogs like that? A great place to look is in forums or groups aimed at bloggers, such as the ProBlogger Facebook group. Search for your own blogging topic and see if anyone’s mentioned that they blog about it too. If so, visit their blog and leave a comment on their most recent post. They may well leave a comment on your blog too.
You can also establish a relationship with a group of fellow bloggers, reading one another’s posts and (at least sometimes) commenting. It can be a good way to start discussions in the comment sections of all your blogs.
#2: Open Up Room for Discussion in The Way You Structure and/or Phrase Things
If your blog post comes across as the final word on a particular topic, it may put readers off commenting. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sometimes you may want to write a long, definitive post, and you don’t really care how many comments you get. But if you do want to get more comments, it’s worth thinking about how you phrase things and even how you structure your post.
While an explicit “Leave a comment below…” call to action can be a great way to boost comments, you can also create ‘setups’ to get people commenting.
For instance, in your post you might use phrases such as:
- “I’m sure I don’t have all the answers…”
- “I’ll list ten of my best ideas. And I hope you’ll share yours in the comments.”
And then at the end of the post you could write something like, “As I said earlier, I’m sure I don’t have all the answers. I’d love to hear your opinions on this in the comments.”
With a list post, you might stop at an odd number (such as 9 or 19) so you can ask readers, “What would you suggest for #10 on this list? Let me know in the comments.”
#3: Respond to the Comments Readers Leave
If you don’t already reply to comments, make it a habit if you want to get more of them. Readers may not bother commenting again if they don’t receive a response. And if other readers think you don’t read the comments, they may not take the time to leave their thoughts either.
You might want to set aside 5–10 minutes each day to check for comments and reply.
While you don’t have to respond to every comment, you may want to do it until you’re getting more than a handful of comments per post. You don’t need to write long replies – sometimes just “Thanks” or “Great point, I hadn’t thought of that” is enough. As well as helping you build a relationship with your readers, replying to their comments instantly boosts your comments count.
#4: Use Readers’ Comments in Your Blog Posts
One brilliant way to encourage readers to comment is to use their comments as part of a future blog post.
There are several ways in which you can do this:
- Write a blog post inspired by a reader’s question or suggestion. One of my posts, Seven Habits of Serious Writers, was directly suggested by a reader (whose contribution I acknowledged in the post). Not only was he happy I wrote the post he wanted, it also ended up being one of my most popular posts that year.
- Quote a reader’s comment in a blog post. Maybe a reader has said something really insightful or something that sparked your train of thought. You could write a post that quotes their comment and expands on or responds to it.
- Ask for comments you’ll use in a blog post. This works well if you’ve written a post that can easily be extended. For instance, if you’ve written, “Ten Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Parenting”, you might ask readers to leave one of the biggest lessons they learned in the comments, explaining that you’ll pick the best of these to quote in a follow-up post.
#5: Let Readers Subscribe to Comments
This means if someone leaves a comment, they’ll be alerted to any further comments on the post. They’ll see you’ve replied to their comment, or that another reader has added to the discussion.
It’s easy for readers to comment and then forget about the discussion entirely. Letting them subscribe to comments means you’re much more likely to get follow-up comments from them.
Getting more comments isn’t just about getting more readers or using calls to action at the end of your posts. There’s plenty you can do – in your posts, in your comments section, and even on other people’s blogs – to encourage your readers to comment more often.
Which technique will you be trying out in your next post? Tell us about it by leaving a comment. And if you have any other great ideas, feel free to share those too.
Image credit: Mārtiņš Zemlickis