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I Came, I Saw, I Commented: Was It Worth It?

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of September 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian

Two quotes:

From Jane Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a blogger in possession of a good domain must be in want of some worthwhile comments.”

The second is the undisputed, best comment I ever received. It didn’t even matter that it was spam: “So so good. Your grd information blog is so wondrous and impotent. So so good.”

Of course, my first thought was, I’m not wondrous!

But seriously, it’s great to get comments. Don’t forget, though…someone out there has to do the commenting. So why do they do it?

Is it worthwhile to leave comments on other blogs?

I was a reader, but not a commenter

I’d never tried commenting as a traffic-building strategy, mainly because I’m not smart or patient enough to strategize. My brother once checkmated me in four moves during an unfortunate chess game I should have turned down.

For the record, I read a ton of blogs. It’s just rare that I comment.

But then in a recent interview someone asked me my opinion on blog commenting as a traffic builder. I froze and sputtered and dodged the question because I didn’t have an answer.

I knew that I might get this question again, so I tried an experiment to find out for myself.

The Experiment

I spent one week leaving as many comments as possible.

Now, a common question is “how do I find blogs to comment on?” First and foremost: I believe that real peace of mind comes from staying out of conversations you aren’t ready for. Meaning, if your idea of masterful penmanship is doodling with a crayon in your mouth, you might look out of place trying to jump into a conversation with a bunch of bloggers discussing calligraphy.

So where did I find blogs to comment on?

I had a perfect audience to test with. Smart, literate, blog-savvy people.

You, in other words.

After my most recent Problogger post, “I Heard Blogging Was Dead. I’m Glad I Didn’t Listen,” I spent a week commenting on as many blogs as possible.

Here was the criterion for the authors whose blogs I commented on:

  • They had a blog (duh)
  • They commented on my Problogger post with a “real” comment
  • I could actually add something to the conversation. I only commented on blogs that I could engage with
  • The blogs were in English

I left over 30 comments on other blogs that week.

The Measurable Results

Now, I can’t prove with scientific certainty that the comments led to these results. A guest post on Problogger leads to spikes across the board, so it’s possible that comments were not the primary cause. But after I left the comments, the numbers went up again, far beyond the typical spikes following a Problogger guest post.

The numbers after commenting:

  • A 100% increase on RSS subscribers (160-320)
  • Over 40 newsletter subscriptions
  • A second traffic spike due to people returning to answer my comment on their own blogs

The Intangible Results

More important has been the goodwill and relationships generated by some simple, sincere comments. I was stunned at how many of responses I got that just said “thank you for the comment on my blog.”

The most rewarding thing has been that my comments led to me meeting some great people. I possibly never would have known them otherwise.

Real Relationships

Broken record time: my favorite part of blogging is meeting people. I reject the idea that you can’t form real and meaningful relationships online. Many of the people who commented on that Problogger post are now my friends.

Like me, like you (maybe it was you), they are real people with real ideas and emotions and our ability to interact is not diminished much by the fact that we may never meet in person.

There are people on the other side of the screen. They are more than links to click on. More than blog stats to crow about. More than usernames. More than traffic and numbers.

So – Is Commenting Worthwhile?

The answer is different for each blogger. In my case, the modest boost in my modest traffic has been worth it, because every little bit helps.

As we’ve been told again and again by the master bloggers:

  • Good, substantial, conversational comments are worthwhile.
  • Self-serving, spammy, falsely flattering comments are almost always going to be a dead end.

It would not be worth my time to leave this comment thirty times on thirty blogs:

Grt post. Love your blog. Love how good it looks. This came at the perfect time for me. I was just talking about this today on ToplessJoshHanagarneTellsAllSuperHot.com

I wouldn’t blame you for deleting that comment.

Bloggers, Not Blogs

Focus on interacting with bloggers as peers and friends, not interacting with blogs for profit and links.

I now comment because it’s proven to be a great way to meet people. And I will continue commenting because for me, relationships are the best part of life. The more the merrier, online or off.

And for the record, I’m not a Jane Austen fan and will never quote her again.

Whatever you do, and whatever your reasons are–keep it fun or you won’t keep it.

Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog to help you get stronger, get smarter, and live better… every day. For bonus articles, videos, and original music, please subscribe to the Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter. If you know someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, please let them know about the blog. They need to know that someone out there “gets it.”

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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  4. Hey Josh,

    Effective comments are a triple-win situation:

    1) Provide value with remarkable mini-articles that also add to the discussion

    2) Drive quality readers to your site (they’re coming from a relevant blog, and they got a taste of your writing)

    3) Form relationships and have meaningful discussions

    I strive to do #1, and that has paid off with #2 for my few-week old blog Lifebeat. But, just like you mentioned, #3 was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting it, but it now pumps me up to comment even more, since I get into the discussion and relationship-forming aspect with people so much (I don’t even notice that I end up getting traffic from it too).

    Great article, great title. A helpful reminder that effective comments are very beneficial in more ways than one.


  5. Well, commenting is a great way of interacting with people, I agree but when it comes to comments, it is more important to reply to comments on your own blog. I mean when someone asks you a genuine question, why not reply? It’s a different thing if you have no time, but if you have time to comment on other blogs, then you have time to answer genuine questions on your own blog. I agree, you get a lot of comments and one is not asking that you reply to every one of them.
    And by the way, replying to people also helps you retain readers, if that is really the reason. I try and reply to comments on my blog (not the one I have linked to here because I hardly get comments there, as it is a new blog, but no I am not spamming) and believe me it has helped me retain my readers. However I reply to them because I am grateful they come to my blog and comment, and I am happy that they have contributed, make me think in another way, and well it’s polite to do so if they have asked a question. I never replied so that I retain them, but well that happens because a reader wrote and told me so.

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