LintCollector asks – ‘My question relates to comments on a low-traffic blog. If there are very few comments due to lack of readers (not lack of regular posts), can this emphasize the lack of readers and reflect badly on the blog? If high activity on popular blogs conveys an impression that the blog is valued and has worth, then can a lack of comments give the opposite impression?’
The old ‘should a blog have comments?’ debate – an oldie but a goodie.
You’re definitely right on some levels about comments being a pretty quick signal to new readers as to whether your blog is being read widely or not. It’s like walking down a road with a lot of restaurants on it and seeing some bursting with patrons and others with no one inside – I know which one I’d rather be eating in!
There’s no getting around the fact that comments beget comments – however I also think that they can be a valuable part of even a small blog where they are rarely used. In fact on a small blog they can be even more important than on a big one because they put you into a potential conversation with the readers you already do have.
I remember when I first started blogging that I spent a lot of time in my own comments section. Even though I was probably only getting 2-3 comments a day from readers I would intentionally spend time replying to every one, asking follow up questions, emailing thank you messages to those who left comments etc. Every comment left is a reader taking a step towards being a regular reader – without them readers have no simple way to participate.
Of course there are costs to having comments on a blog – spam, trolls, flaming etc – but while I spend more time than I’d like on these things I think that the benefits of comments are worth the time.
One thing that you might like to try though to make it a little less obvious that you don’t have many comments is think about the way that you display the comments link on your front page. Some bloggers have it read ‘0 comments’ (in fact I think I do here at ProBlogger) which advertises that you don’t have any loud and clear on the front page of your blog. Alternatively you could change that link to simple read ‘comment on this post’ when there is no comments. Some bloggers try to get people involved by writing ‘be the first to comment’ which at least gives a little incentive to first comment leavers.
If you do move to activating comments on your blog you might like to read my previous post on the topic of getting people to leave comments.