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The Secret to Interactive Blogging – Expertise blended with Invitation

Rob Hof over at Business Week has stumbled upon one of the secrets of growing interactivity on a blog – it’s about not knowing all the answers. He notices that the posts with most comments on his blog are where he asks for help.

‘The tough thing for journalists, I think, is that we’re supposed to provide answers, not just pose questions. So what makes a really good story–insight into an issue or person or company, wrapped up in a tidy, complete package–is precisely what doesn’t work on a blog. People are more interested in responding to questions. Provide just answers, and, well, there’s nothing more to say….’

This is so true yet I’d not write off posts that provide answers altogether.

What I’ve discovered over the last couple of years is that people want a mixture of expertise but also room to speak from their own experience. I’ve tried in the past few months to create this type of space in the way I blog here at Problogger – blending posts that are are quite ‘How To’ in nature (with lots of tips and answers) with plenty of opportunities for readers to share their own expertise.

In a sense this was my motivation behind the 31 Day Project and my invitation for readers to submit their blog tip posts. The result is quite spectacular with around 160 reader submissions already in addition to my own 45 or so ‘expert’ pieces.

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.
  1. That’s what I and others like about problogger. You always seem to invite participation from readers, while still giving lots of answers and sharing the knowledge you have.

  2. BTW, speaking of interactive blogging. I wonder why a very often used feature of slashdot-styke websites (Nuke,..) is not anymore used in todays Blogs:

    the report/suggest an article Function.

    This feature where visitors can actually write some content which is quoted in a moderated article. I think this encourages more contributions from readers, and also makes the quoting/editor job much easier. Everybody who uses the function agrees on beeing cited.

    Unlike the comment function, this leads to new threads/posts, so the owner of the blog can not also get reactions to his blogs, but also can learn from community contribution.

    I often hesitated to suggest content for an article, mainly because the user interface makes the feedback hard, or I was in fear to not be cited properly. With a “suggest post” or “contribute note” or something like this, I can be sure I have links to myself, my source and be quoted at least partially verbatim.


  3. @GoneAway:

    There’s already such a button, and it’s 220×73 pixels, in the top left corner.


    If the admin turns it on, WordPress will allow anyone to register and submit draft articles. I set up a new blog this way and it is starting to get some interest.

  4. If you’re looking for a home button, just click on the Problogger logo. Its one of those unwritten standards that the logo takes you to the home page.

  5. *@IO Error*: ah good to know. I would prefer a registration-less version, however there are good and bad points about it.


  6. […] Interactive Blogging – While occasionally I come across a blogger that doesn’t want too much interaction with their readers I get a lot of questions from bloggers asking how to get MORE interaction – particularly around how to have a more interactive comments section. While a major impact upon comments is the number of visitors you have on your blog there are definitely strategies for getting more comments (also check out this post on The Secret to Interactive Blogging). The main tip I’d give on this is to be interactive with the readers you have. Start with what you’ve got and build from there rather than complaining about what you don’t yet have. […]

  7. I stopped all comments after getting so much spam…maybe I should turn it back on, but I hate having to delete 18 forex comments and 30 “wow, you should check out my site” comments everyday.

    I think wordpress has a tough time (at least 1.5) with deciding what is spam and what is genuine…

  8. These are great tips. I’m going to try to implement these tips on my blog!

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