Blogger’s tip: Quit obsessing over comments … or the lack thereof

LOVEStop me when this starts to sound familiar.

You decide to start a blog. Not just any blog—a seriously killer blog. You’ve researched your audience’s interests, you’ve read all there is to read from ProBloggerCopybloggerThe Blog Squad, and other sages, and you’re ready to take the blogosphere by storm with every best practice in the book(s).

You craft that all-important first post oh-so-carefully, poring over every word, every nuance until it’s juuuuuust right. Then you click the magical “Publish” button—but not before you make sure there’s plenty of room in today’s schedule to address the avalanche of comments that’s sure to follow.

And then, you wait.

And you wait.

And … you … w-w-wai-i-i-i-i-i-i-t …

Pretty soon, you find yourself logging into WordPress every hour on the hour, just to make sure that those mischievous gremlins haven’t eaten the email alert that lets you know you have a new comment. Nope, all seems to be in order.

And still, each visit to your so-lovingly-crafted post ends with a forlorn glance at the empty Comments section.

Then the inevitable hamster-wheel of a thought process begins: “Why isn’t anyone commenting? … Is it my title? … My font? … My URL? … Did Seth Godin post on a similar topic earlier today and now everybody thinks I’m a me-too-er?”

And so it goes, until one of two things happens. Either (a) you come to the conclusion that nobody cares about your stupid blog and you may as well pack it in, or (b) you quit obsessing over the stupid comments and focus on continuing to post quality content on topics that your audience cares about.

Now, I’d be lying like a rug if I said I never came close to that former conclusion, that my inner child never stamped her patent-leather-mary-janed feet whining “But where’s my valida-a-a-a-ation??????” whenever the Comments section turned up emptier than a bingo hall on Super Bowl Sunday.

But one day, in an all-too-rare moment of clarity, I examined my own behavior when I read blog posts.

On any given day, I may read two dozen or more blog posts, many of which I find enormously insightful, entertaining, informative, helpful, and/or profound. How many of those posts do I actually comment on? Maybe 5% total.

Because I, like many others, generally don’t leave a comment unless (a) I have something useful to add to the conversation, (b) I respectfully disagree with part or all of the post, or … um, yeah, that’s pretty much it. And that’s if I actually have time to put together a well-thought-out response.

So do yourself a favor and start viewing comments as an occasional pleasant surprise rather than as a norm. Then start measuring your blog’s success using data like page views, shares, retweets, and other metrics that better reflect your audience’s engagement.

And if you absolutely must have comments, here are a couple of things you can try:

  • Post on the weekends. In his excellent webinar The Science of Timing, social media scientist Dan Zarrella shared his discovery that posts published on the weekend tend to generate far more comments than those that go live during the week.
  • Make sure you’re making it easy for people to comment. Log out and try posting a test comment; you may be surprised at what your system is putting people through just to make their thoughts known. (More on this from Daily Blog Tips)
  • If you publish a post that you think will interest specific individuals whose opinion you value, you can always email those folks a link to your post and ask them to contribute their insights. I’ve done this a few times, and people have been happy to oblige—especially if they’re bloggers themselves.

So, what about you? Are you still dealing with comment fixation or have you found a way to cope? Share your insights by … well, you know what to do.

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