I toiuched on this briefly at About Weblogs the other day, but thought I’d expand a bit here since beginning bloggers are always looking for ideas.
Don’t neglect the comments
I think many newbies tend to neglect comments. They write articles rather than disucssion-stimulating and engaging blog posts. That isn’t to say you should be upset if you don’t have any comments at first, but you should write with the intention of stimulating discussion among the members of your community. This will serve several purposes:
1. It will keep them coming back for more – I have a very active community at Freelance Writing Jobs. Each post provokes some interesting discussions. Some of these posts are weeks old. Many of my readers subscribe to the comments, while others check back often to see if new comments have been posted.
2. It will give you new material – I get about 75% of my blog ideas from the comments. Commenters like to go off on tangents or ask questions. A post with over 50 comments can spawn about 10 great ideas for future posts. Thanks to my commenters, I never run out of things to talk about.
3. It makes your blog look more attractive to others – Say you’re invited to two different parties. At the first one, no on shows up. The second one is absolutely rocking. Which one would you rather visit? That’s the way it is with blogs. Though readers are encouraged to visit as many blogs as they want, the truth is they don’t have that kind of time. Most will choose the one with a lively discussing ensuing over a blog with no comments at all.
Getting your readers to comment
So how do you get your readers to comment? Here are a few things that worked for me:
Ask a question in your title – Ask a question and someone is sure to answer.
Discuss a controversial topic – Controversy always provokes a response, though you should be prepared for some rude or insulting comments too.
Just ask – Ask for comments. Tell your readers you value their opinions and are interested in their thoughts.
Create a list post List posts are great comment-getters! Lots of people will respond to tell you how much they appreciate your list, and also add items they feel you left off.
Have a contest – Right now, on FWJ, I’m giving away a $50 gift certificate to my top commenter at the end of October. There are a few competitive commenters for sure, but even the people who don’t stand a chance are chiming in.
After revamping FWJ, I made community my top priority and nowhere is this more apparent than in the comments. In fact, I have many new readers as a result of those comments! All of the activity spawned a wonderful chain of events, I have new material, lots of blogs are linking to me and my traffic is souring. Don’t neglect your comments, you may be pleasantly surprised at what happens next.