Getting People to Comment on Your New Blog

How many of you have purposefully arrived a little late to a party to avoid the awkwardness of being the only one there, apart from the host(s)? How many online forums have you arrived at from search engines where the only topics are those by the forum owner, so you’ve refrained from posting a response? Probably a few. Now, how many of you might have got involved with some of those forums if there had been evidence of a bigger community? Again, I’m going to assume quite a few of you.

The same mentality applies to new blogs. We all tend to want to be heard by as many others as possible, so why would we comment on a blog with no other participants?

This leaves the owner of a new blog with a conundrum. How do you get people to comment on your site if they won’t do so until someone else does?

There are a few options you can try, although none are exactly perfect.

  1. Comment yourself. This is the easiest option, but unless you’re adding something significant extra to your original entry you’ll look like you’re talking to yourself.
  2. Pretend to be someone else. Pretty much the same as option one, but a little further along on the ‘sad-o-meter’.
  3. Invite people to comment. Whether it’s inviting other bloggers in your niche, or just getting your mates to comment, sending an email invitation out can be one of the most effective ways to get a conversation going. A note on your friends – make sure they’re going to have something to add to the conversation. If something looks like a clique others will be put off.
  4. Write Better Content. If you’re still not pulling anyone in, could it be your content just isn’t good enough to provoke discussion? Take a look back over everything you’ve written. Look for places it could be improved, and bear your findings in mind when you write your next entry. This will take the most time to achieve results, but is far and away the best for long-term results.
  5. Provoke Controversy. Good old controversy. A time-honoured way to get people talking. Just remember to prepare for negative responses to whatever you write. Also referred to as “link-baiting”, controversial posts carry a risk of ruining any good reputation you might hope to achieve. My preference would be to avoid using controversy unless absolutely needed.

This list is far from exhaustive and are mostly just off the top of my head. What methods have you used for kicking off the conversations on your new blogs?

18 thoughts on “Getting People to Comment on Your New Blog

  1. Definitely those were the problems which kept me away from developing a blog as well as commenting on it. Yet the information that has been given above should be tried and I will definitely. Thanks for those five important steps towards blogging.

  2. I definitely think that it’s important to stay involved with whatever community you’re active in. It’s also important to accept both sides of whatever your blog post is about. This can be very hard though as major news ideas usually get all the traffic headed to their sites as yours sits there and doesn’t get any.

    Bradley Bradwell

  3. I agree with neadfiles and this has worked for me.

    The trick is to find other blogs on the same subject as yours (or similar) and post a often as you can. Pretty soon they’ll return the favor and that gets the ball rolling.

  4. Even though I have a trivial little family/theological/techie/all-over-the-map blog, a couple of things I found helped family and friends know they could comment and that I welcomed comments were:

    [1] Make the comment link text more inviting. “Add your Comment” or “3 Comments. Add Yours”

    [2] Get recent comments noted up above the fold. I do this on my site thanks to a nice WordPress plug-in called “Brian’s Latest Comments”.

    Even though my audience is *very* small, this changed my feedback almost immediately.

  5. Pick or find 5 good blogs you like to visit every day. Find blogs that are similar to your own flava-flav, content, size, opinions, etc., and start commenting when appropriate. Helping others grow their blog comments may draw readership to your own address, especially if you bring insight, humor, a helping hand or ‘out of the box’ thinking. Make people curious about what you’re saying on your page.

  6. Our blog features a combination of short and long posts as we wanted to write everyday and also put some pillar articles at the site. I have found some short posts actually get more people to comment on then the longer ones. I guess our readers might not be getting to the bottom of the page 🙁

  7. taking requests is a great way to get people to comment… There are *lots* of different ways to go about that. You can ask for feedback on a specific topic, solicit opinions, offer to write specific posts on topics chosen by your audience, etc. There’s a broad enough spectrum of ways to engage your audience that it should be possible to find something you’re comfortable with while maintaining enough independence that it’s still *your* blog.

    offering to follow up on comments is a stronger, more compelling version of taking requests. It gives the audience a sense that you care about them and are working on their behalf, which tends to build more loyalty and participattion.

    Contests! People love contests. If you’re giving something away (no matter how insignificant) you can get a lot of people to comment.

    Help readers make commenting a habit! The first comments can be hard to come by… but if you can get people to comment a few times, they will likely continue to engage and come to feel like your space is also partly their space.

    Provide ways for readers to engage with each other. On my typepad hacks blog, readers often step in to solve each other’s questions or problems. There are a few people who are especially good about this.

    If you can help people feel that commenting on your blog will give them good exposure, credibility, etc. they’ll comments in droves. This is easier on a high traffic blog, but it can work just as well on a well targeted niche site. Basically, you are extending a piece of your reputation to the commenter by allowing them to hold their own in a high level conversation.

    Of course, if you write a post about someone else, they will likely comment if they know about it (you can tell them or see how frequently they use technorati and google, your choice).

    All of these have worked well for me in the past. I think the core aspect of most of them is that you are offering or providing some value in exchange for the comment: the ability to get something, to be heard, to be credited, to solve problems… these all help people feel good about commenting.

  8. I agree that persistence pays. I’m sure an immense number of blogs are abandoned quickly, so visitors may be disinclined unless they see a long history of posts. And, it took me a while to understand that tags don’t get through unless one separates them with commas. (Get that? It’s spelled sepArated, not sepErated.)
    I’ve recently discovered that posting with tags about new Web 2.0 companies wins comments from those developers who desperately crave attention (like Monique in Sinfest, he he).
    Also, I now suspect that making blog sites more topic-specific is a good ploy. I suddenly realized that I was about the only English writer talking about HE-AAC, so I’m making an already existing Blogspot account to be about that, FLAC, OggVorbis and musicphones.
    I guess I’ll keep LiveJournal for impressions of Web 2.0 online apps, despite the Technorati deficiencies. The new account I started with free hosting service Canalblog I now think might be well suited for talk about social networking. And that private and very anonymous Xanga account is best for my adolescent rantings.
    The point is that visitors should have an idea of what’s in store.

  9. Only it kind of happened the opposite way with me. I got one or two regular commenters, and for some reason the died off, though the articles of the same (high I hope) quality kept coming. However it has built up again now, with a few of my friends regularly posting, each about their favourite subject (when I write about it).

  10. Getting regular commenters on your blog takes time. Once it starts tho, it never stops. I have about 15 people who are regular commenters on my blog, and they provoke a “Snow Ball” effect. On an old tech article I wrote, I received around 120 comments, and these comments added alot of info to the article. The result? I enjoy an Extra boost of traffic from google which indexed all those new tidbits of info in its database.

  11. This is why i like starting sites with friends, or at least a few interested parties you know have something to say.

    nobody likes a dead blog/forum/pub/etc

  12. Despite a lot of work on my content, I can’t seem to get people to respond to my blog. Thanks for this post which is a good summary of what we know about (not) getting comments.
    I suggest that we check each other’s site and comment upon it.
    what do you think about my site?

  13. I feel this is an important issue, after all you writing is there – and I for one would like more comments to show people have read and or are thinking about it! I’ve tried all these methods, and I’ve found that the most successful entries in terms of comments are the ones that a) are topical at time of writing or b) a bit (but not overly) controversial.

  14. Thanks for posting these tips. This area seems to be one of my biggest problems. I crave feedback but rarely get it, not getting the traffic I would like, etc. I have bookmarked both links above. I sometimes wonder if I don’t provoke enough controversy per suggestion #5. Another thing I think I could do better on is mentioned in the other blog post regarding restraint. I do tend to make my posts too complete.

    I’ve debated posting as someone else but I would hate to go to another blog and find out that was going on there. I have visited other blogs where I or maybe one other person has been the one to comment on a regular basis and it’s often difficult for me to be the first one to comment especially on more local blogs because I don’t want to look too much like a Internet nerd or busybody.

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