About six months ago, I had 1500 blog subscribers—all of whom left few if any comments. On a good day, I would get maybe 8 comments.
On a bad day, I might get zero
It hurt my feelings more than a little.
And it made me wonder: Is anyone actually reading my blog? Or are all of these people pressing the delete button whenever my blog feeds into their inbox? Am I the most unloved blogger on the planet?
I thought about throwing a De-Lurking Party, as I’d read about other bloggers doing that sort of thing. But that seemed, well. In a word? Terrifying. What if I held a party and no one showed?
No, I couldn’t do that. No. No. No. A De-Lurking Party? That was waaaaay too risky.
So I did all of the usual things that people tell you to do in order to get more comments. I ended each post with this line, “Please leave a comment.” I installed the Comment Luv and the Subscribe To Comments plugins. I begged my Twitter followers to please comment on my blog.
Then, one day, I accidentally purchased the wrong size of bed sheets. I opened the package and washed them before realizing the issue. I didn’t know what to do with the dang things, so in the middle of a post Of Cobwebs, Bedsheets and Butter I wrote: Would you like a set of free Bakugan bed sheets? Leave a comment on today’s post that makes me laugh and forget all of my life’s problems and they are yours.
It was a joke. I didn’t think anyone would want them. I mean, seriously? They were kid’s bed sheets. They were already out of the package.
They had Bakugan designs on them.
That post? It generated 23 comments. As the comments flowed in, I danced around my room saying, “Who-hoo. People really do read my blog. Who-ho. People love me.”
Reward Your Readers
Let me tell you something. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Come. Down. From. That. 23 Comments. High.
So I decided to give away more stuff.
I included a line from Where the Wild Things Are in one post’s headline and offered to send a chocolate bar to the first reader who figured out the book from which I’d stolen the line.
I won a bunch of dildos at a conference (don’t you just wish you were at THAT conference?), so I gave two away to my readers.
I re-gifted swag. I gave away crap that I didn’t want anymore. I gave, and I gave, and I gave.
Here are some other things that I did:
Created a Reader of the Month award. I give it to one frequent commenter each month.
Thanked my readers. I thanked them in my posts. I thanked them in the comments area. I told them just how much their comments helped inspire me. I told them just had crappy I felt whenever a post did not generate a lot of comments.
Started a Reader Participation post. I did the first one on a morning when I was busy and didn’t have enough time to write a real post. So I posed a question, asking, “What was the best marriage advice you ever got?” In the body, I told readers that they would write the post instead of me. I would, however, reward one commenter with a subscription to Wired magazine. That post? It got 46 comments. Now I regularly post questions—usually ones that were sent to me by readers—and I ask my readers to answer them.