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.
Installed the My Top Commentators Widget. It keeps a running tab in your sidebar of who has left the most comments. This is a nice, free way to reward your readers, but it’s also helpful for you when picking Readers of the Month.
Other Secrets for Getting More Comments
Now it’s a rare day when a post elicits zero comments. Whereas 8 comments used to be a big day for me, now it’s a slow one. I’ve averaging around 25.
You want some of that, right? Sure you do. Everyone loves comments, even bloggers who have that elusive trait known as self-confidence.
So here are even more comment-getting secrets that have worked for me, and might just work for you, too.
- Ask questions within the body of your posts. I often insert little phrases here and there like, “Don’t you think?” and “Would you have done the same thing?” I think of each post as a conversation and I try to write it just as I would say it to a girlfriend over wine.
- Write about controversial topics. Readers are more likely to comment about something they feel passionate about. If you continually write safe posts—defined as posts that are about topics that nearly everyone can agree upon—you won’t tempt your readers to comment as much as you will if you write posts that are more controversial.
- Suggest they leave a comment, and give them ideas of what to say. Many people don’t comment because they can’t think of anything to say. That’s why the “please leave a comment” doesn’t always work. Be more specific. At the end of your post, include a bolded section about what types of comments you’d like to see from your readers. For instance, you might write, “Readers, I’m curious about your take on this situation. How do you define marriage? Should people stay married just for the kids? When is it okay to get a divorce?” (Can you tell that I write about marriage?) And, just in case you missed it, that parenthetical was an example of how I might embed a question in the body of a post.
- Write about your weaknesses. One of my most commented posts of all time was a rant I wrote about how I was embarrassed about my paltry mothering skills. I broke nearly every single blogging rule in that post. I titled it “How M&Ms Got Me a Better Flight,” even though it’s not remotely about that topic at all. It’s one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. And it’s not on topic in terms of my blog niche. It generated 68 comments, though, because it’s about weakness, and that’s something that a lot of other people can relate to.
What have you already done to increase the number of comments on your blog? Do low comment days make you cry, or does that only happen to me? Do you sometimes approve spam comments, just so your posts don’t seem to God awful lonely? Did you find this post helpful, or did I come off as kind of braggy? Share your thoughts in the comments area.