Starting a Blog: How important are comments? 11

I’ve discovered a controversy over blog comments.  Of the many, “helpful tips” I’ve read online for how to be a successful blogger, a common theme emerges.  Invite comments.  Include your readers.  Help them be interactive.  Look at any hugely popular blog, let’s use The Sartorialist for example (one of my favorites), and you may see the comments number in the double digits for each and every post.  This can be intimidating for the new blogger.  However, I decided to heed the online advice and attempt to help my readers become more interactive and generate comments.

2918520328_4b4f636af2Working in the research industry for over a decade, I thought an online survey would be just the thing.  A month or so ago, I asked my readers to comment or email me their idea of what business casual was and to give me some basic demographic info (geographic location and their business industry).  I also requested this info from my Facebook friends and posted it twice on Twitter.  The results were astonishing; I didn’t receive a single comment or email.  I was crushed.  I deleted the post 30 hours later in fear that people would see I didn’t receive a single comment.  As someone who loves to host parties, it was as if my biggest fear had finally materialized: no one showed up!

How important are comments?  I didn’t really know.  Did the lack of response mean no one read my blog?  How could that be when I am consistently stopped by people in our community expressing how much they enjoy my blog or a particular post.  I receive emails and tweets from complete strangers thanking me for my blog and I see and hear my recommendations put to use daily.   However, I have received, to date, a whopping nine comments on my entire blog since it’s inception on March 24.  Interestingly,  instead of published comments, I more commonly receive a direct email from someone essentially making a comment (or asking for my fashion advice).  However, this doesn’t really “count” in the public’s eyes unless I post it as a comment directly on the blog.  I don’t usually do this since it seems disrespectful to their direct, private approach.

The answer to this mystery came from a post written by Mathew Scott on Strategic Incubator. His insight released the monkey of doubt from my shoulders and this particular quote hit home for me:

In my own personal experience, I have little success in building a community of readers who decide to comment on my blog posts. However, I’ve been very successful in converting my readers into clients or paid customers.

–Mathew Scott, Strategic Incubator April 10, 2009.

Blogging is an unusual feeling for the unseasoned blogger.  You feel a bit naked posting yourself out for the world to see.  No matter how self confident you think you are, blogging can bring out your deepest insecurities.  I wonder if this ever goes away.  Do hugely successful bloggers still have these feelings of insecurity?  I am curious to know the answer.

I no longer base my blog’s worth on comments thanks to Mathew Scott.  When I do receive a comment, it’s an unexpected surprise and I am like a child opening a present with delight!

Back to the survey again: I have since learned about the free, online services of polldaddy and plan to try it on my site in the future.  I promise to keep it simple and will ask a provocative question to entice readers to participate.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Secretly, I will admit, I am still a little nervous no one will show up to my party.

-Lisa

lisabrunckner_headshotLisa Bruckner is a consultant for Trunk Club – a revolutionary way for men to buy clothing.  She writes for two men’s blogs: Wasabi Nights and The Trunk Club Blog and spent twelve years in the research sector before switching gears to follow her passion for fashion.
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  • http://aboone.com Alex Boone

    I wonder if feed readers are a source of disconnect between readership and commenting – I read a lot of blogs but hardly ever visit the actual sites. It would be nice if you could comment through Google Reader for example. Anyway, nice article!

    • http://www.businessingeneral.com ‘Chelle Parmele

      Oh good, glad I’m not the only one to have wished for that RSS feature. :)

    • http://www.wasabinights.com LisaBruckner

      Thanks Alex for the kind feedback. I LOVE your ‘comment feature in Google Reader’ idea! Google dev guys, are you listening?

  • http://Martin.Lindeskog.name Martin Lindeskog

    Lisa,

    I will continue to show up at you party! Today I have been blogging for seven years. I don’t get many comments on my posts, but now and then a comment thread is starting to spread. You could get feedback in other ways too, e.g., private email messages, trackback links, tweet messages, Facebook & FriendFeed “likes”, GetSatisfaction feedback etc.

    • http://www.wasabinights.com LisaBruckner

      Hi Martin,
      Thank you for the great tips! Happy 7th Blogiversary! It’s reassuring to hear a super blogger like you is light on post comments. I think comments are great, but obviously, they aren’t definitive of your blog’s success! Keep up the great tips (and kebabs! ;-)

      Lisa

  • http://egoist.blogspot.com/2009/05/annual-blog-report-vii.html Martin Lindeskog

    Alex Boone and ‘Chelle Parmele: I think you could use FriendFeed’s like & comment features in order to participate in the “lifestream” conversation.

    Lisa: Thanks for your kind words! :) We have to talk about food later on… :P

  • http://www.scopulus.co.uk Scopy

    Interesting, i prefer to go to the website to read a blog rather than rss. Dont get me wrong i like rss but it has its place.

    • http://www.wasabinights.com Lisa Bruckner

      Scopy,
      I have tons of feeds on my google reader that I don’t read…because I forget. I agree it’s not for everyone. Perhaps me included. I am better when I receive an email or text reminder (or perhaps a burning desire to check out the site!).

  • http://www.scopulus.co.uk Scopy

    Agreed. I normally check to see if there is a notify me if there is more comments box. This is usually a big factor in deciding if i do comment.

    it also actsas a reminder to check out the site again.

    This blog however is an excepting because i just like it. But if they did have the box to check i would prefer it.

  • http://www.strategicincubator.com Matthew Ray Scott

    Lisa,

    Many thanks for mentioning our blog post.

    We are glad it can help others.

    Matthew Ray Scott, The Strategic Incubator

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