I’m delighted to welcome fellow blogger Nina Badzin to the blog. I met her through the blogging community and was immediately captivated by her enthusiasm and social media savvy. When we spoke (virtually, of course!), I learned that we share a passion for improving our habits. Nina Badzin joins us today to talk about how to build reader engagement on your blog. Welcome, Nina!
The one blogging question I get consistently is this: “How do you get comments on your blog?”
What I think people mean when they ask that question is “How do you get people to read your blog?”
Bloggers love comments first and foremost because it’s a thrill to interact with readers. Furthermore, comments are solid evidence that someone has read your post. Blog stats are less trustworthy since they do a good job telling you how many people clicked on the link, but not how many people read the words on the screen.
Aside from comments there are a few other ways we know someone has read our work:
- We receive social media shares with specific reasons to recommend the post (via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and so on).
- We receive comments about the post on our Facebook pages and other social media accounts instead of (or in addition to) on our websites.
- We hear from non-virtual friends and family about their thoughts on an article in casual conversation, emails, and texts.
Part of feeling satisfied with the level of reader engagement on your blog is learning to recognize and appreciate these others signs of a readership. That said, we bloggers still love classic blog comments, which is why I have some thoughts to share on how to get more of them.
I don’t believe in formal rules for blogging or for any of the social media venues. This may sound like heresy coming from someone with an entire section of her blog dedicated to Twitter etiquette, but trust me, I know that my Twitter “rules” are merely suggestions. The etiquette I stick to (and advocate) for Twitter is the same concept I follow on my blog. I operate under a not-very-precise but effective formula that looks something like this:
PEOPLE CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH OF ME (+) PEOPLE REALLY WANT SUPPORT OF THEIR OWN WORK = CONSISTENT READERS FOR MY BLOG POSTS
Here it is another way:
TOO MUCH OF ME (-) NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT OF OTHERS = LESS READERS FOR MY BLOG
My formula assumes a truth that bloggers would do well to accept: Most blog readers are fellow bloggers. At the very least I think it’s fair to say that most blog commenters are fellow bloggers. And we bloggers can only read and comment on so much, right? If you post every day or even three times a week, that’s great for your writing habit, your blog stats, and probably for other reasons, too. But if you’re expecting massive amounts of comments on three posts a week, that is probably asking too much of your fellow bloggers. Three to five posts a week also requires many tweets and Facebook updates about you and your blog. It can get tiresome for anyone following you to see so much of YOU all of the time.
Some important questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about the way readers visit your blog (or not):
- How many blog posts do you read in a week?
- How often do you comment on other blogs?
- How often do you share others’ posts on social media sites?
- How many posts from one blogger are you willing to read and/or share in a week?
I believe the answer to each of the above questions will give you a good idea of how you should approach increasing your reader engagement. If you would not be willing to read five posts in a week from any given blogger, then maybe five posts a week on your blog is too much to ask of your readership as well. We need to have realistic expectations of ourselves and of the internet readers out there.
If you rarely leave comments on blogs, then it should come as no surprise that few bloggers leave comments for you. I also believe the opposite is true, which is good news for bloggers. When we leave comments elsewhere and show a genuine interest in others’ work, then people become interested in what we have to say. “Genuine” is key though. Find bloggers who write in a style you enjoy reading. Find bloggers who explore topics that you’re passionate about, or are at least interested in learning more about.
With the countless blogs out there, you shouldn’t find reading other bloggers’ work a horrendous chore. There’s something for everyone, and hopefully some like-minded folks will find their way to your blog in the process.
Happy reading, commenting, and sharing! And thanks for having me today, Rochelle.
About the author: Nina Badzin is a freelance writer and blogger living in Minneapolis with her husband and four children. Her articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine’s site, The Jewish Daily Forward, and numerous other sites. She co-leads the book review site GreatNewBooks.org and was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother in the Twin Cities. You can find her here and on Twitter and Facebook.