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Building on Reader Comments to Maintain Blogging Momentum

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Blogging is conversational in it’s very nature and one way to build momentum on a blog is to take the conversation a step further and let your readership set the agenda for your posting.

I quite often am inspired by the comments, questions and experiences that are contributed by ProBlogger readers. I read each comment that is left and attempt to respond wherever possible within comment threads.

However responding in comment threads is not the only place to have conversations. The problem with comments is that when a post drops off the front page of a blog that the comment thread generally dies off off and momentum is lost. Tools like ‘recent comments’ and ‘comment subscription’ plugins can extend threads a little but not a whole lot longer.

I find that when I take a comment from a reader and highlight it on the main blog as a post that it can create a post that generates even richer and longer conversation. It also has the side benefit of acknowledging your readers and giving them a sense of greater ownership on your blog.

This creates ‘momentum’ in two ways:

  1. Firstly it directly gives you a topic for a new post. I quite often hear bloggers saying that they’ve run out of things to write about – dig in your own blog’s comments and you’ll find plenty of ideas for new posts.
  2. Secondly momentum is created in terms of the conversation on your blog. Instead of conversations dying quickly as the post gets old – the conversation gets a new spark and can go to another level when you draw your readers attention back to it.

There are a number of ways you can build on your reader’s comments in new posts:

  • Link to the thread: Perhaps the easiest way is to simply write a post saying ‘there’s an interesting comment discussion going on in the comments at XXX post’ (with link to the comments).
  • Quote a comment: Take a specific comment from a reader (or a few of them) and highlight them as a post (with links to the thread and the commenter’s blogs).
  • Write a Part II or update post: Do one or both of the above and then add some of your own thoughts, questions, ideas and invite further comment. I find that some comment threads actually change my opinion on a topic or at least show me another point of view that I’d not considered in my original post. Acknowledge these times in your post and it can be quite powerful for your readers to see the impact they’ve had on you.

I regularly hear bloggers talk about how important their readers are to them but I think taking this type of approach actually can show you mean it. Honor your readers for their contributions in this way and I suspect the flow on effect will be significant.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hi Darren.

    You was saying about topics for new posts.
    I’ve got one. Just yesterday I’ve made contract with one of those online adcompanies that you can see on yours blog as well.

    They placing casino ads, and I actually wanted to ask you -
    does it really bad to have ads like these casinos? And what about Googles AdSense – don’t they will be upset about it?

  2. A.B. Dada says:

    I dumped my comments on all my blogs — they’re absolutely useless to try to keep track of. Some of my blogs would get comments on posts 6 months old and I’d never find out about it quickly enough.

    Instead, I installed a PHPBB forum which references every blog post I make (backwards and forwards). This lets users find other comments right away, and it lets me see what is active. It also lets me track a post’s popularity by seeing how many times the forum post was read.

    The plus side is it also gives readers of one of my blogs a direction to head to read my other articles. It works very well for me, and I have to say that my traffic growth is directly attributed to the forum.

    Everyone says forums are hard to build, but we’ve added 50 users (1/2 of whom are active) in just 2 months, which is decent for my VERY small niche blogs. My forums also generate good revenue from AdSense, which I also can’t complain about. Overall, it is a double-win situation. I gain the comments of the readers, and my readers gain the interactivity they need. I even let them create their own topics, which I then take and blog about (creating a real two-way interaction).

  3. Diane Ensey says:

    Another thing to consider is that many readers just scan comments. If there are a lot of them, they may look at the first 10 and then move on. If the thread gets very interesting or provides new knowledge it is actually helping your readers by writing a new post about it.

    Additionally, many RSS readers never even take the time to go to the site and read the comments!

  4. Halfdeck says:

    A month ago, I came across an SEO blog post that suggested text surrounding links may have an effect on Yahoo SERP. I blogged about his theory on my blog, with trackback disabled, but he managed to find my post, and left me a comment.

    Today, he returned and left me another comment, to let me know the effect he was seeing is actually due to co-citation. I went over to his blog to read his updated post, and sure enough, he’s right on the money. So, not only did his going a few extra miles teach me something new, but he also regained my interest in his blog. And that’s not easy with the amount of RSS feeds I’m juggling.

  5. Fendi says:

    I have an entry posted a month now but still getting some new comments from the readers..
    You are right..Comments are very important..also where you can find ideas what to write about..

    Thanks!

  6. Bill Dueease says:

    This blog is scary. I clicked on you blog to ask you about this very same issue of enticing reader comments, and boom, your blog answered my questions, but one, ahead of time.

    My unaswered question is: Which comment system do you recommend to attract more comments?
    1. The one you use, where the person can enter information for each comment. (I suspect you will choose this one because you use it, but how do you control the comments from SPAM?)

    or

    2. The one where you require commenters to log in in advance and provide basic information that asks them for login and password info when they log in to make comments? I believe this system prevents spammers.

    Do you pre-edit comments before they are posted? (Oops another question)

    Bill

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    Bill – I know bloggers who use both. I tend to go for the first option although it does mean more work in moderating comments as it does introduce the problem of comment spam.

    On the downside of having to have people register to comment – the risk here is that you make it a little harder for comments to be left and as a result I suspect you get less of them. I know of a few blogs where you have to register and login to comment and to be honest unless they are a really really good blog I never bother to do it.

    The other option is to moderate comments (as in your last question). Again I don’t do this as I like the immediacy of commenting and it takes more work as the blogger. It also makes it hard when I take a day, weekend or even longer off :-)

  8. I try to respond to all of the comments I recieve (however few and far between they are =p). I agree with darren about the registration part, I think it’s hard enough to get people to comment without making them register first, especially if you’re a really small site (such as myself).

    I take a look at all my comments (once again, probably because I don’t get alot) so I can delete the comments that I believe are spam.

  9. articlebest says:

    i like comments as they usually give an idea for my next blog post.

  10. Suresh Jacob says:

    IF I am not here in mylot, most likely I am blogging (http://pehpot.blogspot.com). I do some paid post on my blog and some personal thoughts, I would really like to know if you have any more site that is god for this kind of earning activity. I only know some and most of them does not have a lot of opportunity. SO far Payperppst is the site that has a lot of opportunity. I also tried others but after finishing a paid post my page rank dropped so I quit their site.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Building on Reader Comments to Maintain Blogging Momentum [...]

  2. [...] So what your saying is? We’ve established that you, as the author, affect your comments. Now, let’s get back to the original question. Do comments affect how you write? I feel that they do, but it depends how much you let it. Comment threads are like any other conversation. You can try to control them, let them control you, work with them, or ignore them completely. But in the end, they tend to have a life of their own. [...]