This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.
Most bloggers want to know their words are leaving an impact. They want to know people are listening.
One of the best ways to measure this is to see who’s commenting.
Not all blogs have a comments section, but many do. Comments provide an opportunity for the reader to participate in the content, to give feedback and share his or her own ideas.
Comments are a blogger’s best friend.
But the biggest struggle, especially for bloggers just starting out, is getting the first few comments. It feels like a grueling task, akin to pulling teeth.
“How do you get so many comments?” people have asked me. It didn’t always used to be like this, I tell them.
So what changed?
I started employing one simple, but overlooked tactic. You can do the same, if you want to see more comments. Here it is:
Stop finishing your blog posts
That’s right. The best way to get readers to comment on your post is to write a half-finished article.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Here are three reasons why.
1. It makes readers feel important
Whenever I write a completely formed thought and share it on my blog, it rarely gets as much traction and feedback as an off-the-cuff rant.
Why is this? It’s not because readers don’t appreciate quality. They do.
It’s because they want to be part of the process.
That’s the magic of social media: we aren’t just consumers of content, anymore. We’re co-creators.
When you don’t finish a post and ask readers to help you complete it, you’re giving them a sense of purpose. They now have a significant role to play. And most take that role very seriously.
2. It builds community
There’s a reason why news sites that offer comments don’t get as much response as a lot of blogs do:
People want more than information. They want interaction.
One of the best ways to encourage community on a blog is to be imperfect, to show your scars and share your flaws. To have an honest conversation.
Be conversational. I try to write in a pretty informal tone to invite readers to engage with the content. My blog posts don’t have to be perfect. Usually, it helps if they’re not.
This is a challenge for me, though, because I’m such a perfectionist. But a blog is not about perfection. It’s about community.
I don’t want to deliver a monologue. I want to engage in a conversation. Turns out, that’s what other people are looking for, too. If you aspire to build a tribe, to say something people want to hear, this is a non-negotiable: it has to be a two-way street.
3. It will get people to talk about you
Good ideas spread. Big parties usually get bigger. In everything, there is a tipping point.
The same is true for blogging.
Once you start getting ten comments on your blog, it’s pretty easy to get 20, then 30—even 50 or 100. Of course, those first few comments are the hardest. But once you build momentum, it gets easier and easier to continue.
Community begets community
The cool part about having an active community of commenters is that conversations can quickly go viral. A question you asked or challenge you posed can turn into a whole new source of content in the comments.
Usually, when I write a post that gets a lot of comments, it also gets a lot of tweets and shares on Facebook. If you are generous with your platform, your readers will reciprocate.
There is an important concept at work here: the more social your blog is, the more your content will spread.
If you create opportunities for conversation on your blog, you’ll see the fruit. But you have to leave room in your articles for dialogue.
If you do this, you’ll be surprised by how much people will brag on you. They’ll tell their friends, who will, in turn, join the conversation.
This is the secret to most successful blogging communities: it begins with one, but is finished by many.
Start building your community today by publishing half-finished work. It’s so crazy, it just might work. Try it out and see what happens.
What do you think? Is there anything I missed? Share your own tricks and secret weapons in the comments.
Jeff Goins is a writer, speaker, and blogger. You can get his widely shared eBook, The Writer’s Manifesto, for free when you sign up for his newsletter. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter (@jeffgoins) and Facebook.