by Anne R. Allen.
I’ve seen a steep decline in the number of people commenting on blogs over the past few years. I’m not sure why that is. But commenting on blogs is still an easy, painless way to get your name into search engines and build an “author platform.”
I realize I’m partly preaching to the choir here. We have wonderful commenters on this blog. But I see a lot of great blogs devoid of comments these days.
And there are lots of people who seem to prefer to respond to the link to a blogpost on Facebook or Twitter rather than on the actual post.
Unfortunately sometimes they haven’t read the post, but are responding to the header, which isn’t a good idea. That’s a good way to look like a doofus, especially if the blogger’s title is ironic or it’s a question that’s answered in the post.
But a thoughtful comment on a high-traffic blog is a smart way to get your name in the public eye. And it’s easy.
Commenting on Blogs is a Powerful Tool.
First of all, commenting on blogs that are already on Google’s radar will help get your name onto that valuable Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page.)
A comment on our blog can put your name in front of 20,000+ people in a week. It could take a long time to reach that many people with a brand new blog or a social media account. Most of my early mentions on Google came from commenting on other writers’ blogs. It’s also how I started networking in the writing community.
Also, discussions on high-profile blogs can lead to discussions on your own blog or social media. If you find yourself making a long comment—that’s your next post on your own blog or Facebook author page. Invite people over to discuss it further. Or support somebody’s argument on a blog and you’ve made a blog friend. That’s how I got my first followers.
But I’m not just talking about writing blogs like ours. A comment on any blog that interests you—and your potential readership—will work.
Plus interacting on blogs is a great way to make friends. In the end, that’s what a platform really is: how many people feel they “know” you well enough to want to buy one of your books.
In fact, my blog first took off because I commented a lot on Nathan Bransford’s blog, and that won me a guest blogging spot.
But I know writers new to the world of social media and blogging have lots of reasons for not commenting. I hear them a lot.
“I can’t even find the comments!”
A lot of older writers find the whole concept of blogging weird and unfathomable. I remember being frustrated when I first started.
Sometimes I’d find comments, and sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes I’d land on one post with a thread of comments after it, but sometimes I’d get a whole string of posts with nothing but a thingy at the end saying “37 comments”.
Here’s the little trick “everybody knows” so they don’t bother to tell you—
Click on the “37 comments” (or whatever number) and that will open the post in a new page where all the comments appear at the end of the post. Some blog formats make you hunt around in the sidebar for the “comments” link, but it’s there. Keep looking.
Some blogs, like ours, will allow you to reply to a particular comment if you hit the “reply” button under that comment.
Or you can leave a general comment if you hit “Leave a Comment” at the bottom of the whole thread. (On some WordPress and Weebly blogs the comment button is at the top of the thread.)
“I prefer to send the blogger a DM or email.”
Sure. That’s fine. Email marketing is the big thing these days. Sometimes a blogger or well-known author will have time to give you a personal answer. I try to answer all our readers’ emails, even though I sometimes confront so many emails in the morning that I want to go back to bed and cry.
But my e-mailed answer is no more personal than my answer in a comment thread, and nobody will see it but you and me.
Every week, people send me personal emails saying they liked a post from me or Ruth or one of our guests, and of course we appreciate it. We always like to hear that people are benefiting from our posts.
But many writers mention their own books and pitch them to me.
So let’s stop a minute and think about this: what’s better for you, the author?
1) Getting your book title in front of me, the world’s slowest reader, who has over 500 unread books in my TBR list, and probably doesn’t read your genre?
2) Getting your book title in front of the thousands of people who read our blog?
Are you seeing why it’s better to put your feedback (and name) into a comment?
Plus, if you have a question, you can be pretty sure other readers have it too. If I answer in the comments, rather than in a personal email, that’s helping all our readers, not just you.
“I can’t figure out how to post a comment.”
Okay: this is a biggie. Tech can be daunting. Nobody likes to be rejected, especially by some stupid machine. If you don’t have a blog or website of your own, sometimes a blog won’t accept your comment.
Or if you have a blog on the Blogger platform, you may not be allowed to comment on other Blogger blogs. Blogger has been developing lots of glitches lately that they have no desire to fix. That has happened to Ruth. She has a Blogger book blog and that means she can’t comment on my Blogger book blog. (Go figure.) Blogger may also not let you respond to comments on your own blog. That happened to audiobook narrator C.S. Perryess, who had to move his Wordmonger blog to Weebly, since Blogger has no tech support.
A solution to all this is sign up for Gravatar. That’s a “Globally Recognized Avatar” and ID. It’s owned by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, but you don’t need a WordPress blog to sign up. In fact, signing up will automatically give you a WordPress ID.
“I have no idea what to say.”
I understand. Writers are shy persons. I lurked for about a year before I started commenting on blogs. Do lurk for a while if you’re just starting in the blogosphere.
But eventually you’ll feel moved to say something.
Most bloggers will put some questions at the bottom of the post to invite comments. Good questions will invite you to share your own opinions or experiences with the topic.
Read the comments. You may want to respond to one of them. That’s a good place to start.
You don’t have to heap praise on the blogger. Bloggers like praise as much as anybody, but it’s best to say something that adds to the discussion and shows something about yourself and your work.
Don’t be confrontational or put the blogger down, either. (That’s a good way to get deleted.) But say something like, “Love these 3 tips for getting your cat to eat dry food, and I’d like to add #4…”
Or, “I understand what you’re saying about only blogging nonfiction …but I blog daily cat haikus, and I have 400 followers who love them.” You can even include a link to the blog. One link is usually acceptable in a blog comment.
You can even say something like, “I’m glad you say it’s okay to be a slow writer. It took me ten years to write Love is a Cat from Hell, but I finally launched it last week.”
Don’t put in a link to your retail buy page—you’ll be blocked for spam—but a mention of your book and a single link to your website is fine.
Blog Comments That Get Results.
The most useful comments add something to your “authority.” So if you can say stuff like, “I was in law enforcement for twenty years and this is what really happens when somebody reports a missing cat…” Or “I’m a health practitioner who also writes cat haiku…”
Then that little fragment of text will come up in a search of your name. It will show your name and “I was in law enforcement for 20 years…” or “I’m a health practitioner…”
This is a huge help to agents, reviewers, and other people who are trying to find out if you’re a reliable person they want to work with.
You can also say something like, “I love what ScribblerSally said about Maine Coon cats in her comment.”
Then ScribblerSally might click on your name to find out about you and your cat. If you’ve joined Gravatar, that will take her to a profile with an address for your blog and an email address.
Then Sally may follow your blog or even buy your book.
Guidelines for Blog Comments
A good blog comment can be anything from 10 to 300 words. If you feel the need to go longer, you probably have a blogpost of your own there. (Write it down and save it!)
Other than that, almost anything goes in a blog comment, with a few caveats:
1) Skip the spam.
Don’t talk up your book or blog in a comment unless it’s relevant to the conversation. That’s considered spamming:
- “I respect your opinion on prologues, but I’ve got testimonials from readers who love prologues—the longer the better—over at my blog today” is great.
- “This discussion of Marcel Proust reminds me of my book, Fangs for the Memories, a zombipocolyptic vampire erotic romance, $3.99 at Smashwords.” Not so much.
Ditto links to your website or buy pages if they don’t illustrate a relevant point. If you have more than one link in a post, spambots will dump you into spam.
2) Don’t drink and post.
Seriously. DON’T WRITE ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET WHEN YOU’RE DRUNK OR HIGH. Authors should not go online when impaired. Unless your persona is “rude, moronic lout” don’t drink and post. You could erase years of work building that platform with one idiotic comment. That’s a rule I follow myself. If I have wine with dinner, I don’t go on social media in the evening.
Drunk posts are the kind where somebody rage-posts an incoherent rebuttal of an obviously tongue-in-cheek or satiric post. Or they rant against something they obviously haven’t read. Or they make an ad hominem attack on the blog owner and vow never to read anything she’s written, not noticing it’s a guest post written by somebody else.
We’ve had a rash of those idiotic posts recently. They get deleted in the morning. You’re welcome.
Also, saying insulting things about the blogger or other commenters, or using language that’s NSFW will get you deleted and/or blocked.
Ditto political diatribes or religious screeds. Be professional and polite. And do make sure your brain is in gear.
3) Read the whole post.
We get so many comments from people who have only read the headers, that I wonder if half the people online are reading-impaired. It only makes you look like a moron when you tell the blogger, “you should have said this, that and the other thing” …when they said exactly those things in the second paragraph.
4) Read other comments.
Be aware of what other people are saying so you don’t repeat what somebody else has said. Comments are meant for discussion, so remember you’re talking to everybody who’s reading and commenting, not just the host blogger.
5) No emotional blackmail.
Don’t say, “I just followed this blog, so now you have to follow my five blogs, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and get me a double decaf latte while you pick up my dry cleaning.” If you demand any kind of quid pro quo for a comment you’ll look like a jerk to the whole community. As I’m saying here: the comment benefits YOU more than the blogger.
6) Don’t whine or throw shade.
Dissing Amazon, agents, the publishing business, or trash-talking a bestselling author will not work in your favor. Ditto complaining about how nobody buys your book.
That’s like wearing a big “I’m a loser” sign on your chest.
If you want to unload about what a crazy, unfair, insane business this is, get that bottle of wine and invite over a couple of friends. Kvetch all you want. You’re not wrong. This business is a roller coaster, as Ruth told us last week.
But stay off the Internet. You’ll thank me.
Otherwise, commenting on blogs is a good idea. Your name may come up much sooner on the next SERP of a search of your name.
by Anne R. Allen (@annerallen) December 2, 2019
What about you, scriveners? Are you commenting on blogs? Or are you lurking? Do you feel an urge to delurk? What makes you comment on a blog? Are you finding that commenting on blogs is too hard these days?
And over on my Blogger blog, I talk about my lo-o-o-ng road to publication and why I’m grateful to the agents and editors who rejected me.
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