How to Get More Comments on Blog Posts

by Mr. Cheap

One of the best things about blogging is the comments readers leave. Far more than other publishing mediums, blogs allow the writers to get closer to having a dialogue with their readers.

On a number of occasions I’ve talked to people about comments, why readers comment and how to get them to do so more. I’m unwilling to follow a number of the approaches myself, but here they are for other bloggers to consider.

Get More Readers

There’s a certain proportion of readers who will comment on blog posts (I’ve heard the estimate of 1% from multiple sources), so the easiest way to get more comments is to get more readers. I’ve written before on some general ideas about this, but most bloggers are probably already doing everything they can to get as many readers as possible.

Write “Accessible” Posts

A friend’s father was talking about how the hardest decisions for an organization are often made the quickest. If a board of directors is considering building a new power plant, there’s probably one person who really understands what this entails and they’ll do what she thinks is best. If they’re deciding whether or not to buy new mops for the custodial staff, everyone has an opinion and the discussion may take a long time.

Similarly, complex posts will get fewer comments. I think Thicken My Wallet writes some of the most detailed and insightful posts in the personal finance blogosphere (I think 98% of his stuff is gold). A ton of his posts get 1 or 2 comments, and some don’t get any.

If a blogger writes nothing but rehashes on the themes of “avoid debt”, “investment X is AMAZING!”, “investment Y SUCKS!”, “latte factors”, or “spend less than you earn”, it will often be a blog that will get tons of commenters (as everyone can put together a comment on many of these topics).

I think Garth Turner at greaterfool.ca is pretty funny, but basically every one of his posts boils down to “real estate is over priced and the market is going to crash”. Each of his posts gets hundreds of comments.

This is something that I think has limited the comments I get, but I’m just not willing to write posts that keep going over the same territory repeatedly (it seems boring to me).

Write Inflammatory Posts

Casey Serin is the master of this, but bloggers learn when a post hits certain buttons among their readership. Writing a post on the subject is a good way to get passionate members of both sides posting comments. Our posts on real estate agents do this, although Mike and I have only written these posts when we have something to say, not to get people fired up.

A high traffic blog could easily be created around the idea of a daily post criticizing real estate agents. You’d get the agent rebuttals, people agreeing, people leaving anecdotes of bad experiences, and so forth. Each day, just write 400 words and get everyone going again. Other ideas would be daily posts on: why the government needs to give poor people money, why poor people are the cause of all of society’s ills, how you just need to *believe* in success to achieve it, how taxation is evil, how real estate is the easy path to riches, how Forex trading is the easy path to riches, how gold is the easy path to riches, or how some particular stock trading systems is the easy path to riches. Don’t do anything substantive on any of these topics, just keep saying the same vacuous things in different ways each day.

Respond to Comments

When I first dabbled with blogging I thought that it might make sense to not respond to comments at all. My thinking way that I have my say in the posts, so perhaps I should let readers talk it out between themselves in the comments. If your goal is to get more comments, DEFINITELY respond to as many comments as you can. People will be far more likely to leave comments in the future if they get a response. It also leads into discussions in the comments section, which will tend to draw more people in and get more commenting happening.

Encourage Commenters

I think we’ve had some AMAZING people commenting on this blog over the years, but there have been a couple of crazies that stuck around for quite a while. They’re often good at writing inflammatory comments and getting people going, and they leave LOTS of comments, so encouraging them may be a good idea if lots of comments is your goal. I always wanted to maintain a high value of commenting as well as raw number, so I’d ignore them and eventually the nuts would move on (probably related to my last point: if you ignore the good commenters they’ll move on too).

Mention Comments / Commenters in Posts

On occasion I’ve based a post around a good comment or highlight a commenter in a post. This is like the last two ideas on steroids (and is worth doing).

Link to, and Comment on, Other Blogs

It may only lead to a single comment, but most readers have probably seen the comments bloggers leave one another thanking them for links. Linking to other blogs and other blogs’ posts is worthwhile. When I get a good comment from a blogger I haven’t seen before, I’m VERY likely to go and check out their blog (and usually leave at least a couple of comments on interesting posts). Theoretically, bloggers should leave good comments since they got enough interesting ideas to write posts on their own blogs (and can toss a couple interesting ideas into the comment section of other blogs).

Keep Posts Short

My posts are too long, I realize many people just won’t get all the way through a 1,000 word post. Some commenters will leave comments without reading the entire post, but they’re jackasses for the most part. Keeping posts short and digestible will increase the number of people who finish reading it, and therefore may consider leaving a comment.

Ask Your Readers Questions

I suspect some people are willing to comment but just can’t think of anything to write. One technique is to try to encourage discussion with a few questions at the end of a post that you hope people will comment on.

What have you found to be the posts most likely to get you to leave a comment? For bloggers out there, what have you found to be the best ways to get readers to comment?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 larry macdonald

A good way to get comments is to write a post on how to get more comments on blog posts! Thanks, enjoyed it.

2 Rachelle

You should tell readers that if they comment they will win a prize… such as a free 500 piece puzzle with 499 pieces. Shipping and handling only $199.99. Smart Cars and IPads are stupid anyways 🙂

You can also flirt outrageously with your female commenters, women like it when you compliment them by calling the chicks, babes or hos especially if they have university degrees. This way all the smart ladies will flock to your blog.

Another way to monetize your blog is to sell your email list to a few select viagra or antidepressant suppliers, your readers will really appreciate the great offers and let’s face it when they buy a supply they’ll be much happier. Happier readers comment more.

That’s all the ideas I have this morning to help you guys out 🙂 Don’t thank me now, just send a check!

3 Mr. Cheap

Rachelle: hey Chick! Good suggestions on the prizes for comments, I totally overlooked that.

4 Kevin@InvestItWisely

If you comment on other blogs, I find that you’ll often get other bloggers coming back to comment on your site. When it comes to non-bloggers, I’m not so sure; I try to encourage them with a paragraph at the end of many of my posts.

Responding to comments is highly important. I found it annoying when I left comments on other blogs and I didn’t even get so much as a reply. Once you’re a regular commentator, it’s not so annoying, but I think it’s important to greet commentators and give them the time of day. Apologies if I’ve ever neglected to do so, myself 🙂

By the way, I like the idea of “Write Inflammatory Posts”. I’m planning on doing this next week; we’ll see how it goes!

5 Mr. Cheap

Kevin: I agree, it annoys me when other bloggers don’t respond to my comments, but I often don’t do it here (I guess Big Cajun Man is right, I *AM* a hypocrite!).

I have, while reading someone else’s blog, seen a good comment and gone and checked out the commenters blog, so I’m sure SOME people do this.

I’ll look forward to your week of inflammatory posts!

6 Kevin@InvestItWisely

Actually, I was a little annoyed with you back when you were four pillars. I think I had left a couple comments and I never heard anything afterwards. It’s all good, though 😛

7 Thicken My Wallet

Thanks for the kind words. I was perplexed in the beginning that I would get little to no comments. However, it becomes quality vs. quantity issue (which raises the question of whether getting a TON of comments is a good thing if it is a flame war and nothing else). Michael James on Money receives 2-5 comments on some of his posts and they are usually very insight takes on the topic.

It comes down to choice on the part of the blogger- I would take 2-3 insightful comments and/or corrections than 50 “you suck” or “first!” comments. But I blog for a hobby (sick I know) with some very modest side income.

I think you answered your own question though- there’s a series of hot button topics: real estate agent commission, housing vs stocks, tenant stories from hell that always elicit comments. The topics about money that you can safely discuss at a dinner party are the same topics that get responses because people have opinions on them.

8 Kevin@InvestItWisely

“I have, while reading someone else’s blog, seen a good comment and gone and checked out the commenters blog, so I’m sure SOME people do this.”

That’s also a good reason to comment on other blogs. Someone might like your comment and decide to check out more. Also, if you leave some good comments, you might get included in that blog’s roundup. That’s always a nice boost, as well.

9 Mr. Cheap

Kevin: Sorry about that 🙂

TMW: It’s funny, I was actually going to mention Michael James on Money as another example of a high quality / low comments blog. I agree that I’d take insightful comments over “you suck!” comments. I’d even take 1 or 2 insightful comments over 50 “great post!” comments (although, I *DO* like “great post” comments – I always find it funny when spam comments masquerade as a compliment and many bloggers leave them up).

10 Potato

1000 words is a long post? 😉

11 Kevin@InvestItWisely

Out of curiosity, when did you start calling yourself Mr. Cheap? 😉

12 Mr. Cheap

Potato: Said the man who does 100 word posts ;-).

Kevin: Right from the start (2007 I guess).

13 Myke

Wow… so many great things to address. As a very new blogger, I appreciate this type of post.

First and foremost, did I tell you, RACHELLE, how much I found your happy faces cute and enticing? I know I need not call you a chick, babe or ho, because I know that that would be mediocrity for you. Instead, I will call you Angel. *wink*

On to the question at hand, then… I would add that writing a response post can be a good thing (nod to Money Smarts blog).

I was writing into a void for several months. Then Mr. Cheap wrote a post that asked a question to other financial bloggers. I picked up the question and went with it (COMPLETELY expecting the normal vacuum that I normally encounter). Lo and behold, a response came from Mr. Cheap. So, as much as I would love dialogue on my own posts, having recognition from others is just as meaningful. (A further unforeseen positive is that Money Smarts then linked to my response – many Japanese bows for that)

Next point: couldn’t agree more about quality posts – I have been reading Michael James on Money for over a year, yet only wrote my first comment today, ironically. Thicken My Wallet is another example of a blog that I have read for a while, yet only “commented” on (through my blog) recently.

Although I have very few people commenting on my posts, I agree with the responding to comments point. A blog that I have become familiar with recently is http://andrewhallam.com. He limits himself to two or three posts per week, but he responds (in great detail) to anyone who comments on his posts.

As I think this comment is approaching the length of most of my posts, I will leave it at that. But to solidify an idea, I will (because of the comments here) certainly click and read Invest it Wisely for the first time. As stated: quality comments will bring readers.

14 Mr. Cheap

Myke: Congrats on being mentioned in the Globe and Mail!

15 Rachelle

@Myke

You are my blog twin. 🙂 What a great blog you have and such pretty pictures.

I want to change my pictures but I can’t figure out how. If I did I would have no idea what to put in it’s place

May be I could ask the blogger at http://vreaa.wordpress.com/ how she changed hers.

16 Mr. Cheap

Larry: Apparently! 🙂 Somehow your comment took all day to show up (I imagine it got stuck in a spam filter or something).

17 Kevin@InvestItWisely

“But to solidify an idea, I will (because of the comments here) certainly click and read Invest it Wisely for the first time.”

Nice, hope you enjoy it. + congrats on the feature!

P.S. Andrew Hallam’s is a great blog as well… he only writes 3x a week, but he really goes into depth in a way that few blogs do, even in the comments. What a writing machine!

18 locke

Commenting for the sake of commenting but really I do follow a lot of personal finance/investing blogs. Trimmed many as like you say they tend to rehash the same topics. I guess one must balance the content for the noobs vs those who’ve read it all. The more popular a blog, the less useful I find it as the content comes simplified and generalised.

I’m a content consumer, I prefer to ask my questions in forums that would be conducive to discussion than a comment section.

19 Myke

Mr. Cheap – Thanks a lot. (Thanks for posting the link, too.) I really enjoyed the process. It was great to be interviewed to make me think about my style of investing in words.

Speaking of comments, the article didn’t generate as many comments of some of the other Me and My Money articles, so either everyone was on vacation, or the flamers didn’t have a problem with what I was saying 😉

20 Myke

Rachelle – You’ve reminded me of the fact that I’ve been meaning to change that for some time. If you have a picture you want to use, go to your Dashboard and click on “Header” listed under “Appearance.” From there you can upload and crop a picture.

That blog you linked to would have done the same thing, but it looks like he/she drew the picture to be used.

Kevin – Thanks! I realize I’ve seen your comments on Andrew’s blog, though for some reason you name get’s cut off to Kevin@Inve. BTW, are you the Kevin that was also profiled in the Globe? If so, congrats to you, too.

21 Kevin@InvestItWisely

Interesting, I hadn’t seen that happen. Yep, I’m that same Kevin 😉

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