How I Got 294 Comments With One Blog Post

image of computer keyboard

How’d you like to learn how to get a massive amount of comments on one blog post?

Better yet, what if you could use those comments to convince your readers to buy your products or services?

Because you can. In this post, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of a strategy Laura Roeder showed me to pull in 294 comments on my post and eventually attract more than 30 consulting clients.

It uses all of the copywriting techniques and psychological triggers that we promote here at Copyblogger, but it combines them in a unique way that generates a lot of buzz.

Here’s why that’s important:

Why buzz is essential for selling anything

Have you ever hesitated to buy something because you didn’t see anyone else interested in it? You were genuinely interested in the product — you just didn’t want to be first?

We all do it. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that psychologists like Robert Cialdini call social proof.

The question is: how do you deal with it, if you’re trying to sell something?

If you’ve watched any of our product launches here at Copyblogger, you’ve probably noticed that they generate a lot of buzz. People are talking about them on Twitter, course members write about them on their blogs, and many of the influential bloggers in our niche help us promote the course. Altogether, it’s a huge amount of buzz.

And it’s far from accidental. We prepare for weeks or even months before the launch date in order to make sure everyone is buzzing about the product all at one time. We want to give prospective customers as much social proof as possible, so that they can feel comfortable with buying it.

Except . . . what if you don’t have a big blog like Copyblogger? What if you’re just getting started, and you have hardly any readers at all?

Is it still possible to create buzz?

Yes.

Creating fans out of thin air

A few months ago, I noticed a lot of buzz on Twitter related to a video from Laura Roeder about creating fans out of thin air.

After speaking on a panel at South by Southwest, working with celebrities like Brea Grant from NBC’s Heroes, and creating some stellar results for small businesses of all kinds, Laura is quickly becoming a preeminent social media expert, and her video lays out one of the best strategies for generating buzz that I’ve seen.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Hold a competition where the winner gets a free sample of your product or service
  2. Build buzz with social media (Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc.)
  3. Use that buzz as social proof, convincing folks that didn’t win to pay you for your product or service

The only problem with her approach is that it’s a little simplistic. You can tell Laura is targeting business owners who are inexperienced with social media, and she’s trying to make it as easy as possible. Instead of using a blog to showcase the competition, she shows you how to create a simple website with Google.

But can this strategy work just as well for bloggers?

You bet. Let me show you how I modified it to take advantage of the powerful social proof from comments.

How I launched a consulting service here at Copyblogger

Imagine this.

A reader stops by your blog and sees that you are giving away 20-30 free consultations. All they have to do to have a chance to be chosen is leave a comment with their biggest frustration. So, they take a few minutes to jot one down.

Later, they see that there are 100s of other comments, and they’re not surprised when they don’t win. The demand is enormous!

But then what happens? A few days later, you announce that you were absolutely overwhelmed with the response, but you’re willing to do a limited number of additional consultations for $95 each. The first people to email you get them.

How do you think your reader is going to feel?

Sure, some of them might hold back because they figure they’ve already lost their chance. Others will have no interest in your services, so they’ll go on their merry way. But after seeing all of those comments, none of them will doubt that your services are in demand.

The social proof in the form of comments helps people see the value in the offer you’re making.

It may seem a bit sneaky, but it works. I’m spilling my secrets here, because the above scenario is exactly what I did to launch my consulting services here at Copyblogger, and I’ve been booked solid ever since. The demand was so high that I had several people offering double or even triple the normal rate if I would move them to the head of the line.

The key, of course, is to offer true value. But beyond that, there are plenty of people offering great value in obscurity.

Don’t be one of them.

It’s the power of social proof that makes the difference, and you don’t need a huge blog to harness it. Here’s how to launch a product or service from your blog, even if your audience is still fairly small:

How to launch a product or service from your blog

Step 1: Watch Laura’s video about Creating Fans Out Of Thin Air. It’s the foundation for this approach.

Step 2: Write a post announcing that you’re giving away a limited number of free samples of your product or service to readers who leave a comment describing their biggest frustration with a certain topic. If your audience is small, don’t do 20-30 free consultations like I did. Start with 5 or 10.

Step 3: Use the competition to create lots of buzz on Twitter. Get all of your friends to tweet about it. Also, ask the winners to tweet a testimonial for you, helping you create even more buzz.

Step 4: Offer a special deal on your product or service to everyone who didn’t win. I didn’t even follow this step, and I was still overwhelmed with clients.

Step 5: Write another post on your blog pointing to all of the comments on your first post and telling everyone how you’re overwhelmed with entries, so you decided to go ahead and put the product up for sale.

That’s it.

I used this process to launch a consulting service, but really, you can use it for anything. In fact, Laura has several more videos about how anyone can harness the power of social media to help get customers talking about their business.

Click here to check them out. If you’re interested in learning how all of this social media hoopla converts into money, I really think they’ll help you.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and Cofounder of Partnering Profits. Get more from Jon on twitter.

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Comments

  1. A simple technique, and you can use the biggest frustrations left in the comments to create other products. Nice.

    The only limitation seems to be step 3, which assumes you already have a decent following on Twitter or can grab the attention of people who do. Not always easy.

  2. Good strategy! But this all assumes two things:

    1) Your service is worth something. Even a free offer for a crappy product isn’t going to work. You still need the steak to back up the sizzle.

    2) You have enough traffic and a strong enough following to attract the comments. If not, it might backfire. For example, if I’m the fifth person to comment in five days, I probably won’t bother commenting. Refer to point #1.

  3. I wonder how many comments this post will receive? :)

    Competition is essential and in today’s world it’s all about being creative.

    Comments really add to the social proof of your blog, and often stimulates healthy discussion.

  4. @Jason, True, but it depends on what you think of as “decent.” I’ve seen this work with as little as a few hundred dedicated followers on Twitter. If you don’t use twitter, you can also promote it in other ways, such as e-mailing your list, posting on forums, etc., depending on what’s appropriate for your niche and business.

  5. Always wondered how do you engage people to respond.

  6. That’s a great strategy for 2 to maybe 5 posts. But I’m not sure there’s much sustainability there – you have to have more than a giveaway and follow-up on the giveaway for most blogs to constantly get comments. Great for starting a small business, but you’d need to do much more than that to get an active blog really going.

  7. @David: Well, yeah, the strategy isn’t really meant for helping you build an active blog. It helps you launch a product or service from a blog that’s already decently active. Was that not clear?

    @Rob: True. Laurie gives some good ideas for overcoming those problems in her video.

  8. This part of the strategy seems to never end with some folks.

    A few days later, you announce that you were absolutely overwhelmed with the response, but you’re willing…

    There seems to be an endless amount of room to register for certain conferences with limited space. :-)

    Interesting strategy, but I too wonder about its sustainability.

  9. What happens when your blog doesn’t have a product or service, but just good photos and great information?

  10. The is a good post and great idea for those bloggers with a product to sell and I can see how it would work. The problem for me is…I’m not really selling anything. I just love to blog, read blogs, write articles and talk…talk…and once I catch a breath…talk some more. I guess if I ever decide to start selling products, I’ll definitely have a leg up on the competition!!

  11. Good stuff! I’ve seen others do it and have no doubt that it works. Just make sure you don’t tip things over past the line dividing “sneaky/clever” and “dishonest”.

  12. Quit sharing such marketing secrets, Jonathan!! ;)

    Actually, you could improve this.

    Instead of asking for their biggest frustration, ask them to tell you what they would do with your product, or to share how it would help them.

    That way, you get people to talk themselves into how your product will have a positive impact in their lives/business.

    If they don’t win the competition, they’re more likely to buy because they’ve almost talked themselves into how good it will be for them if they had what you’re offering.

  13. @iMark: The only time social proof stops working is if you’re dishonest about it. For instance, if you only received like five comments, and then you announced you were overwhelmed, then your audience is probably going to sense a lie. But if you are actually overwhelmed with comments, and it’s clear to everyone that your services are in demand, then it’s going to work every time. I don’t think that will ever change.

    @LisaNewton: You can use this strategy to launch a product or service. If you have no plans to do that, then you wouldn’t use it.

    @Armen: Yep, I’ve seen that work too. I’ve just found asking people to describe their frustrations gives you more responses, and as a result, more social proof. Everyone loves talking about what’s giving them problems. Getting them to talk about how to use your product can be a little more difficult. Good idea though!

  14. @Armen: Excellent additional advice! You’re totally right. People will go out of their way to defend a position they’ve already started defending.

  15. @Jon: I’ve actually experienced this via email rather than blog posts. It’s a constant “space is limited” BUT somehow “we have more room for you if you act now.” :)

  16. I REALLY Loved this post. I can’t tell you how much it served me in making my Niche Blogging more effective. Thx agasin for everything;)

  17. This is great! I wish I new about this before I launched anything. I’m certainly going to implement this starting tomorrow and see what happens. Thank you so much for this technique.

  18. I like Armen’s logic. Let them talk themselves into the value of the product. It is empowering and will develop more genuine loyalty to the product.

  19. Thanks for the Wonderful Tips, I have a little experience with blog comments that leaded me to get more than 200 comment on my posts, once I posted about CommentLuv plugin and I was biulding a 100 list of blog using CommentLuv, I asked my readers to tell me about their blogs to add it to the list post, I ended with a great post with a 199 comments and a 4.500+ views post!

  20. @Armen – Getting the readers to talk themselves into buying the product is a really great idea too. Helping them imagine using the product makes it easier to part with the money and buy it.

    If you’re getting visits, but having a hard time getting people to leave that first comment or two, leaving a fake comment can really help others loosen up their commenting grip.

    The great thing about this trick is that it could work several times a year if it isn’t used too frequently.

  21. @Jason, great point, and the reason why anyone in “social media” needs to be out there making friends and being an overall good egg. Especially on Twitter, your voice is magnified depending on how many good connection’s you’ve made. Not creepy/selfish networking, but just being a nice and friendly person and interacting with others who have a following, large or small.

    @Rob, good points, especially #1, which I think is critical. If your stuff is junk, social media is just a megaphone to get the word out about how bad you are. Thanks for highlighting that. Jon’s strategy would have backfired miserably if those free (and paid) consulations hadn’t been of genuine value.

    @Armen, that’s a neat angle. It’s another classic copywriting technique, getting the customer to visualize using the product. Nice twist. My guess is you’d get more responses with the frustration question, but possibly more conversion with the way you’ve framed it.

    Notice also that this technique is a great way to find out what’s really giving your readers pain, so you can help them resolve that pain. We’re so fiendish here at Copyblogger. :)

  22. @Blake, I’m too square to leave a fake comment, but as the blog writer, spending lots of time in “host mode” and being especially responsive will often get the comments flowing a little better.

  23. Cool, I actually learned something totally new today.

    However, I am more keen to offer a product up as a prize rather than my time.

    Still, you’re right. It’s a good strategy for beginning freelancers to start getting a network of prospective clients.

    Thank you for generously sharing this secret, Jonathan!

  24. Brilliant. And clearly with a track record of success. Thank you again for the insightful information.

  25. This is money. I love this article. I’ve saved it and will use it. Thanks for sharing, Jonathan!

  26. Great post, Jonathan! I echo Scotty’s sentiments – I’m saving this one with plans to put it into use as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing with us.

  27. Thanks for the help. And thank you for tweeting my company.

    Sincerely,

    Anna Taylor

  28. It is a great article but with very few question..

    I have read through the whole post but some question arise in mind that to earns that lots of comment you need be famous first and it will take some time to happen may be around 6 months as Yaro says that.

    So I like first we have to be popular in the market than we can expect that short of comment following your strategies.

    Great post… thanks for sharing it.

  29. Thanks for the post Jonathan.

    I’ve had a similar idea to promote my new Negotiation Forum—offer a cash price to the person who writes the best negotiation story. I thought that this could generate buzz among the blogging community and perhaps some would become consistent contributors to the forum. I would then get the forum members involved by having them vote on the story they liked best.

    Is this along the same lines that you were thinking for creating buzz out of thin air?

  30. I like the article, but I’m not sure we can really glean any meaningful results with the info provided.

    Your offer was placed in front of 45,000 readers and you “converted” 30 free consultations. Even if you gained 100 real conversions (paid clients), is that really a testament to the offer or program? The conversion rate is rather abysmal for such targeted traffic to a free offer.

    Can you try it the hard way and show us how to find 100 conversions without a 45k reader base. That would be something- really. (no sarcasm here, seriously, that would really be something to sink our teeth into).

    (The 45k number comes from your Nov/’08 “How I Hijacked Copyblogger” post)

  31. Great information. I have seen other sites giving away personal consulting and wondered how they could afford to give it away.

  32. @Fakhrul: Having a large readership helps, but it’s not necessary. You can still use this strategy with as little as 1,000 subscribers, I would say. You’ll just have to scale down the results appropriately.

    @Jennifer: It’s similar. The difference is you wouldn’t be generating testimonials for your forum, but for negotiation in general. So, it’s a little different. From what I’ve seen, competitions with cash prizes can be difficult to pull off as well. So many of them are done that the bloggers in your niche may or may not cover them. Before you do it, I would make sure it’s going to generate an appropriate amount of buzz.

    @Artisan If you look at the post that brought in 30 clients, that was with a limit of only 10 clients, and all 30 people came in in something like an hour. I took the initial 10, and then I placed the other 20 on a waiting list. Also, subscriber to customer conversion ratios work a little differently with a blog than with an e-mail list. 30 conversions in one hour from a post is actually pretty good.

  33. This is a great strategy. Coupling it with a simple social media strategy would be a good idea since total newbies would have problems finding the traffic.

    I did this a while back, with a new (unread) blog and ended up awarding the prize to the one single responding reader :-S

  34. I love how this sounds. In fact, I loved it so much that I actually tried it. In fact, I didn’t just try it, but took a whole training it (I’ll refrain from naming names ;-) But what isn’t included is the math (not usually my strong point).

    30 sessions at a minimum of 45 minutes, if you have the time and energy (huh? what’s that?) to knock ‘em out at the rate of 5 a day, is 6 days and almost 23 hours of work.

    Now what if you want to get 100 at $95 an hour (I mean, you do need a bathroom break now and then)…we’re talking nearly 70 hours of one-on-one time for $9,500.

    Besides the sheer starch it can take out of you to interact effectively (notice that I inserted a loose benchmark word here: *effectively* ) with that many people, it might not be the best use of your time and energy if you already have a thriving list, and good products.

    I’m just sayin’….
    PS I did 70 of these, each one an hour to an hour and a half; had a huge waiting list…did it over 6 weeks and I’m here to tell you that it is the last time I will ever do it again! Did I generate a ton of good will? You bet. Buzz? You bet. Was it worth the total burnout (And I’m used to 80 hour weeks running my annual telesummit!) … to some degree, yes, but I sure wish the original training had laid out the math first…

    1. How long are the free consultation sessions?
    2. Are these: give ‘em something on the call, or try to sell them something else for another time?

  35. Thanks for your advice, some really great tips in this. I always enjoy reading your posts Jonathan, so thanks for keeping up the standard.
    Social media is a strategy that we have been using a lot an has proved to be working for us well, I think for any strategy social media is a vital component.

  36. I must say, your post had a perfect timing. I was looking for a campaign idea and your solution is quite perfect for me. Thanks! I’ll be trying it (or a version of it) out in couple of weeks and if I don’t forget, I’ll let you know how it turns out :)

  37. Good idea. I will do it in my blog. Thanks

  38. Indeed this is a good strategy. But what happens in the case we don’t sell anything in our blog. My blog ( http://www.tipsonconsulting.com ) basically proposes ways to consult people. How can I get more comments there?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  39. Excellent tips – all techniques that will build awareness, great for authors too!

  40. Some great ideas but would only work for specific types of blogs.

  41. Great article. Gave me some outstanding ideas. 294 comments is just plain nuts! I cant imagine ever having that many comments, but will try…lol.

  42. I’ve done similar things, with success measured in months rather than days. That is to say, it wasn’t a viable way to develop a customer base.

    Yet.

    I’ll try again when I have a bit more traffic than I have now.

  43. Smart and saavy. Very 2.0, top shelf post. I was so inspired by this post, I wrote a response to it on my blog. Text book example of viral marketing methods. Also enjoyed the link to the video with the Ninja moves. Congrats on the first place finish in the 10 Best Writer’s Blogs as well !

  44. Great information.

  45. I love this idea:
    “Hold a competition where the winner gets a free sample of your product or service.”

    I’m definitely going to try this. Thank you so much!

  46. Great tips. I must try some of it on my blog.

  47. Absolutely loved the article and love this blog. It’s the best I’ve ever read. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Ben Angel, author of ‘Sleeping Your Way to The Top in Business.”

  48. Thanks for the information. I am new to blogging and I think that this site will be helpful to teach me a few things.

  49. Woah. Really neat. Just in time for me too since I have a small consultation service for bloggers and soon, I’ll be launching an ebook proofreading and optimization service. Really really great tip. Thanks for ‘spilling your secrets’ here. ;)

  50. Interestingly, but this very post in such an established blog, only received 49 comments (excluding this comment).

  51. @Lim, I think that very much points to the fact that no matter what size readership you have, there needs to be a reason for people to comment if you want to rack up the numbers.

    While we don’t particularly promote driving up comments as your most important metric, we do sometimes post about different techniques that can boost your comment count.

    These days I’m finding that many folks who would have just posted a friendly “I liked this” comment will now Tweet the post instead, which is even better. That shares the post with potential new readers, instead of just giving a bit of validation.

  52. Thanks for the great tips. when I last counted, you had 32 comments for this post.

  53. Honestly, it feels a little scammy to me, but that’s the way things work.

    Very common for bloggers to say, “post ur thoughts on this and win a $20 gift certificate.” It’s just like the lottery.

    It’s a great way to generate comments for sure though.

  54. Isn’t Laura fabulous!
    Simple ideas with the potential to have such a huge impact
    (Thank you so much for your inspiration Laura)

    Would you help me to make my competition a success?

    “SO HOW CAN I HELP HANNAH?”
    By entering my competition and then telling all your teacher friends.
    http://coaching4teachers.wordpress.com/head-higher-competition/

    Thank you in advance for your help

    Wishing you all every success in Creating Fame for yourselves

  55. You could always change your comments to do-follow! I have heard that advice about 100 times now. Not too sure I understand.

  56. this form you are using – what is the plugin which gets me this form in every post? All there is on mine right now is just a box – I’d like one like this one -

  57. Thanks for these tips, I always try to be persuasive when writing and the tips you’ve given definitely help me learn more about how to build up hype. Fortunately there are many social bookmarking tools out there to create that “buzz”.

  58. Thanks for the write up, how about a follow up for those of us that read this 10 years too late. You never cease to amaze me!

  59. Wow, interesting. I don’t have many readers yet, but I was thinking about writing up an eBook. I have the topic picked out and a few chapters done. I was afraid I wouldn’t get many sales, since my blog is pretty small right now.

    I’ll definitely try this approach!

  60. Thanks for the great tips. I am going to spend tonight thinking up something clever for my Kansas City Real Estate business. Maybe a FREE Competitive Market Analysis for the first five comments or subscribers. Great information. Thank you again.

  61. The is a good post and great idea for those bloggers with a product to sell and I can see how it would work. The problem for me is…I’m not really selling anything. I just love to blog, read blogs, write articles and talk…talk…and once I catch a breath…talk some more. I guess if I ever decide to start selling products, I’ll definitely have a leg up on the competition!!

  62. The link for Laura’s video mentioned in this post is outdated. You can find the same video archived here: http://www.creatingfame.com/blog/creating-fans-out-of-thin-air/