One Simple Way to Generate More Comments on Your Blog

Comment

“And that,” he wrote, “is that.”

Doesn’t much make you want to pitch in with your own views, does it?

We all tend to focus on catchy headlines and gripping titles. That split-second interest grabber is important. Copyblogger’s great posts on headlines thankfully tell you exactly how to craft your words to create snappy headlines.

How you end your post depends on what you’re trying to achieve and what action you want the reader to take. When it comes to prompting reader interaction, how you wrap up your blog posts or articles may make all the difference between a handful of comments and an explosion of discussion.

Think about it: What urge grabs the reader and compels him to write his comments? What gets him to talk about your post? What happens when the show’s over?

Depending on how you’ve written your conclusion, there’s a good chance that nothing happens. The reader mentally nods and thinks, “Good post.” Then he or she moves on to something else.

That isn’t going to create much of a sense of community or generate tons of commentary.

A conclusion that is too tight, pat and firm might just be the problem. A good wrap-up is vital to a great read, sure. When you wrap up your content too tightly, though, you cut off the circulation – or in other words, you shut down conversation.

Across the board, those who coach individuals on social skills encourage people to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions keep conversation going. These coaches promote getting the other person to talk about himself.

People loooove to talk about themselves. So be interested in what another person has to say.

Where can you show that interest? Where’s the best place for that open-ended question? Your wrap-up, of course.

Here’s an example to help understand how this all works:

Your reader: I’d like to know more about writing great blog posts that encourage people to leave comments.

You: Great. Do this.

Your reader: Oh. Okay. Thanks.

You might have handed the reader a great solution, but did you show interest? Did you ask that open-ended question to get the reader involved? Did you encourage discussion? Not at all. You handed them an answer and shut down conversation so nicely that getting more from the reader becomes almost impossible.

They’ve heard you. They’ve moved on. It’s the fine-line difference between talking at someone and talking with someone. Which action did that example fall into?

To help show how you might try a different tactic to get those discussions going, here’s another example:

Your reader: I’d like to know more about writing great blog posts that encourage people to leave comments.

You: Great. Do this. But can I ask what you’ve been doing up to date? Why do you think you aren’t getting more comments?

Your reader: Well, I haven’t tried what you just proposed, and I think it’s a great solution. So far, I’ve been wrapping up my posts nice and tightly but it feels like I’m cutting off the circulation, you know? I’d really like to create a community and get more readers involved… would you happen to have more tips about doing that?

You: Sure, I have tons of tricks you can use to build up a community. I’ll write up a series of posts to address just that. I think it’s great you’re willing to try new things. Speaking of which, have you considered…

And so on.

So the next time you write, pay attention to your headline—and then pay just as much attention to your conclusion. Wrap things up in a way that encourages conversation, comments and discussion. Get your readers involved. Learn about their experiences. Ask open-ended questions. Have them talk about themselves.

Don’t you think it just might make a difference? Yes or no, let me know.

If you want to learn how to improve your writing, blogging and web business, head on over to James’ blog, Web Content Writer Tips, where you’ll get more great advice on building your freelancing business. Better yet, subscribe here.

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Comments

  1. You wouldn’t catch me responding to such a blatant cry for comments, bah!

  2. Hi James,

    I totally agree. But what happens when you end your post with an invitation for feedback or discussion and nobody bites? That happens to me about half the time I end a post with a call for feedback. Then the post just sits there looking lonely for a few days before I move on.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

  3. You wouldn’t catch me responding to such a blatant cry for comments, bah!

    Ha ha… I told James he was setting himself up on this one just before your comment came in. Too funny. :-)

  4. @ Ian – That happens to us, too, at times.

    I tend to see a lack of comments when we blatantly ask for commentary or ask a question that is way too open (such as, “What’s your experience?”). The way you word your ending has to be compelling enough that the reader *wants* to tell you about his or her experience. Just asking for it flat out isn’t enough.

    Another problem is that your content hasn’t related to the reader in a direct way. It may be sound advice and great content, but if the reader doesn’t see himself or herself in the situation, no comments follow. Nod, good post, and on they go.

    Often, our posts that are the most informational get the least commentary. We’ve said it all. No point to add more. The ones that generate the most commentary are the ones that include our emotion, thoughts, or personal experiences. Readers feel we’re talking straight to them, not talking out at the blogosphere.

    @ Rob – I predict 50 comments. There’s no way we’ll pass that. I wonder who’ll end up being the one who hits that mark, though. Heh, if I time it right, it’ll be me.

  5. @Ian–the fish don’t always bite when you bait the hook, but your odds go up quite a bit if you do. :)

  6. True. Thanks for the insight James and Sonia.

  7. Thank you for the reminder. I wish I’d had it when I did my last post…Yet I will remember for the future.

  8. bah. comments just equal more work. I’m KIDDING! Congrats on a great post James. I was pleased to see you in my inbox.

  9. You know what? It’s interesting… most of the time, when I ask for feedback in the form of comments, I don’t really get any… but when I don’t do anything… I get a ton of comments.

    Take for instance this post… 7 Motivational Quotes to start your day, everyday!

    It’s one of the easiest posts I had to make… and I have not asked for comments but boom! it’s one of my most popular posts in terms of comments.

    Maybe you can enlighten me on that =P

  10. If you don’t ask..

    But small web sites with limited readership shouldn’t get too upset if they aren’t overflowing with comments. Not every reader is going to have something to say about every post and the fewer readers, the less chance of a comment.

    How do you know if you get “enough” comments? Beats me, but if YOU don’t think you are getting enough, you are probably right..

  11. Really comments are great and a yardstick of popularity and good content. But one thing when we see some comments for a post we also tempt to comment two lines. Am I correct?

  12. You really grabbed my attention now! I’ll use this on my blog and I think I learned the most of blogging from you. Thanks buddy,
    Mark

  13. Good job, bro! You done made the bigtime! And thank you Brian, this is great.

    Posts are a strange animal. As most of you have said, you never can tell which ones will trigger a slew of comments. In a way, you have to set aside the need to generate comments and just write it.

    Take a look at the posts you thought would grab a lot of attention by your readers. Did you say to yourself “This is going to fire people up for sure.” and then they didn’t give you the results you wanted? Now take a look at the posts where you simply didn’t care, did those become a never ending thread?

    Sometimes we over think what we’re doing and try too hard to achieve a certain result, even if we’re not aware we’re doing it at the time.

  14. I’m starting to put an emphasis on asking specific questions related to my content. I’m JUST starting the blog so I haven’t had any comments yet but I feel the more specific the question, the more I will probably get comments (once I gain a readership). As an example, instead of just “what do you think?”, I might ask whether they do “this” or “that”?

  15. Hi James;

    Your last question was not open ended :)

    My answer: Yes

    Mike

  16. @ Mike – Blame Brian. My ending was the question, “Don’t you think it might just make the difference?” Editors. Bah!

    @ Marilla – I think so, too. Nudging people in the right direction, giving them a guideline to work with and sparking their motivation to answer is important.

    @ Marko – Coolness. You’re welcome!

    @ Anthony – I think if I had one reader only on my blog, that poor sucker would become my guinea pig. “Dammit, I *will* get a comment from him! But how…” Good way to test things ;)

    @ Free Site – I think a slew of comments is a mark of popularity. But I don’t think a slew of “Great post!” adds anything or demonstrate that the post made readers think, relate, or take action. It just means they read, gave a nod of thanks, and moved on to the next blog.

    @ SJ – I’ll read your post and let you know what I think. But the question is, what do *you* think made a difference? How did you compell people to comment with your post and your conclusion? I bet you did something different…

    @ Allena – Ah, thank you. Good to see you found me in that inbox, else I’d suffocate ;)

  17. Great post! I think design also plays into encouraging people to post comments. I’ve seen on some other blogs where they change the default “leave a reply” on a new post to “Be the first to post a comment!” depending on your audience that is very inviting.

    I’ve tried it on one of my other blogs and it has helped a bit.

    Eddy Salomon

  18. Nothing like a little controversy, a edge, to generate a conversation? (this is a question, don’t you think?)

  19. i’m going to try this out for sure

  20. @ Mike – Blame Brian. My ending was the question, “Don’t you think it might just make the difference?” Editors. Bah!

    No James, that’s the way you wrote it (or at least the way I got it). Don’t blame me, I would never ask a yes or no question. :-)

  21. *nod*

    good post…

    ;)

    …okay, but seriously – this is something I need to work on. On a number of the blogs that I get paid to write for, I have no idea how many people are reading (since I post, but don’t manage or market the blog) and I’m frustrated when there aren’t comments.

    On my own blog, which I just recently started up, I know I don’t have much of a readership so it will take a while to develop comments and community, but I still want to do things right…So I’ll definitely keep this article in mind…particularly your comment #5, which I think deserves to be a follow-up article in itself.

  22. @ Internet Marketing Smarts…

    …I have found that the “be first to leave a comment” has worked sometimes, but possibly intimidated in other circumstances. Yeah, a lot of people would love to be the first to post on popular blogs, but on startups? Not always.

  23. @ Chad,

    I have to agree it may not always work depending on your audience.

    Eddy Salomon

  24. When I ask a question at the end of a post, I always get responses. I do it judiciously, though, as I like to ‘mix it up’ and not always ask for a response.

  25. Hi James – great advice. I’m trying to ask open ended questions at the end of my posts, but it doesn’t always work, and often people will comment, but not answer the questions.

    What am I doing wrong? Am I putting the comments in the wrong place? Should they be closer to the beginning of the post, or in the middle, or where? Thanks. Catherine

  26. Getting comments is the bane of my existence! I try to end the post with a question about how my readers are using [insert topic] and no one responds. I have tried to hold contests where I will give them FREE PUBLICITY for a comment and nada.

    What am I doing wrong??

  27. James,

    (I am not following you but you’ve been everywhere I go posting and commenting in the last few days. This is another great one!)

    I’d like to add that the way you are responding and even opening the ideas up more in the comments section, keeps the thread going and may provide more ideas for a reader. Sometimes a post gets a few responses and just dies, frequently because everybody just wants to get their 2¢ in and they aren’t really taking in the whole conversation.

    I’ve made efforts at this on my blog but not nearly enough, and I’ve never really thought it out quite this way. A definite print-and-keep posting.

    Regards,

    Kelly

  28. This is great comment-generating advice! Whenever possible, I ask questions at the end of my posts in order to invite comments, and I also try to pepper questions throughout the posts as well. The questions come naturally to me as I’m writing (I’m curious by nature), but I think they serve well to stimulate readers and prompt responses.

    Great post!

  29. @ Aaron – Controversy is good, yes… but are you prepared to handle the heat or the direction the comments might take?

    @ Brian – Oh. I see now. Yes, well…uhh…

    @ Chad – Being the first to comment is good for driving traffic. Make it a habit, though, and you might be seen as a groupie!

    @ Catherine – Look at what people are saying in their comments. They may not be answering the question, but they may be bringing up other topics of conversation that are just as valuable or that point you to new areas that need answers – fodder for more posts from you, don’t you think?

    @ Kelly – Thank you :) I agree with you – how you handle your comment section of your blog is almost as important as what you post to your blog. Your intervention and interaction with readers helps engage them and make them feel at home. The more at ease they are, the more they comment and discuss! I’ll have a post on getting more comments on my own blog coming up in the next few days. It should help ;)

    @ Susan – Your question might be too direct or blunt. That often doesn’t work. Put people in the spotlight, and they get all squirmy. Instead of wondering why they aren’t answering the questions, try to figure out how to word your questions or close off your post to encourage discussion. Find out what gets your readers going, try different tactics, and work in your questions subtly.

    Side note: Comment contests are a great idea – but the prize has to be worth it. What do people want most? Fame, glory… money… something free… think it over!

    @ Melissa – Yes, the way you write tends to have me want to interject my own opinion. Haven’t quite pinpointed why, yet, but you’re on the right track!

  30. (24… only 26 to go…)

  31. James, you’re shameless. But I’m doing my part to help. It’s rare for me to comment 3 times on my own posts. :-)

  32. Shameless can be a good thing, in moderation.

    Besides, does you good to come out and chit-chat ;)

  33. I did an interview with Liz Strauss once and she offered some great advice about this. One was to not wrap up posts in a neat and tidy package the way your English teacher taught us.

    The other is that if you’re creating a list, to offer the first few things that come to your mind, but not hunt for more things to add to the list. Instead, leave some stones unturned and let readers add to the discussion.

    Looks like whatever you did is working James!

  34. We all want comments and the sense of community that comments generate but can we get too many comments?

    I read your post and felt that I had something to say. I then noticed that there were already well over thirty comments.

    Will what I say be heard? Is it worth spending the time making a comment if it’ll be lost amongst the many that have already been written?

    Maybe you can write a post about encouraging people to join conversation that is already quite busy or even a post about being heard among dozens of other voices that are commenting.

  35. Great advice, but it can be a tricky thing to navigate, depending mostly on the audience and niche you’re writing in. People can find that “what do you think?” sort of open ended post to be either 1) tonally looking down on them or 2) not authoritative.

    That said, I do think the conversation and community comments create are the lifeblood of a blog, so focusing on increasing them is really important.

    I’m interested to see the rest of this series of posts you hint at!

  36. James…I think 50 only counts if it’s 50 other people’s comments ;)

    Minus 5 points…and take this one away as well :)

  37. @ Chad – Didn’t count mine :) Hey, I’m fair!

    @ Tiffany – When I read a blog asking, “What do you think?” my automatic answer is, “I think I need more coffee. S’cuze me, brb.” There are way better ways to word your conclusions and questions to interest people and make them want to put down a comment. “What do you think,” would be one way *not* to attract comments, because it basically says, “Please, I need your comments badly,” and people pick up on that.

    @ Christine – Good one – leave some stones unturned. People get excited when they feel they’ve discovered something great or one-upped you (honestly). But personally, I’d hint that the stones are there ;) Nothing wrong with a little clue to the treasure hunt.

  38. @ Rodney – If you are a blogger looking for traffic, you will not comment. If you are a reader looking for interaction, you will. I can understand your thoughts, though – it’s like walking into a noisy bar wondering how the hell you’ll talk to your buddy. But honestly? If you’ve got something to say, your comments will be read by others and commented on.

    Is there a point of too much? Yes. I visit blogs that have over 50 entries of “Great post! Yay!” and by number three, I’m bored and I’m gone.

    But read what Kelly commented earlier:

    “I’d like to add that the way you are responding and even opening the ideas up more in the comments section, keeps the thread going and may provide more ideas for a reader. Sometimes a post gets a few responses and just dies, frequently because everybody just wants to get their 2¢ in and they aren’t really taking in the whole conversation.”

    Keeping comments alive and keeping the discussion interesting and making sure everyone’s comments are noticed is the blog owner’s responsibility. For example, at our blog, comments never get lost or go unread, and they always get noticed.

    When you see comments that are alive, interesting, and readers discuss back and forth amongst themselves (along with the blogger), don’t you *want* to be involved?
    Make sense?

  39. Rodney – I heard what you have to say! You bring up an excellent point and I’ve wondered the same thing. I think comments are definitely heard even when it is a busy conversation. Even if the author does not have the bandwidth to respond to every single comment, other commenters that are subscribed can jump into the conversation like you and I are doing now.

    One thing I’ve always wondered is… why don’t more commenters get into discussions with other commenters? There are so many good points to expand on in a lively conversation.

  40. @ Christine – Upcoming on our blog as well ;) Now stop making me give away my secrets!

  41. Christine, I agree. I’d love to see more interaction between commenters to keep the conversation bubbling along.

    James, you’re right about the difference between those wanting to add to the conversation and those who are just looking for traffic. Read through any long thread of comments and you’ll generally find a number of people restating what’s already been said. It shows that they had little interest in being part of what’s going on and more interest in just being seen to have their say.

    As far as generating comments, as your post says, the conclusion is vitally important. I remember hearing from a radio broadcast expert who taught that the very first thing you should think about is the final line of what you want to say on air. That’s what causes the listener to think, “me too”, involving them in what you’ve said. Then you design a creative way to start what you want to say to grab attention. Finally, all you need to do is write just enough in between to get your listeners from your attention grabber to the ‘kicker’.

    That’s probably badly explained in just a paragraph but hopefully you get the idea.

  42. Christine and Rodney,
    I think the conversation between bloggers in the comments sections is a really undervalued thing. I read an interesting note in a post at ConversationAgent.com the other day about how a Valeria met a good blogging colleague – in the comments section of another blog.

    Whether or not this happens though, and how it happens, is hard to predict. Does it just depend on who is commenting and how they respond, or is there something the blogger can do to encourage that? And if so, is it related to content, context or controversey? Or just to starting great conversations to begin with?

    The simple answer is, there isn’t one simple answer. But this is one great conversation!

  43. “When you wrap up your content too tightly, though, you cut off the circulation – or in other words, you shut down conversation.”

    Shutting down the conversation — that phrase is so familiar to me.

    I’ve said that about myself so many times.

    But I’m reformed, I tell you! I’m a reformed ‘blogger!

  44. Great post. The conclusion is one aspect of my writing that I need to approve upon. I’ll definitely incorporate some of these ideas.

    The posts that I think will generate the most response typically don’t. Blogging is funny like that…

  45. I remember hearing from a radio broadcast expert who taught that the very first thing you should think about is the final line of what you want to say on air.

    Begin with the ending in mind. ~Aristotle

  46. Why not start with your ending and end with your opening statement?

  47. I have a feeling this post will get more than 50 comments! :) The fact you ended it with a question will surely help. Blogging isn’t just about writing posts, it’s a conversation.

  48. Sounds like a lot more work than ending with “and that is that.” ;)

  49. I think it depends on how it’s done. Sometimes when a post ends with a question, I feel like I have to answer that question in order to comment, or I’m off-topic. If I have no answer to the question, I simply move on. That said, I’ve been experimenting with this technique on my own blog, and trying to make the questions open enough so that people don’t feel like they have to answer them in order to comment. We’ll see how it goes…

  50. There’s no way this post will get to 50 comments.

  51. (40… minus one for Chad… 39… only 11 to go…)

    @ Rodney – Wanna bet? ;)

    @ Shane – It’s always that way with us. We post, batten down the hatches and get ready… and nothing. Another day, we think, “Good post, but kinda boring,” and BOOM! Comments.

    @ Wayne – With confidence like that, I have to believe you.

    @ Brian – What?! You mean Aristotle beat me to this idea?

    @ Jon – Blogging is a lifestyle, bro :) You embrace it and breathe it, or you sorta-kinda-halfway try.

    @ Tiffany – I agree – the comment section is highly, highly undervalued these days, with everyone out to write great posts. Some of the best points come up in conversation, not in the posts themselves.

    Too, how people word their comments can shut the discussion down tighter than a ship battening its hatches. It’s generally a place where people make statements, and statements don’t encourage more conversation. It’s another good place to ask questions and be interested to keep the conversation going. I do believe the blogger is responsible for stimulating ongoing conversation. That’s what people want, after all – a little more interaction and personal attention, no?

    Can anyone pick up on one pattern of commenting that I’ve used throughout the thread that helps discussion flow and continue?

    @ Sucker – Isn’t work supposed to be fun? ;)

    (…10… No, wait, can’t count mine…11…)

  52. @ John – That sounds like math to me… but… you may be onto something…

  53. @Rodney: Betcha it will. I wonder what the record is for the most comments on a blog post?

  54. James,

    I had been meaning to discuss this on my own blog but it fits in so well with the roll everyone’s on here. Listening to NPR last week, I heard author Mark Bittman discussing comments he gets back from his newspaper column on cooking.

    He said he had found an interesting difference between comments from men and from women, that men want to challenge him (“you’re an idiot”) or add to/tweak what he’s doing, while women’s comments are more of the admiring/”I like what you’re doing” sort.

    I was a bit surprised to hear we’re all still playing such stiff roles, at least with this cookbook author. I wonder, has anyone noticed that in their blogging, and has it influenced what you write?

    Regards,

    Kelly

  55. Math LOL! I have a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics, so you got me!

    I invest in real estate and help people grow as entrepreneurs. In both I tell people how you should always work your plan backwards. As I was reading through the comments something Brian said sparked the idea. He quoted Aristotle – “Begin with the ending in mind.”

    I immediately thought to myself why not work my blog backwards instead of just keeping the ending in mind. Start with the conclusion (which sums up what you’re going to talk about) and end with the opening statement which many times asks some form of an open-ended question.

    Oh and while we’re quoting people . . . my favorite quote was from Albert Einstein – “If I had my life to live over again, I’d be a plumber.” ;)

  56. @ James – you appear to be A) keeping your format for replies constant so as to be recognizable and B) reply to specific questions or comments to encourage more on this subject and seem more personable.

  57. James, I always find the best way to get comments is to make a blatant typo or high-profile grammatical error. Works, a treat.

  58. @ Harry – Way more than 50, bro.

    @ Simon – I wrote “compell” instead of “compel” earlier in a comment. Gah. Writer suicide, especially for someone like me who uses a blog as a portfolio.

    @ John – Very good – and I also specifically address people by name and speak to them directly, leaving general comments at the bottom of my comment section. I also reply to *each* person, even if it’s just to say thanks.

    Gotcha on the format. But considering that people need to be hooked right from the start in a split second, how would you start with your conclusion and grab that interest? Dare you to write a post…

    @ Kelly – That is a great point. YES. I’ve noticed men are direct and post a comment that states their opinion (usually firmly). They don’t ask questions. They tell it like it is. I think women tend to encourage or express emotions of how they felt in a similar situation (don’t piss them off, though). I think they do admire the poster (not speaking of me, here). Maybe many women have a hard time with self-esteem and wish they could be that person or say something so influential?

    Does this have an influence on how we write? No. We tend to shoot from the hip – though I have been known to ask Harry to double-check posts for sensitive matter or controversy. Setting your own blog on fire isn’t recommended, though I can say it does get a *ton* of comments.

    Alright, here’s an exercise for everyone. How would you have finished this conclusion from my post creating flagship contentso that it attracted more comments?

    “Maybe it’s time to craft a new flag for your ship. Be different. Be confident and command respect. Take the time to think and research. Try to predict trends or see into the future. Trust yourself enough to take your ideas and turn them into reality. Believe in yourself and your ability to lead the fleet, not just to follow the other ships.”

  59. James… I guess if you can get Brian in here to comment three times you can get me to do it once.

    You’re totally shameless. I can’t believe we’re still friends. You Canadians…

    Along the lines Simon is talking about, I got a fair number when I spelled Tim Ferriss’ name wrong. Unfortunately, Tim Ferriss wasn’t one of them. This is perhaps because he has a Google alert on his name spelled correctly.

    Whatever, good post, blah blah blah. I still can’t believe you did a guest post here and didn’t tell me.

  60. I’m not very good at headlines. There. I admit it.

    I just let my community know I’m not an expert. I describe what worked for me and ask them what works for them and discussion ensues.

    Liz Stauss says to come down off your podium and they’ll respond. I kind of like that way of thinking.

    -Deb

  61. I wonder what the record is for the most comments on a blog post?

    371 for this blog (and that’s nowhere near the record for blogs in general). Keep working. :-)

  62. Unless I am mistaken, isn’t “Don’t you think it might just make the difference?”

    A yes or no question?

    :)

    Glad to see you on Copyblogger James.

  63. @ Brian – Three hundred and seven… Right. I’m on it. *ahem* Do trackbacks count?

    @ Naomi – You’ve been a very good teacher. Oh, and your warm thoughts and love always make me give you a special place in my heart.

    @ Deb – I think Michael S has just yanked my podium out from under my feet.

    @ Michael – My golden rule is to never follow my own advice. I have to be unique, after all ;)

  64. James – Yeah it probably isn’t the best strategy, in fact, the only way to truly swap your conclusion and opening statement is to write the post first and then simply swap them, otherwise, you will simply just be writing your post.

    As far as the dare, last month I wrote an article on my blog about thinking unconventionally and working your plan backwards (which relates to what I’m talking about). I think my conclusion would work better up top (just under where I tell people this is a series post) and I think probably my quote from Albert Einstein would work better at the bottom. What do you think? — you can click my name above to view the post.

  65. @ John – I took a look at your post, and here’s how I would have done it (but that’s just me and my style). That quote from Einstein? That’s your first sentence. It’s grabbing. Your last paragraph would come right underneath that – I was all over that paragraph, so as a catcher, it’s great. As a conclusion, it misses its opportunity to shine. Within the post, you use two analogies – I would’ve used only one. Tighten up the writing, make it concise, format for screen reading, close it up nicely with a great ending, and voila!

  66. seems like a lot

  67. Good points and I agree. Thank you for taking the time to give me a quick critique. It’s funny how just a little tweak here or there can make all the difference in how successful you are at getting comments and/or readers.

  68. Now, having come to this conversation late in the game, I’m wondering, since you have over 30,000 subscribers, at what subscription number did you notice a good commenting percentage?

    Did the percentage keep increasing, or did it level off, compared to the subscription level?

    Do the same people comment (a majority, it seems like)? Do you get a fair amount of one-time commentors?

    I’m new, by the way :-)

  69. A coulda had a v-8 moment for me, forehead smack all round…why is it that those little tweaks make all the difference in the world? A gracious hostess friend of mine who recently passed away (read wife of a very famous NYT managing editor) always said that she and Turner always thought the most valuable thing you bring to a dinner party is good conversation….and it is no small art…it applies here so well as you point out. Many mercis! All best, Jan

  70. Nez…with 30,000 subscribers, I don’t think Copyblogger really has a great commenting percentage. Lots of comments, but percentage wise?

    Also, you don’t need to feel bad about being late in the game…it seems like James is hoping this is still early ;)

    http://www.jcme.ca/jcmefreelancewriting/take-the-copyblogger-challenge

  71. James,
    I thought I was doing what you recommended on my blog but maybe not. Thanks for the great post.

  72. @ Josef – You are, but coming off too strong, in my opinion. Questions that are too direct or blunt tend to turn off readers, so it’s a question of finding that subtle, compelling question. I’d also suggest not adding the “leave a comment,” because that kind of shuts things down before it gets started. Try different combos and find the fit that works :)

    @ Janice – You’re right. It is an art and takes a good deal of careful application of social skills – which are generally a learned behavior, so there’s hope for me yet ;) Et bienvenue, et merci pour les mercis!

    @ Nez – Good questions, and I’m curious about the answers myself.

    @ Chad – Damned straight I am. (Hope. There’s always hope. But I got past 50!)

  73. James, I’m afraid you’ll need to write about grammar to break any of the records on comment numbers round here :-)

    I like the way you’ve been moderating the conversation – that makes a big difference (over time) to the way that people will respond. You make it worth their while – you’ve noticed their contribution, make them feel valued.

    The other thing I’d say as others have done earlier – it’s not just the conclusion, it’s the way that you write the whole thing, leaving space for your reader to be.

    Joanna

    Oh and you can always blog about it somewhere else to encourage more people to take part, which is what brought me back here!

  74. Some good tips there … but really sounds easier then it is to get your audience involved cause you need to think about so many factors …

    For anyone interested,

    I just finished a long post about how to get your audience interact with you more … You can find it on my blog …

  75. @ Joanna – Moderating is what I do when people start to hit each other with the shovels in the sandbox. :) I’m interacting. It’s way more fun.

    @ Lex – Agreed. There are many more factors involved in successful blogging than just writing a great post. Social skills figure pretty highly. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

  76. I’m somewhat new in the blog world. I’m curious, if people comment on your blog regularly do you return the favor by commenting on their blog from time-to-time?

    What do you guys do?

    Thanks….

  77. @John: Constantly. I always go check out the sites of the people who post comments on our blog and return the favor if I have something to add to the convo.

  78. Cool. Thanks Harrison for the reply.

  79. I’ve heard a few times lately, “we love the blog you helped us launch, but we wish we could get more people to interact with it.”

    This is some good practical advice we’ll share.

    Happy Marketing.

    Patrick Byers
    http://responsiblemarketing.com

  80. Here’s my best tip for generating more comments – MAKE SURE COMMENTING IS TURNED ON!

    I just made this grave error, myself. I recently transfered the hosting of my blog and in doing so, I had to reconfigure many of the settings. I hadn’t realized for over a week that the ability to comment had been turned off in the transfer! Eek!

  81. I’ll add one more: Don’t make visitors jump through hoops to leave comments. Get rid of registration processes or required logins. If it’s too much trouble to drop in their thoughts, those visitors are gone.

    CLICK!

  82. James,
    I definitely agree. Instead of making people wait for some arbitrary approval processs (ie whenever the blogger logs on, they’ll approve all comments at once) which stifles the conversation, create a comments policy that says you, as the blog owner, have the right to edit or remove offensive comments, blah, blah, that way you still have a sense of control in case the conversation gets out of hand, if you’re worried about that. You probably won’t have to mess with editing or deleting comments, but if you’re making people wait for you, goodbye conversation.

    I mean think about it, if you are approving comments before they post, how many times have you had to delete a comment? Usually only when someone repeats one because theirs didn’t appear and they didn’t realize you had it set up for approvals!

  83. @ Tiffany – Oooh, I’ll have to disagree with you on comment moderation. That’s a different situation than registration and login to comment.

    I’ve set our own blog on fire a few times (with posts that we never thought would be controversial, I might add), and we’ve seen some pretty heavy hitters move in. While we try to maintain an open comment policy and take the bad with the good, we do delete highly offensive comments that start with F and rhyme with “puck”.

    However, playing nice gets you everywhere on our blog. All it takes is one approved comment to get carte blanche commenting with no moderation. We do keep an eye out, and we do revoke that honor if it’s abused, but we’ve only had to do it once.

    On moderation – we’re lucky. We’re two people in different time zones so our comment moderation is instantaneous and nearly 24/7.

  84. @ James,
    All bloggers need to be aware of what’s being posted in the comments on their blog, so I don’t mean no moderating. But regarding your point about making the flow of conversation better, waiting for hours for a comment to get approved is one way to keep real conversation from happening.

    In blogs where it’s not the situation you guys are in – which for a lot of bloggers it’s not – there has to be another way to make sure moderation happens other than preapprovals.

    For example, when you have a full time job and can only check your comments once or twice through out the workday, maybe at lunch or from Starbucks on a break or after work – it can hurt your conversation when it comes in glumps, which is the case for a lot of blogs I know of. There are ways other than direct approval to make sure no f bombs get dropped, no one gets slandered, etc. No system I know of is perfect, but yours sounds like a pretty nice setup. But not all bloggers are business owners, consultants, or in the sort of situation where your system works. So people just need to be aware that how they handle the approvals of comments plays a big role in the conversation. That’s all I’m saying.

    It depends a lot on the type of traffic and conversation you’re in the midst of how you want to handle comments. Our company’s blog, for example, has much different goals, audiences, and interests than my personal blog, so we have an approvals-based moderation system. On my own blog, the traffic’s a lot more relational and focused, so for now, I can afford to moderate comments on my own, as they come in. That does change through the life of a blog, but so far, it works for me!

  85. @ Tiffany – We have consensus and agreement. Cheers!

  86. “The ultimate meaning of my communication is in the response that the listener makes to it.”

    We have a guy in town here, who can take an untamed horse and be on its back without a saddle or bridle in an hour. He does it by watching what the horse does in response to the moves he makes. When the horse relaxes and shows enjoyment, he moves further in that direction.

    Do you always treat the other person (and more importantly, yourself) as genuine individuals with a unique story to tell? Or are you trying to create some sort of a cyber assembly line?

    The Internet is not a mass media but rather a collection of small intimate relationships, made much cheaper to conduct by the new technology.

  87. Thanks James, that’s a very thought-provoking piece. I’ve tended to respond to comments when they arrive, but I hadn’t got around to encouraging them. I’ll give it a go.

  88. Great ARticle. Everyone loves more comments, responses and trackbacks. But to ask for them. Who would have thought.

    Great Job and article enjoyed

    Megan
    http://www.PassportMentors.com

  89. @Brian (post #99)

    Beautifully said. After reading this post and the ensuing discussion, I read through my blog. I really like it. I was planning on maybe editing some posts to not ask overly direct questions and others to leave them more open, but I really like them! They are an honest open reflection of who I was when I wrote each one. So it is like a living journal that also serves to expose more people to my artwork. I haven’t gotten many comments or subscribers, but hopefully people will eventually take a shine to it and find discussions they can start with me and other visitors.

    Thanks for this post and it’s vibrant comments!

    Peace.

  90. This advice seems like one more example of the differences between traditional writing and writing to encourage conversation. Many were taught to attract interest, build the case, and conclude with a point the reader feels comfortable taking to the bank. I think it takes some skill to wrap-up in an open-ended way and still maintain some conviction. Fortunately, it seems like one of those fun and rewarding skills. Thanks for the comon sense nudge — and for putting a question mark in the title. That’s become an epidemic.

  91. *looks for question mark*… hmmm…

    @ Captain – There is a great difference in “traditional” writing and blogging. Bloggers want virtual conversations and discussions, most times. Traditional writers… well, I won’t speak for them. I’m not that traditional ;) And you’re right – it is fun and fulfilling!

    @ Daniel – There are all kinds of blogs. Not all of them need long, complex conversations. Some of the best posts I’ve seen are silent blogs with a poignant piece sitting out there waiting to be discovered. It does take all kinds to rule a world, after all.

    @ Megan – You’d be surprised at how many people forget the obvious these days :)

    @ James (the other one) – I’m curious. Time’s passed… how’d the experiment work out?

  92. Hi!
    I just wanted to say that since I have applied your tips (it’s been a week now), I have seen an increase in my comment flow; thank you so much for this terrific article!

  93. @ Valerie – Hey! That’s very cool to hear – thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work!

  94. Really useful tip – went straight back and added a question at the end of my last post. I had been too intent on ending with a chirpy one liner! Having just started a wedding blog I need to start from basics to get some responses. Thank you.

  95. Useful post thanks. I’m definitely guilty of signing off posts with a conclusion that doesn’t open up the post for debate, which is often something I’d be interested in.

    One other way I’ve considered is writing the first comment myself, under the same name as I use on the blog (not trying to fake comments), but so that readers get the idea that the post wasn’t supposed to be the end of the story, and might be encouraged to join in.

    Do people here think this comes across bad, or do you agree that done correctly is just an innocent way to encourage other folk to comment?

  96. I’m a fledgling blogger. I have dedicated time in the next 4 weeks to study techniques which will improve my writing. I appreciate the question you posed about questions. It’s made me ponder the questions I ask at the end of my posts and how I construct my writing. Thanks!

  97. Very usefull techniq. Do it as much as you can. Don’t care about the nofollow tags. Some search engine spiders still follows the nofollow links.

  98. Moderating is what I do when people start to hit each other with the shovels in the sandbox. :) I’m interacting. It’s way more fun.

  99. Well, you have opened my eyes, almost all my posts can be read like ” info info info more info… GET OUT”
    I have added some “open-ended questions” to some of my popular posts, we will see where that will take us.

    Thanks

  100. Very useful post, I’m certainly going to try this technigue on http://CraigDawber.com to get the comments flowing.

    Excellent post!

    Thanks Craig

  101. True. Thanks for the insight James and Sonia.

  102. Hi James,
    Thanks for the helpful post. I have a journalistic blog and people comment to me in person and via email but they rarely leave comments on the site. Being a print journalist who’s moving online, I guess I’m used to telling a story – beginning, middle and end! Any suggestions on how I can get more interaction?

  103. I’m coming in rather late here but there’s something I’ve been wondering about and maybe someone here can throw some light on it?

    About 5 months ago I posted the results of a little online survey I’d done about greeting card buying habits in the UK. It was a lot of work and I thought it would generate some comments. But until recently, it was practically the only one of my posts that didn’t have a single comment (I didn’t ask for any feedback and I concluded that it was of little interest to my readers). But now that I’ve been watching the stats in Blogger, I find that it’s by far the most read post ever! Seems a bit strange!

    Seems a bit odd to me!

  104. Replying helps too.

    If you’re really clever you can just reply to one in every 10 – 100 comments but make sure it’s completely random so people keep coming back to see if their comment made the cut. If it didn’t they’ll keep trying and work harder to make the grade next time! Lol. Just saying since I notice that’s a pattern on popular blogs and I know Brian is also a master of psychology:)

    I studied addiction to see why computer games are so addictive and what web designers (and these days bloggers) can do to get people “addicted” to their websites or blogs. I even wrote an MA thesis about this way back in 1995.

    Randomised rewards are one of the keys to getting people addicted so well done to the Copyblogger team – I’m hooked:)

  105. My blog is a bit outside of the mold.

    Daily, I post a gorgeous photo, and accompany it with brush strokes of words to build on the emotion of it.

    I would love for people to comment!!! I would especially love to hear about how the image and words made the visitor feel, what types of stuff it brought up for them. (preferably not only “great picture” as I’m running out of ways to say thank you)

    Occasionally I end with a question, and rarely are they answered.

    What do you think would work in my case?

    Hugs and butterflies,
    ~Teresa~

  106. I’m setting up a site now and I really appreciate the info in the article. But even better, the comments provide additional examples and insight. Thanks.

  107. Until now, I am still looking for ways to make my readers speak to me. I think I should do more offline communication.

  108. WOW, you’re generated so many comments that it proves that it works – doesn’t it?
    Patti

  109. @Jeff Why not try to add commentluv/keyword luv plugin in all your blogpost. Once you installed this, I’m sure readers will comment on your blogs. another way to make your readers actively participate on your blog is by launching a poll. This is another effective way to make your readers engaged on your blog.

  110. Wow, I wasn’t thinking of my blogging this way. Both in concluding posts and responding to comments that’s my style: wrap it up nice and tight. Which of course isn’t the best for me or the reader. I’ll definitely work on applying this advice in the future. Appreciate it.