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How To Get More Comments On Your Book Blog

Day 3 of the
#A-Z challenge.

C is for comments

It’s enough to make you want to ditch your book blog.

You’ve sweated hours over that post. It’s on a topic you felt sure would attract attention. You put your heart and soul into the writing. Found some eye-catching graphics. And did everything the experts tell you to do about formatting and linking.

It’s now out in the world but instead of generating loads of comments, it’s met with almost silence.

Frustrating isn’t it? Especially when you see other book bloggers getting scores of comments on their blogs.

It’s dispiriting when this happens once. But when your posts disappear into a black hole time and time again you begin to doubt yourself. If other bloggers can get comments, why can’t you? What are you doing wrong?

If this describes you, you’re certainly not alone.

The question of course is what can you do to get readers to pay more attention and leave you a comment.

I’ll do my best to answer with the help of the blogging experts I’ve mentioned previously.

4 Ways To Get More Comments

A lot of those experts tell you that to get a reaction to your content your writing needs to show passion. According to Christian Mikhail from The Art of Blogging, it’s all about getting your readers to feel something when they read your article.

Imagine your readers. Imagine that they’re stressed from their jobs, probably hangry (hungry+angry) and tired. Your job is to get them to wake up, pay attention to your post, read all of it, and then care enough so they can comment.

I got the point that if people are inspired by your content, or they strongly oppose your point of view, they are more likely to react. But it’s not that easy to accomplish in a book review. There are only so many ways you can sing the praises of a book. Doing the opposite and going negative on a book sits uncomfortably with most of us.

So while I understand the advice, I probably won’t over exert myself to put it into practice. I’d rather adopt these four much easier, but still effective approaches.

1. Publish Less Frequently

I can see your eyes rolling at that piece of advice!.

It seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? It certainly sounded so to me when I first heard about it from Christian Mihail.

Christian works on the principle that you shouldn’t publish a new post until your current one has attracted a few comments. His reasoning is that your followers and readers will always look at the newest post first. That may in fact be the only one they have time to read. Which means the previous post is history in their eyes. They probably won’t look at it, and hence you won’t get any comments.

Jon Morrow from SmartBlogger has the same recommendation:

The more often you publish, the less comments your posts will receive (on average). For one, the number of new comments a post receives drops dramatically when it’s pushed off the front page, but also, readers tend to get overwhelmed when you’re publishing a lot of content. By publishing less often, say once a week, you can actually increase your engagement, and therefore, your comments.

2. Re-promote Older Posts

If you’ve been book blogging for several years, many of your new followers will never have seen your older posts.

You’ve invested time and effort to create them so why not extend their life by re-promoting them?

There are three ways you can do this.

  1. Try linking to one of those older posts each day on whichever social media channel you use. Or use events in the calendar to push out a new promotion: for example, marking an author’s birthday to promote your reviews of their books or celebrating key dates in different countries by highlighting those local authors you’ve read.
  2. You can also re-publish older posts. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. We’ll tackle the details in a future episode of A2Zbookblogging.
  3. Finally, remember to enable “Related Posts” to show up at the end of each of your posts. These act as a nudge to readers that you have other similar, and equally interesting content on your site. 

3. Ask A Question

Readers can be shy creatures. They often don’t like being the first to comment on a post. So they hold back from commenting especially when they are not confident about expressing an opinion. So make it easy for them.

Ask them a direct question at the end of your post.

It needs to be something simple – you don’t want to make them feel you’re testing their knowledge! But don’t make it too generic either.

I’ve seen far too many blog posts that end with a bland question like: “What did I miss? Leave your response in the comments.” Or at the end of an opinion piece the blogger just says: “What do you think?” or “How about you?”

It’s too broad a question and invariably won’t provoke much of a response. If a reader isn’t that invested in the topic, they’ll have to think hard about what to say in response. Many simply won’t bother.

Instead, ask them a more specific question. For example. at the end of an article about your favourite fantasy authors you could ask “Who is your favourite fantasy author?” Or if you’re writing a review you could ask for a recommendation of other books by that author.

I’ve done this periodically and it really does work!

4. Respond To Comments

Want to know one of my pet peeves about blogs in general?

It’s that too many of the bloggers never respond to comments left by their readers.

I appreciate it takes time to reply to comments. And if you have a very popular site with scores of comments on every post, it could take you hours to reply to everyone.

But If I’ve taken the time to read their content, and to type a response, the very least they can do is to acknowledge my contribution. A considered response would be favourite but even a simple “thank you” would be welcome. Anything better than silence. Because silence means they just don’t care about my thoughts. And if they don’t care about me, why should I care about them?

I’ll give any blogger the benefit of the doubt initially. They may be ill, or on holiday without online access or have family issues. I certainly don’t expect them to be sitting at their computer or mobile phone just waiting for me to comment. But if the silence happens repeatedly, then I walk away. There are plenty of other fish in the blogging sea.

It’s isn’t just good manners to respond to comments left on your site. It’s a critical part of building engagement.

If you want more comments you have to show that you care about your readers. The people who comment on your blog are waving at you, telling you they’re interested in becoming a friend. Are you really willing to ignore them after all your efforts to get them to your door?

It also sends a poor signal to everyone else who visits your blog if they see comments go unanswered. But  if you do reply to people, then it encourages them and others to comment more in the future.

Makes sense, right?

Join The Discussion

Where do you turn when you have a problem with your book blog? I’d love to build a list of resources so please share any websites, blogs or podcasts you’ve found helpful. You can simply leave a comment below or follow the discussion on Twitter using #A2Zbookblogging.

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