Why your blog isn’t getting any comments—and how to fix it

I am thrilled every time there’s a new comment on one of my blog posts. I’m ecstatic when someone likes my stuff on Facebook. I wish more people would do it.

P.T. Barnum said “Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd”. Derek Halpern at DIY Themes puts it in context: “Today, we call this social proof or social validation.” But he goes on to say, “Nothing disbands a crowd like the lack of a crowd. So if your site looks dead (no comments, tweets, or subscribers), breathe life into it.”

I’m not so popular that I can take reader interactions for granted. So I took a little time to research and write out my thoughts and ideas here. Maybe your blog needs some help, too. Read on to see what I found out.

Why you’re not getting blog comments now

  • Low traffic numbers

If you just don’t have much traffic to your blog, you’re probably not going to get comments. It’s a bit of a numbers game. Depending on your audience, you can likely expect about 1% of readers to actually leave a comment. And not all your visitors even stick around to read.

If that’s you, look at a few ways to get more traffic flowing to your blog—and make sure your content is worthy of a read first and foremost.

  • Lack of originality or personality

You don’t have to be a professional writer to blog. (In fact, it might be better if you’re not.) To get people commenting on your blog, you’d do well to show your personality. For example, be sure to add your own thoughts and experiences when you’re rehashing a popular topic.

Read the popular bloggers in your industry and see how they do it. Read and learn from them, but above all, be you. Your uniqueness is your greatest asset.

  • Writing on and on

Popular blogger Chris Brogan recommends being brief. But rather than focusing on length, I’d say to make sure you’re eliminating unnecessary words and commentary. It’s going to tire your readers. Get to the point quickly.

  • Take a look at your headlines

If people aren’t commenting because they’re not reading your posts, it could be that your headlines don’t bring them in. Your headline needs to communicate clearly what the reader can expect to get out of your post.

I’m going back to change a headline for a post I wrote last week on here. I don’t think I really said it right with “Promotion ideas for business service companies”. Perhaps something like “Designing an effective promotion—what business service companies need to know” is more appropriate. It sounds better, and it more accurately describes what I talk about in the post. (But is it too long? Anyone have thoughts on headline length here?)

  • A cumbersome comment process

Do you require people to log in? Can they find how to comment easily? Are you weeding out spam and almost-spam, to keep quality commenters in good company? Make your comment section an easy place to access and hang out.

Other things you can do to get more blog comments

It seems the more comments you get, the more you will continue to get. But if you’re not getting any now, you’ve got to start somewhere.

  • Give to get

People who blog themselves will be much more likely to comment, I’d say, than those who don’t. They understand the networking mentality. They also know how good it feels to be on the receiving end of comments—and how lousy it feels when a post you’ve slaved over doesn’t get any action.

So, give to get. Be generous with your own comments on others’ blogs. Link your name back to your own blog when you comment. Make sure your comments offer real value, which will also encourage others to visit your blog and comment. Learn how to do this from Reid Peterson of Growth in Harmony. His comments on this blog have drawn me to his blog several times, and in this recent post he’s shared how he approaches blog comments for links. (Looks like it worked!)

Some of your readers are going to be competitors or other like-minded people. But I say why not comment generously on their blogs, too? After all, if you’re in the same industry, you’re talking about the same things to the same people. Their readers can also find out about you that way.

  • Make your content more available

You can’t count on people typing in your URL every week just to see what’s new. Make it easy for them to follow you by letting them subscribe in the manner they prefer. You’ve probably already got RSS displaying prominently—make sure you add the option to subscribe by email. Make use of Twitter and Facebook and any other social platforms where you’re active.

  • Take some risks with the topics you’ve chosen to write about within your niche

To be sure you’re writing about things your targeted readers care about, take some risks. You may find a great new way to connect with readers.  Perhaps you could write more about trending news. Try creating controversy by posting the other side of an issue—the non-popular opinion, and so on.

I took a risk with an article a while back about punctuation. As a writer, I care about that topic, but I wasn’t sure others in the Internet marketing community would, too. Surprisingly, it was well received, and readers added several comments that increased its value. I’ll add a new post in that same spirit down the road again now that I know our readers are interested.

  • Ask a comment-provoking question

I usually tack a question onto the end of each blog post. However, I don’t think this has been particularly effective in stimulating comments, since people who comment rarely answer my question. They’re usually picking up on some aspect of the story, thanking me, or asking a question themselves.

Perhaps the value in my ending with a question is that it lets the reader know I want to hear what they have to say. And perhaps a better way to go about asking a question is to make the entire post point toward a question. Hmmm, a little for me to think about here.

  • Respond to comments

Thank those who took the time to offer a thoughtful comment and answer any questions that have been posted. This shows on-the-fence commenters that you’re actively engaged. In addition, the person who commented will certainly appreciate your attention. Even better if you take the time to visit their blog and leave a comment, too!

  • Include striking, relevant images

I’ve seen bloggers who receive comments on the images they source from Flikr as part of a post. (This I’ve yet to do well. Often the image I select looks great at that time, only to feel too random later.) But probably the important point here is that your post appear aesthetically pleasing and easy to read, and hopefully the image will help urge visitors to become readers.

  • Be humble and gracious

In an old post, ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse recommends being humble and gracious. This applies as much as ever. No one is infallible, and people seem to prefer to read and respond to another human being who they can identify with, not someone who assigns themselves expert status and shoots down any negative comments. Deal with naysayers graciously.

Comments aren’t the only measure of value for your blog

Regardless of how many comments you’re generating, it will be useful to take into account all the action your blog is stimulating. Here are some metrics that together can give a pretty good picture of how your blog is doing overall.

  • Traffic (numbers and sources)
  • Comments
  • Bookmarks
  • Likes, Tweets, emails and other social pass-alongs
  • Time spent on your blog
  • Number of returning visitors
  • Subscribers
  • Downloads (for ebooks or other files you offer)
  • Link juice and traffic sent to your other web properties
  • Revenue

Still, comments just feel good, and it seems to me you should see comments grow naturally along with the other measures.

If you’ve ever left a comment on a post I’ve written here, it means a lot to me. But it looks like I’ve got a bit of work to do.  How about you?

(Make sure you read DIYThemes.com’s Nonverbal Website Intelligence report for some more specific ideas like when you should hide your RSS and comment counters.)

Image credit: seier+seier

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My wasted Earth

Soft music wafted when in bed
Calling me to wake up and go to him
See the Sun peeping at the break of dawn
Giving the Moon much needed rest
There he stands mighty and tall
The rays of the Sun bracing
His snow covered crown
Making it glow all white and gold
The abode of Gods Shiva and Durga living there
With the Ganga flowing from his head
He dancing in delight with his trident in hand
Pleasing his consort Durga his eternal wife
His call to him comes as a boon
Once in a lifetime such a call comes
The urge to run to him grew with
Every passing moment that went by
The journey to him was arduous indeed
Heard the music played by nature
So soothing and unique
Never can we hear this where we live
The sounds of the streams and rivers
As it flows down gurgling music to the ear
Chirping and tweeting of birds,
Some singing some whistling
Rest under the tree by road side
Hear the winds whistle, blowing cold winds
Bracing the face, fragrance of the woods
So unique a creation to cherish and preserve
Green all around, trees in abundance
Blue sky up above, clouds floating by
This is the home given by the Lord
To all living creatures whose children are we
We kill helpless creatures for skins or prize
Shoot them down or club to death
Mass kill insects’ with pesticides
The birds meet their death,
Poisoned by grains they innocently eat
Rivers lost mighty Ganga too
Now just a river not a mighty one
Yamuna no more a river but a poisoned stream
Plastics and city waste all disposed here
No more are the rivers fresh and blue
More so at cities where the knowledgeable live
Yet we pray here treating them as Gods
Our life sustaining rivers all but lost
Glaciers melted many lost
Weather hot as it never was
Lands eroded by swelling seas
Farm lands parched by scorching Sun
Rich farmlands give way to high-rise house
Factories all types contaminating the earth
No pure water or air we get in cities we proudly live
This is progress we acknowledge writing our epithet
‘We intelligent humans, here once we lived’
Paid my obeisance to my lord I came to meet
He whispered to me in my heart
I sent you humans to Earth to live in peace
Not kill or destroy what I painstakingly built
All prayers and offerings are of no use to me
Just follow my teachings preach them to all
Live happily as children do
That’s the prayer I expect from you.
23 05 2012

Notes From A High Level Writers Group

Once a month, I attend a writers group in Willow Grove, PA.
Unlike other writers groups I’ve attended over the  years, where they tend to be re-readings of poetry or short stories (fine, but not for me,) this one includes many high powered, experienced, published writers. It was founded by Jonathan Maberry. When I met Jonathan, he’d had a few martial arts books published. Since then, he’s become a best-selling author of fantasy, horror, young adult and other related books, with some optioned for TV and movies and sales in the hundreds of thousands.

Jonathan started off the meeting by updating us on developments in the world of writing and publishing.  Here are my rough notes from, primarily, the beginning of the meeting.

Notes from talk by jonathan Maberry at a monthly writers group held in the Philadelphia suburbs– the Barnes and Noble near Willow Grove Mall, held the last Sunday of the month, noon-3 PM

The upsurge of people going to e-publishing is like a tsunami right now. It’s huge. But there’s such a percentage of crappy books. People can get the formatting right but the writing is bad.

Most cover designers for e-books are freelancers and they are on the edge of making a fortune.
It used to be that the cover could tell you whether a book was self published. Not any more.

For about $300 you can get a self-published book positioned.

Facebook ads… are becoming more and more specific. Look for keywords that mention related authors and books. For a conspiracy theory book, look for Dan Brown…

E-publishing works really well for non-fiction.
Non-fiction market was really big up until about 18 months ago.

Self help books shelf life is very short.  Books on computers are obsolete by the time they are in print so everyone  is going to e-publishing.

If you self publish in print, it’s very, very hard to get conventional publishing to like you ever again. It’s an uphill battle and involves a pen-name. (Like five year olds. “You didn’t play with me so I won’t ever play with you again.”) The (self published) book does not help the publishing world, so the publishers want you to go away and be eaten by rats.

Publishers reserve a small amount of each book sold’s revenues to be used for promotion. Then they use that money primarily on the top one hundredth of one percent of writers– the ones who don’t need it.

The author can drive their own sales. Jonathan feels he’s sold more books than his publisher by his efforts.

Some writers find that some of their books don’t fit their current publishers’ needs. The publishers don’t want to sell them.

It costs about $200 to do a strong marketing push for a short story that you can sell thousands of at $.99 a download. That money goes to formatting for Nook, Kindle, etc. Add about $100 for a professional cover.

You don’t want to be associated with a self-publishing operation like Lulu. That puts you into the situation described above, where publishers don’t like self publishers.

Tip to help books on amazon to rise higher: add tags under the section Tags Customers Associate with This Product found near the bottom of the page the book is on.

The meeting is held 12-3 PM at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Willow Grove, PA, at the meeting room in the back of the store. All are welcome.
More information here.

Photo from a recent writers group meeting. I’m the bald quarter of a head in the bottom right. The meeting usually averages 25-50 attendees. Photo by author Janice Gable Bashman

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Spare Children From Parental Disputes

Psychology for Living
Gwen Randall-Young

One morning recently I awakened from a dream that left me feeling unsettled. In the dream, my Mother had invited me for lunch, and while making soup proceeded to go on about all of the things that irritated her about my Father. I became increasingly uncomfortable with what she was saying, and finally got angry, and told her that she was responsible for her life, and I was responsible for mine, and then I stormed out.
It was only a dream, but it made me think about how uncomfortable it is for children to hear one parent criticizing another, regardless of the child’s feelings for the other parent. It is never appropriate to do this. In most cases, the child loves both parents, and when one is putting the other down, the child feels extremely awkward. He may be torn between supporting the critic, or defending the accused. Often the whole thing backfires, and he ends up losing respect for the critic, and empathizing with the one being dumped on. Even if the child doesn’t particularly like the other parent, it is still inappropriate for a parent to vent his or her feelings about that parent to the child.
What this does is to give an adult problem to a child. It is making that child into a confidante, which is really abusing the parent/child relationship: using the child for comfort, rather than providing guidance to him or her. This is true, even if the child is an adult.
There are always two sides, and it is not fair to burden a child with your version. Nor should the child be put in the position of trying to understand both sides, because children should not have to mediate disputes between parents. If this happens, the child becomes the adult, and the adults become the children.
This is extremely confusing, and creates a crazy situation. Expounding on the faults of the other parent only models a victim stance for children. Better to say you are having difficulties, and the two of you will have to find the best way to sort out the problems. Or to say that things just haven’t worked out, and you have to be apart.
The child should be free to relate to both parents without feeling disloyal or guilty. Even if the daughter or son seems to listen sympathetically, that does not mean that they will be okay with it. Even adult children may wake up, sometime down the road, with bad dreams.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

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You Don’t Love Me

Have you ever had someone say, “You don’t love me!”, when you won’t do what they want? Have you ever said “You don’t love me,” or “You don’t care about me,” because someone would not do what you wanted?
I remember times when one of my children, upon being refused a treat or a toy, would lament that I didn’t love them. I would always laugh, and so would they, because we both knew how far from the truth that was. But what if adults say this to each other and really mean it? How do you defend yourself when someone says you don’t care? It can be a no win situation.
First, it is important to recognize that it is inappropriate to tell another person how they feel. That robs them of the freedom to express their own feelings. Second, loving or caring should not automatically be associated with doing certain things. If you want to know if someone loves you or has stopped loving, it is best just to ask them, rather than to challenge them because of some behavior. If you want to see more of a particular behavior, then it’s okay to ask for it, but you don’t need to attach an emotional bomb to your request.
If you tell him he doesn’t love you because he never brings you flowers, then where does that leave him when he spends so much time working on the yard because he wants it to look attractive for you? If you’re mad because he never says you look nice, you might be missing the fact that he thinks you’re beautiful, even first thing in the morning. If you think she doesn’t love you because she spends so much time talking with her friends, you might be unaware that she talks to them about how much she does love you.
In any case, a positive approach always works better. Telling someone they don’t care triggers defensive reactions, not deeper levels of caring. Talking about what you would like to create with a person is a way of painting a positive picture that you can strive for.
And as for parents telling teenagers that they don’t feel loved because the kids would rather be with friends, or kids thinking parents don’t love them because they won’t finance a car, these are guilt trips plain and simple. Don’t lay guilt trips on people you care about, because for sure, they’ll think you don’t love them.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca



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Celebrating Differences


Psychology for Living

Gwen Randall-Young

Built into our culture is a natural tendency to compare ourselves with others. From the time a child starts first grade, he or she becomes aware of subtle, or not-so-subtle evaluations and placements. Whether the teacher is showing an example of ‘good work’, or the pecking order is being established on the playground, each child has a sense of where he or she stands in relation to others.

As we grow up in a society that fosters consumerism, the goal of advertising is to make us feel like we need more – that what we have, or where we are in life, is not good enough. Further, with media focus on unrealistic standards of style and beauty, it is easy to feel on the ‘outside’. This is the complete opposite of how it should be.
Every individual is unique, and in that uniqueness is something rare and special. Other than snowflakes, I cannot think of aspects of nature that are truly one-of-a-kind. Something wonderful happens when we celebrate what is ‘different’ about each of us. It is the differences that define us, and differentiate us from all others.

Think of the people in your life, and what you like about them. My guess is you will find it is something that is different from anyone else. Think of what is different about you. Consider celebrating that aspect of your being or even finding more ways to express it. If the creator intended us to be the same, there would have been no need for so many different molds.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca


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Thoughts Determine Our Lives

If our thoughts determine how we feel, then what happens if we think depressing thoughts?  Well, we make ourselves feel worse, and we may sink deeper into depression. We can literally torture ourselves with our thoughts. There are some situations that we really cannot do anything about. Bad things do happen. If we dwell on the unfairness of the world, or the fact that others are not really there for us, we feel sad and lonely. Then, if we imagine that everyone else is blissfully happy, having the perfect existence, then that is like pouring salt on the wound.

It is hard to adjust to change, but we live in a changing world, and things will not stay the same. Children do grow up and leave home, people do die, relationships end, illness happens, and for most people there is always some concern about finances. We have to strengthen ourselves, and like a little ship on a stormy ocean, we may experience rough seas, but we can still stay afloat. We can always work towards moving to sunnier shores.

When we are sad, there is a tendency to focus on all that is missing from our lives.  But we could begin to think of life in a different way. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote in one of his books, “Life is a collection of moments strung together in a beautifully random order.”  What if we imagined all of the good moments in our lives as beautiful, sparkling beads. The times in between could be the string that holds them all together. Even if the string had only one bright, sparkling stone, it would still be beautiful.

But most of us can think of more than one good moment. And we know that there will be more to come. It is when we forget about the good things, and see only emptiness and pain that we get discouraged. Even if you feel all alone, you can still enjoy life. You can do good things for yourself, you can immerse yourself in a good book or beautiful music, and you can connect with your own soul. That is the best friend you’ll ever have anyway. Our inner world is even more expansive than the outer world, and few ever really explore it. Maybe that is what solitude is for.

We don’t have to fear being alone, and we can even learn to celebrate those times when we get to spend uninterrupted time with ourselves. And if there seems to be a long stretch of that time, perhaps the Universe is asking us to learn about ourselves, before moving on. A kind of cosmic time-out. A time when we can imagine the rest of our lives as a blank slate, on which we can create whatever we would like.

The key is remembering that we do create our lives.  If we don’t like what is, then we can aim to create something better. But first we must know who we are, and what it is that we want. Solitude is an ideal opportunity to reflect on that.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

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