by Edie Melson
Even today-with as many blogs on the Internet as there are-blogging is still a valuable part of building and maintaining an online community. But it’s rare for a blog to take hold and grow, if it’s not a place where comments proliferate. Almost no one likes to be lectured, and that’s what a blog can feel with it the conversation is only one-sided.
I’ll go one step further and add this comparison. Your blog is your Internet home. And because it’s your home, you are responsible for being a good host and making people feel welcome.
Facilitating conversation is just one of the duties of a good host, but it’s the one I want to concentrate on today as I share tips to get more comments on your blog.
1. Give your readers someone to relate to. This means making sure they know who wrote the blog post. Ideally your blog post should have a byline-like my name at the top of this post. But at the least, end with your name. (A byline also helps with your name recognition on search engines, but that’s a post for another time.) It’s very hard to join a conversation when you don’t know who you’re talking to.
2. Keep your post focused and don’t wander too far away from your topic. If you try to cover too much area, people won’t be comfortable commenting.
3. Make sure your post isn’t too long. If you take up too much of your audience’s time, they won’t be able to stay and chat.
4. Watch your blog formatting. Even with interesting posts, people will still do some skimming. If you have headers, bullet points and/or lists they can still join the conversation.
5. Always (yes, ALWAYS) end your post with an open ended question. People don’t always know what’s appropriate to share. By asking a question, you give them the direction they need to chime in. Remember, as a host, it’s your job not to just facilitate the conversation, but you’re responsible for starting it.
6. Don’t ignore your guests. If people are kind enough to comment, you need to return the favor and continue the conversation. There are exceptions, if you have more than 20 comments, or if they are very similar, it’s find to answer a couple of people at a time.
7. Remind your guests to leave a comment below. Don’t apologize by saying, “if you feel comfortable” or “if you want.” Just tell them what you’d like them to do. Sometimes that’s just what someone need to be able to work up the courage to join in.
These are the things I’ve found that encourage readers to take part in the discussion and make my blog feel like a community. What are some things that help you feel comfortable enough to take part in the conversation? Be sure to leave your thoughts below.
Edie’s an author, freelance writer and editor. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, Social Media Director for Southern Writer’s Magazine, Senior Editor for Novel Rocket, and military family blogger on Guideposts. Visit her on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.