Want More Comments? 12 Tips for Finding Your Audience: Slice of Life #sol18 7/31

Community is what keeps me coming back to the March Slice of Life Challenge. I love reading slices and discovering new voices. I love writing comments. Commenting feels like this wonderful gift we give to each other this month. It’s such a treat to open your blog and find five or six thoughtful new comments connecting to your words and praising your craft.

Since community is what I love so much about the challenge, I was sad to discover this morning that Sonja, one of my favorite slicers, doesn’t plan to participate in the challenge anymore because her posts just aren’t being read. With over 300 slicers participating, it’s not surprising that it’s hard for writers to find their readers!

I know from my visits to other blogs that Sonja’s experience isn’t unique. Even with the Welcome Wagon to ensure that new slicers get feedback and encouragement, not all slicers are experiencing the amazing community that encourages me to slice every March. I’ve noticed a real disparity in the number of comments slicers receive. Some slicers (me included) routinely receive 10 or 20 comments on each slice. But others may receive only 1 or 2. Or none!

I think it was largely through the generosity of established slicers and bloggers that my blog found its audience, and I am going to try to do more to promote the blogs I enjoy.

Sonja’s post also got me wondering what the individual slicer can do to get more feedback and build an audience. I thought about how I stumbled into readers when I first started blogging, and I thought about what new readers to my blog do to get me to reciprocate. Here’s what I came up with:

Cultivate your tribe within the tribe. Whose slices do you love to read? Who writes like you (or like how you aspire to write)? Who writes about the same topics that interest you? Who inspires you? Follow those blogs, comment on multiple slices, maybe even find those bloggers on other social media sites like Twitter. I might not notice a new reader who comments once, but I do notice and reciprocate when I see a new name show up a few times.

Write alongside other slices. I routinely use other slices for mentor texts and make sure I link to the original post. I’ve noticed that the original slicer almost always visits my post and comments, and I try to do the same when slicers find inspiration in my posts.

Invite feedback. I know a blog post is already an implicit invitation for feedback, but why not try asking explicitly? Fran McVeigh often ends her posts with a question to her readers, and I have to confess, I usually want to answer—and I’m clearly not the only one!

Respond to the comments you receive. This is a lesson I learned from the wonderful bloggers who participate in the It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? community. Responding to comments makes it clear you’re reading and that the comments you receive really matter to you. When I see a blogger engaging with his or her readers through comments, I feel more encouraged to comment myself.

Comment on other slices. And think lavish comments. The community standard of three comments may not be enough to grow your own audience. See what happens to traffic on your blog once you’re leaving 10 or 20 comments each day. It doesn’t take as long as you might think to read 10 or 15 slices and write a short comment. Even if you can’t do it daily, try for extra commenting a few days a week.

Comment thoughtfully. There is an art to writing a blog comment. I do appreciate the brief “Love this piece! Thanks!” but I’m more likely to follow up on a comment that connects meaningfully with my content or craft or makes it clear that I have something in common with the commenter.

Make sure you can be found. Be sure to include a link to your blog or even your Twitter handle in your comment so that I can find you.

Figure out the right time of day to publish. I get far more comments if I publish my slice before 10 a.m., but that’s not always feasible. Still, if I post later in the day I know to expect fewer comments.

Share the correct and full link to your post. I still see incorrect or incomplete links posted at Two Writing Teachers. If you aren’t getting comments, make sure that you’re posting the right link.

Provide a teaser with your link. If I don’t know what your post is about, I’m probably not going to click. Consider crafting a headline-like hook that will make it hard for me to scroll past your slice.

Publicize your post. Are you sharing your posts on Twitter or other social media sites you use professionally? Have you included the #sol18 hashtag so that your post can be found? It’s easy to set up automatic sharing on different social media platforms. Just Google a tutorial for your blogging platform.

Maintain your blog year-round. A smaller group of slicers participate on Tuesdays throughout the year, so it’s easier to find your audience. And the audience you build throughout the year will feel invested in your March success. Many slicers participate in other weekly blogging challenges as well, such as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or Celebrate. Those communities are also very supportive (and much smaller!), and they are a great way to find committed and enthusiastic regular readers.

What tips have helped you build an audience for your blog? Please share additional ideas!

 

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31 thoughts on “Want More Comments? 12 Tips for Finding Your Audience: Slice of Life #sol18 7/31

  1. These are great tips. I think the one about posting on Tuesdays throughout the year is important. With fewer people participating this is a good way to grow your readership and have a solid base of responders come March. I have at times clicked on a link only to be told that the post can’t be found so it is important to check your link. After I publish I always click on the link I posted to make sure it takes the reader to my post of the day. If it doesn’t I make the correction and republish the line.

    • This is such a smart idea and I hadn’t thought of it! But if you click on your link you can immediately check to be sure it’s working. I, too, have clicked on a few slices this month only to be told the post can’t be found. And I nearly posted the wrong link one day myself!

  2. Thanks so much for these tips. I agree with the tip about posting on Tuesdays, but for some reason, I don’t keep up with that as much. Maybe I just need to schedule it like everything else. Know that other people read your post and comment is definitely a source of motivation. My favorite types of comments are the ones where someone notices something about my craft – it feels like a digital writing conference. I will be making the time to read and comment on more than 3 posts.

    • Those are my favorite type of comments too. I’ll be honest: I sometimes feel a little disappointed if I work hard on the craft of a piece and then all the comments are about the content, even though I’m often guilty of making those kinds of comments myself. This year, I have been trying to remember to note something about craft each time I comment too. I don’t keep up with slicing the rest of the year either. Somehow I find it easier to slice 7 days a week than once!

      • Yes why is it easier (or seems it) to slice 7 days a week?!?! I’m also trying to be better about commenting about the craft as well on other slices. The content is important too but so is craft! Trying to keep the balance

  3. These tips are exactly what I would say. In the beginning, if someone commented on my post, I always found theirs and left a comment too. Plus it is important to read more than three. I think of the comments as a conversation with the writer.

  4. Great tips, thank you! This is my second year, and I’ve noticed a decline in comments. I’m going to take your tips and see if it helps! Comments really are a big motivator. When you feel like no one reads your posts, it makes you feel like quitting much more.

    • I wonder if the decline in comments is due to the huge numbers of participants? It really is hard to sort through and find your mini-tribe within the big group, I think. I agree with you about the importance of comments as a motivator. I think they keep us going through the month–knowing we have readers and that those readers are struggling with the same things we are as writers. Let me know if any of the tips in particular seems to work!

  5. Great tips for sure! There are several things on the list that I could work to improve upon for a larger blog readership. I know your comments on my blog have always been so lovely—-and really have helped me to feel like what I put out in the world matters. Thank you for everything.

  6. This is a really interesting post. I began my blog in July of last summer and I remember being thrilled in October when I got my first comment. It was validation that someone was actually reading what I had to say. My goal for blogging has never been about the comments, but it does help with motivation as a writer. So, I appreciate your commenting tips, as I need to remember that I need think about the kind of comments that I am commenting on!

    • I remember being thrilled with my first comment too. I had a reader! Who wasn’t my mom! (Although thanks, Mom, for always reading!!). Comments do help with my motivation too, even though I like to think I’d continue blogging even if no one was reading. But I’m just not sure that’s really true!

  7. This is such great advice! I do most of them, but I’m bad about replying to comments. That’s my goal for this month. And to find some new people to follow.
    I am in a new Twitter/Facebook group called #TeachWrite tribe. Our purpose is to promote and encourage teacher/ writers. We have daily postings on Facebook and a once a month Twitter chat and also a Voxer group. I found these great women through Slice of Life and now we are spreading the love. Many of our followers are doing SOLC for the first time. Having a smaller group to connect to within the larger one helps a lot.

    • I just recently discovered #teachwrite and haven’t had time to read the blog archives there, but there’s so much good stuff! I love the daily word on Twitter and feel sure I’ll be reaching for that at some point. I really have to get into Voxer….

  8. This is great. I was just telling my students how much fun it is to get feedback on this challenge. I shared that it is like what we do in class but on a bigger level. They thought it was a neat way to share my writing. I am one who does not get many comments- I will mark this post and refer back to it to improve my connections. I am a late slicer at this point- 9:00 ish eastern standard time. I hope to switch to earlier when I get some things in order. I appreciate your thorough information!

    • Deb Day posted a neat idea on Twitter yesterday for those of us who are morning slicers–return to yesterday’s slice link-up and comment on a few of the evening posts. I did that this morning and discovered some great new-to-me blogs. Looking forward to finding your blog too!

  9. This is a great post! This is my 4th year participating and I have been feeling quite discouraged by the low number of comments I receive. I figure either my writing style is really bad or others just aren’t connecting to the content. I know I can do better at a few of the things you suggest. Thank you for posting your ideas!

    • I love your blog, of course, so I don’t think it’s the writing or the content! Maybe just the sheer numbers of slicers? I’m off to share your terrific post on Donalyn Miller and the need for inspirational PD on Twitter.

  10. What a great list! I really hope that TWT will see it and publicize it so that others will see it too. One thing I don’t do is reply to my commenters. I’m not even sure I know how to do that, but I’m going to try to figure it out because, truthfully I’ve been a little sad about the number of comments I am receiving this year. I do comment on at least twenty slices a day.

    • Wow, Carol. 20 a day! Now I have something to aspire to. I’m a new slicer, and I can attest to the energy every comment gives me. So many thanks to you and Elisabeth—and several other kind slicers—who have helped roll out the welcome wagon for me! My goal for a long time has been to write and/or blog daily and SOL has given me a great leg up on that practice.

    • Carol, I don’t always respond to my commenters either. I decided I’d better start doing it, though, if I’m giving it as a piece of advice here! Some days just get away from me and I forget to come back here and engage with my readers. I try to comment on at least 20 slices a day too. It doesn’t take as much time as it sounds like it does! I think I’m going to start publicizing 3-4 deserving posts on Twitter each day too and see if a little Twitter traffic will find its way to those posts. I’ve honestly been really surprised as I’ve visited different blogs to see how few comments are being shared and have wondered what’s going on. I really do wonder if it’s just a function of the huge number of participants now. 3 comments just don’t go that far!

      • I don’t know if it has anything to do with the number of comments you’re seeing on other blogs, but on Day 6 when Stacey asked Blogger users to switch preferences for comments, I did, and the change hid most of the comments I had on my posts. I had a few comments each day previous to that change.

  11. Elisabeth, not only is this just-right advice for me, I’ve sent this to school to share a bit at a time with my student bloggers. Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am a first time slicer and brand new blogger and comments mean the world to me right now. What I’m doing right: commenting on multiple blogs! I think I like commenting almost as much as writing. 🙂 What I need to work on: figuring out how to make sure people can get back to my blog if they’re not on wordpress and publicizing my blog (not sure I’m ready for this step!!). Thanks again for the tips.

    • I like commenting as much as writing for sure–probably more, LOL. I only publicize my blog on Twitter, since my blog is a professional site and I use Twitter professionally. It’s easy to set up automatic sharing on Twitter from WordPress and it’s a fairly low-stakes way to add a tiny bit of publicity. I do have a few readers each day who only get here through Twitter.

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