Why Even My Favorite Bloggers Often Can't Convince Me to Comment

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on February 4, 2011 in Blogging
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Bloggers usually love to receive comments. But as a reader, I sometimes don't leave them, even if I love the blogger and content. It occurred to me as I looked through my RSS feed this morning that there's one blog in particular that I almost never comment on. I admire the blogger. I love the content. But I don't comment. Why?

There's one simple reason -- post frequency. The blogger only posts about once each month.

I get why some bloggers do this. The blog might not be a major part of their business or marketing plan, so they don't want to invest too much time. And I've heard a few bloggers say they post infrequently because it lets them get more comments on each individual post before they move on to the next. Yet they're losing some too.

Here's the problem.

We're busy people, and that's probably the case of any group of readers made up of professionals. We only have so much time in a day to check blogs, read the content, and comment. I don't have time to comment on blogs I like every day, but I try to at least once in a while. But if you only post once or twice a month, I'm going to miss some of those posts.

I check the blogs that I know are likely to have good and fresh content up first (Lori Widmer's and Anne Wayman's blogs are usually early stops). If I only have time to look at a few blogs that day, these are the blogs I check. Others get sidelined until I have more time to catch up on them. That's true whether I check my RSS reader or manually visit the sites (my preference actually). There are dozens of blogs in my reader. I might look at five or six on a good day (because I don't let reading blogs interfere too heavily in other work that needs to be done).


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If you post infrequently, I know chances are good you won't have new content up on any given day. So I move on to those who frequently give me something interesting to read and comment on. I'll eventually get back to your blog. And I'll read the content. But if it's already a few weeks old and comments have slowed down, it's unlikely I'll comment. At that point it's stale conversation.

In the end, it's not about how many comments you get on individual posts. It's about how frequently people engage in conversations with you and your blog's readers -- and it's okay if that's split up among multiple posts.

This isn't meant to be a call to post more often. I know not all bloggers want to do that, regardless of results. It's just that I've heard the "but this way I get more comments per post" argument so much that I wanted to give a different perspective as a reader. I'd rather be able to choose from a few recent posts and comment on the ones most interesting to me than feel like the only way to connect with you as a blogger is to comment on the one topic you think is worth talking about over a long stretch. It feels kind of like having a friend with a one track mind. Eventually that gets boring and we pay less attention overall.

Just my $.02 for the day.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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10 Comments

  1. Nota Supermom February 4, 2011 Reply

    Thanks! This is good info for a beginner blogger like me.

  2. Peter Bowerman February 5, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jenn,

    I suspect I might be the blogger you’re referring to…;) Though, if memory serves, you HAVE posted on The Well-Fed Writer blog a decent amount. Even if I’m not, I could be, given the infrequency of my posts, so I’ll take your feedback here to heart.

    I just checked my posts, and I’ve had 66 posts since launching it in March 08, so that’s roughly 2 a month – still far less than many bloggers, I grant you. And an average of 23 comments per post. A few observations on my philosophy…

    It’s not that I’m trying to get as many comments as possible. It’s more about making sure we get as much out of a topic as possible. My goal as a blogger is perhaps a little different than it is for others (and perhaps not). My posts are meant to be conversation starters, always finished off with 4-5 questions designed to be a catalyst for a richer discussion about some specific issue related to commercial freelancing.

    The ultimate goal is to create, in a sense, a mini-knowledgebase about that issue – with a lot of voices weighing in with their respective experiences. When done, I can use those discussions as touch points I can refer a reader to who is asking about something, refer to in an ezine article, note in a book to illustrate a point and offer more detail about it (as I did many times in the updated edition of TWFW that came out in 2010).

    Given that philosophy, I do take friendly issue with your comment about a conversation being stale if the commenting has stopped a while back. If the conversation is about a specific and universal subject of relevance to commercial writers’ businesses, with a lot of people weighing in with their takes and unique perspectives, then I say it never really gets stale. But, you’re right in the sense that, given the perception that information has a micro shelf-life, if people perceive a conversation is old, then it’s old.

    I’ve never understood the blog 4-5 times a week approach (and I know you’re not suggesting that); Who’s got the time to write that much (or from the reader’s standpoint, read that much). But your comments are really useful – gives me a different perspective.

    I tried, early on, to get some guest bloggers in, and we had a few, but it sort of fizzled out. I might want to revisit that, but only if they’re a match for my approach. But you’re absolutely right with this line: “It’s about how frequently people engage in conversations with you and your blog’s readers.” And there could be more with mine…

    Thanks for this. Good stuff!

    PB

  3. Jennifer Mattern February 5, 2011 Reply

    Your blog was definitely one of them, and the most recent that made me think about the issue and decide to write about it. So good call. ;) (Although I’d be surprised if I comment more than ten or so times per year, which is very low for me on blogs I consistently enjoy.)

    A different reader perspective is all I was giving here — my personal feelings and how they make me interact with a blogger on their own blog. I’d be the first to say all blogs shouldn’t fit one mold. Some are for PR. Some are for marketing. Some are journals. Some are about networking in a niche. Some are business models in their own right. As you gave another good example in equating a blog to a knowledge base. What you want to get out of it will certainly lead to different approaches, and that’s something I love about blogging.

    Getting the most out of a topic is a good way to look at it. But for me personally, as a reader I have to think in terms of the blogosphere and the usual speed in the niche. If people in my network are discussing A right now, I’m more likely to visit the blogs covering it (rates seemed to be a common issue this past week, and there are frequently trends). If I stop by another blog and the last post is “old” (in bloggy-time) then more often than not comments have slowed down. And in my experience that means there’s less of a chance that other readers are going to respond to my comment directly and engage in conversation. So if I feel that there’s less chance of having a good group discussion with room to move forward, I’ll spend that time commenting on a blog where discussions are a bit more “live.”

    It has nothing to do with the topic itself being outdated. It’s more about the networking aspect and where I can make the most use of my time when I want to start or take part in ongoing conversations in the niche. I have no doubt there are readers who feel differently and don’t consider the date as much when commenting. There’s nothing wrong with that either. It’s actually becoming more and more popular for bloggers to choose themes with featured post sections specifically to highlight older content and get more mileage out of it. If I stumbled across something like that and the conversations were pretty active again, I wouldn’t hesitate jumping in if I had something to add.

    As for 4-5 posts per week, I look at it from both the blogger and reader perspective. As a blogger, I run my blogs as a major part of my business model. They bring in significant income collectively, and as I move more into new areas of blogging and indie publishing I’m actually cutting back on client projects. I’ve also seen increased posting (here specifically) lead to an 80% increase in traffic. I manage quite a few blogs, and can’t post that frequently on all though. And here I brought in a team of contributors not only to help keep things fresh, but also to bring different perspectives (like LaToya and her expertise on the financial side of freelancing or Rebecca covering WAHP issues for freelancers — things I can’t competently cover personally because they’re not my areas of expertise).

    As a reader, I don’t think of it as more content I have to read. I think of it as having more choice in what I read and comment on. There might be five new posts. If only one or two interest me, then I don’t have to read the others (or I can bookmark them for another time). I’m sure for other readers posting every weekday is simply too much. But it hasn’t hurt us in this particular niche. There are other niches I write in where once per week is perfectly adequate to reach that blog’s goals.

    So definitely don’t take it as a “here’s what I think everything should do” or anything along those lines. It’s just my experience and occasional frustration, and likely varies quite a bit with other readers in this niche or any. And it wasn’t anything personal towards you or any of the PR bloggers I rarely follow anymore for similar reasons. Heck, I imagine your self-publishing book will be my bible for the next year or so while I get a book ready for release. I love the content and read it whenever I can. But if you don’t see me commenting on most posts, it’s less about me not wanting to and more likely about the timing. After all, in the blogosphere it’s as much about the schedule everyone else is on as it is any of ours individually. But tell you what…. when I’m back to work Monday I’ll stop on over and comment on one of the latest posts, regardless of it’s age or date of last comment. ;)

  4. Lori February 7, 2011 Reply

    Well, I’m honored you check my blog and comment (and have left me link love here). :)

    I’m different in that I don’t worry about comments-per-post ratios, especially when I write the posts. I post what I think is interesting to discuss or something I’ve discovered or have had success/failure with. And I mix in a bit of “Here’s what I’m doing this week – what are you doing this week?” I’ve had great success with comments and interaction, the latter being my true goal.

    • Jennifer Mattern February 7, 2011 Reply

      And honestly I think you’ve been one of the best freelancers out there who have built a real community around their blog. Whether advice-oriented or personal in nature, the posts tend to get a fair number of comments. And as you say, it’s about the “interaction.” I don’t really see spammy comments or ones that add nothing to the conversation. People go there to talk to you and to talk about the issues you cover in your posts.

      I think a lot of my problem with very infrequent posting on blogs is that the frequency just doesn’t fit the format. It’s not about whether a topic itself is still relevant or current. It’s about whether the blog comes across as current to me as a reader. And that’s in relation to other blogs in the niche. More infrequent updates seem much more suited to monthly newsletters or e-zine formats than the blog format — which by definition is really just a website with content published in chronological order (done so largely because of frequency and making the most current discussions the highlighted ones). There are certainly other options, and blog platforms are used in other ways effectively all the time — like the magazine-style blog templates that were all the rage a year or two ago. But when the posting style doesn’t seem to suit the site style (blog vs static site vs ‘zine style, etc.), I find I’m much less likely to interact with the writer and other readers on a regular basis. There’s a certain reader expectation, and that’s where mine falls (although I know not everyone agrees, that’s perfectly fine).

      • Lori February 7, 2011 Reply

        Thanks for the compliment, Jenn. Coming from you, it’s golden.

        You make a great point about being relevant and current. The blog itself- you’re so right! If it’s neither, I lose interest.

        I don’t mind so much the occasional blogger if that’s a pattern. There are some who blog on a regular, albeit infrequent basis, that I truly enjoy and will post to because when the blogger is around, it’s usually great content. Maybe it’s the “Leave them wanting more” stuff that takes me back to those blogs?

  5. Cathy Miller February 7, 2011 Reply

    Interesting perspective. I, too, have a few I routinely check-two you already named-Lori’s and Anne’s, and the other is yours. Doesn’t this sound like a paid commercial? Feel the link love. :-)

    Anyway, here I am, thinking of cutting back on my business writing blog and bumping up posting to my soon-to-be revised personal blog. Will I ever figure this stuff out? LOL! :-D

    I don’t really feel like I have a pattern to when I leave comments – other than if I feel I have something to share or want to show appreciation. I try to remember to RT and share it, which I often forget after reading.

    Just today, I canceled some RSS subscriptions because I found I wasn’t even visiting. But, there are others, like Peter’s and Carson Brackney’s, that I visit no matter how long it’s been. I was thrilled when Carson’s showed up again after a lengthy sabbatical. Sadly, I think he off blogging again.

    I’m more loyal than a team of St. Bernards (hopefully nut as “fluffy”). As long as you keep the good stuff coming, I’ll be around. I often comment. but not always.

    Does any of this make any sense at all? :-)

  6. Peter Bowerman February 7, 2011 Reply

    Really good stuff. A lot of food for thought and I so appreciate the candor. I think my perfectionism gets in the way sometimes. I spend too much time trying to come up with the perfect post. which will always limit the output. But Jenn, your discussion of how your approach blogging, both as a blogger and a commenter, was really quite useful for me. So, thank you for that. I’m going to see what I can do about getting a few regular guest bloggers to keep things fresh and cranking, so the thing doesn’t turn into a mudeum.

    And Jenn, I got your email with the post that didn’t post. Not at all sure what happened with that. Literally the first time I’ve heard someone have that problem. With any luck, it was an anomaly… I’ll post it under my name but as coming from you (with link included…).

    Thanks again for the discussion!

    PB

    • Jennifer Mattern February 7, 2011 Reply

      Interestingly, I just came across this post via a link on Twitter. It’s about perfectionism in blogging. Might make for a good read read. ;)

      http://catseyewriter.com/2011/02/04/why-most-people-quit-blogging-the-princess-syndrome/

      As for the blog comment, it just occurred to me that Lori recently had an issue too. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a “bad neighbor” on the host’s servers. If one user on an IP is labeled a spammer by services like Akismet (or others attached to blog platforms) it can automatically push anyone on the IP into the spam folder by default. I’ll be moving my sites to dedicated IPs later this year, but if that’s the case it could be in the spam folder instead of lost in blog limbo.

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