On Day One of your blogging journey some guru told you – no doubt in her or his own blog on blogging – that one of the best ways to grow your site is to comment on the blogs of others.
It’s the proverbial slow road to riches, or even gas money, to be sure. You see a lot of entrepreneurial tortoises crawling slowly down this path, but few hares because they’ve have pretty much been stomped into roadkill.
Maybe you commented on that guru’s life changing post, maybe not. I’m betting not… entering your first comment can be as scary as hitting the PUBLISH button on WordPress for the first time.
But sooner or later you gotta go there.
Welcome to the Blogging Party
Commenting is very much like attending a party. If you don’t speak up, if you don’t ask someone to dance, no one will notice you. If you do, one of three things will happen, depending on your strategy:
- You’ll quickly blend into the crowd and then just as quickly become anonymous…
- You’ll come off as a dork, or worse, as arrogant or offensive…
- Or you’ll shine as someone people would like to get to know.
Which means, in the latter case, that you’ll be invited back. And if you continue your shiny ways, you’ll become a regular on the party circuit.
Even better, people will want to attend your party. Which, in the non-analogous real world, is already underway on your website.
Here are four principles of decorum that will help you stand out, and in the right way. Because staying neutral is the wrong way, at least if your goal is to leverage your comment into traffic for your own site.
Avoid the “hey nice post” Comments
Someone walks into a party. They look nice. You tell them they look nice. You comment.
This feels good on the receiving end, too. You notice. But that’s all that you do. It isn’t enough to get the polite commenter a first date.
It isn’t enough to post a “Nice post, dude!” comment and expect anyone to click through to your site.
It isn’t a bad thing. It may even be a polite thing. Go for it if “nice post” is what you need to express. Just don’t mistake it for a blogging growth strategy. Because for networking bloggers, “nice post” translates to: not a player.
Don’t Come Off as Overly Contrary
Some people like attention, and to get it they sometimes begin breaking things. A few like to take a contrary position on just about everything, and by airing it out in a comment (going back to our analogy for a moment), it becomes the lamest strategy imaginable for getting asked back or attracting any type of attention other than negative energy.
You can take a stand, but pretend it’s your soon-to-father in law you’re challenging. Be polite, look for ways to be gracious and acknowledge whatever aspect of your target isn’t reprehensible to you.
Everybody likes a self-thinker and a bold advocate. Nobody likes an asshole.
Be Humbly Credible
Blogging is like online dating – it’s a safe place to be someone other than who you are. But be warned, blog readers are extraordinarily perceptive and wary of B.S. They can smell a fraud quicker than a gas leak in their bed partner.
There’s a fine line between making it clear and obvious that you know your stuff and making it clear and obvious that your intention is to make it clear and obvious. Pretend there’s an ego meter wired to your keyboard, and you’re being evaluated on the least amount of bluster possible in what you put out there.
Ego is like an oil leak in otherwise pristine waters. It destroys everybody’s interest, it repels readers and counters whatever shards of logic and creative ingenuity hidden in your post between the heavy-handed attempts to sound smart.
This can’t be taught. But it can be observed, recognized, and them emulated.
Add Value to the Post
People who read blogs are for the most part bloggers themselves, which means they understand this game. They tend to congregate within a specific niche or content arena, which is the wheelhouse of your strategic commenting opportunity.
The right audience is there, in the right place, waiting. It’s up to you to carry the right tune once you step on stage.
Because not everyone is there to propagate a self-serving agenda. Many read blogs with a genuine interest and desire to learn. Which is why the nature of your comments have inherent and significant potential.
If you sound like someone who has something to offer, and if you come off as humble and pleasant and sincere, chances are the earnest blog reader – which is precisely the person you want to attract to your site – will click through to you.
And even with the best of results, you’ll only snag a few. It’s a long term strategy, one littered with the remains of tortoise-like commenters who yielded to impatience.
If you comment, and comment well, they will come. From that point on your blog needs to deliver on that promise. Which makes the comment itself an extension of your blog, and one with important strategic consequences.
Photo credit: David Boyle