Friday, April 10, 2009

2009 Blog Improvement Project - 7 - Making Your Blog More Comment-able and the Keeping it Real Tag

Here's what's up for April's part of the year-long challenge:

"April is going to be focused on comments. The interaction between bloggers and readers via comments is, to me, one of the best things about blogging, so I think this month will be fun.

Week #7 is going to be all about making your blog more comment friendly. I think it’s vital that once you get a new reader at your blog, it’s easy for them to engage with you by commenting on your posts.

Take an inventory of your blog comments. Write down how many comments you have as of today, then track how many comments you get per day over the next two weeks.

Pick 3-4 of the techniques from the articles (on ways to improve commenting at your blog) to implement over the next two weeks.

Spend these weeks trying to make your posts more comment friendly."

- Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

Here are several of the article ideas I'll be exploring in the coming weeks:

"Only 1 out of every 100 readers comment on your blog. Jakob Nielsen’s study finds that 90% of online community users are lurkers (read or observe without contributing) with only 9% of users contributing ‘a little’ and 1% actively contributing. The vast majority of readers leave a blog without leaving a comment or contributing to it in any way.

I find that when I include questions in my headings that it is a particularly effective way of getting a response from readers as you set a question in their mind from the first moments of your post. If someone leaves a comment interact with them. This gets harder as your blog grows but it’s particularly important in the early days of your blog as it shows your readers that their comments are valued."

- Darren Rowse, Problogger

"Berkeley Economist Brad DeLong was one of the first to use the term hoisting to describe highlighting user comments. His hoisted comments often inspire users to comment even more, and hoisting comments is another strong community building technique. Kent Fischer, education blogger for The Dallas Morning news, hoists comments to the level of their own posts. He looks for comments that deserve more attention, then makes a separate post for those strong comments that users can comment on, furthering the discussion."
- Patrick Thornton,

In looking back at my two years of blogging, here are my highest-comments posts:

* the first time I received comments that went above 10 was my 3rd Thursday Thirteen post

* 30 comments for 13 Things For Which I Am Grateful

* 32 comments for 13 Favorite Things About Halifax

* 32 comments for 13 Reasons to Read Julianne MacLean

* 32 comments for 13 of My Favorite Peace Globes From Last Week's Blogblast For Peace

* 33 comments for 13 Works by Nova Scotia Artist Holly Carr

* 33 comments for 13 Ways to Enjoy Gerard Butler in Honor of His Birthday, Nov. 13th

* 36 comments for 13 Ways to Celebrate My Grandmother's 93rd Birthday

* 37 comments for 13 of Heath Ledger's Films

* 40 comments for 13 Paintings By My Sister-in-Law, Anna Baccin

* 42 comments for Introducing 13 of My Ancestors

* 43 comments for My Very First Contest

* 47 comments for 13 of My Mom's Paintings

* 56 comments for Rhian's Blogiversary

* 83 comments for My Second Contest

What can I see straight away?

2 of the highest amounts of comments came from contests.

1 came from a party, which generated a lot of back-and-forth conversation.

2 came from posts featuring actors - Gerard Butler and Heath Ledger.

4 came from art shows.

9 came from posts where the subject matter was very personal to me.

Nearly all of the highest-comment posts were Thursday Thirteen posts. The power of the popular meme!

All good to know. I have made it a basic part of my blogging routine to return the visit to everyone who comments here, and leave my own comment there. Recently I've begun responding to comments in my own comments section, which has been recommended for the April assignment.

Something new I'm going to do is the comment hoist. Claudia from On a Limb With Claudia does this regularly. Also, I'm going to try asking questions to stimulate discussion. This is what I love about the Blog Improvement Project - the constant pushing past my comfort levels.

And now - onto the Tag! You're it!

VaBookworm from Confessions of a Bookworm nabbed me for this one earlier in the week. Ever the honourable blogger, I answered her challenge - and had my husband immediately take my picture as-is, as soon as I read the tag.

Keepin' it Real

Here are the rules:

Take a picture of yourself right now.
No primping or preparing.
Just snap a picture.
Load the picture onto your blog.
Tag some people to play.

Okay. Here's my picture, taken a few days ago after work, in my comfies ready for blogging.

And now, a-tagging I will go, a-tagging I will go...

Dorte H
Ryan Ashley

Ladies...I throw down the glove.

Leah Braemel is trying to read the titles on the spines of those books. *squinting*

Travis says before I started my own blog, I lurked quite a bit.

Ryan Ashley Scott is amazed at the 1 in 100 visitors percentage.

Akelamalu says if I comment on someone's blog a few times and get no response I stop visiting that blog as I feel I am just wasting my time. Definitely with you on that one.

Dorothy and Dorte H took up the challenge!


Leah Braemel said...

Great post, Julia. I've been following your blog project with a lot of interest trying to figure out what I need to do.

(And now I'm trying to read the titles on the spines of those books. *squinting*)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Leah - LOL! Here are a few:

The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist
Greystone Bay by Charles L. Grant
Nemesis by Louise Cooper
The Sibling by Adam Hall
The Walking by Bentley Little
Mine by Robert R. McCammon
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
The Runelords by David Farland

(all my husband's stash)

Travis Cody said...

Before I started my own blog, I lurked quite a bit. Several of my friends had been blogging, so I lurked about to see what it was like and what went on. I don't think I started commenting on blogs until I had my own.

And from the beginning of my own blog life, I've answered comments on my posts. I agree that this is a critical interaction. And I visit anyone new to my place. Sometimes this brings the person back to my blog and they become a regular. And sometimes I add them to my reading list too.

I've never hoisted comments though.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Travis - I started commenting immediately, even before I had my own blog. I just had the non-linkable name thing. I was so thrilled when I finally started blogging for real, and had a blue linked-up name.

I read blogs before starting my own for probably a year. I wasn't in a position to have the internet at home for awhile, so out of desperation I started my blog anyway and blogged on my lunch hour at work, or at the library after work. All the steps along the way...Finally sitting in my home, blogging without having to keep checking the time, with a blue linked-up name...oh, the decadent luxury.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

These are some very interesting points. I'm amazed at the 1 in 100 visitors percentage. Wow. And I find that my most-commented-on posts are not necessarily the ones that are the 'best' but are related to a giveaway or a popular meme.

I already got this tag, please tell me I don't have to torture anyone again! ;) (plus, I'm quite the cheater)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Ryan - now I'll go looking through your archives...(tee hee)

efaqffqaewfm said...

lol I tried to read the titles on the spines too, until I came to the comments and saw the reply :o)

Dorothy said...

What a tag. I did it. At least I had washed my hair earlier today.

Annie Wicking said...

I found your posting very interesting so I thought I better leave a comment...;-)

Best wishes and Happy Easter.

P.S I came via Dorothy blog

Akelamalu said...

This is a really interesting post Julia. If someone leaves a comment on my post I always return the favour and I expect the same -it's common courtesy in my book and I think this is really important. I also answer every comment I get - also important though I know some bloggers don't do either of these things. If I comment on someone's blog a few times and get no response I stop visiting that blog as I feel I am just wasting my time. The most comments I ever received was on a post saying I was going on holiday and would be back in two weeks! :)

Dorte H said...

What a fine analysis of your blog comments.
And thank you for tagging me. I asked my son to take a photo immediately - absolutely no cheating there. But I wonder what people are going to say about the angle & the quality LOL
Just you wait and see tomorrow.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

VaBookworm - Thanks for the tag - I think it's fun to see who will play!

Dorothy - I'm heading straight over!

Annie - thanks for popping by. I'll be right over...

Akelamalu - I know what you mean about visiting new people a few times who never return the visits. I don't stay with them, either. I find this especially bizarre during the Poetry Train rounds. There are a few poets who regularly post but never visit other people's blogs - or at least never leave comments. Don't know what's going on there...

Dorte H - I knew I could count on a Dane to be fearless. Can't wait for your pic!

Anonymous said...

==>"The vast majority of readers leave a blog without leaving a comment or contributing to it in any way."

how else can we 'contribute' if not by leaving a comment? For some reason, this is funny/odd to me.

Anyway, I am so glad you didn't tag me and very happy that DorteH was so happy about being tagged! I'll be off to visit and see her pic after I publish this comment.

I try to visit back when I get a comment but sometimes it's just tough to do so - I do like to respond to comments on my own blog and I do try to revisit the commentor. What amazes me is when I link to a blog AND comment on their blog and then they never visit me. But whatever - life's too short and blogging is not a job (it's supposed to be fun) so I make it fun.

Cheering you on for your BIP! - Care

deepteshpoetry said...

Wow...that was some info for sure.Phew!!There's a ghostly piece on my blog.....pls c it soon.

On a limb with Claudia said...

Hey thanks for the link! I started commenting to people's comments due to something Seth Godin said. Paraphrasing, he said that modern life is very plastic and interaction is the key to everything. Gratefully, it's something I'm good at. ;) It's quite a bit of work, but well worth it - I think! :)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Bkclubcare - Blogging should definitely be fun. I think that's why some bloggers peter out after a few years. They lose the joy. So far, so joyful for me.

Deepteshpoetry - Yes, this turned out to be a bit of an epic post.

Claudia - I was glad to bump into the term 'hoist' for your format of featuring comments in the body of your post. I've always admired it.

Leah Braemel said...

Wow, I didn't recognize any of those titles, Julia.

I've been wondering if perhaps less people are commenting these days because of the existence of things like Google Reader where you can view the blog post but not leave comments without having to click on the link to get to the post page. I know it's been changing my commenting habits.

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