Blog Marketing: Do You Make These Commenting Cock Ups?

August 5, 2008


If you have a blog to promote yourself, or your business, blog marketing is essential - unless you like talking to yourself.

And one of the first ways many of us market our blogs is by commenting on other blogs. But it’s easy to make a complete cock up of this, especially in the early days. I know I did:

Accidental Spamming:
Initially, I just watched what others did and followed. I noticed most commenters were just saying “great post”, so I thought this was the right thing to do. And I had no idea that I was actually spamming dozens of blogs.

Meaningful Comments Still Get Ignored: When I began blogging, Problogger was my bible. And I read a post which said we should leave meaningful comments on other people’s blogs. So, like many others, I began doing that. But, I only knew of the hugely popular blogs back then and found my comments were being ignored.

Did you ever visit a blog like that? It’s annoying isn’t it? And it’s difficult to care about what a blogger has to say when they don’t care about what their readers are saying.

Too Many Cock Ups Put Me Off Blogging

At that point, I began to become disillusioned with blogging. Did you ever feel like that? I noticed some of the blogs I was visiting could publish any old crap and still get tons of comments. One blogger actually posted a picture of grafitti on a toilet wall and received an amazing amount of comments. And it dawned on me that these people weren’t commenting because they were interested. They were just hoping to attract traffic to their own blog too.

It was at that point that I felt like giving up. It all began to seem sort of pointless.

Not All Blogs Are Like That

Then I discovered Technorati and found you could search for other blogs on there. So I did and I found many interesting blogs. And the bloggers did answer questions. Trouble was, I didn’t visit many of these blogs more than once because I couldn’t remember the url.

Where’s Your Reader?

I’d been blogging for a few months by now and one day, a commenter asked me how he could subscribe to my RSS feed in a reader. Well, that sort of worried me, because I didn’t know what an RSS feed and a reader were.

So I did a little research and got a feed and a reader. If you don’t have one, click here to learn about RSS feeds. Without one, you’re making it more difficult for people to return to your blog.

Getting Somewhere At Last

I began adding some of the blogs I enjoyed to my reader. Then I noticed something interesting. The same people seemed to visit some of these blogs often. And many of them seemed to know each other well. They were having real conversations and those conversations were interesting.

But still, there was another problem. Lots of these folk having these conversations seemed to know each other. How on earth could I possibly join in? So, I thought about it. How did we get to join in conversations in the real world? Then it dawned on me - people like to talk to the people they know. If I returned to the same blog and joined in the conversation often, I would no longer be a stranger.

Blog Commenters Are Like Butterflies

Then a wonderful thing happened. Some of these people I was getting to know through these conversations visited my blog too and we began to have conversations here. And soon, I felt like I’d become part of a community of bloggers, who had interesting conversations and shared comments on each other’s blogs.

My Mistake - Commenting Is Not About Getting Visitors To Your Blog

I made commenting mistakes because I thought commenting was about encouraging readers to come to your blog. But I was wrong. The purpose of commenting is to encourage conversation and build community.

Have you made some of these commenting mistakes? Do you have a commenting strategy? Not all blogs are the same - some successful blogs don’t encourage community. Do you think that different strategies suit different blogs?

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Comments

29 Responses to “Blog Marketing: Do You Make These Commenting Cock Ups?”

  1. Vered on August 5th, 2008 4:36 am

    I really enjoyed this post.

    I am proud to say that although I did make blogging mistakes, I got the commenting thing nailed down pretty quickly. :)

    I completely agree that comments are meant to create a discussion and build a community. I also agree that on certain highly popular blogs, there are other motives for commenting. To me, the best thing about blogging is the interaction. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Vered’s last blog post..Oops. Outed.

  2. Robin on August 5th, 2008 5:01 am

    Hi there Cath - GREAT POST - and I am ONLY commenting here to get traffic (just kidding).

    Seriously… it’s good to hear your story! When I started I only commented on young blogs, because I thought they would more likely return my comments - but I felt quite uncomfortable about the whole commenting thing. These days the process feels quite natural - it took me a while to decide on what to call myself when commenting, though. Like Vered, the best part of blogging is the interaction, for me.

    Robin’s last blog post..This Blogging Life!

  3. Mike Goad on August 5th, 2008 5:05 am

    Great Post!… er, neat post… uh, very interesting post… well, you get my drift.

    Actually, I really liked it.

    Commenting can be hard work, almost as hard as keeping up with my blog(s). I have to pace myself and sometimes set limits on commenting. I don’t comment just for the sake of commenting. Sometimes I refrain from commenting because I don’t have time to even read the posts in my reader…, or I’m just burned out on interaction, either online, offline or both.

    My commenting strategy is to find bloggers that write on topics that interest me and find a post worth commenting on. If they respond to my comment, I’m more likely to continue visiting their blog and to add their blog to my feedreader.

    I also respond to most comments made on my blog and visit the commenter’s blog or web. Usually, they’ll get added to my feed reader and then I’ll bide my time until there is a blog post that I connect with and where I can contribute something somewhat pertinent.

    Mike Goad’s last blog post..Aged and Weathered Logs

  4. Barbara Swafford on August 5th, 2008 6:03 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Like Vered and Robin, it’s the conversation and community I absolutely love.

    In the beginning I didn’t know I should respond to the comments on my blog, so I didn’t (it was a small handful). I had read that “great post” was considered a spam comment, so although I might tell someone they wrote a great post, I will elaborate.

    I see blogs where the author rarely shows up, and that can be disheartening, but some of those authors are also extremely busy trying to get information out to us, so I understand.

    Commenting is a great way to show our support to fellow bloggers. I haven’t heard of anyone yet who doesn’t love their comments and the community that forms.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..NBOTW - Reaching Out To Our Ancestors

  5. Alex Fayle on August 5th, 2008 6:34 am

    Cath

    I went through everything you did, and ended up not reading blogs and/or commenting for a long time. Of course that seriously affected my own blog. My sister (Urban Panther), on the other hand, decided when she started her blog that a part of blogging was spending a couple of hours a day reading other blogs and commenting. That (combined with her amazing writing skills) has catapulted her into some really good exposure.

    So yes, it’s about conversation and building community, but wow, the pay offs are great (and the negative consequences of not getting involved are also huge).

    Cheers,
    Alex

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Expanding Tastes

  6. Lillie Ammann on August 5th, 2008 6:40 am

    Cath,

    Great post. :-)

    Seriously, it is a great post, but “great post” isn’t a great comment. I generally delete comments like “great post” or “thanks,” unless they’re from regular commenters. Sometimes those comments are appropriate, but most of the time they’re spam (intentional or not as you learned).

    I love to comment on other blogs and love comments on my own. I didn’t expect conversations when I first started blogging, but the conversations make it better than what I thought it would be.

    Lillie Ammann’s last blog post..July Thanks to Commenters

  7. Davina on August 5th, 2008 8:51 am

    Hi Cath.

    I don’t think I’ve made any blogging mistakes (at least I hope I haven’t); I’ve been learning from some of the best of the above :-)

    I appreciate the comments as well, and especially enjoy reading the friendly banter back and forth between the commenters. It feels similar to the camaraderie I remember from being at work and joining a group on a coffee break for some water cooler talk.

    I look forward to reading the different points of view that show up.

    Davina’s last blog post..Look Ma, I Can Fly!

  8. Leanne Magraith on August 5th, 2008 11:32 am

    I am not going to say great post (oops just did). I like the sense of community on blogs, and would love to have the time to be more involved in that aspect, both on blogs I visit and my own blog.

    I find that with my full time job, plus going to the gym/exercising at least 5 times per week plus setting up my weight loss website I just don’t have the time :(

    Plus there are long periods during the day when I am away from my blog, and the inernet and I often find I am late to the party so to speak.

    I am curious as to how many hours per week people spend per week reading and commenting on various blogs and how they find time to do this.

    Maybe I could find more time if I managed all of my online activities, emails, RSS, other readers, surfing social networking etc nore effeciently. I am still grappling with all of the technology.

    Any tips to streamline this would be appreciated.

    Leanne Magraith’s last blog post..Open Up The Window

  9. Alex Fayle on August 5th, 2008 11:49 am

    @ Leanne:

    I’m totally with you on the finding time for social mediaing. ProBlogger talks about being in front of his computer up to 10 hours a day. I’m so not up for that.

    I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a 9-to-5 job to distract me - my job is my writing, so I’m able to dedicate several hours a day to this. Even so, I’m not yet Twittering, Plurking or Stumbling because I haven’t figured out how to fit them into my schedule.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Expanding Tastes

  10. Elaine B. on August 5th, 2008 12:08 pm

    I do think commenting is still about seeding the web with your url and agree 100% with commenting readers are like butterflies, so why not plant a butterfly garden? Still trying to figure that one out…

    Elaine B.’s last blog post..Happy Monday! Grab a little happy!

  11. Brad Shorr on August 5th, 2008 12:55 pm

    While I agree the main purpose of commenting should be conversation, acknowledging a “great post” seems like a good thing to do IF it’s sincere, and an even better thing to do if you explain why it’s a great post. A little positive reinforcement and feedback let you know whether you’re on the right track as a blogger.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..How Useful Are Google Alerts?

  12. Al at 7P on August 5th, 2008 1:03 pm

    Hi Cath - I really liked this post. I feel like your learning experience about commenting was so similar to how I went about it. More bloggers should be reading this post!

    Al at 7P’s last blog post..Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

  13. Hunter Nuttall on August 5th, 2008 2:21 pm

    Lots of good tips here. I figured out the commenting thing pretty quickly, but one mistake I made was not checking commenters’ URLs when moderating. A comment can be perfectly legitimate, and yet it can be a spam URL (or worse).

    I used to have one commenter who would leave good comments, but include a two-line signature at the bottom of each one, including a link. It looked spammy, it wasn’t even an effective signature, and every single one went to moderation because of the link. I just started deleting the signature but giving nice replies to the comments.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Introverts And Extraverts: Can’t We Just Get Along?

  14. Lance on August 5th, 2008 2:49 pm

    This is a really good post Cath! What I like is that you show some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way. It makes me feel ok that I’ve made some of the same mistakes. I know I’m in good company!

    I originally started posting comments, like you, to grow the number of hits to my blog. What I have found, instead, like you, is that what really makes this “work” for me is the community I feel through the comments that are left. So, it really has become quality over quantity for me. And I’m realizing more everyday, that this is what is great about the internet as it has evolved - that it has become much more social - and it a great way to connect people of similar interests.

    Lance’s last blog post..Life’s A Beach

  15. Avani-Mehta on August 5th, 2008 3:08 pm

    I wish I had read something like this when I began with blogging and commenting. I must have made all the mistakes that you have made. I usually make it a point to subscribe via rss to blogs I like and comment whenever possible.

    Avani-Mehta’s last blog post..Salt of A Happy Marriage - When Too Much Of A Good Thing Makes A Marriage Go Bad

  16. Urban Panther on August 5th, 2008 8:54 pm

    Okay, well my brother Alex said it for me *guffaw* I refused right up front to do the meaningless one liner comments. A post has to inspire something meaningful..or silly..in me. I have noted that my baby brother has since learned from his big sister, and is out there building community. *big sisterly grin*

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..Yep, tastes good

  17. Kelly@SHE-POWER on August 5th, 2008 11:05 pm

    I’ve made loads of blogging mistakes, though when you’re learning that’s to be expected so I don’t beat myself up over it. But commenting is one thing have always found easy. I love to read and I love to talk to people, so I always try to write a thoughtful comment because I really am interested in discussing ideas, feelings and world views.

    Now I read so many blogs that I only tend to comment on about 10 regularly and they are often my friends or people I think I could become friends with. Of course if someone taps into something I feel strongly about then I’ll comment anywhere! The rest of the time I guess I acknowledge a well written post with a stumble or DIGG. I stumble A LOT.

    As for traffic, it stresses me out to focus on it too much so I’m not sure I have a strategy. that’s probably one of my mistakes then…

    Kelly

    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..Help, I’m Having a Hair Breakdown!

  18. Akemi - Yes to Me on August 5th, 2008 11:52 pm

    Great post!! :)

    It’s hard to comment well. It takes some time for me to read, form my opinion, and figure out how to say it well. This is why I’d much more prefer writing my own post with outgoing links to the posts I liked. But still, I do comment . . . sometimes. Mostly for fun.

    I feel the same way about some big blogs. And I’m not sure if that is something I want for my blog. I’d rather have quality readers than quantity readers . . . but of course I want readers . . .

    Akemi - Yes to Me’s last blog post..Gratitude Friday, Week 8, Gratitude And The Surprise Present I Got

  19. Strategic Commenting on Small Blogs | Yes to Me on August 6th, 2008 3:43 am

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  20. Cath Lawson on August 6th, 2008 3:27 pm

    Hi everyone - can´t reply individually as I´m using this expensive mexican internet access again. But I´ve been reading the discussion. I had no idea that Alex was Urban Panther´s brother. Just shows what a small world the blogosphere really is.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Could The F Word Harm You?

  21. Alex Fayle on August 6th, 2008 4:50 pm

    @ Cath

    And the funny thing is that we arrived here from different places - me from Men with Pens and UP from Blogging Without a Blog…

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Damaging My Defenses

  22. Monika Mundell on August 7th, 2008 4:03 am

    Gee, 08I can’t remember the stuff ups I made. Like the classic “putting your keyword into the name box mistake”. Or the “inserting links into the comment field box”.

    Thinking back now it makes me laugh out loud. I was such a greenhorn, but then, there is no school for “how to behave when you are on the Internet”. Some of it is common sense and other stuff is learning by doing while improving.

    Can I say great post, or will you kick me in the shins now? :-) Hahahahaha…

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Going Offline - Breaking Into Magazines

  23. Monika Mundell on August 7th, 2008 4:05 am

    Oops, sorry about the spello. My bird is dancing on my keyboard. I need to have the reflexes of a snake to hit those keys before the Internet eats my “enter”.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Going Offline - Breaking Into Magazines

  24. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on August 11th, 2008 2:26 am

    And it’s difficult to care about what a blogger has to say when they don’t care about what their readers are saying.

    I second that, Catherine. You know, in the beginning I too had a strategy. I read how leaving comments on other blogs can be a way of doing and attracting business.

    But you know what, it just wasn’t fun.

    John Hoff - eVentureBiz’s last blog post..Is A Google XML Sitemap Necessary?

  25. cathlawson on August 14th, 2008 6:25 am

    Hi Monika - so many people make the keyword in the name box mistake don’t they. And nobody likes having a conversation with a keyword.

    Hi John - I know what you mean. Some of the blogs that get a huge amount of commenters are so mind numbingly boring to read. I packed that in when I started realising that half the time, the writers didn’t give a shit what they wrote and nor did the readers. It was so artificial.

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  29. Deenermeark on November 4th, 2008 3:22 pm

    I don’t even know,fellow!) continued to write in the same vein, it is interesting people!

    Deenermeark’s last blog post..Someone Else Fresh Air mp3 download

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