Charter Member of the Sub-Media

July 13, 2004

How To Build Traffic Loyal Audiences « Blogging »

Re: Link-whoring.
I realize that's a deliberately semi-humorous self-deprecating term...except that I guess I believe it least, enough that I don't want to be a whiny pest begging for links on other people's sites. I've had people who wanted what traffic I got try to bend every discussion toward something they could use to link back to their blog, and while I never put a stop to it, it did get annoying.

Obviously, I sometimes end up fighting against myself. I've been blogging long enough to have read at least 10 "How to build traffic" posts, and I've tried some of them. One thing I haven't been able to make myself do is deliberately occupy someone else's comments and say, "Look at me!" I can, and do, leave comments I think add to the discussion...but if it's already been said, I don't add. Sometimes that works against me, too, like when I go over to Wizbang (please, people, please: No "H" in Wiz!) or Protein Wisdom or Dean's World, enough people have commented on any given post that I usually have nothing significant to add.

One thing I think I do know: how to build a loyal readership. And one of the best ways is to foster an atmosphere of discussion. I've never seen anyone give this advice before, but it is important for your readers:
You respond to every comment, and you do it within 5 minutes of someone leaving a comment, if you can.
I haven't put much effort into it lately, but I think I will again. If someone has taken the time to leave a comment, they care about what they said, and they care about the topic. If you respond, even with something like, "I hear ya, pal!", it lets them know you are listening, and appreciate their input. A good conversation requires feedback so someone doesn't feel like they are shouting into the void. Done badly, it can appear like you need to have the final word on everything. Done well, and you can easily get 20-30 comments on a thread. I once got more than 40 comments on entry at a time I was getting less than 60 hits/day. Sure, it was a conversation among only 5-6 people, but I had people expressing envy over our discussions. Anyway, I think it's time to start working on that again.

And thanks for all the links and comments and support, especially all the new people who have dropped by. (Thanks, Kevin and Christopher!)

Posted by Nathan at 06:49 AM | Comments (14)
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If you respond, even with something like, "I hear ya, pal!", it lets them know you are listening, and appreciate their input.

Or in my case, it's typically bullet points on why I am wrong. ;)

Posted by: Jo at July 13, 2004 09:18 AM

Of course, I always figure if I am in that big a need of a traffic boost, I can always just post about boobies.

Posted by: Christopher Cross at July 13, 2004 09:54 AM

As a blog reader, I love that little thrill I get when one of you guys bothers to respond to a comment I've left. Darn good advice, at least from my non-blogging perspective.
So's the boobies, BTW.

Posted by: rick at July 13, 2004 11:43 AM

But that's because we know you are strong and smart enough to hold your own, Jo.

Chris, I'm probably not going to post about boobies. It's just not really my style. Unless it's a post about boobie puns, perhaps... At the very least, I do promise to think about boobies the next time I post.

Good! I hope I haven't blown off any of your comments. I will make sure I respond in the future. I do find it interesting that I've seen no one else post anything about the importance of responding to comments. We don't have facial expressions online, so leaving some sort of response is kinda the blogosphere way of saying, "Mm-hmm". If you don't do it, it makes the commenter feel like he's talking to a brick wall. I know that even as a blogger I've felt that way many times.

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 12:37 PM

There! That's what I'm talkin' about! Suddenly it's a dialogue, not just me sitting here reading, able to only nod my head in agreement,or shake my fist in rage. Or whatever.
I do most of my blog-hopping at work, and I mostly just lurk around in the shadows, but when something moves me, darnit, I will put a chime in. And no, you haven't blown off a comment, being as I just got here today for the first time, thanks to INDC Bill. I'll be back, as the man says. Good stuff here.

Posted by: rick at July 13, 2004 01:39 PM

The only reason I was worried I might have blown off a comment by you is that I've had a ton of comments recently, and I can't be sure I've responded to all of them.
But any time you want a discussion on anything I've talked about here, you are always welcome. I will respond. If I'm having a busy week and miss it, just remind me of my promise here, and I'll at least acknowledge with a "busy, get back to you soon" response.

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 01:43 PM

I think that is a wise approach. The whole point of comments is for a discussion and nothing says "unloved post" like a comment counter of zero. By responding to each comment, you effectively double the comment count for every post! (Just say NO to odd numbered comment counts!)

I still remember the day when my commment count finally exceeded my post count.

Although a few comments don't warrant a response, I almost always keep the notification for each comment in my inbox until I have had a chance to respond to is.

Posted by: King of Fools at July 13, 2004 02:03 PM

Well, you do have to be careful. You don't want to seem like you are always trying to have the last word. My internal monitor is telling me I'm coming pretty close with this response...

Sometimes it is good to shut up and get out of the way, and I try to do that when commenters are discussing things between each other. But since it is my blog, people leaving comments are usually talking to me, thus, I should respond. Getting a full-blown conversation going between people is much more difficult to nurture from a spark into a full flame; usually the blog proprietor's main duty in that case is to protect free discussion, i.e., don't let people pile on to someone making an unpopular point. But even that is a fine line, because some points are unpopular because they are insufferable or unacceptable. And in some ideological battles, you probably can't protect all combatants equally...

It's an art, not a science, I guess.

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 02:10 PM

Of course, commenters can help by making their comments in such a way as to invite a reply. Wouldn't you agree, Nathan?

Posted by: McGehee at July 13, 2004 02:53 PM

Why, yes, Kevin, I would agree. 8P

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 03:16 PM

I just want to comment on this thread to cement my place as one of the cool kids. ;)

Posted by: Deb at July 13, 2004 03:41 PM

Heck, you were one of the original. From the "Classic" Brain Fertilizer days of the "Just-Us League".

Umm, since the loss of my archives, I was wondering...did anyone save a copy of those?

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 03:45 PM

I'm not one of the kewl kids.
But I'm commenting anyway.

I know I try to reply to comments on my personal site, but I'm not sure that the commenters revisit the same article they commented on, as the articles get burried so fast.

Posted by: Jeremy at July 13, 2004 03:48 PM

You're one of the kewl kids, you just won't admit it.

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 04:05 PM