The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Boggled: More Comments About Comments

            I have often indicated that I am a student of Blog Science--the study of how blogs work.  It's an analytical approach I like to take when I start doing something that interests me.  I like to know how things work and how I can make them work more efficiently.  And as any scientist has a tendency to do I like to experiment in order to test the theories I hear about or come up with myself.  In this first year of blogging, Tossing It Out has been my blog laboratory.

            The first thing that captured my curiosity when I started my blog was how would I get people to read.  I also recognized that having followers sign up would mean the greater likelihood of potential return visits by readers.  Also the attractiveness of numbers of followers on a site often makes others want to linger a bit to see why that site is so popular.   Let's think psychology here:  If you see a business with an empty parking lot you might be inclined not to go in, whereas a crowded parking lot might make you want to find out why the place is so popular.  It's not always the case, but overall, popularity attracts more attention.

         So how to get the visitors?  My first step was to contact friends and relatives.  Perhaps a cheap shot, but why not?  Wouldn't they be interested in what you have to say?  I called people I knew and sent out emails.   I asked them to tell all of their friends and relatives to read and follow as well.  I posted an announcement about my blog on Facebook and LinkedIn. These methods got the word out, but it was also the toughest sell.  Most of these folks weren't bloggers and didn't understand the process.   I got most of  my first twenty or so followers this way, but I still wasn't getting many comments for the first month.

        The first step I took to get commenters was to go to my Blogger Profile and find others with similar interests.  I visited their blogs, left comments, followed, and invited them to visit my blog as well.  As most of you know these visits will reap a pretty good return rate for acquiring followers to your own blog. 

         Before long I was getting daily comments for my posts.  This is where an important part of the process enters the picture.   First I would try to leave quality comments as much as I could and leave an opening for continued dialogue.  I subscribed to the comment sections so that if I saw that anyone responded to my comments I could comment back if it were appropriate.  I would also follow the comment thread in order to  find and check out other bloggers with interests similar to mine--poaching as Elana Johnson referred to it.  Time consuming?  Yes.  Productive?  Sometimes.  If nothing else I was establishing blog presence--check "ARLEE BIRD TOSSING IT OUT" on Google.

           A few of the bloggers who I have seen notably use the subscribing to the blog technique are Stephen T McCarthy, Larry of DiscConnected,  Judy Harper, Gregg Metcalf,  Dezmond the Hollywood Spy, Sig of BeadedBear, and Trish and Rob MacGregor .  Sometimes they argue, sometimes answer questions, and sometimes it's just pleasant banter, discussion, and conversation.  Whatever it amounts to it's meaningful relationship establishment and building. 

          The other thing that I did was respond to any comments I received and attempt to give a quality response as much as I could.  When I look back over some of my earliest comment threads I see actual discussion going on between me and commenters.  To me this represents a healthy exchange of ideas and a good potential for learning. I try not to leave any question unanswered and any comment unaddressed.

           Still another approach I took was announcing special posts to certain people that might be interested.  For example, when I did a series of interviews, I would go to my Blogger Profile and add to my interests and favorites a number of things that might relate to my topic.  I would then find other bloggers who were interested in those things, visit their blogs, and leave a comment which would include an announcement of the blog post that I thought might interest them.  As a result I would get some good comments for that post and often new followers for my blog.  

             The Blog Events-- such as the lists of favorites that bloggers like Alex J Cavanaugh have hosted; the BBQ hosted by KarenG, or the recent Great Blogging Experiment hosted by Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker, and Alex Cavanaugh--can all reap many new followers for those who follow the etiquette and visit, follow, and leave comments.  Any of these bloggers will probably agree that hosting a successful blog event probably gains the most followers in the shortest time, but it involves a lot of work.  When I hosted the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I gained over 100 followers, but at a great investment of time and effort. 

          What it boils down to is how badly do you want followers and readers?   They are probably not just going to come to you unless you have something very special going on with your blog.  You've got to work at gaining and retaining your followers and you've got to give them something that they will want to come back to read.  It can be a lot of work.  What you need to do is figure out why you are blogging and what you want to get out of your efforts.

If you have hosted blog events, what was your return and was the effort worth it?   Do you use the Blogger Profile to find others of similar interests?   Do you encourage conversation in your comment thread and if so how do you go about it?     Do many of your family members or friends follow your blog?   How do you get non-bloggers to be interested in following and reading blogs?  If you are one of the commenters who regularly subscribe to a comment thread and I did not include your name in the above list, please add to the comments here--I know there are more.




  1. I agree these things do work for establishing a successful blog. You are much better at doing all the things listed than I. I find myself letting go, when time doesn't allow.

    Most of my fam follow my blog and few friends know I have a blog and follow.

    You have a fantastic blog. Good job!

  2. I use Blogger Profiles occasionally, usually clicking on peoples' favorites to see who's out there.

    No one in my family follows my blog and I don't actively search out non-bloggers, since I don't use other social networking sites. It's just Blogger, although I do follow a few Wordpress blogs.

  3. I'm actually not subscribed to comment sections :))) but I do visit comments of other people blogs to check out if they left me a response. It's a polite thing to do. And meaningful, I think.

    What is strange to me when it comes to comments is that in this blogosphere the only commentators are other bloggers. It rarely happens that other visitors who don't own their own blog will comment. You've seen that in my place particularly. Even though I have around thousand readers every day, only fellow bloggers leave comments. But I guess that's logical because I also don't leave comments when I go to most of the popular sites like IMDB, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, DEADLINE NY ....

    I like that you encourage discussions in your comments and that makes you a very nice person. We know that there are many bloggers out there who wouldn't even respond to the comments in their blogs not less start a talk or a debate with their readers :)

  4. I've never hosted, and only taken part in very few blogfests. Not because I think they're pointless or anything, but because I'm not normally organized enough to take part properly.

    I also don't do awards or contests on my blog. I try to get people to read, follow and comment based on content alone.

    I do love your analysis of all this Lee, it is interesting to ponder.

  5. A Good post Lee very well written, I always reply to any of my followers who have written a post, or who have commented on mine, but why do people sign on as a follower and never ever reply? I have looked on their blogs some have written posts others not.
    I couldn't reply to all of Alex's blogfest on Friday as there were too many to answer but I had a good try.

    Have a good day.

  6. If you have hosted blog events, what was your return and was the effort worth it? No, but I've done the events you've mentioned above and met many great bloggers.

    Do you use the Blogger Profile to find others of similar interests? Yes, I've done that as well.

    Do you encourage conversation in your comment thread and if so how do you go about it? I ask questions in my blog or comments and respond to each reply or comment.

    Do many of your family members or friends follow your blog? None.

    How do you get non-bloggers to be interested in following and reading blogs? I don't know. I'm not sure any really read my blog that are none bloggers but I know some do like my forensic science Tuesdays.

    If you are one of the commenters who regularly subscribe to a comment thread and I did not include your name in the above list, please add to the comments here--I know there are more. I don't know what that means but I'm not subscribed.


  7. I have not hosted a blogging event. I wish I had more time, perhaps I would. I wish I had more time to look at other blogs, especially those of professional writers and other beaders. If I did, I could probably have more followers, but I find it tough to keep up as it is with the handful of blogs I try to keep up with.

    My webmaster has a mailing list of some 700 people. He mentions my blog in it when he sends out an irregular newsletter. I think some people just like to pop by and visit rather than become a card carrying follower. I know many just have my blog in their "favorites" and are not signed up as followers.


  8. Unfortunately, all I seem to have time and energy for is to write my blog, respond to comments on it when I can and read the blogs I follow and comment where and when I can. Sigh!

  9. Teresa -- I have been growing my blog at the cost of not being able to visit and comment as much on other blogs. Time has been also sacrificed.

    Golden Eagle -- I think probably most people who are non-bloggers don't understand the concept of blogging as we do it, aren't interested, or just don't want to make time for it.

    Dezmond -- I would have thought for sure that you subscribed because you often will comment back to a response very rapidly. It seems like I've seen likewise on other sites where you've left comments. I have used the checking back method, but sometimes I start losing track and find it more efficient to get emailed. It does mean that I get a lot of emails that have to be continually deleted, but at least I don't miss much as far as comments go. I do get some non-blogger comments, but mainly from friends and family. Conversation and interchange does not seem to occur very frequently on blogs, but I guess most folks are trying to go for quantity of blogs visited and not the quality of the discussion.

    Matthew -- Thank for the kind words. Yes, to do an event right good organization is important. Even when I start at a point of being organized, a fest with a lot of participation can get out of control. Sometimes it's too much for one person.

    Yvonne -- I didn't even finish Alex's TV show Blogfest let alone the one on Friday. A lot of people just follow to get followers. Most of mine never comment either.

    Clarissa -- After you post a comment there are options of receiving notification by email of any new comments posted or "subsribe by email". If you click on one of these you receive a notification of any subsequent activity in that comment section. If the comments are really active you get a lot of emails. I usually just quckly check through them to see if any relate to the comment I made (rarely, but sometimes) or if they have particularly interesting information or are from a blogger that sounds unfamiliar to me and appears to be interesting.

  10. I really like the blogfests and events. Your A-Z Challenge really got my blog off the ground and subsequent blogfests have increased followers.

    I got into the habit of responding to comments early in the game and I'm glad I did. I've done some poaching, but not really explored Blogger Profile. Guess I should!

  11. Sig -- Time is indeed the problem. Your blog is also different in that it has a great deal to do with your bead business and your web site. Your readers probably have a far different purpose than the types of readers who read the blogs that primarily have to do with writing.

    Karen -- You are probably in a happy place with that. I think you might be taking a good approach.

  12. You're more dedicated and analytical than I am. But I learn a lot from reading here. I'd love a thousand followers, but I'd have to change how I operate my blog if I had them. Catch-22A.

  13. I think there is a 'sweet spot' on followers (which applies to me with shopping, too)--if there is NOBODY, then I am skeptical, but if I have a reason (somebody has been to MY BLOG) I actually feel even more obligated to check it out and follow. There is then an optimal popularity, after which I sort of feel 'they don't need me' unless the content is stellar. Bloggers with 1000 followers aren't following BACK every person who drops in. I am stingier, as I think the best relationships are reciprocal, and 1000 follower blog just CAN'T reciprocate with everyone. (and i've never been one to care for 'being there just because everybody else is)

    I definitely like growth, but I've decided growth at a slower pace allows me to get to know people, and I prefer that.

  14. Alex -- If you have time add "science fiction" & "sci-fi" to your interests and then click on them to see others who have listed these. If they aren't already followers, send them a comment that mentions "CassaStar" and you may find a lot of new potential fans and followers for your site. You can continue with more things like books, movies, and other interests that relate. It can work, but it takes time.

    Carol --It is true that the more your blog grows, the more you have to adjust the way you operate. You just have to decide if you are willing to go that route.

    Hart -- I am estimating that about 10% of followers become regular commenters. As you grow, that number should remain pretty consistent if you have shown some love at the beginning and maintain some semblance of a relationship as you go. The rest of those followers may just be window dressing, but they do remain potential visitors and commentors and that's why I like the numbers. Like you say, I prefer the relationships and after a certain point you can't realistically maintain this. Of course if you are an agent or something, you can have thousands of followers, get tons of comments, and you don't have to reply to any of them if you don't want to cause the commenters will keep coming back.

  15. I'm learning to be like Karen, though I do like the blog fest's, I just do not have time for everything. Besides I need income $$

    Good post :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  16. It is definitely time consuming, but also fun! I have enjoyed getting to know so many people through their blogs. I suppose it's like any other discipline--you get out what you put in.

    Great post!

  17. Hey, I had 68 comments from the blogfest last Monday - that was amazing!
    I don't subscribe to comments because I barely have time to comment once and because I get about 300 emails a day already.

  18. "I would have thought for sure that you subscribed because you often will comment back to a response very rapidly. It seems like I've seen likewise on other sites where you've left comments. I have used the checking back method, but sometimes I start losing track and find it more efficient to get emailed."

    yes, but as I told you before, I visit only the blogs from my official blogroll (the dearest people of mine) and the blogs of casual bloggers who drop me a visit. This is why it's not that hard for me to read their responses in the evening when I close my office for the day and let my brain relax in front of the Net :))

  19. Lee - thanks for the mention! I think you should start writing the words down. There very well could be a message.

  20. Jules - Money? What do you need money for?

    Ibd -- No doubt that the blog events are fun. And you are right about the payoff depends on the investment.

    L. Diane -- Yeah tell me about it. This why I accumulate so many emails and I still deleting 500 or more emails per day--rapidly without much thought about them. I will have to cut back on this.

    Dezmond -- And that is why you are so respected and appreciated by those of us on your blogroll. Thank you.

    Trish and Rob-- I'm going to have to try to remember to write down these words when I hear them to see if there seems to be any rhyme or reason.

  21. Dear Lee,
    I began my blog to mostly keep in touch with family and friends and discovered that I really do like to write. Sometimes I respond personally to comments and sometimes in the posting that follows their comments (next day post)and I know I don't always follow the answer immediately etiquette. My reason lately has been mostly recovering from grief, but am slowly getting back into the circle of reading posts that I have signed up to follow. I always enjoy your posts and others but don't always necessarily take the time to comment. I am always refreshed by what I read. Thank you for your support (and that of others) over the past months. One day, I hope to get back into all of it on a regular basis. Best regards to you, Lee.
    Love, Ruby

  22. Thanks Lee for the wonderful mention, I am flattered, honored, and humbled. What I know about interacting with commentors I learned from you.

    Blogger events are fun for me but don't produce anymore commentors on a regularly basis. Case in point, I had 32 on Alex's TV Blogfest, next day, 2.

    I have not used blogger profile but that is an excellent idea. I forget my profile is even there.

    More and more family and friends are beginning to follow more regularly. My Pastor has been following and this past Sunday, out of blue he referenced an illustration I had on my blog, then remembered he saw it on my blog and gave a commercial to the church that I had a really interesting blog - that was free advertising I couldn't have ever imagined.

  23. I’m doing good to post a once-a-week blog. Hosting or even participating in a blog event seems way over my head.

    I've never thought about using blogger profile, but thanks for the idea.

    Although some of my family and friends read my blog and will talk to me in person about it, they don’t leave comments or follow.

    I tried doing the comment thread once but got so many related emails, I couldn’t keep up. If I’ve asked a question in my comment, I’ll drop back by to see if it’s been answered, but otherwise, I don’t check.

  24. Grammy -- Thanks for the visit and sorry I haven't been by your blog as much lately due to some of what I've discussed today. The result of the active type of blogging I have been pursuing is that I cannot always keep up with all of the blogs I try to follow.

    Gregg-- I appreciate the kind nod my way, but I can't take all that much credit. In your calling I know you understand the importance of listening and maintaining a dialogue. Blogger profile is a great way of connecting with like minded people.

    Jane --When you have a lot of other responsibilities it can be difficult to keep a blog active and interactive. I don't see how some people who seem to be more active than I am can do what they do.

  25. One way of getting new followers and more attention to your blog is for it to get mentioned on a blog that gets a lot of traffic. When our blog was highlighted at the Daily Grail, our hits exceeded in one day what we were usually getting in a week, and the effect continued for several days. Getting one of your posts up on Stumbled Upon is another great place to get more attention.

    About family and friends, we've never had much luck getting them to read and comment on our blog. They just call or e-mail.

  26. All excellent points for blog-building Lee. You've done extremely well and should be quite pleased that your efforts have garnered a quality following.

    On a side note, I got a good chuckle from your graphic! ;-D

  27. Sometimes I know so little about how things work it frightens me. I didn't know you could click interests in the blogger profile and find people with similar interests! Cool :)

    No one in my family actually knows I blog. I haven't hosted any kind of event yet. I don't really have any excess time at this point. I might try it some day, but first I'll have to get past the fear of no one participating!! :)

  28. Trish and Rob -- I still need to learn the ins and outs of some of the networking tools like Stumbled Upon. When I've gotten mentions or have been featured on other blogs my visitation has definitely gone up, but I'm still waiting for a recognition from a really major league site. Hopefully I'll have a super attention getting post one day that does it.

    Paula -- Is this what a blog scientist would look like?

    Jemi -- So you live a secret life that your family doesn't know about? It's best not to do an event until you are ready to really devote the time needed to make it a success.

  29. Lee - yes! My immediate family knows I write (3 people) but that's it. :) I agree with the time factor. These events take a lot of time and that's just not something I have enough of :)

  30. I'd say you are up there with the pro-bloggers Arlee. You could probably write an article for a how-to-blog site! My family does not read my blogs as it is something they are just not interested in. My friends do, but do not comment because they'd have to add a profile and they are not into that. With that said, I still feel very supported in blog land. Although time allows me to post once a week only. But some is better than none, I say!

  31. It's hard to know what will attract followers and comments really. I'm always surprised by which posts get the most hits--and it's not always the posts that get the most comment. I don't always have a chance to return comment for comment, but when I do, I make sure that it's genuine and meaningful. I take pleasure in reading blog posts, and the same goes for leaving comments. Don't know how much that attracts people to my blog, but it makes for a more pleasant blogging experience :D

  32. you're manager helped you get some followers too :) someone was just asking me how you were doing and they still get daily updates from your blog.

  33. Great post, as usual! So many blogs, so little time, seems to sum it up best. I try to answer every commenter, but where do you draw the line? At 20, 30, or even more? It gets to a point where you're spending as much time answering comments as writing the post, and then visiting other blogs and commenting there, also!

    I know lots of bloggers that don't ever answer comments at all, or only leave a very short comment in an email. Since there are no definite rules for blogging, it's hard to know what to do, at times.

    My friends and family usually don't comment, but do read my blog occasionally.

    I haven't hosted an event, yet, but am thinking about having a big Cajun shindig in the future.

  34. Lynn -- I'm still learning, but I have learned a lot. You post what you can and that's all you can do.

    Carolina -- Commenting does make a big difference.

    Emilee--Yes I should have given you some credit. Keep telling people to read and comment. Why hasn't my manager been calling me?

    Marguerite -- If you host something, be prepared to put in a lot of time.

  35. I'm sorry dad.. I've been slacking on calling people. I'm going to call you this weekend. love you


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