The Insecure Writer's Support Group has been a blogging institution for the past 100 years. Well, maybe not that long, but it now seems like it's been around forever. #IWSG as it is known in Twitter speak was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh. For more information go to the official #IWSG site and that's also where you'll find a list of participants.
My entry for this month once again features an "Ask Arlee" question:
Al Diaz said... What to do when you want to ask a question but you're too shy to do it?
For those of you who are not familiar with my "Ask Arlee" feature, this is where I answer questions that the readers have presented to me. Al's question was in my response to my initial call for questions. He may have been joking, but actually his question opens a serious issue concerning blogging that is especially relevant as we approach the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. It's not just shyness in regard to asking questions, but more importantly a reticence that some may have in leaving comments.
Leave A Comment!
The issue of blog comments has been brought up often on my blog, the A to Z Blog, and on many of your own blogs. A certain element of shyness might play into someone visiting a blog and not leaving comments, but I think there are also other factors at play such as not knowing what to say, being in too much of a hurry, not wanting to offend a blogger if there is disagreement, or occasionally just plain rudeness.
During April and always for that matter, if you take the time to visit a blog to read it, why not leave some kind of comment while there to let the blogger know that you were there. If you're like me, you probably feel a bit insecure when you don't get any comments. Most of us bloggers want to hear from somebody about what we took time to write. Golden Blogging Rule: Leave comments just as you hope visitors will comment on your own blog posts. I don't think many of us want to be just talking to ourselves or see our words drift without notice into silent cyberspace.
When it comes to being online, shyness shouldn't have much to do with anything. No one can see you or get in your face. Commenting is a good way to practice stepping out in order to overcome fear of meeting strangers and expressing yourself in public. If you're afraid of saying something stupid, put some thought into your comment before you enter it and then don't worry. If you're already posting on a blog you risk "saying something stupid" all the time. Sometimes what you think seems stupid may make a lot of sense to someone else and be just what they need to hear. Then again, some people may think you did say something stupid. It's just opinions and we don't all have to agree, but hopefully everyone will be nice in their disagreement.
Remember--Blogging is a medium of social interaction. We want to tell something to others. We want others to read what we say. Most of us want to hear what others think about what we say. Good social blogging is a conversation. You probably don't listen to somebody when you meet them face to face and then just walk away without acknowledging what they said. Same with blogging. Read a blog post and try to say something pertaining to what you've read.
Also try to go beyond the "nice post" type of compliment. Why was it a nice post? What did the blogger say to which you could relate?
And please don't leave a comment that says nothing about what you've read and only invite them to visit your blog to become a follower. To me that is the height of rudeness. It's essentially saying "I don't really care about you, but I'm more important and you should care about me". It's okay to let a blogger that you are visiting for the first time know you've become a follower of their blog and to invite them to visit your blog. I leave a link in my signature because I find it more convenient when commenters on my blog leave a link directly to their site so I don't have to finagle my way through things like Google+ pages.
The Positive Outcome of Leaving Comments
There are no guarantees, but usually if you leave a comment on a site you will get a reciprocal visit from that blogger who will in turn leave a comment at your blog. If you give, you will usually receive something in return. Once again--social media. This is an important concept to remember. You want to encourage interaction with well written interesting posts, thought-stimulating topics, and questions that encourage answers.
One goal of blogging is to make one's presence known to the cyberworld. Another is to establish relationships with others in that world. Leaving blog comments is one of the best ways to make new friends and build on those friendships. This is one of the main goals in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as well as the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
You want readers for your blog and so do the rest of us. Don't be insecure due to your perceived shyness, fears, or whatever excuse you are using. Leave comments when you visit blogs. It doesn't have to take a lot of time or any big effort. You'll be glad you did it.
Are you ever shy about leaving comments? As long as the ability to leave a comment is easy, why would you not leave a comment? Have you found that commenting on other blogs has caused your own blog to receive more comments and gain more readers? What advice would you offer about leaving comments?