Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Commenting 101: Commenting and Link Parties

Welcome to Session #5 in my Commenting 101 blogging series. (You can start from the beginning of the series here.)

Today's topic is: Commenting and Link Parties

The subject of link parties can be a bit of a hot topic in the blogosphere. We all have different opinions, so please keep that in mind when you read this today! These are my thoughts, and you're entitled to your own opinions too. Let's focus on commenting and keep the conversation civil, okay?

I wrote a post detailing my thoughts on link parties last year, so I won't be discussing linking back or anything like that. I think we can all agree that link parties are an excellent way to enhance a blog's traffic: both for the hostess and the participants.

However, I believe there's a way to participate in link parties graciously, without frantically linking your posts up to 72 sites a day and going your merry way without any further involvement. We're all in such a rush to promote ourselves that we often forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

1. Are you engaging your visitors?
You can link to every party in the Blogosphere; you can Tweet and Facebook until your fingers fall off; but if you have no relationship with your readers or the folks who are stopping by your blog from the parties you've linked to, how full is your blog?

I personally feel like great projects and features are what make me click over to view a blog; but a blogger's personality and how he/she interacts with readers and fans are what make me stick around to keep reading consistently.


When I started this series, I received several emails from readers/visitors who complained that they routinely join link parties, but receive little or no traffic/comments from them. I responded with this question:

2. Are you taking the time to let other participants know you are there?
I realize that not everyone looks at blog parties the same way that I do, but the word "party" has always implied some amount of interaction to me. To just place your link on someone's blog (unless, perhaps, you are linking up as a favor to a blogging friend) and then run seems out of place to me.

Are you getting any traffic from blog parties? Do you notice more traffic when you take the time to comment on other links?

I limit the number of blog parties I join simply because my personal philosophy is to visit some of the other links and leave thoughtful comments. I've found that by linking to fewer sites and taking some time to interact leads to at least a visit or two beyond my scope of readership. Yes, I know I could potentially get more exposure for a post by linking it up to as many blog parties as possible, but I enjoy the feedback and conversation that comments bring.

And we've learned that one of the easiest ways to receive comments is to give them.

Yes, it kind of stinks to link up a really cool post to your favorite blog party and not receive any comments at all...which leads me to point #3....

3. You can't make readers visit your blog.
You wrote your post, you linked it up...now what?

You can't strong-arm Mary Sue Blogger into visiting your site and leaving a comment, but you can encourage her by setting a good example.

Which of these comments would you be most likely to read and return?

A)



B)

C)

D)

I hope you picked option D!

You don't have to leave long comments, but option D not only showed that the reader took the time to read and appreciate the post, but she also let Mary Sue Blogger know that she is visiting from the same party that Mary Sue joined.

I don't see anything wrong with adding the "Visiting from..." at the close of each comment by copying and pasting it like I did in Option D. This is vastly different than the canned comments we talked about last week. It's important to leave a genuine comment first, but if you'll be ending each message with the same note to let them know how you came across their post, it doesn't hurt to save your fingers the effort of retyping the same ending.

This is wonderful for three reasons: 1. it shows the blogger that she is receiving traffic from the party she took the time to link to, and 2. it gives the party hostess a bit of credit too. (Let's not forget that the ladies who host these blog parties go through an awful lot of trouble to do so!) And, finally, 3. it is a friendly and not over-the-top invitation to return the favor of the blog party visit.

Blog parties are made for intentional exposure, so I always feel like comments during blog parties should be treated a little differently than comments on everyday posts. Although I find my time more limited these days, I do my best to make an extra effort to visit the sites of bloggers who mention they are stopping by from a blog party I linked to. Since the spirit of blog parties is about interaction, it only seems fair to me.

4. Don't forget the Hostess!
I hesitate to write this, but I can't begin to tell you what a downer it is to put together a blog party, spend hours over the weekend reading, linking, and commenting...to only receive a very small percentage of comments on my own blog from actual blog party participants. I feel even worse for bloggers of large blogs who host 400+ link parties and have only a handful of comments on their posts.....Link parties should be fun for everyone involved.

My suggestion?
If you join a link party, be sure to leave a quick comment for the hostess. Did she include a project of her own in the post? Give her some feedback and a quick "thank you" before moving on. She's most likely sending you additional traffic that you might not have received solely from linking to the blog party. If she decides to feature your post, that's an even bigger reason to stop by and leave her a nice comment.

Hostesses notice the bloggers who take the time time to comment on other posts (as well as our own), and we very much appreciate you!

5. My intention today is not to overwhelm or discourage you! 

Noticing the decline in interaction among blog party participants is really what inspired me to start this series. I enjoy blog parties; I think they're a useful tool. If you read this today and you feel as if your problem is that you link to up with too many parties to participate by commenting...maybe you need to ask yourself if you are overextending. Your posts may garner dozens of comments, but are you building a network with your readers?

We all have different schedules and restrictions on our time. Bloggers with large blogs and a huge following have to divide their time between all sorts of things. Many bloggers who are starting out (who this series is really geared towards) have less traffic, fewer commitments to sponsors and features, and therefore are more likely to be able to focus on growing their blogs through networking in comments. In upcoming weeks we'll be chatting about how/when to return comments and ideas for scheduling time to do this.

No one would ever, ever expect you to spend hours each day, clicking around on your computer until your eyeballs dry up, just for the sake of leaving a good comment. The point is that by leaving a few genuine comments when you link up to a blog party, you are magnifying your chances of getting a blogger to visit your blog and do the same.

I challenge you to slow down a bit this week. Leave a thoughtful comment for the bloggers whose sites are hosting your links, and take a moment to find a few links that look interesting and leave a genuine comment for them. It might not pay off immediately, but over time perhaps we can collectively encourage the blogosphere to engage in a more gracious exchange of ideas and creativtity!

{Wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you?}

49 comments:

Amanda said...

Thank you for these tips, I think I've finally got the hang of comments! Now I can waffle on way to much, but I suppose that's better than nothing!

Your comments example made me larf, I think I've had all those comments, I just ignore those that want a follow back and have a giggle when after a week of not following they drop off from my list of followers!

Kat said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this up! It was very informative!

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much Amanda for posting all of these tips. As I am reading your posts I am thinking to myself - "This is all common courtesy" - seems simple - but not always so easy to do. The way you explain it just makes sense, and really hits home the importance of relationship building. Thanks again!!

Nadir@StitchSense said...

Great post Amanda! I think that last point is key too. Encouraging one another to be more gracious & supportive of one another & realize that it takes t-i-m-e to build readership. Linking to parties you don't mingle in doesn't magically boost that. Thanks for your honesty, its helped keep me honest & more sincere in my blogging. Couldn't have done it without ya! :-)
P.S. How did the fashion show go this weekend? :-)

Prudently Painted Vintage said...

Another great post in the series! I find that when I interact more with the party by looking at other peoples work I definitely get more traffic. Most of the time that person will visit my site just to comment back.

I love that you take the time to comment on other peoples blogs. Every time you comment on my links it is always sincere and sweet. Thank you for that! A lot of the bigger blogs, such as yourself, don't even respond when I leave a comment. It is nice when someone can take the time to appreciate your hard work too

Sorry for the long post :)

Jessabells said...

I'm not sure whose link party it is because there are so many out there but the host requires that you post 2 comments on the other party guests. I believe the one before and the one after your post are to be commented on. I feel that is a fair request since her blog is going to generate readers onto their blogs.
Thanks for the tip about letting them know where you are coming from. Even though I currently don't link up to any parties I do visit when I have chance.
Have a great day!

Jessica

Kelli @ RTSM said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said. Though I will admit that I have trouble with #4 sometimes, especially if the only thing in the hostess post is the linky party. I like to say thanks for hosting but sometimes that seems so fake...but I guess at least it is something:)

southerninspiration said...

You're so funny, Amanda...love the comment examples!! I haven't done a lot of parties in the last six months because things have been so hectic, and I certainly haven't done any crafting! Maybe that will change in the next six months???

Suzanne

Dawn said...

love your comment examples-too funny! i just got my first i'm a new blog come visit me comment and i would have been happy too except that's all the comment said-nothing else about my blog or post. thanks for all your great advice on commenting in this series-kind of like what i'm trying to teach my kids about writing thank you notes-trying to get them to say more than thank you for the gift and add some info about what they are going to do with it or what they like about it.

alamodeMaven said...

I got all excited when I saw this post, as you know, I'm still learning so THANK YOU!! I'm so glad I found you....oh, and the link party thing overwhelms me sometimes, I only link up to the ones I find through the blogs I am following...is that bad? I just don't want to be overwhelmed, but maybe a good policy would be for me to search for a fun link party every few weeks that I haven't seen before....my bloggy head might explode, lol! PS-loved your easter sign ;) xoxo Shelli

alamodeMaven said...

PS- your examples made me spit out my coffee a little bit from laughing. lol.

Kait said...

You always have the cutest posts! I seriously am addicted!

My favorite so far, was the post about the "redo" of the photography office. You had me stalked every pier one, and the online for target to put together my own photography office just like it! It's in the works, so I will let you know once it's done!!

Hope you have a great week.

Karen At Home said...

Hi Amanda, such a great post! I agree with all of your points, certainly words we can all learn from and should live by. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Karen

Life In The Thrifty Lane said...

Your Commenting 101 Sessions have been very helpfull and I'm glad you took the time to put together all this great tips and advices.
I love linky parties and I have to admit I link to LOTS of them. Maybe I should start linking to fewer and start cmmenting more on others projects. Have a great week Amanda :)

Erin S. said...

I always love your mock comments,
Amanda :). Great tips, too. In so many ways, I think blogging manners are not so different from regular life, are they? When you go to a party, you have a certain obligation to mingle and thank the hostess--you have more fun that way, too. Thanks for this!

Bella Michelle said...

Amanda, Thanks for the great tips. This whole series has been fantastic and I wish I would have known all these things "back in the day" when I started blogging. BTW, I always enjoy your parties and have found the best blogs through them.

Kelsey said...

Amanda, thank you so much for sharing!!

Holly said...

You know I agree with you! I don't think anyone expects one to visit every single link in a party, especially the really big ones, but several at least! And if someone from the party (whom I haven't already visited) visits me and leaves a comment, I visit them back. When I host a party, I visit each link and comment.
What's really frustrating is when I link to a party, make some visits, and don't get any traffic/comments whatsoever from said party!

Jennifer said...

I have really been enjoying your series on comments...thanks! I have been blogging for about a year, but much of that time has been in learning about the kinds of blogs that are out there, the kinds of people who blog, and determining where I want to fit in. Now that I have a sense of what I hope to accomplish, it's nice to read your tips/suggestions...especially since it seems we have a similar philosophy :)

Meri said...

I do quite often forget the hostess! thanks for the reminder ;)

FrouFrouBritches said...

Amen Sista! I couldn't agree more. I know there are times when I know I'm not going to have much time to visit other links, so I don't link up. It's not fair to the hostess or the other linked-up blogs for me to link up and not visit anybody else. That's not cool.

I will admit that if I'm in a rush, and the hostess hasn't posted her own project and gets right to the party, I don't always leave a comment - mainly because I have seen sometimes 50 comment that just say "thanks for hosting the party" and that's just one more email saying the same thing. Is that bad?

Great series Amanda!!!

Jennifer Rodriguez said...

AMEN! I took a break from linking this week. It can be so consuming!

I'm trying to visit new blogs (us newbies need love too), but I will not link to every stinkin' party I find. Maybe rotate them out.

We need to remember.. LIVE FIRST, then Blog...

Let's stop the insanity :o)

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Loved this post because it needed to be said! I think I have gotten all of those comments you used as examples at one time or another. Ha.

Good point about leaving a comment for the hostess, too! I think most people forget about that.

Three years ago when I was starting out, blog parties were a new and exciting phenomenon in the blogosphere. Now there are so many of them that people are joining 20 at a time--which is more than humanly possible to actively participate in--and it isn't as much fun.

Great post, Amanda! :)

beccaw said...

Hi Amanda, I've enjoyed this series although I don't have a blog of my own. I do follow many blogs I enjoy (such as yours!) and when I see someone linking to 25 parties for one project it makes me wonder if they have a specific audience in mind for their writing/projects, or if they're just throwing any old post out there hoping a mass quantity of party participation will drive traffic. I'm more likely to follow blogs that seem more thoughful and focused. Thanks again!

Kassi @ Truly Lovely said...

Such a good reminder!!! I have to admit I started out just linking up anywhere I could find a party. But over time I grew to realize that there wasn't much value in just sharing random linkies all over the place... Great post Amanda!!!

gatheredinthekitchen.com said...

Amanda I always love reading your commenting 101 section. You have wonderful tips for old and new bloggers! Since I'm a newbie myself I am really grateful that a seasoned blogger is so willing to help all of us out!!

Rachelle said...

Shoot... I picked option b..

Kidding.
Gotcha.

;)

*clap clap clap* Link parties to me are free advertising, so it only feels right to leave a little love for the hostess! Not to mention it's free browsing. She's taken the time to set up a place where I can see basically all of the blogosphere when I'm looking for ie. Mantels, Paint colors, etc depending on what theme of the party is. That's a nice thing to do for me. ;)

I'm rambling now, you and I already agree on link parties and such, we've been down this road before lol..
xo
rachelle

staci @ lizard n ladybug said...

I love this series!
I'm guilty of being a 'drive-by' commenter. Thanks for the reminders :)

and I love the name 'Mary Sue Blogger' :)

Xazmin said...

Great post Amanda, as usual. I will admit that I have been guilty a couple of times of linking to a party to show support to a blog friend, and then not making it back to visit some of the links. But only a couple times!

I do genuinely enjoy clicking on some of the links and meeting new bloggers.

Amanda said...

Well said! :) Thanks for doing this series! It's great!

Amanda

Kimberly said...

Thanks for the great tips! I've been trying to respond either by email or a return visit to each commenter on my site. I've also limited my link ups and blog parties for the exact reasons you said! Thanks for helping us out! :)

Danya said...

This is a very helpful post, Amanda. Thanks so much for the series...now, stop on over to my blog. JUST KIDDING! Thank you for the great information!!

Dogmom Diva said...

Hi Amanda a great, thought provoking post as usual..I try not to link up unless I have the time or ambition to go visiting..I like the idea of putting where I am visiting from if it is a link party.good idea! thanks for a great post and reminders of common courtesy!

Barb

WobiSobi said...

I am so happy you posted this, I love link parties because I love to see all the new things everyone has been up to. It is such a great way to find new and wonderful blogs,and meet new blog friends, that you would other wise miss.
Big Hugs to you. Anne

Kirsty said...

Fantastic Amanda!
I recently tried starting up my own linky party and it was lets say... not as successful as I'd hoped. I did gain a couple of new friends from it but really not too many linked up and those that did... only one or two people actually bothered to link back to me.
In the end I had to can it. I feel a bit mean though because those that did the right thing are now missing out but I couldn't keep it up without getting anything in return.
I definitely think leaving a comment for the hostess is a must, even if only done occasionally it's definitely a nice thing to do :)

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

There is nothing better than a great comment. I would rather have one comment from someone who actually read my post than 10 superficial ones. I actually stopped linking to most parties at this point because it takes so much time for me and I felt like few spent the time visiting other blogs.

This is a really great series, Amanda. And I think you are one of the models for how to connect to other bloggers. Your comments always mean a lot to me. =)

Miss Kitty said...

Thanks for taking the time to write about good manners at "parties". I am a new blogger and I need all the help I can get.I still have trouble "grabbing buttons" like I am supposed to but at least I can copy and paste a link to the party to add to the end of my post...is that just as good?

Randi said...

I love this commenting series. It's made me laugh but you've also had great info.

In the last five minutes I've had two comments about a grammatical error I made ... apparently I pluralized and possessivized (don't use that word - it's not real) my last name wrong. Ouch and oops. I'm thinking of redirecting them to your post about being kind in the comments. :)

The Mommy Therapy said...

As usual, I really appreciate this series and think it's a thoughtful and thorough look at commenting.

As someone relatively new to trying to grow my blog, this has been valuable advice and insight. Thank you!

It has taken me a while to figure out the linking up and what an impact looking at the other blogs in the party can have on the amount of traffic to my site. Last week I linked here and then had a whirlwind weekend and didn't have much of a chance to follow up with a lot of the other blogs unfortunately, and I didn't see a lot of traffic....so your words are true.

Also, I've been able to find some blogs I really enjoy going back to again and again.

Thanks again for the info, you're doing a great job with this information!

Debra said...

Thanks for sharing this info. I think so much is common courtesy - like you were talking about interacting @ a real party- but there are different 'rules' in blogland so I am glad I took the time to read this.

Madigan at madiganmade said...

Amanda,
Thanks for posting these excellent reminders. I've always enjoying 'mingling' at link parties and visiting as many other links as I can. I've "met" so many new blogs that way! Very early on in blogging I realized the importance of linking back *within* my post (I was one of those bloggers with the "click here to see where I link"... I was a newbie!)

But one thing I don't do enough of is 'thank' the hostess. For the regular parties I link to, I will once in awhile. But I admit, I should be doing it more! Part of me wondered if hundreds of generic 'thank you' comments is spammy for the hostess. But I guess if the comment is left in a thoughtful way... as you so wisely teach us... I bet the hostess would appreciate it.
(I also don't really like to participate in giveaways, and so many parties seem to be associated with them that I avoid leaving comments for that reason.)
Thanks again for setting a great example!

Rebecca said...

Great reminders! I also like to check out other posts at link parties and leave comments. A couple weeks ago I noticed I was spending more time leaving comments than I wanted to so I cut back on some parties.

I don't have sponsors or make money from my blog so traffic isn't really *that* important but it is a lot of fun interacting with others and getting feedback on projects, even just knowing something I made inspired someone else out there feels good. I like to let others know the same.

Michaela said...

Ah, Amanda! I loved this post. I think you're one of the best gals to speak on this subject, because you truly are the most genuine commenter I know (: I remember when I first starting blogging last summer and you'd comment on my posts...it'd make me feel so special to know you took the time to do so!

I'm looking forward to the post on scheduling time and when to comment back, because with the growth of my blog, comes a lot of guilt in not replying to all the comments! I want to be able to, but school comes first!

Hope you had a lovely week. OH- and Natalie and Michaela look adorable in their Easter attires (:

Stephanie said...

I love link parties, I browse them even if I don't participate in them. It is almost an addiction. The only downside is that I find a hundred more blogs that I love and want to follow! Sometimes though I see the same item over and over again on the link parties, I think participating in a few is better.

I have come to realize that I am more of a commenter than a blogger :)

I leave comments for the hostess even if I am not participating because I want them to know I enjoy them and appreciate the time they are taking to host them.

This whole series is so educational for bloggers, especially the newbies. Thanks for doing it Amanda.

Jen @ The Decor Scene said...

Amanda thanks so much for this great series. Such great information you have shared with all of us. I have definitely learned some and I really appreciate that. Have a great day! :)

Jessica said...

Fantastic post! Your humor (eye balls drying up) is awesome! You have given me some great tips along with some laughs :) Being a new blogger ...I have often wondered all these things you have mentioned in this series!

Kathy said...

Well it is about time I found out the 101 of commenting.

Being new is like being in a new country and not speak their language, your driving and don't know where your going.

Great tips on commenting. I can work myself into a fret when I start concentrating on the numbers only.
First time visitor from Craftminders and I will check back for more. Kathy

Dewdrop Gardens said...

I have a few of your series saved to favourites to read when I have time. This one is very well written (what I've had time to read so far).
I think commenting is common sense and the on-line version of politeness. It would be like having a conversation with people that don't acknowledge you when you speak to them.
Thanks for everything you do to help out us newbies!
Debbie :)

Athena at Minerva's Garden said...

Thank you very much, Amanda, for the commenting at link party tips that you shared. Common sense and politeness, really. I appreciate it!

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