Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Commenting 101: Responding to Comments

Welcome to Session #6 in my Commenting 101 series. If you'd like to read from the beginning of the series, please click here.

Today's topic is: Responding to Comments


*Quick disclaimer. Most established blogs have their own way of processing comments. Please remember that this series is geared towards new/small blogs or blogs who are interested in growing their readership. These are just suggestions meant to help, not to overwhelm!*


Hopefully, if you've been reading this series and working on engaging your readers and leaving thoughtful comments, you're beginning to see some growth in your comments section. It is so exciting for any blogger to see feedback on posts. We all love to see those little messages pop up with encouragement, funny stories, and observations.

What do you do with those comments? Do you read them and move on to writing your next blog post?

If you're genuinely interested in forming an involved network of readers, the answer should be "no." As we discussed in Session #5, you can link to a slew of blog parties each day and collect dozens of comments, but if you aren't taking the time to interact with your readers, you'll find yourself with a lot of "one-comment" readers.

Responding to comments can lead to wonderful blogging friendships---the readers you can depend on for moral support, encouragement, and great guest posts when you go out of town! Readers who know you appreciate them are more likely to take a moment or two to let you know what they think of your latest post.


So, what does "Responding to Comments" entail?


When a reader takes the time to comment on a post you have written, you can return the favor, either by emailing thempersonally visiting their blog to leave a comment of your own, or replying in your blog's comment section.


1. Visit the reader's blog and leave a comment
  • New Bloggers: I highly recommend going directly to the commenter's blog and leaving a nice comment of your own. 
  • If your blog daily receives a small amount of comments, it makes sense to foster a sense of community by visiting the folks who offer you feedback. Quid pro quo. Remember, the easiest way to receive comments is to leave them for others!
  • Chances are that if you are excited to see a new comment, so are they.
  • What to say? Read Mary Sue Blogger's most recent post and find something nice to remark on. Even better to follow up with a quick "thanks for the visit to my blog!"
  • Other instances in which leaving a comment is called for--If you've been featured on another blog or have the opportunity to guest post, if you linked to a party and the visitor lets you know he/she is stopping by from that party (don't forget that link parties imply interaction!!), or if you win a Giveaway.
2. Reply via email
  • Assuming that the person who commented on your post has his/her email attached to a Blogger profile, this is the easiest and fastest way to reply to the comments left on your blog.
  • Best when your reader has a very specific question and you feel odd about answering it in a comment on their blog.
  • We'll be addressing this in a later session, but replying to your readers via email is a great way to continue to connect with them when you begin receiving too many comments to respond to with individual blog visits daily.
  • Again, if you don't receive a lot of comments, I really recommend going to the other person's blog instead of just emailing. You'll encourage a better commenting relationship this way! They're going to want to offer you feedback because they know you'll probably do the same for them. 
  • Reserve emailed replies for the busiest of days, or for when your blog has grown too much to make individual visits (more on that another day). 
3. Respond in your own comments section. (Several readers asked me if I think this is an effective way to return comments.)
  • Unless your blog has a special commenting software that automatically emails your reply to the person who left the comment, I don't recommend responding to comments on your own blog. 
  • Most readers do not return to blogs to read follow up comments. 
  • Readers love to know they're appreciated. Most of us would say that we'd prefer a visit and comment on our blogs, but an email is better than no acknowledgment at all.
  • If you want a reply, make it easy for the writer to respond to you! (More on this in a how-to post)
4. Time frame for Returning Comments
  • We'll be addressing scheduling/balancing time later on in this series, but it's a great idea for new bloggers to set aside time each day to reply to their readers.
  • It's best if you are able to respond to comments within a day, two at most. You want to keep your blog's name fresh on your readers' minds. Waiting days to respond doesn't do you any good.
Occasionally, I'll receive an emailed reply from different bloggers who I left comments for days ago. Not only have I completely forgotten what I may have said in my comments, but it seems like a waste of everyone's time at that point. If you're going to respond to your readers, do it in a timely manner.

In short, if your blog is receiving a small amount of comments each day, it should be doable for you to schedule a few minutes to interact with your readers. Making an effort to engage with them on a regular basis can lead to great results.

If you choose to become a "comment collector," the readers who do stop by your blog will eventually become dissatisfied with the one sided conversation they're having with you.

Next week, we'll be addressing ways to fit commenting, networking, and blogging into your schedule. As your blog grows, you will notice a big difference in the time you once had to devote to interacting personally with your readers. I want to chat about that, because I think some new bloggers have unrealistic expectations...of themselves and also perhaps of some of the blogs they read. Also coming up....some technical how-tos, highlights, and resources.

Thanks for sticking with me....until next time!

39 comments:

Yvonne@StyleBurb said...

I always look forward to Tuesday mornings so I can read your Blogging Tips posts, Amanda. I appreciate the time it takes you to write these posts and I have learned a lot! Thanks!

MeMeSue said...

As a "New Blogger" I find these tip invaluable! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us!

Kassi @ Truly Lovely said...

Really enjoying this series Amanda!! I too think email is the fastest and easiest way to reply! So glad I figured out the adding my email to my account thing! Thanks for sharing this info!!!

Jennifer S. said...

I agree! I appreciate the time you take to write these post about blogging tips. I am confused by how to respond properly to comments because I thought that if I replied to people in my comments section that they would get an email. Not so!
Thank you for stopping by yesterday too. You are very encouraging and I appreciate you stopping by!

Kelli @ RTSM said...

Great advice Amanda! I wish everyone would have their profile linked to their email...it makes answering questions and interacting so much easier! I have been having a really hard time keeping up with my emails lately, and really the numbers are down not up! I always try to respond to my comments, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I just have to delete big chunks of them so my inbox isn't overflowing:)

Life In The Thrifty Lane said...

Thanks again for the tips Amanda! I mostly reply to comments by e-mail but sometimes i get the "no-reply" message so I go directly to their blog and answer there.
Have a great week,
Veronica

My Beautiful Life said...

I had wondered about the leaving a comment on your own page. I usually just try to go to their blog and comment. I am glad you mentioned the time frame. I'm working on time management this week, so now I know to just pencil in time for returning comments. If it is a said amount of time, I'm more likely to do it then, than responding 3 days later.

Thanks for the great advice, Amanda.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the great advice - I admit I've fallen behind lately in responding so I appreciate the "kick in the pants" to keep the relationship with readers going. It's so invaluable!

-Stephanie
henry  happened

Jen @ The Decor Scene said...

Thanks Amanda for yet more great tips! It all makes sense and I will try to respond correctly now. I hadn't thought about someone not coming back to see if I commented back to them on my blog. Great tip. Can't wait to read the rest of the series. Thank you! :)

Erin S. said...

Thanks for the post, Amanda. As a fairly new blogger, I'm still getting a sense of how things work. I especially liked your idea that it is better to visit someone's blog rather than just email to say thank you. I don't know why I didn't think of this myself, but you are right--it promotes better interaction between blogger friends. I always appreciate it when I comment on someone's blog and they respond by visiting and seeing what I'm up to, as well. Thanks again!

Meri said...

There is one instance that I do like to reply to my own comments, and that is when people ask a question. I think it would look weird if I went to their blog and tried answering under their current post. And I also assume since they asked the question in my comments section that they actually will return for an answer. I could be wrong, but that is just how I do it. :)

Good tips!! :)

Olga said...

Thank you Amanda for your tips. I am completely new at blogging and this series have helped learn a lot about blogging.

FrouFrouBritches said...

Amanda, I have to tell you that you are the perfect person to write this series! I always felt like you were my first "bloggy friend" - not just somewhere I stopped by once or twice. Why? Because you always stopped by my little blog and made me feel included in your little world. I felt like the wallflower at the party until the popular girl (that's YOU!) started talking to me and leading by example.

Great advice and I couldn't agree more with everything you say. I totally agree that unless you get TONS of comments each day, that you should stop by and visit the blog of your commentors and not just an email. I do hate it when it's a full week before someone bothers to take the time to email me back after the first time I comment on their blog. I know everyone's busy, but a week? Really?

Simply LKJ said...

Great tips Amanda! As a new blogger I find them quite valuable. I look forward to learning more as the series continues.

Jennifer said...

Great tips as always. I always try to visit and comment back on the blog first, then email if I have a lot of comments on the post, or am just really busy that day. But it makes me so sad when people comment and I can't comment/email back because their profile isn't linked with an email or site. Thanks for the lovely and useful tips. :)

Michaela said...

As always, love the advice, Amanda! It's really important to me to either reply to a comment via email or visit the commenter's blog and leave a comment there. Sometimes with school and work and blogging, though, it's hard to get to everyone. But I really try to make it a top priority to visit my reader's blogs and begin to foster a relationship with them-- even if it's just once a week or whenever I get a few free minutes (: I'm excited for your next edition to the series, because as my blog grows, time management has been increasingly difficult for me to figure out! You always help (:

xoxo

Dawn said...

thanks for more great tips-i usually try to visit the blog of the person who left a comment and i guess that's because i like getting comments so much :) i have been using email more recently though and it's nice to get an email back after you've commented on someone's blog.

Richella said...

Amanda, this is a wonderful post, and it's especially good coming from you--you practice what you preach! I'm so glad I got to know you via our visits to each other's blogs. You do so much good in the blogosphere!

I need to be more consistent with my responses to comments. You've inspired me to do a better job!

Krista said...

Meri, I am with you! OK, so I am a new blogger, so what do I know, right? But the thing I love about comments -- as a blog reader -- is when a conversation happens there that I can follow later. Say there is a tutorial, and someone asks a question about step 5. Later, when I am doing the same project, I love going through the comments and seeing the question AND the answer from the blogger. If she had only emailed the answer or left it on the question-asker's blog, I would have missed out. So that's my experience as a reader anyway! I do understand though the concept of responding in a timely manner through email, blog comments, etc. I just like to see questions get answered right in that blog's comment section!

Sallie said...

Just finished reading your Commenting 101 series. Amanda, thank you for writing it. It has answered some of my many questions I have as a new blogger.

Michell @ Girl In Air said...

Well I'm a NEW follower..

Thanks for the nice comment on my blog..I'm the worst or WAS the worst about commenting....

I'm getting better each day:-)

Madigan at madiganmade said...

This is wonderful advice, Amanda. I'm loving this series...
I agree with you about the 1-2 days for email replies. That's a timeframe I would expect from someone at work, so why not on my blog? But I admit that I do get behind some days. I need to carve out a bit of time every day - good idea.

Holly said...

I do a combination of all of these...sometimes email, sometimes blog visits, and if someone has asked a question in my comments and I think others might find the answer helpful, I'll answer in my comments.
I think setting aside time is a good solution to what can become pretty time consuming!

Melissa {TheScarletCardinal} said...

Just found your blog and have officially "liked" you on fb. As a new blogger, I'm really looking forward to combing through your other tips. Thank you!

Erin said...

These tips are so helpful and practical! Agreed about the "comment collector" dissatisfaction. And you're right; I've thought many times how much I like getting comments, so why not give someone else that excitement in return?

Thanks for all of the good advice!

Designs on 47th Street said...

Hi Amanda! Wow, do you ever offer some good, solid advice. It's wonderful to come over and read hints from someone who has a great, entertaining blog.

Hugs, Donna

Craig said...

The reason I'm here - the reason I read, is because you commented on my blog once. I still comment on each comment - I'll be back to find what to do when you grow - cause I'm growing. Everybody gets an email automatically when I comment on the blog - a wordpress plugin. I read this all the way through - hearted it. God bless and keep you and yours Amanda.

Brooke said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this info with newbies like me! I came over from Beth's party at A to Z and immediately read through your whole series. It's awesome. I especially appreciated learning about the best ways to reply to comments on my blog. I need to change my ways! How nice of you to share what you've learned. Thanks Amanda!
~Brooke

the workaholic momma said...

Thank you SO much for this series of posts. As a new blogger, these have been very helpful in learning the ropes in this new world!

Lady Of Virtue said...

Hi Amanda- I just found your blog and am so excited! I have been trying to post regularly and build up an audience; your advice is so valuable. Thank you for taking the time to post it.

retrohipmama said...

Super advice! I actually got half way thru reading and quickly jumped over to my blog and started opening pages of the people's blogs who had left me comments in the last days. Now I'm back and leaving you a comment because I really do love your blog and this series! Keep it up. I especially am in need of advice as I'm so new to this bloggy thingy!

Laura@livingabigstory said...

Just found your blog -- thanks soooo much for these blogging tips! I have a new blog, and it's so helpful to have the unwritten rules actually written down.

I especially appreciate the info @ commenting on the person's blog is more valuable than an email -- makes sense, but (duh!) it didn't click in to me :)

I will be bookmarking this to come back each week.

Xazmin said...

Well said! Great tips.

I try to follow these guidelines. I'm not gonna lie though, sometimes I receive a comment that I really want to respond to, but don't get to it for a while. And I still go ahead and respond anyway, because I really had something I wanted to say back!

I try to respond via email, and get back to visit the blog as well within a few days. But I do know that sometimes I miss someone new who has visited me, and then I feel bad.

Katie said...

Thanks for these tips Amanda. I love this series and can't wait for more ideas!

Kirsty said...

Thank you for this post. I often find that the bigger blogs really do not go out of their way very often to reply. I think that's very important. I think we're all sometimes guilty of this and that's ok. But when you comment on a blog all the time... for months.. to so many posts and never hear anything from the blogger... I think that's slack.
No matter how big you get, you still need to talk to the little people. hehehe.

Also just thought I would thank you because you are one of those wonderful bloggers that always stop by and comment in return. And it's always very much appreciated. Definitely the best way to start making blog friends!!!

ayra k said...

Thank you for your post. I've been googling "how best to respond to blog comments", but most results just show sites which advise that I "should" respond to comments left on my blog, without clarifying "how" or "where".

A couple of follow up questions though.

1. If you reply on the commentor's blog, there's no record that you've ever responded to blog comments. Would this not put off future would-be commentors?

2. If I left a comment on someone else's blog (in response to their blog post) and they come to my blog and leave a comment, do I reply back on their blog? It seems a never ending cycle of "thank you for coming over and leaving a comment", but without much "content".

I would love to hear what you think!

Leah said...

I'm enjoying this series - I recently started a new blog, after taking a blogging break. In my previous blog life, I had a following, so it can be frustrating starting over - but things change and it was time for me to switch gears. Anyway - I appreciate you taking time to write up these tips, they are a great reminder.

Ashley | Domestic Fashionista said...

Oh man, it's not a good idea to respond six months later? lol! Because I do that sometimes! ha! Oh well...I do plenty of other things to screw up my blog.

Great points yet again! Can you tell I am catching up on your blog. Hello my name is Ashley and I forgot how to turn my computer on! {wink}

Nann from At Nann's Table said...

Hi..Centsational girl recommended this post by you on her blog today and here I am. I am a new blogger of just 8 weeks and I need all the help I can get. Your commenting tutorial is wonderful. I am now going back and read everything you wrote each week on your blog posts. You have a new friend in me. During Christmas when my family all flew in (and we had a houseful) there were comments from people who I never new. As I've gone back I see this now. It was a very busy time for me. I know you said its too late to write back a comment to them but I'm going to do it anyway out of common courtesy. I am embarrassed that I missed these comments/people.

Thanks again. I think what you're doing is wonderful. And this is one newbie who is truly grateful for you.

Nann

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