I’ve been blogging since I was 15 – so for 10 years, and I am here to tell you, that blogging to maintain readership is not an easy task. First of all, you have to be a pretty decent writer – otherwise people aren’t going to read your blog. Second, you have to have something to write about constantly to maintain your blog. For instance, I try to blog every single week day at least – which means that I typically have five or six drafts lined up in my queue that I can hit publish on. (This blog post is being written on March 22nd – let’s see when it actually goes live.) Third, you have to manage, maintain and design your blog. Depending on what kind of platform you use, this could be relatively easy (blogger.com) or a little more difficult (self hosted wordpress). Personally, I’m on a self-hosted wordpress platform that I easily spend an hour a day on or more between comment moderation, making sure my design is always working and researching the latest and greatest plugins. Finally, you have to get out there and converse on other social media means – reply to comments on your blog, comment on others blogs, tweet, and post things to facebook. Sure, there are some things that can automate this for you, but it’s always better to have a hands on touch.
In short, blogging is a hobby that is not easy to maintain. Sure, there are people out there who actually blog their inner thoughts and don’t care if people are reading them – but those people are few and far between (and typically, few people read their blogs anyway). If you’re blogging to get to a certain level, you are blogging because you like the exposure and the “fame” so to speak. If you’re blogging on a personal blog like mine, you’re blogging because you want to share something with the world, and you want to feel like your voice is being heard. Or as my cousin so aptly put it a couple of days ago, “Some people masturbate all day, and some people blog.”
There are two basic things that everyone measures when they create a blog to gauge how well they are doing:
- Traffic: How many people visit my site? How many people are returning viewers? How many people share my site and bring others to it?
- Discussion: How many people comment on my site – or comment on another site about my site. Are they interacting with me?
One you reach a certain level, traffic only gets you so far. I’m at the point where I’m getting anywhere from 100 – 1,000 views a day depending on the content I post that day and where it gets re-shared. So sure, a ton of people are visiting my site, but if they aren’t commenting, what does that mean? Whenever I have a blog post that gets zero comments, I feel like it is a total failure! What I said wasn’t relevant enough, it wasn’t emotional enough, the writing wasn’t good enough – who knows! Whatever it was, without comments, that post will always go down in the history of my blog as a post with no comments – also known as a total failure.
Let’s be honest, no one wants to feel like a failure at something they do as a hobby – that is why it is so important for you, as the reader, to comment on blogs when you actually enjoy the content. It’s a way of saying “Thank you” for the 10 minutes of my life that you put a smile on my face, or made me think about something in a new light… or occasionally (especially when I do political posts) pissed you off. It’s a way of letting the blogger know that their content matters – and keeps them going.
I’m not saying you should comment on every blog, but let me give you a real life example:
You eat out two nights a week. The first night, you’re at a restaurant where the waitress is popping her bubble gum and messing up your order. We will call her, “Bad Blog“. Would you leave her a good tip? Or just the standard. This is the same as you going to a blog you didn’t enjoy. The blogger knows you’ve been there because of the traffic – but the service wasn’t good enough. There is something the blogger needs to change in order to win your love.
The second night you go out, you have an excellent waitress. The service is wonderful and her personality has greatly enhanced your dining experience. We will call her “Good Blog“. Would you leave a 20% tip? Perhaps tell her verbally how much your experience because of her? Write a note to the manager or fill out a survey? When you go to a blog that makes you feel that way, or engages you in any way, you should leave a comment (or re-share the content) because that is the same thing as letting the blogger know that you enjoyed your time with them.
Now, I’ll go ahead and admit it – I am TERRIBLE at commenting on other blogs. I personally get annoyed with pop up comments (Brandon and anyone else on blogger, I’m looking at you), comments where I can’t leave my site to generate some link back love (again, blogger, and a couple of the auto-generated comment systems out there) and I generally don’t have time to read other blogs because well, I’m too busy managing my own blog, working, or being out there collecting stuff to write about.
So watch, karmatically speaking, I’ll probably post this blog and get no comments on it – and I’ll have to mark it down in my list of blog topics that were a total failure.