A major reason for me having a blog is to interact with others who enjoy photography.
Because of this, the comments are a fundamental feature.
With no comments, no feedback, no conversation, I’m talking to an empty sky.
So in the three and a half years I’ve been running 35hunter, I’ve done all I can to make comments the very hub of the site.
The story so far looks like this.
In 2016, my first full year, I received 125 comments. For the entire year. So that’s just over 10 per month.
The following year, 2017, this increased to 873 in total, or 73 a month.
2018 saw 2977 comments overall, equating to nearly 250 a month, and the average so far for 2019, nearly half way in, is just shy of 300 a month.
This is a level I’m delighted with, and means I’m always keen to share new ideas and experiments and experiences with you, and see what your thoughts are.
So if you have a blog that doesn’t have as much conversation and interaction as you’d like, here are the three things I’ve done consistently that I think have helped 35hunter become a place more and more people are coming to for intelligent, thoughtful and friendly photography related conversation.
1. Write open, interesting posts with a regular publishing schedule.
So I could have broken this down into three points, but they’re all components of the same thing.
First you need to write about stuff people are interested in, or at least start with what you think there may be an interest in.
I’m thrilled to have found a tiny corner of the internet that you come to and enjoy many of the same aspects of photography and being a photographer as me.
Even if we don’t always agree (perhaps especially when we don’t agree), we can still learn from each other.
If I summed up the content of 35hunter it would be hunting for beauty and balance with a camera. Which is the blog’s tagline, and has been from the outset. Adding more detail I might expand “camera” to “small collection of affordable digital classics”, though this too has evolved.
Second, I think you need to be open and honest about your experiences.
I’m not an expert in any aspect of photography. With 35hunter my approach is – I’ve tried a couple of hundred cameras in the last 12 or 13 years, taken maybe a few hundred thousand pictures, and like sharing my thoughts and experiences of what I’ve found along the way.
Or put my simply, “Here’s what I’ve tried, and how I found it, what are your experiences”?
Lastly, I do think consistency is important in both the depth and quality of what you share, and how often.
We all need to find a frequency that works for us and that we can sustain, but in general the aim is high quality posts, at regular intervals.
If you have the quality, but not the frequency, there’s the danger people will lose interest and unsubscribe, so even if your next post is amazing, they’re no longer reading, let alone commenting.
Conversely, if you have the frequency, but not the quality, people are likely to be disappointed and lose interest too. We can only show up and be disappointed so many times before we stop showing up at all.
Plus of course we each can only read so much each day, so we want our reading choices to be worth our time.
The worst combination is publishing low quality, and infrequently. If that’s the case maybe you need to ask if blogging is right for you at all.
It’s not compulsory, and not for everyone!
2. Ask a question at the end of each post.
This sounds obvious, but isn’t. I follow a small group of blogs, and actively try to converse and encourage them. But sometimes I’ll read a really excellent post, but not really know what to say, other than “wow I loved this”.
But if you ask a simple question at the end, it gives people that little glimpse of an alleyway in, an invitation.
Rather than standing outside a neat little cafe that they’d love to go inside but can’t find the door, it’s like opening it for them and saying “come on in, make yourself comfortable, what’s your favourite drink?”
3. Respond to every comment.
Perhaps this is the most important of all, although I think I have a personal bias here.
In life generally, I can’t bear to be ignored if I’m talking. So I’m very conscious of giving people I spend my time with (at work and home) plenty of opportunities to speak and be listened to. Because I don’t want them to feel ignored.
I guess the same approach has found its way to blogging.
As I said, I like to encourage other bloggers by leaving a thoughtful and supportive comment on a post I like.
I don’t do this just to get a reply, but if they then don’t reply back – or worse still you scroll through their comments and see that they don’t reply back to anyone who’s taken the time to join the conversation, I just think it’s rude and arrogant. Why have comments enabled at all?
So with 35hunter I try to respond to every comment. It’s not always immediately, and with my regular unplugging from the internet sometimes it might not be for three or four days, but I do always try to reply.
This to me is one of the great beauties of blogging.
You can have a thoughtful and meaningful conversation between a group of people over a period of days, even weeks. In fact this morning I had notification of a response to a comment I made in January 2017.
It’s not like a conversation in person where you have to think on your feet and it can be all over in a few minutes.
Or like most social media, where the conversation will have been pushed down the timeline within minutes, and for all intents and purposes become lost and invisible.
With blogging, you get to really think about your response and have a deeper, slower engagement.
But only if you, as a blogger, commit to reply to those who make the effort to leave a comment on your blog.
I hope these three ideas will help you increase comments and interaction on your blog, if that’s something you’ve been wanting to do.
Being able to facilitate conversations between others who share the same passions as you is tremendously rewarding, and a privilege I greatly respect and do all I can to continue.
Do you have any tips yourself about increasing engagement with readers you’d like to share?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking.
Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.
Read a random post from the archives.
See what I’m up to About Now.
17 thoughts on “Three Tips To Encourage More Comments And Interaction On Your Blog”
Hi Dan, You are so right, blogging isn’t for everyone, and not for me for sure. I do greatly enjoy reading blogs and your in particular. I’m down to just a handful now. I agree about the comments, I don’t expect a response to every comment, but there is a well known film podcast personality whose blog I followed for a while because he is very interesting. But I noticed after leaving a few comments and reading through them that he hadn’t responded to a single comment in over ten years! Needless to say, I don’t follow that blog anymore.
Jon, I know, I just don’t understand it. Unfortunately the only conclusion I come to is that they feel somehow replying to a comment is not worth their time, they above it in some way. Which to me is just arrogant and disrespectful to those who read/listen to you. Without them, a blog or podcast is nothing!
On the point of not everyone being suited to blogging, I have an idea for a related post actually, working title “Just Because You’re A Photographer, It Doesn’t Mean You Should Have A Photography Blog”.
Because with so many I see, the authors seem to really struggle to post regularly, or know why they’re even posting, or the posts seem like they’re published just for the sake of it, without anything new to say or share.
I just want to emphasise the point that it’s not obligatory, you can just upload pictures, or keep your work entirely to yourself, it’s up to each individual!
Thanks for your comments, as always.
I respond to nearly every comment, with a few exceptions, and I think this has been the biggest reason I get so many comments. People like the interaction!
Exceptions: there are a few people who troll; I delete them. A few people leave nonsense comments; I ignore them. There are a couple people from my past with whom I’ve cut ties; I ignore them. And when a comment thread has gone on long enough (in my judgment) I stop responding.
Yes you do Jim. In fact I seldom leave comments in your blog because I know you get so many and feel compelled to respond.
Oh goodness, never let that stop you! I love comments!
Yeh Jon, like Jim says, never let that stop you! It’s up to the blogger to prioritise their time, not you. If I feel overwhelmed with comments I cut back on time spent writing new posts for a bit, until I’m back up to speed.
Thanks guys, good to know.
Thanks Jim. I think increasingly there’s a gap between blogs like ours and the older discussion forums, versus social media platforms like Instagram. Some people prefer to take it slower, write longer comments and so on, others are happy to just click a “like” button and swipe on to the next image.
I love being a part of the deeper and more thoughtful conversation of the blogging “scene”.
Thanks for sharing your exceptions. There’s someone who comments here (and on other blogs, including yours) where a few times I’ve hovered over the delete button as their comments are rarely positive and add to the conversation. I often wonder why they even read, let alone comment. If you don’t like it, don’t follow!
Anyway, because I’ve never deleted a comment (other than the spam that WP catches and deletes anyway, very effectively) and want it to be a democratic forum, I’ve not deleted any comments yet.
Your “rules” have given me the nudge to delete any future comments I don’t think are helpful or positive. Thanks!
You have the blog I hope to have some day. Easy to read. Interesting and robust comments. None of us are experts, but it’s fun trying.
I was posting regularly, but only photos. I deleted all that and only recently started again. Now I’m looking for some photos posted each week and a post with interesting things I’ve read. My goal, like yours, is to create dialogue. Create the water cooler. Learn a few things myself and hopefully pass some on to others.
Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoy the blog.
There are some great photo blogs where people only post pictures and no words. I think these are very useful as a kind of portfolio or showcase. But you tend to see fewer comments, and mostly then they just say “Great pic!” and the like, because there’s not really much else to say, there’s no topic, no theme, no prompts. Some have comments disabled (like Dilip – https://dilipnair.com/blog/) and just share photos and perhaps a line or quote. Which is all fine, if just sharing your photographs is your main goal, not interaction and discussion.
But as you know, and like you, I’m all about the conversation. I love the shared adventure we’re all on, at different places (geographically, and level of experience), with different aims, using different gear. It’s great to find commonalities and just as useful to find someone taking a different approach that we can learn from. This can’t help unless your blog makes it easy and safe for people to comment.
Having a weekly post about other stuff you’ve found online is definitely a good way to build community. Jim Grey has been doing this for years with his Saturday post, and I know from the comments that many people follow his blog primarily for this weekly roundup post.
Personally, on the whole curator/creator scale, I feel firmly on the creator side. In other words, I don’t want to be a gallery owner who seeks out the best local photographers and showcases their work. I more selfish, I want the gallery to be all my own work, ha ha!
Interesting thoughts as usual Dan.
I’m afraid I’m one who can never get in to posting with any sort of regularity but I do appreciate it when people do take the time to comment (and especially those interested enough to pop in to look when I haven’t posted for months…)
I have photographically productive phases and post a lot, and then suddenly it turns off and I can’t get into it at all. I also just can’t face the ‘will it, won’t it’ of uploading images with this slow internet we have… resolved soon hopefully.
Anyway, we can all pile over to yours for a bit of a moan, so that’s OK. 😉
Bear, during more prolific photography phases, could you upload the images to your WordPress in bulk and just leave it while you do something else? Then use the ones you want as and when you need them for future posts?
Would be ideal, yes, but unfortunately the connection cannot be relied upon not to ‘hang’ on a file.
An Openreach engineer explained to me that often, if a single file takes more than say, five or six minutes, because of its size, then often the network severs the link to the receiving server entirely due to it ‘thinking’ there’s a problem.
There was some technically worded explanation for this involving bit rates, handshakes and various combinations of three random letters as acronyms but my eyes glazed over and my brain went to sleep to, so I know how the website server feels.
Ha ha, good analogy!
Let’s hope your upcoming broadband upgrade makes all of this a thing of the past…
[…] Or you might want to have a blog on WordPress (or another blog platform) that allows very straightforward publishing of photos and text, and an easy way to encourage and manage conversations via the comments. […]
I’ve just stumbled across this and enjoyed it. I agree absolutely about responding to every comment and the importance of posting on a schedule. I’ve ended up posting weekly but often write quite extensive posts that are a combination of ‘how to’ and anecdote/story. Knowing the Friday afternoon ‘deadline’ is approaching can mean a couple of late nights at the end of what might already be a tough week.
An additional trick to encourage interaction is to ensure the temporal relevancy of your posts (at least, it works for me). There’s not a lot of point in writing about snowshoes in high summer, people just aren’t thinking about snowshoes then. I write on beekeeping (and photography irregularly elsewhere) and there’s a regularity to the season which largely defines subject areas to cover. I can mix it up a bit, but the posts that stand the test of time – and get thousands of reads in a rather specialised niche of the internet – are those in which the timing and the topic and the writing are good.
At least I can be confident about the first two 😉
Hi David, many thanks for your comments.
I try to mix up the length of posts, partly to give the reader variation, and partly so I don’t have to write a long post every time I publish! Even so, often when I think I’m aiming for perhaps a 400 or 500 word post, it ends up hitting 1000 words before I realise!
That’s a really good idea about seasonal or timely posts. I’ve just started a draft that fits this!
Whilst we can try to follow certain formulae or rules, I also like how sometimes a post will be a bit of a sleeper at first, then gather momentum over time, and months, even years after it was written, still be attracting decent views. This long term depth of content is a major plus of blogs over more fleeting social media platforms, where there’s little interest in anything more than a day old!