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).
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