Thanks to joining a blogging group and getting involved in various other online communities that encourage sharing posts, I’ve had quite a few comments on my blog recently. More than I’ve had in a fair while, really, and they’re good comments. Compliments that feel genuine. Suggestions I hadn’t thought of. Personal responses that give me a glimpse into the life of the commenter just as I’ve given them a glimpse into my life in the post.
It’s not that I never get comments normally: I have a few committed commenters who pop in now and again and leave meaningful remarks in response to my posts, and I appreciate them a lot. (Seriously. Shout out to you guys.) But for the most part… the comment section is quiet. Every year it gets quieter.
It’s not just me. All the bloggers I know say that they get fewer comments these days. When I started blogging, we’d have entire conversations in the comment sections of posts — partly, I guess, because I had blogging friends I didn’t talk to on any other platform. Now, I’m lucky to get a couple of comments on a post, even if they get a similar or large number of views.
It seems to be a shift in blogging culture and how people interact with posts. Most people are on mobile at least some of the time, which makes commenting less practical. They’ll reply on social media where a post was shared, or mesage you to mention that what you wrote was helpful to them. And that’s without considering the impact of internet-wide truth: “Never read the comments!” Maybe the toxicity of so many comments sections is why others fall silent, avoiding the space below a post because they don’t want to see what anonymity does to people’s attitudes.
It’s totally understandable, but it’s still sad. I miss the days of blog comments.
Because comments on social media don’t last.
Of course I love it when people respond to my posts on social media, or when they message me about them. But when I stumble on the same post months later, their responses may as well never have existed. If I can find them at all, it’s only throught rawling back through Facebook, and other, more ephemeral forms of social media will have lost them entirely.
It’s so different from those posts from 2011 or 2012, where I can see all the conversations happening right below the post. Discussions with total strangers, sharing ideas and further reading. Other readers could see what had already been said, or how popular a post has been.
Comments on blog posts are both more permanent and more public than a lot of social media. Maybe that’s why people avoid them, but it’s also what makes them great. At times, I’ve learned more from comments than from posts themselves!
Sometimes, though, people’s hesitation to comment is just that they don’t know what to say. They tell me as much: “I read a lot of blogs, but I never know how to comment, especially when it’s someone I don’t know.”
I won’t pretend to be an expert, and I only read a certain type of blog, so these tips won’t be helpful for everyone. But here are a few guidelines, as I understand them, to writing the perfect blog comment — especially when it’s the first one you’ve left on someone’s blog.
How To Write The Perfect Blog Comment
Step 1: Tell them you liked the post.
It’s pretty easy. You can actually stop there, if you’re busy or stuck for ideas. “Loved this!” can brighten a blogger’s day. “Great post, I’d love to hear more about this!” may sound cheesy, but it lets a blogger know that a topic has at least one interested reader.
If you’re worried about seeming cliché or like a spambot, though, try:
Step 2: Tell them WHY you liked the post
“This really resonated with my experience!” “I loved what you said about [X]. That’s a great way of phrasing it.” “I didn’t realise anyone else thought [X].” “I didn’t know about this before, but it’s really interesting.”
Suddenly you seem more authentic and interested, and the blogger gets to see which parts of their posts were effective.
Step 3: Offer your own perspective
This one has to be handled carefully. Don’t jump straight to step three, or you’re making it all about yourself. (And remember, if you don’t have a useful perspective to offer, you can easily stop after step 2!) But maybe offer a contrasting viewpoint. I find this easiest on book reviews: “I totally agree about [X], but I’m surprised you felt [Y], because I liked/disliked that part!” “Have you read [X]? If you liked [y element], it might really appeal.”
It works on other posts too, though, but if someone’s talking about something very personal or emotional, you’ll need to tread a little more carefully. “Sorry to hear about your intense personal tragedy, but mine is so much worse” = no. “Sorry to hear about your intense personal tragedy. When I went through a similar thing, I found that [X] helped, but I don’t know if it will work for you” = better.
(Commenting on posts about serious subject matter is always harder, though, and this advice won’t necessarily transfer over.)
Step 4: Ask a question
If you want to start a conversation, ask a question. Seriously. It works so well. By asking to clarify a point in the post, or asking for more info, you might cause a comment chain and start a conversation (which could become a friendship), or you might give the blogger an idea for another post.
“This advice is so useful! Do you have any posts about [X aspect]?” E.g. my friend Cait wrote a post about bookstagram, and I asked for advice on using Instagram Stories, because they’re fairly new and weren’t included in the post. Or: “I loved this book but the sequel doesn’t come out FOR. EVER. Do you have any recommendations to tide me over?” (Book bloggers love to ramble about books.)
Even simple curiosity about an unusual hobby can start conversations: “What’s the difference between a hop jig and a single jig?”
Don’t expect the blogger to do all the work for you, particularly on sensitive issues (Google exists), but showing that you’re interested is the best way to go deeper.
Step 5 (even more optional than all the others): Share your own post
Read the room on this one. Book reviews, it’s probably fine. After responding to their review, maybe suggest “I reviewed this book too — it’s here if you want to check it out: [link]”, or “Based on your opinions of [X], I think you’d like [Y] (here’s my review: [link])”. And if they’ve asked for linkbacks, that’s also fine, link with impunity. But be a bit careful, and don’t comment in such a way that suggests you’re only doing it to promote your own blog, because that’s not cool.
When in doubt, stick with steps one and two. “Loved this post! I hope you write more about [X], you have a great perspective on it.” And read the room. If you know the blogger personally, all bets are off, the rules are gone, etc etc. If you’re a regular commenter, same deal. But first time comments? Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with a quick compliment and a few details.
Finally, remember this:
you are not annoying the blogger by commenting on their post.
They want to hear what you think! Unless you’re commenting just to start an argument or make personal remarks, I can almost guarantee they’ll be thrilled that you commented. Even if they don’t reply straight away, that doesn’t mean your perspective isn’t wanted (they’re probably just busy, or their notifications are glitching and they missed your comment).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go follow my own advice and comment on a few blogs. I’ve been neglecting my various subscriptions recently…
Step 6: Say “I love your blog, so I just donated to your Ko-Fi to help you keep it running! I know these things can get kind of expensive and everyone uses adblockers so there’s no real revenue in ads, but I turned mine off for your site in case it helps.”