Get More Comments, Honor Your Fans and Create the Supportive Community You Deserve
By Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Why do creatives want comments on our blogs? Like, badly?
Well, because we want to avoid a place I call the lonely pier at the end of the universe.
See when you put your heart into a mailing, a blog, or your art newsletter – and hardly anyone responds – you can feel rejected, and the lights can dim.
And all of a sudden you’ve been teleported in your mind to this creaking wooden pier just floating in Outerspace. And there you are all alone, comment-less, awkwardly whistling to yourself.
Oh no, wait, or is that just me?
Well, I’m going to assume for now that we’ve all done some time on the lonely pier.
Now, doing a little time there without comments is normal and survivable.
The 3 Bad Things That Happen if You Go Too Long Without Comments
But when you camp out on the lonely pier too long you encounter three problems.
- First, when we go too long without comments we can lose the motivation to blog.
- Second, we can even lose the desire to share our art online.
- And third, if we sit too long on the pier we pick up some killer butt splinters.
And I can’t let those three things happen to you (especially the butt splinters.)
So I’m going to give you seven tips. These tips go beyond the standard stuff you’ve heard before like, “make sure you ask for comments at the end of each post.”
My seven tips are weirder. And may prove more effective for you as a heart-centered artist or writer. Because they all circle around the big kahuna secret to comments. And that is this. Build and honor relationships with your individual readers.
So ready to be as happy as that kooky kid riding the unicorn?
Great, we’ll start with the easy stuff. But the best secrets, the ones that separate the ham from the prosciutto are the last three.
Don’t leave before you’ve eyeballed them.
The 7 Authentic Ways To Get More Comments
Way #1 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Understand the Fear Obstacle
To solve a problem, you first need to identify its source.
So what could be stopping your readers from giving you the love you deserve in the form of comments?
The big obstacle is usually fear.
We all have moments when we fear being wrong or coming off as a whack job when we leave a meaningful comment.
And it doesn’t help that comments are forever. (Song to the tune of James Bond’s “Diamonds are Forever.”)
Thinking up something on the spot to say that we feel comfortable to have posted online for the entirety of humanity to read for all eternity isn’t easy right?
(For help caring less about the opinions of others check out my post Letting Go of Approval: A Story for Artists (That Involves Underwear).)
5 Ways You May Be Discouraging Comments Without Knowing It
To overcome reader fear consider these five dos and don’ts:
- Don’t make your comment eliciting question be “Please leave a comment.” That closes readers’ thought doors down.
- If you want to keep it simple do ask, “What do you think?” instead. That tends to open up readers’ mental doors a bit more.
- Don’t ask complex questions that require a lot of thought and writing on the behalf of your reader. For example, avoid questions like, “What does your weekly painting schedule look like?” It seems like a great question but unfortunately, anything that asks for deep or organized thought in comment land usually gets you a chorus of crickets.
- Instead do try short, fun questions that ask one specific thing that relates to your post. For example, I accidentally got a slew of comments on my post, How Tea Can Make You a Better Artist because I ran out of time and slapped the question, “What’s your favorite tea?” at the end of the post. Folks had a ready answer for that.
- Do ask more complex questions- but later. As in after you’ve established a base of committed commenters.
Now as if fear wasn’t enough of an obstacle to people commenting you also want to consider your readers’ second huge obstacle. They have those tiny but sinister armies of robots to deal with.
Way #2 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Understand the Tech Obstacle
Sometimes it’s not you – it’s your technology. Your website’s technology to be exact.
If you’re not getting comments, have a friend test if your comment section even functions BEFORE you call your therapist.
Often a glitch is making leaving a comment physically impossible.
Or maybe a reader can leave one but you aren’t getting notified when they do.
Could be you have a new, snazzy minimalist website theme and people who want to comment can’t see where the hell to type their comment. (It’s because your comment “box” is white on white.)
Or commenters may think your comment section is busted even though their comment successfully went through and is just not appearing because it is awaiting moderation- but the bots won’t let them know that.
So ask your tech guy or gal for help or google what to do.
Now, if you are one of the lovely folks who has managed to leap over the fear hurdle and the technology hurdle and you’ve left a comment on my blog- you’re my hero.
If you’ve commented more than once, thank you, let’s get married.
Why do I feel so strongly about you? Because you are a statistical anomaly- a rare breed.
Want to know how rare?
Buckle up, this will shock you.
Way #3 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Know the 90-9-1 Rule
Did you know that a mere one percent of your readers leave a whopping ninety-nine percent of the comments you receive?
That’s what the stats behind something known as the 90-9-1 rule suggest.
Translation for most bloggers: only nine out of one hundred of your blog readers will ever dare to leave one comment.
And only one out of every one hundred of our readers has the Wonder Woman guts it takes to leave us a comment more than once.
For example, only one percent of the world population currently sports a pair of truly grey eyes. So think of your one percent-frequent commenter-folks as magical grey-eyed unicorns. Treasure each of them.
Instead of focusing on growing our lists and constantly reaching for more new readers, we can choose to slow down and take pleasure in showering attention on the lovely peeps we already are blessed with.
Tips four, five, six, and seven give you fun ways to do just that.
Way #4 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Answer Every Comment With Love
My art blogging colleague Luann Udell is a comment receiving queen.
I think it’s because her writing is so humorous, real, and comforting. (Here’s a good Luann post example.”Let Me Count the Ways: Why Didn’t That Gallery Take My Work.”)
Udell has garnered more than eighty comments on a single post.
I asked Luann why she thinks she used to get wagon loads of comments on the FASO Bold Brush Blog we both wrote for in the past. She said:
“Well, one reason was I answered every comment readers left me. Most of the FASO bloggers before me rarely interacted with readers – and I did. I think that my answering each comment showed readers I cared. And I did care. And I still do. I appreciate them – and I think they responded in kind.”
The moral of the story, answer all your readers back.
And don’t be reticent when your answer. Many of us are in our 50s, 60s, and 70s and have decades of scars/ wisdom to share. If not now, then when?
Also, try to add links to further information whenever you can in your response.
For example, if a creative asks me in a comment about how to climb out of overwhelm, or outline a post or newsletter I may suggest she or he check out mind mapping. But I will also make sure to include a link to the one mind mapping video I love. It’s a video that tends to get creatives fast, exciting results.
You may want to jump over your shyness and start answering folks back for no other reason than noticing it doubles your comment count.
But keep it up and eventually, you’ll love replying to every comment once you discover for yourself what Luann shares with us in tip number five.
Way #5 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Tell People They’re Not Crazy
“One of the most important things I think we can do in our comment sections is to assure other artists that they are real,” said Udell.
Luann believes, “Women’s observations about their own art and the art world are often ignored. So if you use your comment section to be like the last line in Avatar and have it say, ‘I see you, I see you!’ you can help all kinds of people who are not normally acknowledged, see themselves as real.”
Let’s be mirrors for our readers.
Let’s let them know they are a real artist even if they didn’t win an arbitrary competition, get a fancypants award or grant, or haven’t ever sold a stick of work.
“I spend a lot of time helping artists in comments,” said Luann “by reassuring them they aren’t crazy if they know in their heart that artmaking is about far more than the pursuit of money or fame.”
But what if you have zero comments?
You don’t have to wait for someone to comment to begin making an authentic connection to a reader. Consider reaching out to them to say thanks when they first subscribe. More on outreach in this post I wrote when I first started my blog called: Four Surprising Benefits of a Small Mailing List.
If actual artists (and art buyers) know your site is a magical place, a place where they’ll be witnessed and have their thoughts appreciated, they’ll return of their own volition- no marketing needed.
(See my post Turn Your Art Website Into an Attraction Magnet (Without Social Media) for more on this.)
But do tip number six to help the magic along.
Way #6 To Get More Comments on Your Art Blog
Go the Distance. Email every commenter personally
Why not honor the exceptional grey-eyed unicorn people who keep you from getting butt splinters on the lonely pier by doing three things.
- Give a supportive or information-filled answer to each comment you receive.
- Then Email each commenter back personally. (You have their email on the comment itself.) Say hi and tell them if they made your day.
- Take it further and cut and paste the reply to their comment from your blog’s comment section into the personal email you send them.
I do this so the sweet people who leave comments on my site won’t have to break a sweat and return to my site to check if I ever answered them back.
(Even if your commenters have gone to the trouble of noticing and checking the tiny-weeny box in your comment section that supposedly notifies them when you have responded to their comment- the system that sends the message is usually kaput.
So, consider sending a personal email. Your reader will be pleasantly surprised you went to the trouble. No one else does.
Personal emails honor commenters, open up deeper dialogs and create community-and we creatives need all of those reinforcements to keep our magic factories up and running in a Kardashian-Timberlake-focused world.
Ok here is the final tip, my favorite tip, the last way to practice the art of reader astonishment and feel a natural high at the same time.
#7 Final Way To Get More Comments
Leave a Love Letter on Someone Else’s Door
Creatives in general are generous, sensitive, and caring people.
We love to give and receive.
So why not do both as far as comments go?
By that I mean, subscribe to a bunch of your subscribers’ blogs if you haven’t already.
Don’t worry about getting inundated, artists blog way less than most folks. (In part because most artists receive little feedback, but hopefully we can collectively help change that.)
So leave comments as often as you can on your readers’ creative efforts. Support their dream. Strengthen relationships with your individual readers. I bet many of you already do this.
Seen in this light, leaving a comment for a fellow artist in need attaches little wings to our hearts. (For at least an hour.)
Artists will often want to return the favor.
But most of all leave love letters in the form of comments for fellow artists and writers because as Thich Nhat Hanh said:
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
What do you think? What’s helped you get more comments? Do you remember your first comment?
Let me know in the comments below.
I treasure every one of your comments.
Do you have a post you wrote that needs a comment or two?
Leave a link to any art newsletter or post of YOURS in the comments that you’d like to receive a little comment love.
I’d be thrilled to read your post. I’d be happy to say something nice about it or ask you a question (even if you aren’t a subscriber.)
So come on, be brave. Leave me a link and I’ll be there.
And if other readers want to puppy pile on they can leave a comment too.
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