The thing about ninjas is that no one knows they’re there.
Ninjas are silent. Ninjas are stealthy. And they’re usually Japanese.
I’m not Japanese.
But until recently, when it came to my blog-reading habits, I was both silent and stealthy. Nobody knew I was there, because I never left a comment.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen:
I was a ninja blog reader.
What stopped me commenting?
- I was shy, especially when it came to commenting on anything written by the “heavyweights” in my industry
- I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile to contribute
- I didn’t want to bother the author with my comments
- I only wanted to say something impressive. Like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, I was “unwilling to speak, unless I expected to say something that would amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb”
- I had already “liked” or “plus-oned” the post on Facebook or Google+, and didn’t see the point of repeating this gesture of appreciation by commenting as well
Breaking my habit took time, and there were a few preliminary baby steps I had to take. But the biggest step was simple:
I started my own blog.
I wrote my first blog posts, and then I sat and waited.
But the comments didn’t come.
I started to feel a little unloved – a feeling only somewhat abated by reassurance from Google Analytics that people were indeed reading my blog posts. Why wasn’t anyone talking to me? Was I not pretty enough? Was I boring? Unoriginal?
Actually, my posts did have a couple of comments. Turns out my site’s default comment setting meant comments wouldn’t appear on a post until I approved them. One setting change later, and viola – I had some comments!
But the experience taught me something important, because it caused me to reflect on why I, as a blog writer, wanted people to comment on my posts, and why, as a blog reader, I needed to depart from my ninja blog reading ways.
It’s nice to tell someone they helped you
In real life, when someone helps you, chances are you’ll let them know you appreciate it. It’s good manners. Why should you behave any differently in your online life? A blog writer will be delighted to learn they helped you in some way, be it teaching you something new, making you laugh, or presenting a perspective you hadn’t considered before. Plus by rewarding them with some positive reinforcement (a comment), you’re helping ensure they continue to help you with more blog posts in the future. It’s a win-win situation.
Comments still trump social
Ok, so obviously if your post goes viral on social media, then social will trump comments. But in my opinion, five comments on your post are worth a lot more than five Facebook “likes”. That’s because comments are like votes of confidence that everyone – not just your Facebook friends – can see. You’re basically telling the world “hey, this post was so good, I not only read it, I commented on it too!” I know that I’m more likely to read a post with five comments than I am to read one with five “likes”. What about you?
You get to talk to someone you think is cool
If there’s a blog you regularly read, chances are you think the author is cool (and has cool things to say). Perhaps you think they’re cool because they’re funny, or because they’re an expert in their field. Exactly why you think they’re cool doesn’t matter; the point is that you do – and by commenting on their blog, you get to talk to a cool person! That sort of opportunity doesn’t come around every day. I might think that Tolkien is cool, but it’s pretty unlikely I’ll ever have a chance to speak to him. Take advantage of the opportunity!
Could more comments = better blogs?
This is something I’d love to get your opinion on, especially if you’re a blog writer yourself. Could more comments mean better blogs? Would knowing “x” number of people will be popping by to read your latest post mean that you spent more time and love crafting it? Or are blog writers an inherently proud and perfectionist bunch who consistently deliver top quality posts regardless? Let me know what you think!
So now the truth is out. I was a ninja blog reader. But I changed.
You can change too.
Are you a ninja blog reader? Why not try breaking the habit with a comment below!
Do you write a regular blog? How do you feel when you get some comment-love? Share your thoughts in the comments below.