How to comment on blogs

A while back, I read an interview with an author who was asked about marketing tactics that she avoids. She replied that she doesn’t comment on blogs.

“Spam is not a good thing when it comes to promoting any kind of business,” she explained.

Spam? Huh?

Good comment, bad comment

Somebody should explain to this woman the difference between contributing to the conversation and commenting just for the sake of getting your book title out there.

As with everything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to comment on blogs.

It’s actually an effective tactic when done properly. It’s a good way to drive traffic back to your own website. It also offers an opportunity to include your book title in your signature.

More importantly, though, it helps you establish what could be important relationships with influential bloggers and their followers.

5 blog commenting tips you’ll want to embrace

Here are a few tips designed to help make sure your comments aren’t considered “spam” by readers or the blogger.

1. Re-think your goal for commenting.

I know from experience that some authors comment on blog posts simply because it’s a way to get their book title in front of anyone who might read their comment.

The most successful authors don’t comment to call attention to themselves or their books, however. They do it to start building relationships with people they might learn from or who might be interested in the types of books they write.

If you want to be successful, write comments that are door openers, not self-promotional. Ask yourself, “What can I add to this discussion that will help someone?

2. Contribute to the conversation.

It’s absolutely fine to write, “Great post!,” or “Thanks!” I’m a blogger who is grateful for that type of feedback, and I’m sure most others are, too.

But if you’re looking to develop a relationship or connection with the blogger because that person might be able to support your book with a virtual book tour stop or an endorsement, you might want to approach it a little differently.

You’re more likely to get blogger and reader attention if you add a sentence or two that:

  • Shares more information on the subject or
  • Addresses what you liked about the post or
  • Explains what surprised you or
  • Summarizes what you might do differently as a result of reading the post

These are the kinds of comments that can generate conversations and connections.

For example, when Pauline Wiles added to the conversation around my blog post about book publishing predictions for 2020 by including a link to her article on author website trends, I asked her to guest blog for us. (Don’t miss “Author website must-haves.”)

3. Share information.

If you’ve written on the same subject as the post you’re commenting on, briefly add your perspective. By all means, share a link to the specific post on your blog with the additional information.

That will help those who are interested in learning more about the topic or might be interested in a different take on it. Bloggers are usually interested in seeing how others have covered the same topic, too.

4. Use your manners.

Hostile, angry, or mean comments don’t build relationships and reputations.

5. Don’t sell.

Share your opinion, offer additional information, or compliment the blogger, but don’t use the comment template as a place to promote yourself or your work.

There’s a good chance that the blogger won’t approve that overtly promotional comment, which means no one will see it. That means you’re wasting your time when you attempt to comment, and your time is valuable.

Comment on blogs to connect

The author who views commenting on blogs as “spam” is missing an important opportunity to connect with her audience and the blogger.

That’s her loss and her competitor’s gain. The author who is thoughtful, helpful, and kind with comments can become better known with bloggers they’d like to add to their virtual book tour. Blog readers will take note, too.

Don’t make that author’s “spam” mistake by summarily dismissing this tactic. But please do make sure you’re doing it in a way that’s useful for the blogger, the blog’s readers, and you.

What’s the best thing that has happened to you as a result of a comment you’ve left, or a comment someone has made on your blog?


(Editor’s note: This article was first published in April 2012. It has been updated and expanded.)

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44 Comments

  1. What a succinct assessment of blog-etiquette. Thank you for sharing. This is much needed commentary.

    I recently posted on a LinkedIn groups site, and then to that particular person’s site, offering contact information for a project that he was starting. Not only did these two people (my contact and the original poster) meet and have much in common, one had the complementary skills the other needed. Although each lives in a different part of the country, they fortuitously happened to be visiting nearby. In essence they have formed a profitable partnership.

    Now, your question was: what has helped me? Well, I suppose this didn’t help me directly, but both people recognize me as having more than my own interests at heart. That’s what it’s all about, I’d say. I have been added to his list for editing jobs.

    Your remark about “spam”–this is a problem I have with many of my clients and students who are otherwise not “old in their thinking,” but refuse to avail themselves of today’s technology.

    Thanks again.

    Michaele Lockhart, MichaeleLockhart.com

  2. Thanks, Michaele! What a great anecdote! Connecting those people further solidified your relationships with them, right? How can that be a bad thing? Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

  3. I find sharing in others information is helpful to me. More, applying the information gives me the opportunity to put into action something that will be of a benefit to me and hopefully, others. Whenever, I make a comment I thank the person or I share my own experience.

  4. Hi Sandra, your post hits home for me and I think that its all so true. If the coment is helpful or purposeful then exactly…what would be the point. I am having the exact opposite at the moment. Often I receive 500 comments daily to my Spiritual Guidance and education site/ blog.. Sounds great but that takes about 2 hours of my day to sort through. About 90% is actually spam….anything from sex, drugs and rock and roll promotion. You name it I get it…beach houses to rent, Tvs to buy…info about smoking, health etc….Many of them will start off with…loved this post…or Great blog etc but then the self promotion starts .I find it very difficult….even if I spam them…I still get replacements coming in from similar addresses. All individuals but seemingly often grouped into certain profiles as mentioned above. Any advice would be greatly appreciated Sandra! God Bless. Dave

    1. David, I feel your pain! I get those, too, but they don’t show up because my blog is set up so that I approve the comments before they go live. They come into my e-mail (but not in the volume you’re seeing) and I ignore them until I’ve got time to go into my panel and flag them as junk. I suspect they’re generated by some kind of idiotic softwware, but I don’t really know.

      I’d suggest enabling the “approve comments” feature on your blog. If your blog platform doesn’t allow that, switch to one that does. Set up “rules” in your e-mail software that direct junk comments into a specific folder so they don’t clog your inbox. There are patterns in the junk I get that I would use to create those e-mail rules — some relate to the sites generating the junk and others relate to the comments.

      I’ll bet if you Google this problem you’ll find other solutions. It’s definitely worth the time it will take to solve the problem. Good luck!

  5. Wonderful article, Sandra, I’m passing it on. I wish more people would leave comments on my blog, so many are scared for various reasons or just never think about it. I do leave comments because I know how sad it is to think you’re blogging to nobody. Also, leaving comments is like leaving your business card, and I’ve had people find my blog that way and even ask for a guest post or interview. Networking is important!

    1. Thanks for such a great comment, Linda! I do the same thing — I leave a comment just to let the blogger know that the wisdom, viewpoint, or whatever is appreciated. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think you’ve covered this topic, Sandra.

    In real conversation, I appreciate the person who looks to contribute to the existing conversation–not take over the conversation to meet his or her agenda.

    I think that commenting on forums and blogs work the same way. This is also true within social media posts.

    Just like in “real life,” most people are more about themselves than they are about serving other people.

    Do the proportion of comment types you see contradict this claim? 🙂

    1. Chris, I love how you’ve phrased it — “In real conversation, I appreciate the person who looks to contribute to the existing conversation–not take over the conversation to meet his or her agenda.”

      This is an excellent one-sentence summary of how to approach the process. Thank you!

      I haven’t noticed a lot of thread hijackers on blogs, but I see it on Facebook A LOT.

  7. Sandy, I couldn’t agree more! I advise authors that connecting on social networks and commenting on blogs are the first two steps to relationship building.

    I wrote a post on this same topic a couple of years ago, and I mentioned a few tips on the sticky issue of how to subtly mention your book without being overtly promotional. Here’s the article: The Right (and Wrong) Way to Comment on Blogs http://bit.ly/9ZQ1IP

    Cheers,
    Dana

    1. Thanks, Dana! I love your tips — they’re excellent (as always). Thanks for sharing the link!

  8. I comment on blog and social network posts because I enjoy being part of a conversation — but only if I feel I can add something to it. Sandra, I agree with you that Chris Wechner’s remark nails it: “In real conversation, I appreciate the person who looks to contribute to the existing conversation–not take over the conversation to meet his or her agenda.” The novelist who considers comments as spam must assume the only reason to comment is to “take over the conversation to meet his or her agenda.” In the case of an author, the agenda would be selling his or her literary masterpieces.

    1. Thanks, Ron. That makes sense. I sometimes write a brief “thank you for such a great post” just so I can let the blogger knows that I appreciate the time and effort that when into the post. I can’t always add to the discussion, but I can always express gratitude!

  9. I love it! This is what blogging is all about…encouragement-edifying one another-becoming transparent-and all those = relationship. Thanks so much Sandra for these tips!
    When I ‘chat’ in the blogs I want so much to connect and find that passion that is there often times just ‘sleeping’!

  10. Thank you for posting this article. I needed to learn the art of this, and I am working towards writing meaningful blogs and responding to posts without marketing my books. That is why platform topics are so important. They give you a way to talk about your passion without just pounding the title of your books in the heads of others.
    I also love your point about using manners. I wish that I could forward your article to ALL of the LinkedIn groups that I am a member of. I hate it when I have made a point (from my angle, experience or perspective) and someone comes back with a negative unwarranted and insulting comment. There is NO need for that. I usually respond back saying, thanks for your insights, but let us agree to disagree using friendly professional dialogue.
    I believe that we can do this and perhaps learn great things from each other. Many times it’s the tone of the response that is a “turn off.”

  11. Cherrye, it’s interesting that you mentioned LinkedIn group etiquette. I was invited to a group, joined it, and left as soon as I saw a discussion posted by an individual who is a seriously nasty dude. His comments on discussion threads are often mean and insulting. Who needs that? Not me. Your response to people like that is perfect — you’ve pointed out that you approach this as a professional, and that you expect that of others in a professional networking site, too. Good for you!

    FYI, you can share this with your LinkedIn groups by selecting the “in share” icon on the left. Select “post to groups,” and start to type in the name of each group. It will auto-fill the group for you — just select it by hitting “return.” (I love technology!)

  12. A tidbit about LinkedIn (and other web) etiquette. One discussion nearly thrashed itself to death, with no exchange of real ideas, and after nearly 2,000 posts it began to clog my email with nonsensical comments. I hope I’ve stopped it. I suppose I was not alone, judging by your remark.

    Exactly how would I link this one particular sub-chapter, as it were, in one of my blog articles? This is part of LinkedIn, is it not? Is this also on your personal/business blog? You mentioned how to share with other LinkedIn groups.

    I suppose I should share the Build Book Buzz link and then point them to this article in particular.

    Not only is this useful information for which you would be given credit, but I want to share it with my clients.

    [And yes, I feel good about the partnership I created. It’s a very nice feeling and I have earned respect.]

    Thank you very much,

    Michaele, MichaeleLockhart.com

  13. Michaele, I’m glad you asked about this. I shared my blog post via the LinkedIn share button on my blog, and that’s why you’re seeing it in a LI discussion thread. Here’s the original URL: http://buildbookbuzz.com/how-to-comment-on-blogs/ . From that URL, you can share it via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn with the floating collection of “share” buttons on the left. I’d love it if you’d share it.

    Thank you!

  14. I appreciate all of the comments on my blog, and wish people did more often! Even if just to know that they read it and it was useful, but anything to add to the conversation or just say, good stuff, I appreciate it all.

    Nice article here, adding you to my RSS reader now!

    1. Thanks, Jude! I appreciate comments, too, especially because I often learn from them.

      Sandy

  15. Geez, I wouldn’t mind some comments on my blog. I think my SEO skills need more work. LinkedIn is good place to learn from like-minded people. Thanks for the insight.

    Josh

  16. This is great advice and one that I will follow. Although I do tend to comment, “like” or share social posts, I’m not as consistent in doing the same on blog posts. One thing I try to do, though, is to save useful posts (PrintFriendly is great for that!) and then reference them with links in my newsletters and in my own posts. (Now if I could just remember to let those bloggers know I’ve promoted their posts!)

    1. I love that you do so much to share content, Nancy. And yes, I’m sure those bloggers would like to know when you share their posts in your newsletter, but I realize that it adds yet another to-do to an already busy schedule, though! There’s never enough time….

      Sandy

  17. I agree 100% with what you say, Sandra. Nancy’s idea is a good one that I might try.
    I might mention that I have a book about the subject, or at a particular setting, but I never mention that book’s name, nor my website’s name or address.
    I try not to simply say ‘Great post’, although occasionally I do,

    1. Thanks, Vivienne. The beauty of most blogging platforms is that the comment template lets you add your website URL to the form, which then links that address to your name. Anyone who wants to learn more about you can simply click on your name next to your comment and they’ll be taken to your website. It’s a more subtle way to lead people to a place where they can learn more about you, right? And really, you can use that space to link to your book’s sales page on any retail site, too — it doesn’t have to be your website.

      I do think that readers and bloggers appreciate your softer touch. Thank you for that — and for this comment!

      Sandy

  18. Thanks for another insightful post. Readers need to understand that commenting is an opportunity to connect rather than to peddle your products to uninterested parties. I once had a divorce professional feign interest in my article only to ask me for referrals after I replied to her. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t go very far.

    On the other hand, comments from male readers led me to the realization that, contrary to popular belief, men are interested in reading about divorce and were looking for material that was not specific to women. This epiphany led me to publishing my second book as a gender-neutral title.

  19. Funny, but I stumbled across his article right after I was cleaning up all he spam email I get from running my blog.

    As info, I started reading blog comments WAY before I started commenting on others articles. I think his helps to evaluate the landscape and etiquette for each blog.

    Bloggers should also know it takes a long time to build up readers and get comments, if you have a small niche.

    Its a pleasure to read other experience and comment when I have time, thanks for the article.

    David

    1. That’s a great tip on reading other comments before adding your own, David. Thanks for that — and for taking the time to comment! : )

      Sandy

  20. Some of the overt spam comments just make me cringe. Funnily enough, I’ve never clicked on the links to “go check out my book”. Sharing this in a few Facebook author groups.

    1. Those random comments that overtly promote a book show that the author doesn’t understand book marketing. It’s too bad they waste their time that way. And thanks for sharing this article! I appreciate it. : )

      Sandy

  21. I’ve saved this link for a while and, thankfully, finally got around to reading it. I found point #2 especially helpful. Great ideas on how to go beyond “Great post”.

    1. I’m glad it gave you something to think about Lisa. Thanks for writing more than “Thanks!” ; – )

      Sandy

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