Imagine you’re in an elevator in company of total strangers. There’s usually perfect silence, and nobody wants to do it, right? That’s exactly what happens in the comments section on your blog.
In this post I will share with you a very simple method to get things rolling and people commenting on your stories.
Nobody feels comfortable being the first one to comment. But once there are a few comments on the post, things get a little bit more “loose”, and people start feeling more relaxed about leaving feedback.
Here’s the thing. Although people might be super excited about your story, going to your blog to leave a comment is often (understandably) a hassle for them. That does not mean they DON’T want to leave you a comment. You just need to make it easier for them.
Here’s how you can do it.
I’m sure you’re part of at least a couple of online writer communities. Whenever you share a story with these communities, make sure you ask for feedback. Ask them to tell you what they liked, and what they feel could be improved.
Once you get a piece of feedback that you think could make for a great comment on your blog, ask for that person’s permission to post that feedback in your comments section yourself. Make it clear to the person that you’ll be omitting the last name for privacy. Also, show them exactly what the comment will look like.
Here’s the word for word script I use, to ask people permission for using their feedback as a blog comment:
Hi Jennifer, would it be ok if I used your comment on my blog. I will NOT use your last name of course. Here’s what it would look like:
by Jennifer R.
“Well written and well told. The voice of the piece is especially wonderful. It works as flash. Perfect small story with mystery that keeps the reader in forward motion. Fun hook, too. But what I love most is your ability to describe with fresh writing, no cliches.”
Remember, you don’t have to post what they wrote word for word, especially if the feedback was given to you over the course of a bigger conversation. Just crystallize the feedback into a bite-sized chunk, then feed it back to the person who gave it to you and ask whether it accurately portrays what he/she wanted to say.
If you’re posting a summary of the person’s feedback, you can say something like, “Of course, for the sake of brevity, I’ve tried to capture the essence of what you’ve told me and summarize it. Here’s what I came up with. Do you think it represents your feedback accurately?” (and then share the summarized comment with them).
ALWAYS double check with people before editing their comment in any way. Remember, you’re using their words, and they should always have final say on what you post in their name.
By the way, if you’re using WordPress:
- Make sure you log out of the admin panel, otherwise the comment will appear in your name.
- When filling in the email field for the comment, just write a random email address (I use firstname.lastname@example.org). Wordpress will not allow you to post a comment without submitting an email address. Of course, you can always go into the Comments section in the admin panel and remove that email address from the comment. But that won’t even be necessary, as nobody will be able to see it anyway.
A small final note.
Some of you might feel guilty about posting these comments yourselves. You might feel like it’s “cheating”.
My answer to that is, NO, it is NOT cheating.
Remember, you’re not fabricating these comments. The feedback has been given to you spontaneously and is an honest reaction to your work. All you’re doing, is carrying it over from one platform to another, with the original poster’s permission. It’s a perfectly fine and legitimate way to build social proof.
So, go out there and start collecting feedback. With this method, you can easily build the first few comments on your story, which will then build momentum and encourage other visitors to post their own!