Best of Preston: The Importance of Comments

This sleepy week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ll be sharing some of my best blog posts from the last year. Today, to get things rolling, I’m sharing tips for getting folks to comment on your blog. Have commenting tips of your own? Please share ‘em in the comments’ section!

Preston's Office

No, this isn’t an Apple commercial…Here’s me in my office with all my important gadgets: iPad, Macbook and iPhone (and lunch!).

I have a secret to admit: I am obsessed with my blog comments. I remember when I first started blogging in 2007, and we were still on the old blogspot blog, I used to have my comments turned off. Why? For no reason, really, other than we thought blog comments weren’t that important.

Let me tell you right now… I was so wrong. When we turned commenting “on” in 2009, and I started getting real, honest feedback and questions from you my blog readers, the experience became so much richer. This really could have been filed under Common Mistakes as “Not understanding the importance of comments.”

I know this may be obvious advice to some of you blogging veterans out there, but it was a real epiphany for me. When you turn on blog comments, you instantly begin a conversation. Instead of a one-sided story telling technique, you open up a back and forth forum for the world to communicate with you.

I read every single comment you leave on my blog, and though I don’t respond to each one directly, I do sometimes write blog posts in response to comments or questions you’ve left. Many of your comments are very inspiring to me, and give me a lot of material and thought for writing the next entry. I also luck out by getting amazing recommendations, whether it’s for books, vendors or even types of junk food.

So, you’re probably thinking that’s all fine and great, but how does one encourage people to leave comments on his or her blog? Well, here are some things I’ve found:

  • Ask a question. At the end of each post, I generally ask a question or series of questions related to the post. This does two things. It offers an invitaiton for the reader to come and join the conversation, and it also gives me as the writer the opportunity to switch sides and listen to your thoughts on the subject.
  • Focus on your audience. Yes, this is another one of those obvious pieces of advice, but you don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a favorite blog and seen a subject that’s completely irrelevant to its audience. Since blogging is so easy and addictive, it makes sense that you may end up wanting to blog about anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t. Just like being a good designer and not over designing, you want to make sure the content on your blog is focused and relevant to the folks reading it. This isn’t to say that your voice or content can’t evolve, but we’ll write about that more in a different blog post.
  • Extend the conversation. You may have noticed that I post my blog posts on our Facebook page as well as my Twitter account. Why do I do this? Because I know that conversations are happening on different platforms across the web. Some folks may not have time or even want to come to my site just to see if there’s an update on my blog. If I update everyone across all those platforms, it invites more people to the conversation. A word of caution, though: Do not abuse these communities. Facebook and Twitter each function in different ways and if you only use each platform for self-promotion, you are cheating both the audience and yourself of all the amazing capabilities that come with both worlds.

Of course, some folks just love reading blogs and don’t feel compelled to comment, and that’s okay. There are a lot of ways to judge your blog’s success, and it doesn’t end with just blog comments. Next week, we’ll discuss site analytics and how you can use those numbers to help you come up with more compelling content for your blog.

Now, for all those folks out there who always read my blog but don’t ever comment, I want to hear from you! Who are you and how did you find my blog? Also, if you have a blog of your own, I want you to post it here. I’d love to start reading it.

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  • http://www.number1eventplanner.com Shaun

    Great insight, thanks so much Preston!

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Preton,thank you for this blog. What great suggestions. I want to have people comment! My blog is called “The Finer Things in Life” and can be found by going to ftil1.wordpress.com

    WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY?

  • http://YOURWEBSITEwww.basket-mania.com Anonymous

    Happy Holidays Preston! What an informative blog post. I have been trying to get my blog read more widely and to have people leave comments. I love your suggestions.
    My blog is ealled “The Finer Things in Life” and can be found by going to ftil1.wordpress.com
    All the best,
    Elaine Langsam
    Basket-Mania
    http://www.basket-mania.com

  • http://www.wantthatwedding.co.uk Sonia @wantthatwedding

    Thanks so much for this advice Preston!!! I will try those tips and see if I can get more people commenting on my blog. My blog is wantthatwedding.co.uk ~ I would love you to take a look and let me know your thoughts. Sonia xxx

  • http://catherinewhitworth.wordpress.com Catherine Whitworth

    You are so generous with your great advice. Always a fun blog to read, I learn so much, and I am not in the event or wedding business.
    I actually subscribe to your blog on google reader so I catch it daily.

  • http://www.raeaffairs.com Sileola

    Oh wow……Thank you so much for the great advice, I have always loved your work but I just started following off twitter and facebook. Thanks for this post, it helps to understand how to blog better and see things from a different perspective; especially that of the reader. My blog is http://www.raeaffairs.blogspot.com/, but from reading this post I have taken so much away about what I am not doing too well and the importance of comments. Thanks Preston for your great insights and I hope you had a great Christmas

  • http://carriesdesignmusings.blogspot.com Anonymous

    I know people are reading but almost no one comments. I have tried to” let go” of counting on the comments. Usually, those that comment are other bloggers ( in my world);clients, associates, etc just don’t want to or know how. I agree with you ~ comments can be really interesting and create a whole other conversation , not to mention making us bloggers feel validated because it is quite a commitment!! Look forward to your next post. Best

  • http://rycrafty.com Rycrafty

    A lot of the time I find myself commenting on posts (especially wedding blogs), and I’m not answering the question, but commenting/asking about something that caught my eye in the post.
    I hadn’t noticed the ‘ending with a question’ trend on your blog (that’s good!), but on other ones I read, I do find it comes across (to me) as a bit… desperate. I guess I feel that I can tell when a question was just tacked on to the end, rather than the author genuinely wanting to read the answers from readers.

  • http://www.bigsand-steelband.co.uk Steel band

    Ok, so you had radio silence for 2 years and then you were turned on by the comments? Is that an accurate synopsis? I think in your sector you were already viewed as an authority on event planning and would not accrue much insight from the comments, compared to a smaller operation like ours which is still carving out a niche. I think that it would be great if you were to respond to more comments, since you read all of them. You could be succinct and it would be appreciated by the reader.

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  • http://www.pamelaseventdesign.com Pam Archer

    Asking a question at the end of one’s blog is a great idea. I read your comments too, because I am interested in what everyone else has to say. I learn from them, and have found some more interesting blogs to follow. Thank you Preston.

    http://idoweddings.wordpress.com

  • http://www.myproeventplanners.com Melody Dixon

    Wow this is a great tip. Just this morning I uploaded pictures of my “Winter Wonderland” themed Christmas Dinner with my family and was trying to think of ways to generate more activity on my Facebook page which when updated is tweeted at the same time. I would love to turn those conversations into referrals. Thanks Preston

  • http://avenue-blue.blogspot.com Marsha

    Dear Preston,
    Firstly, let me say happy holidays!
    I have been reading your blog for almost a year but never left a comment and seeing as you asked so nicely here it is.
    I can’t quite remember where I heard about you but when I began working in special events your name came up again and again. I live in the UK and have just started blogging for my event company so your tips are really useful.
    Have a fabulous New Year, keep up the great work and all the best for 2012!

  • http://www.eventsbydoyin.com Events by Doyin

    Thanks for the helpful tips. Will ask more questions on my Facebook page.

  • http://YOURWEBSITEWww.buddsbulbsandberries.com.au Jan nimmervoll

    I found your discussion on blogs most timely. I am about to start a blog and decided to google your name to see how you present your blog as an example to see how I should go about it.
    I found your comments and advice fabulous. I have discovered through looking at your blogs that there are no limitations on you comments or subjects…..they don’t have to be limited to the industry we are in, they can be wide and varied topics.
    My fear of “not having anything to say” has been quashed. Thanks for you advice and guidance. I hope 2012 will be a fabulous year for us all!

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  • http://thepetitesoiree.blogspot.com Stefanie

    wow such a great post! thank you so much. this is exactly what im struggling with. ive had my blog for over a year and i only have 34 followers and a few comments here and there.

    have a wonderful holiday :)

  • http://www.lemagnifiqueblog.com Damaris @ Le Magnifique

    Thanks for these tips! I, notice, that many people visit my blog but don’t comment.. but they’ll comment on stuff on my Facebook page.. This has inspired me to write a blog post on commenting. I’d love to see how my readers feel about it :) Happy Holidays!

  • http://www.haringphotography.com Otto Haring – Miami

    I think you are totally right: “At the end of each post, I generally ask a question or series of questions related to the post.” I will try t do the same in my photo blog. Keep on blogging! :)

  • http://www.rimjhimevents.comOURWEBSITE Rimjhim

    Dear Preston
    I had attended the workshop in Atlantic City in August when I had flown all the way from Dubai to be a part of it. I wanted you to know that it has opened my mind to so many wonderful ideas and your latest book has inspired me immensely. I just did an engagement ceremony in Hua Hin Thailand and for the first time in so many years I am able to give myself a 7 on 10. I really want to share the pictures with you and show you how much your lecture that day has inspired me to do better and better with each wedding. Thank you. Please let me know how I can send the pictures to you. Look forward to seeing you in Dubai in the near future.
    Regards
    Rimjhim

  • Ruby

    Hi Preston,
    I just recently broke my leg so I have been at home looking for things to read and I came across your blog while looking for xmas table arrangement ideas online. I love your blog and your work! I’ve ordered 2 of your books from amazon to keep me company and I can’t wait till they arrive in australia. Thank you !

  • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/rachelbethproductions Rachel

    I found you through a photo of ruffled wedding cakes on Pinterest. Tracking the link brought me here. I’ll definitely look around, read and share!

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  • http://YOURWEBSITE GABY

    Hola!!!

    Soy Gaby y te admiro demasiado , ahora estoy empezando un diplomado de diseño floral , me encantaría aprender muchísimo mas de ti al igual que a ti me apasiona desde muy joven los eventos y todo lo que tiene que ver con diseño , colores , sentimientos , etc. me encanta tu trabajo y espero algún día llegar a ser como tu , ahora estoy empezando y tengo mucha curiosidad por saber mas cada día. espero tengas un hermoso día!!

  • http://charlottescupcakes.blogspot.com Charlotte

    Thank you for all your amazing advice! I only recently found your blog and it has been so helpful and inspirational. I am currently in the process of rebranding my cake business and focusing on the wedding market. I would love you to take a look at my blog, it will look very different in the next few weeks as I am completely redesigning it and have a new logo and name planned. My current blog address is charlottescupcakes.blogspot.com
    Thanks Charlotte

  • http://www.thatday.it Monica

    Dear Preston,
    I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I find it SO useful! I’ve already went through all the recent posts but I’ve decided to comment this one because of the subject.
    I have a wedding planning agency in Italy and I must say that the situation here is very much close to the French riviera one (I saw a comment somewhere about it) or even worse. Here not only many agencies make their money from both the client and the suppliers kickback but many agencies earn money only from the suppliers, offering their service to the client “FOR FREE”!!! this doesn’t help to create the right value for the role and it raise confusion on the client side. Believe me only a few crazy planner as me (we are trying to create a network) do not accept commissions from vendors (with some vendors, I may have a special discounted rate to pass on to my clients, that’s all). The worst is that if we don’t manage to educate the client, we’ll suffer the “for free” competition and we’ll run out of business.
    What could we do?

    PS I do have a blog I am sorry in Italian..I do added a Google translator app but of course translations are not so good…

    http://thatdayweddingplanner.blogspot.com/