Sometimes life throws you lemons and they hit you square in the face. This past week, I was sent running, actually running, from my NYC apartment as Hurricane Sandy approached. My apartment lies in Zone A, the Hurricane’s wheelhouse. I scrambled onto a couple trains and arrived at my mates house totally soaked as the worst of Sandy hit.
Don’t worry though, this story has a silver lining.
Within a few days, my mate and I were able to set up internet. It was probably the only thing that kept us from tearing eachother’s heads off after a lot of time cooped up indoors. I hopped online but at that point it had gotten eerily quiet around here. What is going on here, you guys wondered. Where is the Blogger!?
Here are a few messages you guys sent in during that time of semi-disaster:
These really made me smile. It’s awesome to know you’re around here, exploring articles and discussing blog topics, even when I can’t create new content.
When I finally returned home (to an unlivable apartment :() I noticed my blog traffic had spiked. Sort of immensely. Then it hit me. This is the silver lining, and it almost makes my current state of couch-surfing seem not all that bad. For one, I was published on THE largest blog in Malaysia (Hongkiat). What’s more, I also appeared on ProBlogger for my second time.
Talk about lemons to lemonade. I enjoyed about 75 new subscribers as I scrambled to find a place to live.
The silver lining continued
As I gathered new subscribers the comments poured in to. I was stunned. I had waited months for these two posts to air and they both came out in the same week!
I could barely talk to my folks reassuring them I was ok in the midst of tending to my social media. Okay it wasn’t that bad, but for a few days I totally forgot I was a hurricane-stricken-homeless-blogger totally on the move.
It’s these moments that make me love living in 2012. Let’s examine further.
A Golden Age of publishing
The world we live in is awesome. With WordPress I can craft a blog post, add links and images in the html tab, spell-check instantly, and post it right here.
Or, I can send it across the globe through my Gmail to someone I’ve never met and have them guest-post it.
We live in a world where publishing great content is easy. It’s a world of technological freedom of choice. But what does that really mean?
- Share everything: With one click our posts are live on WordPress, and with a couple more and they’re on Facebook and Twitter.
- No limit: The only limit on eyes that can see our work is the global population owning a computer.
- Easy feedback: We can ask our immediate networks what they think and edit our content to be more pleasing.
- Instant gratification: There’s no delay in publication. In the days of print it’d take months to get a new article seen by a couple hundred people.
- Instant interaction: The beauty of comments via Facebook and blogs is we let anyone, even someone we’ve never met, know what we think. Screw agreeing. The best comments really disagree, really let someone have it. That’s what keeps the internet so sassy.
Gravatar image for your comments
In this Golden Age it’s extremely important to be personal. If you make the mistake of appearing anonymous or sketchy, your media may be interpreted as spam.
I can’t tell you how often I check my spam folder, and see amazing comments from a genuine author that WordPress deemed spam. It’s usually because the comment was vague or because the author posted many comments rather quickly (not bad at all).
One way to surely avoid being labelled as spam is to get your Gravatar setup. Gravatar.com lets you choose an image that appears nearly everywhere you comment. I’ll be honest, I almost require it for the comments here. Shame on you if you’re still without it!
Go get a Gravatar image now so when you comment, you look like a real person. I’ll appreciate seeing your face in the comments :D.
Gravatar lets you:
- Brand: People see the same image over and over again.
- Be recognized: Your comments will register with people in a personal way.
- Be consistent: Consistency is crucial for branding, people just enjoy it.
- Dominate: When you accomplish the three items above you’ll notice your comments hold more weight and authority.
When people see your face in a lot of places you acheive a sort of recognizable quality. We all have people we see online and think, hey, I know that guy! Well, maybe you’d want to become that person too.
An average comment vs. a SEXY comment
Let me be honest again: not all comments make it at Dear Blogger 🙁 I don’t mean to be exclusive or offensive or anything like that, I just would rather publish comments that add value to the content at hand. A specific comment that inspires responses goes a lot further than a “great job, you’re intelligent” or “I admire your hard work!”
I go through so many comments each morning that these second kind usually look like spam and get zapped. Especially if they don’t have a gravatar attached to them. It really is unfortunate.
It’s just plain reality. The web is a crowded place, and to get noticed you have to put some thought into your words.
Update: Use the subscribe to comments WP plugin to notify readers when someone responds to their comments. I just added it in 🙂
The REALLY sexy comment
If you really want to get noticed, your comment should be sexy. For example, I spent a while commenting on ProBlogger before I became a recognized author other there. Every morning I’d navigator over to their blog and Facebook page and really try to nail it with a snazzy comment. Eventually, Darren noticed and replied. You can imagine how content I was to have that big of a name take a moment of his day to communicate with me! After that, we were buds on “the Twitter” as he calls it.
— Darren Rowse (@problogger) September 15, 2012
So how do you write a sexy comment? It all depends on the context, but you want to add something productive to what the author has said, and reference a past and humorous event. That’s just one way to do it!
The (helpful) no-follow link
Most comments by default come with no-follow links where readers can click your name and end up on your website. The downside on the no-follow link is they are dropped out of Google’s link graph. They get cut from the roster like a freshmen trying to play on varsity.
But, these comments do come with traffic benefits. If you can write something really lasting, really eye-catching, really controversial even, you’ll benefit from a lot of users clicking through to see who done said it!
Don’t believe me? Check out what Google’s Matt Cutts says on the matter:
Why you should comment more TODAY
Comments are an essential part of social media. They draw connections, provide traffic, personalize, and brand. To place them outside of the realm of social media would be an utter mistake.
If you’re new to commenting, I’d recommend really trying it out. Your voice, as feeble or tiny as it seems on the web, needs to be heard.
Of course, I’d love if you chose Dear Blogger on that list 🙂 Responding to comments is my favorite part of this whole process.
One you’ve made your list, get over to your favorite blogs and comment. I used this tactic when I first began, and while the traffic from no-follows wasn’t insane it was enough to attract some new readers who eventually became subscribers.
When you comment with authority, you can really tell people you’re not just an average joe. It’s a great way to make some noise on the web and build up your reputation. And seriously, it takes no time at all!
Conclusion: Is it worth it?
Is commenting worth your time? I hope I’ve given you the tools above to write sexy, personalized comments that will dodge spam, build relationships, and get some new clicks to your site. But I’d like to hear from you, do you think comments are as crucial to blogging as I do?
Let me know by, of course, commenting!