Blogging for small businesses

One of the big questions I get asked a lot is “why am I not getting any comments on my blog articles?” There are a lot of ways to create more engagement and get comments on your blog and I’ve highlighted eleven main reasons why it might not be happening for you.

By the end of the article you might be thinking that this seems like a lot of work. Well, this all comes down to your core motivation and why you’re writing a blog in the first place. You can decide not to do any of these things and nothing will change. However, if you really want your blog to perform for you and your business, then you need to seriously consider the eleven aspects below.

One – It’s difficult to comment on your platform

As with everything, if it’s not easy, people will get frustrated and leave.

Change your comments approval settings to auto approval. If you aren’t happy with that, you can change it so that when someone has been approved once, they can comment freely thereafter. The latter is what I do.

People want to see their comment appear immediately after posting it. If you start to get quite a few comments on your articles, then you may want to take out some of the manual approval so that it’s less demanding on you.

If you are a WordPress user, you can download and set up the WordPress mobile app so you can approve comments on the move. If you’re not a WordPress user there’s probably an app for the platform you use.

I’ve left several comments on a blog for 3 weeks and they are ‘still awaiting moderation’…I’m getting bored now.

Two – You’re not replying to comments on your blog

There are a few good reasons for replying to anyone who comments on your blog. Firstly, by replying to your comments you’re seen to be engaging with your readers and keeping the conversation going. This will develop your relationship with your readers and because other visitors can see that you actively reply and engage, they will be encouraged to comment too.

Secondly, when visitors come to your website/blog for the first time, each article will look like it has had twice as many comments, which increases social proof and the likelihood that visitors will click to read your articles.

Three – You’re not using a plugin like ‘ReplyMe’ on your platform

ReplyMe is a WordPress plugging that sends an email to the comment author to let them know when there has been a reply to their comment. This is a great FREE app for keeping your readers engaged and driving them back to your blog/website.

Whatever platform you’re using, make sure there is a system that let’s the comment author know that there is a reply to their comment on your blog. Most blogs don’t have this and it’s frustrating.

Most of the time I’ve no idea if the author has replied to my comments, and very rarely will I go back and check.

Four – You’re not asking for comments

This is a simple one but all you really have to do is ask your readers for comments. Just like any call to action (CTA), let the reader know what it is you’d really like them to do. You can add this into your email distribution and leave a note at the bottom of your articles asking for thoughts and comments. You could even ask a specific question, or group of questions to spur thought and action from your readers.

A great example of this is used by Tom Fishburne over at Marketoonist. Tom encourages comments from his readers by offering a print of his drawing to the person with the best comment. I’ve been fortunate to receive a print from a previous article and he’s pulled me in even more. Tom’s blog is one of the many blogs that I comment on every time he publishes something new.

Five – You’re not actively contributing to other blogs

Contributing to other blogs has massive benefits for your blog. The best place to start is to pick out a minimum of 10 other blogs that you like to read. They don’t all have to be completely relevant to your industry sector or niche. You should actively contribute to these blogs by commenting, replying to other reader’s comments, and sharing the content to your audience on social media platforms.

The benefits of contributing to other blogs:

  • You keep up to date with what’s going on locally and in your industry
  • People click through to your website/blog if they like what you have written
  • You get noticed as a regular contributor by other authors
  • Other authors start to read, comment and share your content

Check your analytics and you will start to see that people are clicking through from those blogs to your blog. It really works!

To make your life easy, bookmark their blog, check for new content frequently, subscribe to their email list, comment on their content and share via social media. Think about the following groups of people:

  • Your competition
  • Your industry leaders
  • Your local business network

Make sure you follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and any other major social platform and get involved with them there too.

As soon as a new article is published I try to get in there early and be the first to comment. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but I immediately start to see traffic clicking through to my website.

Six – You haven’t built up an audience that cares

One big reason that you’re not getting comments is that you simply don’t have enough readers that care enough about your content. This is a little bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

In order to get more readers, more comments and more engagement on your blog you need to build up an audience of people that want to read and contribute to your content.

You should be actively building up what’s called ‘social equity’. In other words, because no one really knows who you are, they don’t have any desire to read your content. The only way to really do this is to give before you get. Reason five, seven, eight and eleven come into play here in a big way and will help you build your social equity and an audience that want to read and follow your content.

Seven – Your content is completely irrelevant to your customer

If your content is dry, boring, badly written or completely irrelevant then you can’t really expect much in the way of building any readership or engagement. So let’s assume that your content is good enough and let’s briefly discuss the kind of content that will engage.

You obviously want to write the kind of content that engages your audience, but this doesn’t necessarily always have to be 100% relevant to your products and services. Try and mix it up a little; writing relevant content all the time can be dry and boring.

The one thing that really holds businesses back is the fact that most business owners don’t think like a customer. Think about what your customers would like to read and learn about. How can you add value to their life and their business? How does your content help them to become more successful?

The best and most engaging content is written when you:

  • take a stand or have a strong opinion on something
  • answer the big questions that your customer has about your industry’s products and services
  • give real value to your audience through thought leadership
  • write customer centric content that’s relevant to your audience
  • teach people about what it is that you do and how it solves their problems

Really get into your customer’s shoes and think about what they would like to read about. Be as transparent, genuine and authentic as you can be.

Eight – You’re not actively promoting other people

Your blog is your channel to your audience and you can publish pretty much whatever you want. You own it, and if done properly it can be your no.1 marketing and PR channel.

I’m sure you know Zig Ziglar’s philosophy “If you help enough people to get what they want, you‘ll get everything you want”. This is mentioned a lot in sales and networking, and it applies to your blog too.

By taking time to promote other people rather than yourself you can be seen to be helping others and taking a lead in your niche/industry.

There are a few ways that you can do this. Firstly, you can promote other people through guest blogging. In other words, you can ask an expert to write an article for your audience and give them a little promotion at the same time. Again, it’s all about the balance. Your audience still need to hear from you.

Secondly, you can publish blog articles about other people’s products and services. You could do a review or a comparison and at the same time drop in some links to other blogs and websites.

Thirdly, you can name drop people and link back to their blogs/websites. This could be relevant when you are writing about something that you have learned recently at a conference, a networking group or at a meeting.

This doesn’t just apply to your blog, but social media too. Share people’s content with your audience and spend a lot of your time promoting other people. This works towards building your audience and when people start to see that you are promoting their content, they will want to do the same for you.

Nine – You’re not writing and publishing consistently

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you need to understand why you’re writing a blog. I’ll cover your core motivation in a later article, but for now try to get to grips with the true purpose of your blog.

The reason this is so important is because it will help you to understand why you’re writing a blog and what the longer term goals are, which in turn will help you to stay consistent with your articles.

You need to have a content schedule. You need a plan.

  • How often are you going to publish your articles? It needs to be once a week at a minimum.
  • What are the topics going to be? Brainstorm all your ideas and start to put them together into some sort of schedule.
  • Who is going to write them? Are you going to write everything? Can your team contribute?
  • When will they be published? What dates and times will your content be published? Put together a content calendar.

You get the picture. It has to be consistent and you have to commit to it. The only way to make sure you stay on track is to understand your core motivation and have a long term plan.

Ten – You don’t have any objectives

As with everything, if you don’t know why you are doing something, the chances of it being successful are slim.

  • Look at your analytics and set yourself some minimum targets (traffic, page views, time on site, bounce rate, etc)
  • Can you improve or develop your publishing schedule (see point nine)? Increase it? Publish more frequently or more consistently?
  • How many articles would you like to publish by the end of the year? Why?
  • What do you want your blog to do for you (see point nine)?
  • How many comments would you like to be getting on each article & why?

These might not be the most important metrics (ideally you want to be measuring sales as a result of your content). However these metrics will initially help you to:

  • understand where you are now
  • set some achievable goals
  • measure the changes in metrics as you start to do things differently

Eleven – You’re not actively distributing your content

One of my favourite sayings is “It’s not your customers job to remember about you, it’s you job to remind them”. Don’t expect people to go out of their way to check for new content. You need to put it in front of them.

Also, just because a blog article was written a few months ago doesn’t mean that it’s now ‘out of date’. You can still share your older blog articles with your audience too.

As a minimum, make sure you are sharing your content with your audiences on the following platforms, as well as any other platforms where you readers may hang out:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+

You can also use email to send your content out. You can do this through your subscription list and also through emailing a few key people privately.

A friend of mine, Linda Rumbold, sends out a private email to a few key people every time she publishes new content. This makes it much more personal and is more likely to result in getting comments and engagement on your blog.

Conclusion

Even though ‘comments’ by themselves aren’t necessarily going to turn into sales, you’ll start to increase engagement with your audience and in turn develop your status into a thought leader in your industry

It takes time and effort to get comments on your articles. Sometimes you’ll get a lot, and sometimes you’ll get very little. It’s up to you to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Remember that just because no one is leaving any comments, doesn’t mean that your content isn’t being read or isn’t valued.

Keep going, keep developing and improving your business blog and if you need help or assistance, just ask!

Your Turn

What’s working for you at the moment?
What are you going to change immediately?
What would you add to this list?
Are you doing all these things and it’s still not working for you?
What are you really finding challenging?

Please get involved in the conversation below.