I had a very interesting conversation with my close friend and blogger John Falchetto last week that centered around blog comments. In our discussion, John posed to me a very simple question:
“Marcus, of all the comments on your blog, how many of the people turned out to be actual customers?”
“Hmmm,” I thought “I really don’t think anyone that has commented on TSL has ever turned into a paying customer. Some customers have turned into commenters after being a client, but not the other way around.”
“Exactly,” said John, “Me neither.”
Think about that for a second: Over 10,000 comments and not a single customer.
A Clear Understanding of Goals
You see, what started this conversation with John was my inquiry into his blogging schedule, and the fact that he is now writing a post just about every day, more than double his previous posting schedule. In a nutshell, here are the results:
1. Less comments per post (about half of what he used to get, sometimes less)
2. More traffic
3. More paying clients
In fact, John came right out and said what I’ve been feeling for the past few months:
“I really don’t care about the number of comments on my posts anymore. I’m trying to reach my goals. That’s my focus. And comments don’t fall under my goals. If they come, then great, if not, that’s OK.”
Powerful stuff, wouldn’t you agree?
Living and Dying By the Comments of Others
When I first started writing here on TSL in November of 2009, I lived and died by comments. I almost passed out with the first one I ever got. Then, the first time I got 10 on a post I almost cried. Next, when I reached 50 comments for the first time I thought my life was complete. When I passed 100 comments on a post the first time I felt a sense of joy that was unbelievable. And finally, when I passed 400 comments on a post, I thought I had died and gone to blogger’s heaven. (I know, sounds pretty shallow, but that’s where I was at the time, and I think many other people, if they’re being honest with themselves, would relate.)
But then something happened. Time went by. The weeks rolled on. The comments just kept on mounting with each and every post.
And oddly, as the comments grew, my sense of joy that came with each declined.
Now don’t get me wrong here friends. This isn’t one of those, “Please stop commenting on my blog” posts. To this day, I invite comments on every post. I appreciate every one I get from readers. I take them seriously and know the relationships formed through them can clearly lead to tremendous opportunities. I also find them inspiring, enjoyable, and well worth the hours and hours I have spent in responding to each.
But I’ve also reached a point in my ‘blogging maturity’ (I guess that’s what we’ll call it) where I don’t feel validated anymore purely based on comment numbers. In fact, this is now how I judge the success of a blog post:
1. How many personal emails do I get after someone has read the article?
2. What were others moved to do (actions taken) from reading the article?
3. How many speaking/consulting inquiries do I get from an article?
Do you see the difference?
Take last Thursday’s post for example. It wasn’t about ‘blogging’, or even so much about business, but more about ‘personal development’, a topic I love but don’t discuss a ton here on TSL.
Looking at that article, you’ll see that it only got around 60 or so comments, a low number based on TSL averages. But at the same time, within 30 minutes after that post had went out to email subscribers, I’d received 5 personal emails from readers saying how much they appreciated the post. And of these 5 people, all rarely if ever comment on the blog here.
In other words, that post induced enough emotion for the ‘lurkers’ (those that don’t typically comment on a blog but actually make up about 95% or more of the audience) to take action and send an email. For me, that defines success in a major way, because I want my writings to induce not just thought, but action.
Is Your Need for Comments Hindering Your Business Growth?
I wonder how many folks out there are actually hurting their bottom line because they are too focused on blog comments and not focused enough on effective business principles. Or look at it in this way: Are you writing for the 1% that leave comments or the 99% that are silent in the background?
For example, it would have been easy for John Falchetto, if he were so wrapped up in number of comments per post, to shy away from increasing frequency, as he knew comment averages would obviously go down.
But because he now has a clearer vision of what we wants, and the best way to get there, he was able to not allow such a questionable metric to affect him.
I’ve heard many ‘A-list’ bloggers state a similar point: Posting everyday, although it may not lead to more comments, leads to more subscribers, profits, etc.
Am I saying with this that you should post every day?
No, of course not. Personally, I can’t imagine myself posting every day, it honestly, at least at this point, doesn’t interest me at all.
Looking Elsewhere for Validation
But what I am saying is that our need for ‘comment validation’ and our search for ‘big numbers’ should never get in the way of our ability to meet the other goals we’ve set as bloggers.
For some of you, those goals may be many, with financial gain being a center component.
For others, commenting and discussion may be your only goals. That’s great too.
But know thy self. Know thy goals.
And then do whatever it takes to make those goals and dreams a reality.
OK, I’m going to ask a tough question here because it’s one of those ‘introspective’ types, but I’d love to know your thoughts: As of today, what is more important: Writing to get comments or your other blogging goals? Also, do you feel you need higher comments on your blog to validate you as a writer, thinker, etc? Finally, have your thoughts on comments changed over the time you’ve been a blogger?
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