A leading Black Blogger on the dos and don'ts of Blogging
By Ambra Nykol
You put a lot of hard work into your weblog so it's perfectly understandable that you want people to recognize your efforts.
If you're a human being and you live on the earth, chances are, you need some type of affirmation. We all do in varying degrees, but the necessary vulnerability associated with broadcasting yourself and your opinions on the world wide web is unparalleled.
Not only is the blogosphere full of nerds and introverts (of which I am neither by the way), but it's also full of people who just want to be liked.
Yes, even the jerky ones. For this reason alone, you'll find people more hesitant to be original or do/say something that hasn't already been. I can peruse a weblog and figure out within a matter of minutes if the person is insecure.
Insecure writing is a turn off. As you read, it's like there's a musical underscore to the writing saying, "Is this okay? Am I okay? Do you like me? Well, do you? If you don't, I'll change."
What separates the good bloggers from the average is the level of nonchalance with which they view reader opinion. Rockstars do not need constant affirmation from others. They just are.
You slave all day over the "perfect post." When it's all said and done, you think yourself pretty smart. Hey, you were witty, you were insightful, and you even cited other sources!
This one's a keeper. Surely you will get lots of comments. Surely someone will recognize your genius and link to your brilliant post. Surely your fame will spread all throughout internetland and your site will be featured in the New York Times, right?
My message to you: get a life.
There are three main forms of cyber affirmation after which most bloggers seek: Comments, Hits, and Links. All three are very important, but only when viewed in proper perspective.
Today I will address the first; Comments
Many will argue that commenting mechanisms are one of the greatest appeals of blogging because readers have the ability to give instant feedback.
I would venture to say that commenting is not only grossly unimportant to good blogging, but it's also overrated.
Don't get me wrong. I love it when readers chime in on my site and at times I've been disappointed when fewer people speak up. When I first started reading weblogs, I used to love being able to freely comment or voice dissent.
Unfortunately, there's another side to this. I've heard many bloggers whine about not getting enough comments on their posts. You'll notice some blogs get many comments while others hardly get any. Somehow, number of comments has become a gauge for the success of a post.
I have an announcement for you: the average reader will not comment. Get over it. I've generally found that less than 1% of your average daily visitors will actually leave a comment. Yes, less than 1% Don't believe me? Let's do a few case studies:
Site: Little Green Footballs or "LGF"
Average Daily Visitors: Somewhere around 95,000+ (in case you didn't catch on, that's a lot of visitors)
If you browse LGF, you'll see that on average, their posts command anywhere between 75 to 500 comments. At most, that's around .05% of their average visits.
Average Daily Visitors: 15,000+
On average, Wizbang posts usually get between 15-40 comments each with occasional peaks. At most, that's about .02%
I could go on, but I'll stop there. Sure there are exceptions to the rules, but I guarantee you that on average, people aren't coming to your weblog to comment; they're coming to read what you write.
It's really nothing personal. Well, not entirely. A few of my own observations about comments -
Most comments are left by the same small segment of people.
The way you frame a post and discussion can both positively and negatively influence the chances of someone feeling compelled to comment.
Many visitors don't even read the comments.
A lot of people are too intimidated and uncomfortable to comment publicly. Some people would rather express themselves privately. Make sure you have a visible email address so people can contact you. You'd be surprised what gems you get via email.
Sometimes a lack of comments is indicative of a good thing. People may be at a lack of words. If you hit on a tough subject or hard truth, sometimes it's best that people say nothing and just meditate on the topic.
The phrase "Thought-provoking" includes the word "provoke." Are you doing that? If you're not, maybe you should start.
The more you pose questions the more people will comment.
You never know what people will identify with. Your deepest most insightful post might not get much response. Your rant on bad customer service, just may. Just keeping doing what you do.
Every time someone comments on my site, I am honored. My readers leave smart, funny, thought-provoking, and well-written comments. I value the comments. Sometimes they crack me up, and sometimes they agitate me.
I learn something new every day and I personally believe I have the best readers ever, but of course I am biased.
In the same breath, I realize that I have to continue to be, do, and say what compels me regardless of what readers might say or even if they take the time to say it.
Don't write for comments. Don't write for public affirmation. Remember, you are a rockstar; you're on a mission and you don't care.
Write because you have something valuable to offer to those who have an ear to hear. The rest will work itself out.
Ambra Nykol is a columnist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com
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