When you’re a new blogger, you dream of the time when readers will visit your blog and leave a comment. Isn’t that true?
You want the sign that someone has noticed, the social engagement, the “social proof” that your blog is worth stopping for.
When I started this blog, the odd days when someone would leave a comment were wonderful, special. Getting that email alert was so exciting, I would drop what I was doing and rush over to see who had left the comment and what they had to say. Somebody cared!
The idea that people really gather and discuss what you’ve written—even start talking among themselves—is intoxicating, like a dream come true for a writer.
That Was Then: Comments Are Now
Over time, it can be difficult to predict which articles will inspire readers to write a comment, and a blogger can easily get this wrong.
A post you slaved over because you were certain that dozens of people would notice your groundbreaking ideas, the elegance of your bullet points, the clear advice you presented? Maybe not so much.
But the article you wrote in 25 minutes as the clock neared midnight, after you had dragged yourself into the office from a late dinner at friends’ and proceeded to just kind of spew out an article and hit “Publish”? Sometimes those can just take off.
Given enough time, some articles just keep going and going, and it’s really instructive to try to understand exactly why that is.
So I’ve gathered the articles on my blog that have the most comments, and tried to figure out what the appeal is of each one.
Here they are, let me know what you think:
Top 5 Blog Posts by Number of Comments to Date
1. 5 Favorite Fonts for Book Interiors
Publication date: August 31, 2009
Number of comments to date: 219
About: Posted in the very first month of my blog, even before it was on thebookdesigner.com domain. This was fun to write and felt almost obligatory. After all, the blog is about book design, and everyone wants to know what font to use in their book. I picked the ones I use the most and wrote a pretty short article with a bit about the history of each font along with a sample of what the font looks like.
Why: The conversation in the comments is almost nonstop. It seems that lots of people want advice about fonts, or simply like to nominate their favorites. The discussion has also been stimulated by regular contributions from other designers, notably Steve Tiano. People ask for advice or nominate their own favorites, and just this week someone left a link to a lovely free font for consideration.
2. Amazon and Lightning Source: The End of an Era?
Publication Date: September 9, 2011
Number of comments to date: 194
About: When Amazon changed their policies about stocking and shipping books from 3rd party print on demand suppliers, it upset the publishing model that was being used by many, many self-publishers. I used my own book, A Self-Publisher’s Companion, to chart the effects and wrote about the problem and possible solutions.
Why: Lots of other authors had questions about what they should do with their print on demand books, and especially in the months following the change, many were looking for advice. James Byrd of Logical Expressions helped many readers in the comments and continues to advise people there to this day.
3. Top 10 Worst Self-Publishing Mistakes—Explained!
Publication Date: July 19, 2010
Number of comments to date: 126
About: This was one of those blog posts that just snuck up on me. I had published a kind of David Letterman-type “Top 10 List” a week earlier as something of a joke, a bit of entertainment in the midst of a lot of instructional material. When readers wrote asking for more of an explanation, I re-wrote the post with each point explained.
Why: Unlike #1 above, which has accumulated comments over the years, this post sparked a number of long conversations in the comments where readers made some interesting connections with each other. Many of the comments ran several hundred words, so it became a “hot topic” for a couple of weeks and ran its course.
4. Print on Demand: CreateSpace or Lightning Source?
Publication Date: January 27, 2011
Number of comments to date: 112
About: This post was a response to one of the most common questions from new self-publishers. It’s also one of the shortest posts on my blog. I attempted to set out as briefly as I could which types of self-publishers might use each of these very popular vendors.
Why: It seemed like everyone had experiences with either one of these companies or both, and wanted to chime in. It’s one of the things that shows the power of community in social media. Although I had started the discussion off, many people made it into an extensive, thoughtful and thorough discussion, much of it facilitated once again by James Byrd. Great stuff.
5. ISBN for Self-Publishers: Answers to 20 of Your Questions
Publication Date: March 17, 2010
Number of comments to date: 108
About: This article was instigated by the non-stop questions that come in about ISBN, a fairly simple subject that seems to confound lots of new self-publishers. I set out to ask and answer the 20 most common questions to create a guide for people that would persist, and where I could direct new inquiries.
Why: The confusion about how to acquire and use ISBNs has not lessened, and in the comments there were some interesting discussions about ISBN and copyright, two unrelated fields. But the many comments reflect ongoing questions being asked and answered right up to the present day.
What is there to Learn from these Posts?
Each of these posts started with a fairly simple article, then developed into something else.
This interaction, of course, is what makes blogging so distinctive as a written form.
It’s difficult to think of a similar form of communication, where conversations take place over an extended period of time, and readers get the benefit of all the previous comments in learning about a topic.
For instance, although the article about 5 Fonts is only 556 words, the comments add thousand of words about fonts and related topics, a cornucopia for those searching for information on what fonts to use in their books.
It’s also notable how other people have been instrumental in providing guidance to readers, and you can see how indebted I am to Steve Tiano, James Byrd, and all the other commenters who have made the blog comments here a true community effort.
My thanks to all of them, and to all you readers for asking the questions that fueled all this energizing conversation.
So let me ask you: What’s the biggest topic you’ve had on your blog, that one that got the most comments? Leave a link, too, so we can have a look.
Leave me a comment and let me know.
Photo by Adikos