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Sample of wordpress dashboard - commentsUntil comments begin to show up, new bloggers often feel like they’re in an echo chamber – talking to themselves.

For some blogs, it can take months before someone comments. For others, a matter of days.

It’s when we feel what we’re sharing isn’t being read, we think of giving up.

After all, blogging is supposed to be interactive.

Today’s Lesson

I feel fortunate that I receive the amount of comments I do. Comments inspire me to continue on. Comments inspire new posts. And via comments I get to meet other bloggers.

But it wasn’t always that way. My audience (or lack thereof) remained silent for quite some time.

I’d publish posts, but no one seemed to care.

But I didn’t give up.

What worked for me were five things.

  1. I visited other blogs and left comments.
  2. Not every blogger reciprocated with comments on my blog, but some did, as did some of their readers. HINT: Comment on new or smaller blogs. Generally, A-list bloggers do not reciprocate comments.

  3. I linked to other blogs, but I did it a little different.
  4. I set up a series which I named, “New Blog Of The Week” (NBOTW) and hunted for new bloggers (usually under four months old). I used Tuesday as my NBOTW day and would write a post showcasing their blog, including excerpts from three of their posts/pages and included links to them.

    This was a slow process, but over time, I began to build my readership, as well as my blog community.

    I’ve discontinued this series, however, the list of 90 blogs remains here.

  5. Another important aspect to receiving comments, ASK questions.
  6. Even if you feel your post is complete, it doesn’t hurt to ask your readers, “Did I forget anything?’, “What are your thoughts on this topic?”, or ____fill in the blank___.

    Give readers a reason to comment.

  7. I answered the comments I received.
  8. Although I occasionally miss comments which show up on older posts, my goal is answer all comments I receive on this blog.

    Unfortunately, due to the amount of spam I receive, I closed the comments on posts older than 90 days.

  9. I asked a comment expert for additional advice.
  10. Liz Strauss, of Successful and Outstanding Bloggers is known for the huge amount of comments she has received over the years so naturally she was the one I approached for advice.

    In a two part interview, I asked Liz, How to Maximize Blog Comments and How To Get Readers To Join Your Community.

    The information Liz shared is priceless.

For some bloggers, comments aren’t important, but for others, they become the real reason to continue on.

Today’s Assignment

What technique(s) do/did you use to entice your readers to comment?

Care to share?

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Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of blogs come and go.

I’m not surprised, considering how most blogs don’t make it past the first few months.

That said, the question becomes, “What’s the best way to put a blog to rest?”

Today’s Lesson

When I click on the links to abandoned blogs, I find the following:

  1. The blog is still live, however the most recent post is extremely old.
  2. The blog is still live and the blogger has written a “Good Bye” post stating why they are no longer blogging.
  3. The link redirects to a page which states “this webpage is parked*” and the domain is for sale.
  4. The link redirects to a “parked”* domain and displays advertisements.
  5. The link redirects to a 404 error page.

Seeing how others abandon blogs makes me wonder if one method is better than another.

If it’s a blog I frequented in the past, I like seeing a “good bye” post, however when the link redirects to a parked domain, it’s anyone’s guess what the blogger’s intent is.

Seeing a blog with outdated posts is one way of keeping a blog alive, however if the information which was shared is time sensitive, the content is irrelevant.

Most bloggers have a definite plan when they start blogging, but how to quit blogging is something we don’t discuss.

Maybe we should.

Today’s Assignment

If you quit blogging, what would you do with your blog?

Park it? Close it? Or leave it be?

Care to share?

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*Domain parking is the registration of an Internet domain name without using it for services such as e-mail or a website i.e without placing any content on the domain. This may be done to reserve the domain name for future development, to protect against the possibility of cybersquatting, or to engage in cybersquatting. Since the domain name registrar will have set name servers for the domain, the registrar or reseller potentially has use of the domain rather than the final registrant.

Domain parking can be classified as monetized and non-monetized. In the former, advertisements are shown to visitors and the registrant gains revenue. In the latter, an “Under Construction” or a “Coming Soon” message may or may not be put up on the domain by the registrar or reseller. This is a single-page website that people see when they type the domain name or follow a link in a web browser. Domain names can be parked before a web site is ready for launching.

After you’ve blogged for awhile, you realize there’s more to blogging than just writing.

There’s behind the scenes maintenance; a task some of us would rather forget about.

Today’s Lesson

Over the past few weeks, I learned two great lessons.

  1. If my blogs load slow, chances are, I haven’t done my homework.
  2. If I don’t empty out my spam folder, I may be in violation of the terms of service for my web host.

When I first noticed my blogs were loading slow, I blamed it on my old computer. Then I thought it was Firefox. But after I tested my blog speed on WebSiteOptimization.com and YSlow (a Firefox addon), I found

  1. I had too many images on my home page.
  2. I had images which were not compressed.
  3. I wasn’t utilizing my caching plugin to it’s fullest potential

To correct the above problems,

  1. I removed a few of the images from my home page.
  2. I installed the “Smush It” plugin – which compresses photos.
  3. I chose more options for the WP Super Cache plugin.
  4. I also made a note to myself: when I make changes to my blogs, test the blog page loading time.

With regard to my second problem, my web host (BlueHost) sent me an email stating my account had been deactivated. They requested a call from me to discuss the problem(s). When I called them, they stated I had “inappropriate” content in my spam comments folder and I was in violation of their terms of service, which reads, in part:

Prohibited Offerings. No Subscriber may utilize the Services to provide, sell or offer to sell the following: controlled substances; illegal drugs and drug contraband; weapons; pirated materials; instructions on making, assembling or obtaining illegal goods or weapons to attack others; information used to violate the copyright(s) of, violate the trademark(s) of or to destroy others’ intellectual property or information; information used to illegally harm any people or animals; pornography, nudity, sexual products, programs or services; escort services or other content deemed adult related.

Profanity. Profanity or profane subject matter in the site content and in the domain name are prohibited.

Because I wasn’t able to access the back side of my blog (dashboard), the technician (patiently) gave me instructions on how to delete the spam comments via my cPanel. When I was done, I was instructed to call them back, which I did and they immediately reactivated my blogs.

This problem taught me two lessons:

  1. Read the terms of service for your webhost
  2. Empty your spam folder(s) on a regular basis

In order to avoid having the same problem in the future, I

  1. Installed the G.A.S.P. plugin which verifies those who comment are not spammers or spambots, thus reducing spam.
  2. Delete any spam comments which do come through.

As much as we’d rather spend our blogging time writing or commenting, in order for our blogs to run smoothly, regular maintenance needs to be performed, too.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How often do you do maintenance to your blog(s)?

When’s the last time you tested your blog’s loading time?

Care to share?

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P.S. All of my blogs have been hosted with BlueHost* since March 2007. The problem I had resulted from me not reading their terms of service and not deleting the inappropriate spam comments.

*Affiliate link

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