Where Do All Those Comments Come From? Slice of Life #sol19 28/31

A few days ago, Judy K wrote an open letter to the Slicing community asking what she was doing wrong in her writing: for eight days straight, she hadn’t received a single comment on her slices! Since her letter went Slice-version-of-viral, she’s received many comments, on that post and others. She even wrote a grateful follow-up letter to thank the community for reaching out and showering her with feedback and connection.

Cara Wegryzen, who blogs at Wonders All Around, shared her experience with comments and asked a wonderful question in a comment she left for Judy:

This is my second time participating in the March SOL, and I, too, have had days when my writing has gone unread (though not for 8 days straight.) I tell myself that I’m writing for myself, but getting feedback from others makes writing much less lonely. I wondered how it is that some people regularly get more than 10 comments when others are lucky to get one. Do they know these people outside of SOL? I hope it’s just due to the luck of when I post (which this year has been all over the place.) On the plus side, this experience has made me realize how important it is for my own students to have daily time to share their writing and hear what others think.

Cara Wegryzen

Although I have now met several of my regular commenters in person (usually at NCTE, often in long book lines where I suddenly make eye contact with the person standing next to me and realize oh my gosh, that’s Catherine Flynn, whose blog I love! Catherine and I seem to have this experience every year at the Exhibit Hall at NCTE.), most I know only online.

So where do all those comments come from? There probably is a little bit of luck in it (and timing–publish early for more comments), but mostly they come from careful cultivation of online relationships and community.

Comments come from the year-round Slicing community. I think it’s much easier to build relationships in the year-round Tuesday slicing community than it is during March. It’s a much smaller group of dedicated bloggers, so you will see the same people each week–and they will see you.

Comments come from other connected learning communities online. Most of the more popular Slicers do more than slice on Tuesdays. They are active in other weekly blogging communities, such as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or Poetry Friday; they join annual events like #MustReadin2019, #letswrite2019, or #cyberPD. They blog regularly, and they’re often active on Twitter or in Facebook professional learning groups.

Comments come from reciprocating comments. If you visit the blogs of the people who comment on my blog, you’ll probably see a comment I left for them. Many Slicers value reciprocity as a way to build community: if you visit my blog and take the time to leave feedback, I’m going to try to visit your blog and leave a comment too.

Comments come from consistent comments. I love the serendipity of commenting of those slicers who post near me each day, but community is built through consistent commenting. Most days I have one or two newcomers who comment on my blog, but for the most part, it’s the same people reading and commenting every single day for the entire month. Some of my readers leave me 31 comments this month! And I leave 31 comments for them. I think this is probably the most overlooked and easiest way to build readers for your own blog: show up every single day in the comments section on the same blogs.

Comments come from copious comments. Three isn’t enough if you’re trying to build a regular readership for your blog. I’m off my regular schedule right now, but normally I comment on at least 10 slices a day (it’s often closer to 25). And normally I also reply to every comment I receive. In other words: lots and lots AND LOTS of comments.

And yes, comments also come from my mom. Thanks, Mom, for reading everything I write!

Where do your comments come from?

33 thoughts on “Where Do All Those Comments Come From? Slice of Life #sol19 28/31

  1. Yes, I always pop by to read your posts. I love how you and other bloggers build this community of Slicers.

  2. So much great advice, here! While I do know you in real life, I’m lucky if I actually see you face-to-face once a month. I’m more connected to you weekly through blogging #imwayr and #MustReadin2019. And I like to pop on to your blog (YAY for email subscription), regardless of which community you’re writing with at that given moment. I keep telling myself that one day I’ll jump into Slice of Life. But I’m kinda an “all or nothing” gal. If I commit to something, I’m going to be there for it all — never (or rarely) missing a daily post. And I can admit I’m not yet ready for a blog-every-single-day March (not to mention the fact that I would want to spend all day, every day, reading and commenting on everyone else’s slices). So I’m totally living vicariously through you! 😉

    • Short slices can be one way to go! I don’t really understand the whole concept of SHORT, however. As you know…. I get so frustrated on days when I’m overcommitted and don’t have time for leisurely slice reading and commenting. That’s actually why I keep coming back to the challenge–I love the community!

  3. This is great advice. There have been times this month that I have only received two comments – that is how it goes! However, I know that there are many times that I am just exhausted and cannot keep up with reading all of the blogs and comment on what I want to comment about! And I think it takes a LONG time to build a “readership…”

    • This has been me the last week too–can’t keep up with all the blog reading I want to do. So if it’s like April 10 and you’re finally getting comments from me, you know why! It definitely takes a long time to build that readership, and it requires quite a bit of effort beyond writing and publishing slices–and if that’s already a challenge to find time to do, where is the time going to come from to comment prolifically?

  4. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’ve been really pitiful about commenting this year. I’ve just had too much on my plate. But all of these things you listed I do. I connect with others in many other ways other than blogging. For example, I am also doing a poetry challenge on Facebook. Teach Write is a great community to connect to as well. There is a Facebook group and we can post daily what we write (I’ve been bad about this, but it’s out there). That said, it takes a while to build up readership, but we need to persevere and remember our purpose. Write on!

    • I’m pitifully behind right now. Trying to catch up! I need to close my office door today so that I can just comment for a couple of hours. I really think all those other connections in addition to blogging help build so much community–I know for me they do. I need to get involved with the #TeachWrite group. I would like a little more structure to my writing life, and I think that’s a great group.

  5. This is an important post! I’ve been more than a little discouraged by the number of comments I have received this year. Several of the people I have always followed and “talked to” aren’t participating this year. I’ve tried to comment on at least ten people a day, but I rarely get more than two or three comments. And then I wonder, are my posts that boring? Too long? Or ???? I know it’s about the writing, not about the receiving comments, but this year has been hard for me.

    • I usually end up commenting on every one of your slices, but I am super behind right now! I wonder if you’re onto something here about length. My post that got the least comments this month is also my longest. Most of my posts this year have been shorter than what I typically write (my regular readers are like, wait, WHAT? You still go on and on AND ON.) and I have been getting more comments. I’m going to have to think about this and make some observations as I’m reading through slices and noticing the numbers of comments people are getting.

  6. This is a great list. One thing I learned from last year was to comment on lots of slices. I’ve been aiming for 20 a day – exhausting, but I do love the reading and the commenting. In fact, I have a half-written post about commenting. This year, I’ve started trying to respond to all the comments I get. I love it, but I am also ready to get some of my time back.

  7. The year-round community makes a difference for me. I have been doing year round for 6 years and March for 4. The years also add up – so you get to know March slicers as well. I missed her post that went viral – I will go find it now. Thanks!

    • I think the year-round community is probably what makes the biggest difference. I’d be very interested to see what happens to Slicers who add Tuesdays–and I discovered today on a different blog that there are only 48 Tuesdays until next March. Anyone who writes 31 slices in March can definitely squeeze in 40+ during the year!

  8. Thanks, Elisabeth, for putting these ideas in print. I think even if we know some of these things, it’s doubly helpful to have a seasoned slicer clarify and illuminate the variety of factors that might be a play in the comment section. I know that the number of comments I have been able to leave this year has been rather meager, especially in response to comments left on my own blog. That said, I feel like I’ve been able to deepen a few connections which has felt very rewarding.

    • I really like your point here about deepening connections through comments. I always feel good if I’ve found just one new blog I want to follow year-round and one new Slicer I want to learn from on Twitter. Usually it’s much more than that, but just one new meaningful friendship feels good. You always leave really rich comments that I imagine take a bit of time to write!

  9. I’ve commented more than usual this year. We thought grandson would be arriving during SOL (which is why I chose not to do the welcome wagon), but he’s going to have to hurry if he makes an entrance during our March challenge. All of your comments are helpful. I think back to when this community was much smaller and it was easier to KNOW the regulars. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to create pods with a combination of seasoned slicers, newbies, and those who’ve joined up for several years. I’m sure these are things our TWT leaders have thought about too.

    • I really like the idea of creating commenting pods. I think 3rd year slicers seem to suffer the most, and I’m not sure why that is. When I find a blog that isn’t getting a lot of comments, I try to follow it so that I can be more consistent about commenting, but I know I still miss a lot of slices!

  10. Connections are so important for comments and whether it is the ebb and flow and consistent responses or the “getting to know stages of friendships forged in writing. So many reasons to write. So many reasons to comment!

  11. It takes time to build comments. Sometimes it’s the tag line you put on twt. Sometimes it’s when. On the east cost we regular slicers usually comment on each other. I try to keep up with my old and current welcome wagon folks. Sometimes it’s the topic. Today I posted a sad slice and I only heard from my regulars. My welcome wagon gang seldom comment on me, so I’m wondering about how often they comment. Like you I could comment on 15-20 blogs a day.

    • Tag lines are very important! I think sharing on social media can also help a bit, though it’s rare that anyone finds my blog through Twitter, even though I publicize it there. I’m curious about stats based on topic too. I wonder if there are some patterns there.

  12. So very true, Elisabeth! I do believe in comment karma. I also try to write ten comments a day and comments to slicers who visit my site for the first time. Sometimes I have a hard time posting comments on blogger or sites that require me to prove that I am not a robot. Unfortunately that obstacle makes me comment less often on those sites.

    • I love that: “comment karma”! But I think this is true, and we can’t expect to get prolific comments if we aren’t leaving prolific comments! I have struggled to keep up with responding to comments on my own blog this year. I didn’t have a dedicated time for it, and I need to be sure next year I come back in the evenings to acknowledge each comment.

  13. So much truth here. Comments beget comments. I agree that blogging every Tuesday is a great way to build a following as well as leaving a comment for everyone who visits your blog and leaves an encouraging word.

  14. Elisabeth, thank you for this slice! I appreciate the advice which you and others gave to me to try to help get me on the right track. I understand more about the blogging world now, and hopefully will do better in the future. 🙂 ~JudyK

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