I lie for a living.
I know, I know, not the best opening line for a guest post—but you’re awake now, right?
Besides, that’s not…technically true anyway (See? Fibbing by the third sentence.) It’s more like shaping perspectives.
You see, I write fantasy fiction for a living. My job is to entertain. Specifically, I get your attention and then do what it takes to KEEP your attention. Along the way, I strive to make you laugh, cry, maybe throw in a scream or two if I’m feeling ambitious…but the point is, always to get your attention and keep it.
In the end, I can promise you three things about 99% of my encounters:
- You will have a good time when you hang out with me;
- You will never forget me, and;
- You’ll like me…and choose to be my friend.
No, that’s not arrogance. I promise (says the liar). It’s confidence.
Now, why is that?
Unlike traditionally published authors who signed with the Big Five and have lavish editors, drive in fancy limousines, drink champagne and eat caviar, I don’t have those options available to me.
I correct my own speling, drive a minivan with a clear plastic side window, drink homemade grapefruit Kombucha (or mead if it’s been a bad day) and eat unthinkable amounts of artisan breads made by my lovely wife and daughters, or fresh cheese I made myself.
…now what were we talking abo….POINT! Yes, my point here is that I don’t have the millions to advertise like the pros do to get the attention of new readers.
Can you even shell out thousands in adverts or PPC to increase traffic to your blog or business website? Probably not.
So how do I end up discovered in American, Canada, the UK, Australia, India, Spain, Germany, and 50 other countries…and sell my fantasy books to them?
I’m gonna show ya!
The #1 Underutilized FREE Tool
There are SO many brilliant tips and tactics for building a blog or website…and Successful Blogging is an amazing home base to discover many of these, but one method stands out (for me) above all others:
Commenting on blogs.
Yes, I do realize that the debate is still going on about whether or not one should spend extraordinary amounts of time leaving comments on other people’s real estate. Does it really pay off? Is it really worth the effort??
I believe I can settle this by a single shift in perspective.
Every bit of business you do—IF you intend to STAY in business, is based on relationships…and you cannot have a relationship unless you talk to people!
Think about this as leaving seeds in fertile soil all over the internet.
It’s how I met Sue Anne, the glorious Queen of this website.
GOOD NEWS: Making comments allowed me to take more control over my professional fate:
- I choose where to engage (the blog).
- I choose when to engage (the time).
- I choose the articles that interest me (the playing field).
- I choose to give of my time, experience and personality (the commitment).
- I choose to build backlinks, authority, relationships and traffic (the payoff).
BAD NEWS: In a recent article on Boost Blog Traffic my buddy Kevin Duncan talked about commenting and made a sad, yet accurate statement.
“…many experts preach the virtues of strategic commenting, almost nobody tells you how to do it. As a result, many well-intentioned bloggers are spending their precious time writing comments they think are great.
Their comments usually suck.”
How To Make Your Comments Epic & Memorable
Have no fear. I’m going to show you five specific ways to grab people’s attention and keep it in the comments section.
How do I know? Welllll……
TIP #1: Always Follow Commenting Protocol (with a Twist)
This is the least flashy tip, but if you fail to abide by the established rules and expectations of the blogging community—the only thing people are likely remember about you is to avoid you altogether!
Here are the vital MUSTS, if you want to be respected in a comment section:
- Use your real name. Not a business, not a nickname—people want to know YOU.
- Have a Gravatar. Seriously—if you don’t use this free tool, you shouldn’t be commenting until you do (my opinion only). Most people around the world are using them, so now’s the time to take a hint. A Gravatar is to commenting as a website is to a business: It’s Your Front Door! Just go to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up. Free. Fast. Fun.
- BE nice and PLAY nice. Use your manners. Nuff said.
- Compliment…(Twist: Do it with style and flair)
What do I mean by style and flair? Wellll, you can say things like, “Hi,” or, “Heya,” or “Hello,” which are all good. You’re polite and respectful. I just prefer to add a little more into the mix—depending on who I’m talking to.
There are a few people I specifically respect and admire, so I refer to them as ‘Oh Great One’ or ‘Boss’ and a few dear friends I simply start by saying, “Hello Beautiful” (Kevin Duncan hates it when I call him that–makes his wife laugh, though…).
These are very personal greetings, but it also sets them up in the eyes of others and I enjoy complimenting friends in memorable ways.
TIP #2: Comment With The Intention Of Starting A PartAAAAY
People show up on blogs for their own reasons.
Some come to read articles, glean what they’re looking for and just leave.
Others are meeting their social ‘quotas’ of engagement, skimming over the content enough to make a half-acceptable comment, create a link back to their own site, then leave.
There are those who show up, enjoy what they read, but fear the social engagement, yet stick around to read what others have to say.
Then we have the rare few who come, read, then want to engage in a conversation (YAY!).
What if you could be a catalyst to encourage everyone to stay and join the conversation? Your comments—regardless of whether the blog is yours or one you visit, should help motivate people to stay longer.
Why? Because you will instantly create value, not only in the experience, but value of presence…which will carry on long after the conversation is over. So try these techniques on for size:
- Make your comments fun, funny, warm, complimentary, inviting and curious.
- Use open-ended questions, not specific ones (example: “Why do you think….” or “How do you feel about…” as opposed to “What’s the best way to…”), which encourages people to engage their personality more. People will pass over questions if they don’t have the specific answers, yet are more likely to engage if you want their thoughts and feelings.
- Link questions to others in the comments section to draw them into the conversation. Did someone in the comments section write an article like what’s being talked about? Mention that fact and ask more questions. Compliment them (see ICE WATER below).
- INSPIRE, INSPIRE, INSPIRE!!! I cannot say enough about this last point. Each and every time to engage in a conversation, make it a goal to give it your attention, passion and your own unique, personal touch. Questioning whether or not it’s worth the effort?
Realize that you are NOT LIMITED to conversing with the author of the article or blog owner!
TIP #3: Use The ‘ICE WATER’ Technique
Never heard of the ‘Ice Water’ technique?
I’m shocked! It’s used by all the true professionals…
Not really, I just made the name up…but it IS the effect you’ll get when you visit someone else’s website, gather ammo, and then use it for your comments. It’s like a nice glass of ice water…in the face.
What causes that reaction?
Making statements about a person or using knowledge from a readers own website to spark the conversation. This is particularly effective when they have NO IDEA who you are—and here you are, complimenting them or talking to them about something they created/wrote.
“Jennifer, I’m so glad to see you here! You’ll bring a LOT of insight to this conversation. These guys might not know it, but your ‘5 Points On Raising A Happy Child’ was brilliant! Loved the point about kneeling down to a child’s level to close the gap and getting their attention. So what do you feel we’re missing here?”
Trust me, when you learn to do this–people will seek you out!
HOW TO BLITZ CHECKLIST:
- Click on their name in the comments (usually a link to their website);
- Go directly to the About Me page if they have one. It’ll give the best quick facts you can use;
- ALWAYS look for links to ‘Fun Facts’ just like my own, “45 Crazy Facts About This Father of 12 (because 10 is for wusses)” — links like these will give you incredible material to use in a conversation!
I know this seems like a lot of effort, but that’s only because IT IS!
The great part about using this technique is that other people will instantly notice and remember you.
I promise, this tip alone will open doors to new friendships.
TIP #4: Use The FORGOTTEN TOOL OF CONVERSATION!!
No one has accused me of being a Shakespeare or Mark Twain. However, I have frequently been complimented on being entertaining, original and authentic.
Then again, no one EVER mentions beating out Corbin Shaffer and winning the 1st Place Ribbon for sucking 31.5 Jell-O cubes through a straw in 90 seconds, but hey….
POINT is…I like to use a tool almost forgotten in the blogging comment arena, and that is HTML.
- Most blogs make the available, so why not use it?
- Make your comments smooooth.
- Make your comments bold.
- Make sure people HEAR you!
- …and don’t underestimate the power of an onomatopoeia.
The creative use (but not over use) of the available HTML will cause your comments to stand out and more likely to be read. Once you have their attention, make sure to KEEP it by the words you use.
TIP #5: Create “Double Takes” Whenever Possible
You know the kind of comment I’m talking about. The one where you read it, but something seems so ‘off’ or comical, or profound that you have to read the whole thing over again to make sure you got it all.
Make THOSE kinds of comments.
Seriously, they are easier than you think. You just need to train yourself to find the open door and then step through.
You do this by staying in the moment of the conversation.
Let me explain.
We are taught as writers to focus on a single person, to make it personal and to bring out our own emotions in a conversational way. All you have to do, is the same thing—except this time, you’re talking directly tot he actual author of the article you’re reading.
Personally, I keep TextEdit open on my Mac as I’m reading blogs.
If you’ve ever wondered why my comments often flow in line with the articles written, it’s because I experience reading as a conversation. As I read one of Sue’s articles, for example—How To Fail At Blogging: 15 Insanely Absurd Tips Every Blogger Needs To Ignore—I will type up my comments as the article interests me. If I have a question, I may say something like, “Andrew, THANK you for finally confirming what I’ve been wondering for a looooong time! Content is King, $#@$#!!! oh, I have a ton of dust on my content shelves and that was after I spent a year blogging my heart out EVERY…SINGLE…DAY.
*shakes head in unison with Andrew* ”
Now, if you’d like to know one of my personal secrets (and cheats)…it’s that I never, EVER come to a comment party alone.
It’s one of the advantages of being a fantasy writer.
BONUS TIP: None of This Will Work UNLESS YOU MEAN IT!
A last tip here is that if you use these techniques for the sale of strategy and not for the sake of building actual, lasting relationships with people, the results will never last.
Hate to break it to you, but I agree with a comment made by my blogging friend Mandie Sanders. A while back I wrote a post about Mandie, using Sue Anne and Successful Blogging as a prime example, entitled “Pickled Eggs, The Flash and Why Bloggers Will NEVER Solve My Problem (but YouTube's Olan Rogers did!). In this article, Mandie brought up the belief that “the future of blogging won’t be based on content, keywords, SEO or niche/industry…but by personality.”
Think about that.
I think she’s spot on.
Personality will shine through, regardless of your tactics.
Sooner or later people will discover the real you and if you haven’t been real, genuine and hopefully kind, it’s gonna bite you in the butt.
…and leave teeth marks, I promise!
(Explain THAT one to your spouse, eh?)
Yup. You gotta want this as bad as a politician wants your vote and wallet.
That’s it folks. If I had candy, I’d hand it out, but I don’t.
Communication is all about relationships. Don’t forget that.
Form them and help them grow.
Sue Anne has allowed me the honor of giving you keys to help that happen by your own efforts.
Don’t squander them.
Have you tried commenting using something different from my list above?
Did it work for you exceptionally well?
If so, please share with the rest of us in the comments below…AND LET THE PARTAAAAY BEGIN!