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How To Generate More Discussion and Comments On Your Travel Blog

conversation in coffee shopMany new travel bloggers are often discouraged by the lack of comments and discussions on their posts. Yet there are a few ways ways you can foster discussions immediately on your travel blog and encourage reluctant readers to leave a comment from time to time.

Develop Your Persona

A point I made very clear in the basics of building a successful travel blog part 1 was how important it is to develop your persona on your travel blog. People would rather have discussions with a person, the author of a travel blog, rather than just an anonymous website. Adding your picture somewhere (like the sidebar or about page) will go a long way. Open yourself up a bit so your readers can get to know you.

Start Commenting Yourself

add your commentThere are several places you can get a good list of the travel blogs out there (here, here, and here) and get links back to your site at the same time. Add the travel blogs you find interesting to your RSS reader and start following those sites. Whenever you see posts that interest you, are about places you’ve been, or you enjoy reading, let the author know by leaving a meaningful comment.

When deciding whether to comment or not to comment, avoid generics like “nice post” or “that’s great”. You’ll find that when you comment the favor is usually returned by fellow travel bloggers and you can make nice friendships this way. If you’re worried about coming up with comments don’t be shy, the more familiar you get with each author the easier is gets.

Highlight Comments

One of the best outlets you have is your travel blog. If you like comments devote some time each month to highlight a few of them. The last day of each month on my primary travel blog foXnoMad, I do a post featuring the best comments of the month. One thing you can do if you don’t have too many comments on your blog is to highlight those you’ve enjoyed on other travel blogs. It’s also a good opportunity to link out to both the commenter (if they have a blog) as well as the travel blog the comment is on.

  • You can also point out your most commented posts from time to time.

subscribe to comments Use The Subscribe To Comments Plugin

Those of you on WordPress should install the subscribe to comments plugin. What this little plugin does is add a check box underneath each post that will email commenters anytime there is a new comment. It’s a good way to keep the discussion going since often people who comment never return or notice someone replied to their comment. I also find that it helps encourage you to comment on other blogs when you know you’ll be notified of a response.

Reply To Your Commenters

Taking the time to reply to the comments on your blog is one of the best ways to generate discussions on your travel blog. A discussion takes at least two right? Replying to the comments on your blog is a powerful way to connect with your readers, especially if you’re using the subscribe to comments plugin.

question markDestinations vs. General Travel Topics

There was a bit of discussion a few weeks back on Twitter on why posts about specific destinations don’t tend to generate as many comments as general ones. My guess is that writing about a specific place narrows your audience and therefore the number of people who might ultimately comment. I wouldn’t recommend not writing about destinations simply for the sake of comments but to vary your content from the general to more specific from time to time.

You can also make a destination post appeal to a wider audience by focusing on a particular aspect of a place rather than trying to talk about everything there is to know. (Breaking up your posts is also a good way to keep your travel blog going when you’re too busy traveling to write.)

Some Other Ways To Generate Discussion

Keep in mind however that generating discussions on your blog will take time and some patience on your part. Eventually you’ll learn with the ebb and flow of each post what works for your particular travel blog. My first 1 year of travel blogging I wasn’t getting consistent comments on foXnoMad but I was also just waiting for comments to appear on my anonymous travel blog.

Don’t get discouraged and be an active part of the discussions on your site. Your regular readers visit your travel blog to connect with you so be available to them. Remember leaving comments on other sites is a good way to to build discussions on your own blog. So tell me, how do (or don’t) you encourage the comments on your travel blog?

[photos by: eye2eye, premasagar, Marco Bellucci]

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Nisha November 20, 2009, 03:15

    I am so much with you on this. Very valid points.

    Although have started using Twitter, I still don’t know many things there. e.g. I had retweeted one of your posts, but I am not sure I did it correctly or not.

    • Anil P. November 20, 2009, 08:17

      I’ve got a post in the pipeline coming in the next few weeks about Twitter. Did you get a chance to check out the Twitter guide for travelers from Christine Gilbert? I’d say it’s important to be useful on Twitter and interact with people…so much more too.

      As far as retweeting I’ve seen it done a number of ways and Twitter has it’s own retweet function now. I like copy/pasting my retweets since the author can see I’ve retweeted something of theirs I enjoyed. The Twitter RT button doesn’t do that as far as I know. You can also get creative with your RTs and add comments, etc.

  • Dave and Deb November 20, 2009, 08:06

    As usual, excellent advice. It takes a while to build comments but eventually people feel compelled to join the discussion. I agree completely with leaving comments on other people’s blogs. When people leave a comment on ours, we always click on their site to see what they are all about and leave a comment back most of the time. Thanks for always providing valuable information!

    • Anil P. November 20, 2009, 08:23

      Thank you for the comments! I know what you mean, I always click the sites of people who leave comments for the first time or whose comments I enjoy on other blogs. Once comments get rolling the discussions often generate themselves 🙂

  • Stephanie November 20, 2009, 08:06

    I find that I get many more comments for opinion pieces as opposed to informational pieces. The more controversial you are willing to get, the more discussion you can stir up.

    Also I always try to reply to people’s comments when they are particularly insightful. Not only does it encourage discussion, it makes you *seem* like you have more comments, which usually tempts other people to join in.

    • Anil P. November 20, 2009, 08:26

      There’s got to be a curve of that somewhere online. Where people are reluctant to comment on a post with 0, 1, etc. comments to where people get lost in the discussion and give up (30, 40 comments)?

      You brought up something I forgot to mention, the more comments you have on a post the more people are inclined to comment (up to a point). Getting that first comment is usually the toughest.

  • Shannon OD November 20, 2009, 21:06

    Commenting on other blogs was pretty much the fastest way for me to join the travel blogging community and get conversations generated on my site! Everyone is great about reciprocating the love 🙂

    • Anil P. November 21, 2009, 10:04

      The travel community is pretty friendly 🙂

  • Erica January 17, 2010, 10:27

    Lately I’ve started asking questions at the end of posts (not on every post though) to encourage readers to comment. I like your idea of highlighting different comments once a month and am seriously considering doing the same at the end of January on my blog.

    • Anil P. January 18, 2010, 05:42

      As authors of our sites we usually get to read every comment but most everyone else doesn’t get to catch all of them. I’m glad you like the idea, also nice to have a set blogging topic once a month to refresh the mind.

  • Dina April 23, 2010, 07:43

    Hi Anil! I’m glad you introduced me to this blog earlier today, I already find it useful! So far I encourage comments in my blog by having a closing paragraph that encourage the reader to share there experience. I have the notify reply check button, as well as commentluv.

    • Anil P. April 23, 2010, 08:12

      Hi Dina,

      Commentluv is a good one – so is the ‘top commenters’ plugin which adds a link to the top (5,6,etc.) commenters on your site. Glad you’re enjoying this site!

  • Tina May 15, 2010, 23:05

    Thanks for all the tips, I don’t get enough comments, I will try some of your ideas and ones that have been added in comments and hopefully I can get more comments flowing and discussions happening.

  • Vagabond Roots September 26, 2010, 05:55

    Some great tips, thanks. I tried to install the subscribe to comments plugin but it wasn’t working for me but I found this one ( http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gurken-subscribe-to-comments/ ). It’s been updated recently and so far, only 1 test, but it seems to work fine.

    • Anil P. September 26, 2010, 09:03

      Awesome, glad it’s working – seems to have a few added features as well 🙂

  • Ian April 15, 2011, 07:22

    The more narrow the topic, the fewer the comments. Writing an article about travel in Asia will attract more reders than one about Kuala Lumpur ( how many actually go there?).

    For discussion the topic needs to be controversial. If it’s something everyone agrees on, what is left to say?

    • Anil P. April 19, 2011, 02:49

      I disagree that a more specific topic leads to fewer comments. You blog is just as, if not more, important to generating comments. The topics can vary.

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