How to Make a Quiet Blog More Interactive

61 amazing comments

get more blog interaction
Cats! You do it with cat photos. Thanks for reading. Just kidding…

One of the most rewarding parts of running a blog is the community that springs up around it. Making your blog more interactive could be one of the best things you do.

Here at Blog Tyrant I feel so fortunate to be able to read and respond to dozens of comments on each post. Those comment threads are regularly more valuable than the articles themselves.

And while comments are great, they aren’t the only way a blog can be made more interactive.

In this post I’d like to take a look at how some people are building more interaction on their websites and how we can apply similar tools, principles and ideas to our own.

Cool!

Why make your blog more interactive?

Before we get into the “how” I thought it would be useful to have a talk about a few reasons why making your blog more interactive is so beneficial.

  • It can really help people
    The most important thing for me is that an interactive blog can genuinely help people. Experiencing some human connection (even over the net) can be extremely beneficial for people, especially if the content is helping them with work, life, family, depression, etc.
  • It helps you develop content
    Interactive content often leads to more content opportunities as discussions and debates can provide questions or fuel for extra content. This is a great way to involve your tribe and/or save time on content creation.
  • It can improve sales
    An interactive community makes your blog or website appear more trustworthy and as such you have a larger and more engaged audience to launch products and make money from the blog.
  • It can motivate you
    I try really hard to respond to every comment and email that I get because I know that everything I have is due to the readers of this site. It’s something that gives me a lot of motivation to produce honest content and be as genuine as possible, especially when I get harsh feedback.
  • It’s good for SEO
    Google likes to see websites that are regularly updated and comments, social shares and other forms of interaction can often play a role in how well you are ranked on Google compared to other more stagnant websites.

Some blogs really benefit from their community in big ways, so it’s definitely something we should put a little bit of effort in to.

How to make a quiet blog more interactive

Let’s take a look at some fun ways that people have made their blogs more communal places and how we can apply some of that creativity and cleverness to our own websites. As always, if you know of something cool please let me know in the comments.

1. Use design techniques to encourage interaction

It’s good to start with some basic design characteristics that encourage people to interact in some way. As with many areas of blogging, if you don’t get the design right you can undo a lot of your previous hard work.

comment

For example, here on Blog Tyrant I try to make the comment count prominent by putting it high on the page, and I have edited the code to make it a little bit more interesting than the usual “10 comments”. You can do that on your blog by going Appearance > Editor > Single Post and then looking for code like this:

php comments_popup_link(__(‘Get the Top Comment, Quick!’, ‘am’), __(‘1 Awesome Comment’, ‘am’), __(‘% amazing comments’, ‘am’)); ?

You just want to change the text to reflect your preferences. As always, make sure you copy the original code before making changes in case something goes wrong.

You can also include some subtler design elements like this one from the Guardian:

comment pick

Whenever an author gets a comment that she or he likes they can add a little badge that highlights it to other readers and sort of promotes it as being something worth noting. On other blogs I’ve seen similar things where the best comments gets highlighted in a different color. We’ll look more at this kind of thing below.

One of the main things you want to think about from a design point of view is that your interactive sections should be simple to use and easy to find if you want anyone to pay attention to them. As always, take a look at what others in your niche are doing and see if you can improve.

2. Add a membership/premium area

Something that has been becoming more and more popular on blogs these days is a membership section where users pay a small price (or just create an account) to access premium content and forum areas. This works so well is because it gives the content an exclusive feel and people often find themselves wanting to be part of that club.

copyblogger

One successful one that comes to mind is the my.copyblogger.com which was launched by Brian and the team after running a very popular blog for many years. It was a way to consolidate masses of content and allow new subscribers to access it in a very deliberate and clean fashion.

A word of warning though – you’ll want to make sure you have something distinctive to put inside these types of member areas or you run the risk of having it look bare or not all that different to the blog itself. As long as your content is perceived as valuable, though, this shouldn’t be a problem and you could simply “upgrade” your content with videos or podcasts, etc.

You can achieve this kind of thing with plugins like Wishlist which allow you to create a password-protected area and drip feed content to people over different periods of time. Here’s a guide by Yaro that I’ve personally read and enjoyed a lot that has a lot of good information about making a quality membership site.

3. Hold a contest for new and existing readers

One tried and tested technique that has been working for bloggers since the beginning of blogging is the good old contest. This is a great way to get old and new readers engaged and interacting in a more active way.

This can be an incredible way to get more interaction with readers as well as motivating new kinds of actions like we did in this post where we asked for comments, predictions and so forth.

An example that stands out in my mind is when ProBlogger held a competition to win a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and blog about the experience. At the time it gained a lot of momentum and interest around the web, and created a lot of new opportunities for people.

Make sure you check your local laws before holding any contests because some places have funny regulations, and always make sure that the prize and outcome is relevant to your niche and product. The idea is to make it fun and engaging while also showing off your content (or the content of your readers) to the people participating.

4. Specifically invite interaction

When I first started blogging I was really afraid of asking for anything. It always seemed like bad etiquette to specifically ask someone to subscribe or leave a comment or perform a particular action.

But, over time, I’ve started to notice that people really don’t mind so long as it isn’t happening all the time, and as long as the content that you provide is somewhat valuable. For example, I always ask people to leave a comment at the end of my blog posts, and usually throw in a second invitation to my mailing list when I notify them of new posts.

One place I’m starting to see a lot of invitations to interact is when I listen to podcasts. Podcasts like Radiolab or This American Life will regularly ask for feedback about certain stories, and often use voices and interviews from people who ring in.

One of my favorite podcasts, Reply All, recently did a show where they took phone calls for 24 hours and recorded the whole thing without sleeping. It was a lot of fun and helped to get some longtime listeners involved in the process of producing a show.

Boing Boing has an interesting feature where you can highlight some text and leave a comment or emoji on that particular section and then share it with friends.

boingboing

I think bloggers could get a lot better at this type of thing – especially if it means including more reader creations in the posts themselves. I’d love to know if anyone has ever done this successfully.

5. Use gamification

Gamification is a technique being used more and more to make some dry topics seem a little bit more exciting and motivating by making them more like a game.

The human brain is hardwired to seek rewards, and all those little sounds and flashing lights you see when you “level up” cause a rush of dopamine to be released in our brains and help to keep people coming back. As a side note, that’s why young children shouldn’t spend much time on screens.

But, if you’re trying to help people achieve positive things in their life it might be a good thing. We’re seeing that in meditation apps, for example. Websites like Bodybuilding.com also have some cool ideas on this front:

bodyspace

This screenshot shows one of the popular members and how she has achieved certain weight loss targets over a certain period of time. Other members can track the progress and compare it to their own as motivation.

This type of thing basically works like an advanced forum and encourages people to interact by making certain goals and achievements public and making it a supportive environment. Blogs could also use badges for top commenters, active members, etc.

A plugin that can help you achieve this type of thing is De:comments which allows you to have voting systems, badges and other features within your blog comment area. You can expand on this concept by getting certain ratings to appear in Google search results .

Another type of gamification is things like quizzes which can give people new insights about their behavior. We did a quiz called Are You Ready to Start a Blog last year and, while the quiz could be better from the results output point of view, it was something to make the blog post a little bit more fun.

6. Embed content from other sites

This one is a little bit tricky because you have to be careful about how your source content so as to avoid copyright problems as well as duplicate content penalties from Google. That being said, there are some ways that you can do it effectively and ethically.

For example, if you wanted to write an article about Donald Trump’s recent activities you might embed a series of tweets that help to provide context or background to your position.

All you have to do is go to Twitter, find the specific tweet and then click “embed tweet” and paste the code into your blog post. That way you get a live updated and clickable message that shows re-tweets, likes, etc. You could also link to your own tweets as a way to get conversation happening there.

One plugin that can help make this a bit easier is Embedly which allow you to embed content from dozens of sites with just a URL and without any need to style or change the design.

How interactive is your blog?

Is your blog a very interactive place? I’d love to know what you think makes a difference. Are there any tools or techniques you have used that had an impact? Please leave us a comment below.

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61 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • James Bogash, DC

    Ugh. Nothing worse than spending 15 hours on a blog post (about what I’ve been spending to make these 5,000 word evergreen content posts) and having very little discussion, even if the topic can be inflammatory.


    1. Ramsay

      Can you post a link here and maybe the community can take a look?


      1. James Bogash, DC

        Of course. This one was in two parts, but here’s part 2 (the articles have been pretty long–this one was 10,000 words, my breast cancer series was in 3 parts, 15,000 words).

        http://www.modernhealthmyths.com/obama-care-insurance/


    2. Mike Templeton

      I hear you, James! It definitely can be frustrating, especially with all that time spent going into it.

      However, would you say that blog comments are how you’re grading the success of your posts? If so, how are you inviting people to participate? I only ask because getting blog comments seems like one of the things that gets put on a pedestal in this space, but it’s not necessarily the thing that a blog author needs to be successful.


      1. James Bogash, DC

        I agree–it’s not the only marker. And sometimes there is some discussion on social media for the articles. I keep track of visits via Google Analytics.


        1. Freddie

          Hey James, that was a great article. But, it was indeed veeeery long. As a reader I can tell you that sometimes I don’t have much time to dive into the details of such a great article. If I were you I would make it more scannable and easily digestible.


          1. James Bogash, DC

            Freddie–thanks for the feedback. And that was just part 2–part one is just as long! For years I’ve done short articles (600-800 words) and a LOT of them on pretty much everything you could imagine about health. The move to more “evergreen” content is a new one to see if the blog could get more traction.


    3. Tim

      15 hours….unbelivable. Respect for such a persistence!


      1. Ramsay

        Ha.


  • MrSuSu

    Thank you for your great information. I want to contribute my tip. The tip is to make everything on your blog funny.

    For example, I use a social locker plugin that make people to share to get my valuable ebook hidden in the post. The origin social buttons title was so typical, so I changed facebook button to “Keep Calm” and “G+” to “And Share” and tweet to “Then Happy”. That make my readers smile and share :))

    It helped my blog in Vietnamese version (Fususu.com) spread out. I’m testing with the English version of my Blog (MrSusu.com). Hope it work, too. You can see it in action here: https://mrsusu.com/memorize-pi-number/


    1. Hena @ Mending with Gold

      Haha, I loved your opt in box!
      Very creative.


      1. Ankur Gupta

        Nice article full of useful tips. One more thing that I like is featured image of the post. 🙂


    2. Ramsay

      Nice one!


  • Vishal Ostwal

    Hey Ramsay,

    I’ve been pondering over this topic since a while. Interactivity is certainly going to to skyrocket in future (maybe now), and is one of the most helpful strategies one can implement I believe.

    It’s taking over the internet slowly – quizzes, calculators, embedded content, product suggestions, guides – there’s a lot!

    Most big sites will switch to interactivity instead of generating content in near future, because not only that saves audience from a lot of hassle but also gives them sort of “customized content.”

    Easy for websites. Easy for readers. Content is probably going to shift towards simplicity. The possibility and advantages are immense.

    Well, I feel like implementing all that I could be doing but hold myself back, since right now I’m unable to do what I wish to implement on my blogs. Arghh!

    There’s just one doubt I have – if I go on creating content now and decide to change my blog in future (in terms of design, theme, content, etc), would that be a fine idea? I mean, is it alright to go on in a simple manner until I’m finally able to go big and give my blogs a complete makeover?

    To be honest, I’m not using those paid SEO plugins, using a premium theme, or hiring any graphic artists – but I’m giving what it takes in all ways I can.

    So is it fine to keep moving ‘plainly’ until I’m able to grow my blog gradually, or do I have to get all the things spot on?

    P.S. I was about to write a long comment, but I thought it would be better to create a post related to the same as I have a lot to speak about this topic. Will do it soon. Where are the legs of your cat (lion!) 😉


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah man, simple is great. Works for me. And a lot of sites like Medium and so on are doing well off of those principles.


      1. Vishal Ostwal

        I’m relieved to hear that.

        Sometimes, when we’re all worried, we need nothing more than an assurance. And I know that you’ve always got the back of your community.

        Thank you.


  • Ansa John

    Hi Ramsay,

    You kill it again, thanks.

    It quite unfortunate that people hardly comment on blogs that focuses on careers and resume writing.
    At first, I thought it was only my career blog that has little or no comments as it’s new but when I dig deep into other careers blog by influrnceners, I noticed I wasn’t alone.
    So, I measure my blog engagement via bounce rate and this had proven beyond doubt that people actually love my content and the stay longer to read my contents.

    Ansa John


    1. Ramsay

      Good insight to have. Nice work.


      1. Shar

        Hi there!

        I have been in a “transition” phase regarding a fulfilling career path for about a year. The 9-5’s seemed to just get worse and worse, not to mention working for a number of superiors who who were just plain jerks. I’ve always enjoyed writing, first just journaling to release my inner thoughts. I have created basic illustrations from scratch just for fun and designed a personalized theme for a friend’s baby shower years ago (again, just for fun).

        I am 36 y.o. and finally about to complete a BS at a local university. I have entertained the idea of possibly starting a blog but haven’t actually started researching, until today, when I randomly found and read one of your articles.

        Excellent content, style, etiquette, info and knowledge! You may have helped me finally find my path that would incorporate all of the “just for fun” things into one comprehensive informative and helpful resource for others. I have been “stuck” searching for an epiphany until now. Thank you very much for sharing your valuable knowledge! I have subscribed to your blog and feel inspired

        Sincerely,
        SC


        1. Ramsay

          Please, please, please keep us posted!


  • Michael Gorman

    I appreciate your well thought out posts Ramsay, and this one is no exception. Do you think there is an argument for turning off commenting on a site that presents services, for instance I tend to write articles that explore different aspects of digital marketing as it applies to building websites, and the blog is more of a way to invite inquiries than to provoke discussion-what do you think?


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Michael. Absolutely. I don’t think every site needs a comments section – especially if the point of the blog is to get people to contact you for a quote, for example.


      1. Michael Gorman

        Thanks Ramsay, yes this was what I was thinking !


  • Ahmad Imran

    Ramsay, great write up. A topic that many bloggers would like to explore and improve upon.

    I use quick polls across the site on various blog posts. It helps me to engage with the readers better and I also get a feel about what the reader is thinking. I use a plugin called “total poll pro” for that purpose and so far, I have been satisfied with the results.

    It also helps me to know my industry better by knowing what a common user / end user is thinking about the product or service in question. I suggest bloggers to utilise this tool if it fits in their circumstances. Knowing your readers and their thoughts is important in the game of blogging.

    Great article as ever, sharing and adding it to my Flipboard magazine. Have a nice week ahead. Cheers


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks for the share!


  • vihan

    THANXS FOR SHARING, THE POST IS REALLY INTERESTING AND QUITE INFORMATIVE TOO.


    1. Ramsay

      NO WORRIES


  • Chump Lady

    What are you using for comments in WordPress? I just use Jetpack, so will these plug-ins work for badges and such? I’ve considered switching to Disqus in the past, but then I wonder what would happen to the thousands of comments already on my blog? (Because of the community, people read the comments as much or more than my posts.)

    I’ve just not fiddled (improved) my comment function for fear of screwing the whole thing up.


    1. Marjana

      Love the graphics and humour on your site!


      1. Chump Lady

        Thanks Marjana. 🙂 The healing powers of snark…


    2. Ramsay

      I just use the default template and have edited the design a bit. Discus does, from memory, allow you to import comments. Definitely check with support first though as the comments are a huge part of your site. Might be worth doing a poll of readers first too.


  • Mark Thompson

    I find the number one thing to increase interaction on my blog is a really simple one…actually ask for it. I get more comments when I ask people to comment than when I don’t


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah, I agree with that.


  • Brenna

    As a newbie, how do you even get/find readers? I’ll check your archived posts to find resources, but if anyone has suggestions, I’d truly appreciate any recommendations!


    1. Ramsay

      Lots of posts in the Best Of section that should hopefully help.


  • Marjana

    Thanks for the tips Ramsey! I wonder though about #1 – if there are never any comments, would I want to expose that?

    I also try to invite comments by asking a question at the end of each post but there is just no interaction. I also include monthly giveaways to attract audience but honestly have had little luck to getting the results I want. I wonder if the crucial part in all this is promotion. Yes, the tools can help but if there is little readership, the site needs to be promoted well.


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Marjana.

      Have you ever tested a narrower content width?


      1. Marjana

        I haven’t tempered with the theme yet, but going to give that a try. Thanks for the insight!


  • Susie Lindau

    I usually get a lot of comments on my posts and attribute it to the questions at the end.

    I don’t write controversial, political or religious posts, so readers are more likely to react publicly.

    Instead of “Leave a Reply,” I edited to, “Leave a Wild Thought. Someone may click to your blog!” Since most names are clickable, readers check out other bloggers when they leave an interesting comment.

    The more relatable or helpful the content, the more readers react. My latest post, “An Ode to a Midwinter Cold,” got quite a few because colds.

    Thanks, Ramsay! I love the idea of a contest. I haven’t run one for a while. I’ll check out your links!


    1. Masha

      Ramsey, great info. I used to ask for comments but for some reason I stopped and I am seeing less interaction. I didn’t associate the lack of response to the lack of my asking.
      I love Susie Lindau’s request “Leave a Wild Thought. Someone may click to your blog!”
      I think I’m going to start asking for interaction again and see if there is a change. Thank you for this inspiration.


    2. Ramsay

      Glad it’s working for you! Thanks for sharing.


  • Nainika Joseph

    Great and useful article. Creating content regularly is very tough. Your points are motivated me to move on.


    1. Ramsay

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  • Jason Moore

    Ramsay,

    Nice article and thought provoking questions. Getting interaction is certainly hard. I enjoy writing and learning about science and technology but I get very little traffic and no interaction. It’s not my full time job I know but it would be nice to know that I satisfied someone’s curiosity at least. I redid my site but lost the backup so having to start over unfortunately. Personally I loved doing polls about subjects and seeing where I fit in with others. So if I enjoy it I am sure others will too. Thanks for all your hard work.


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Jason. Appreciate it.


  • Nick Raineri

    Getting more interaction with my posts is definitely something I’m looking to improve on in 2017. Thanks for the help!


  • Clem

    Some great ideas to a fresh approach to blogging in 2017. Thanks Ramsay. Really appreciate this content.


  • Saurav Deo

    Awesome blog. I love to read all your work. This I would have to say is your best work hands down. I look forward to your work.


  • Ritu Sain

    Blogging is a business nowadays and like other businesses blogs must have a social presence on internet apart from the main site. Those social channels can also be used to communicate with followers, readers and prospective customers. Blog design, loading speed, content quality & formatting, search-ability, CTA, marketing everything matter a lot to make a blog more interactive and convert-able.


  • Virtual Office Jakarta

    Thank you for share the tips. Maybe using keyword as link can more help.


  • Anoop C

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!


  • Jenny Rev

    Hey Ramsay

    Indeed some great points. I believe there are number of ways for us, which we can use to make our blogs lively, but the questions is, an we do it without any passion?

    Because I believe, any of the points you mentioned will only work when we are passionate about our work, when we want to change our blog and make it the best in the business.

    What you think?


  • Lisa

    Hi
    This came at the perfect time for me as I have just began to get some comments on a post I wrote. I love all the tips you’ve given thanks for the help.
    The question I have is is there such thing as bad comments. I am feeing grateful for people leaving comments as it means they must have at least seen my site but my site is aimed at mums. The first message was left by a frank. That’s ok maybe for his family it’s all relavant. Then I have recieved a reply that’s bigger than my originals post with comments and questions which is lovely but I am questioning myself. It’s lovely to think there are people who like my site but is it too good to be true? i have since had 3 more comments about the post with ideas of add pictures etc but non relavant to what I actually wrote.
    I dislike to question the comments as I am so pleased to have them but are these true people interested?
    I have approved the first two but left three more so far. Would you please let me know what’s going on. Id also love for you to take a peek at my site to see what you think?
    Thanks again for your ongoing supportive and informative site.
    Lisa


  • Swati

    Good one.liked it.


  • Seif Sillimi

    Great content is not enough nowadays. Awesome resources are all over the internet. It’s really sad to see some bloggers put a lot of time and effort into writing amazing content, only to find out that no one interacts with it, or even reads it. It’s like whispering the secret of life in a stadium! Promotion is a MUST, it’s as important as good content in my opinion…


  • Zach Vang

    Thanks for wonderful article, gonna implement some tips into my blog
    Just one question – does link building has major part in SEO nowadays ?

    Thanks in advance


  • carl adam

    Great list of tips Ramsay! Bookmarked


  • Ronnie Thurston

    Thanks for sharing great info. I have a blogging for one year, but I don’t have many interactions on my blog. But now I will apply those ideas to my blogs for to get more interactions.


  • sarah khan

    Great stuff it is and will be helpful. Thanks for sharing it.


  • Luca Todesco

    Solid post, Ramsay. Your blog has a great design. Which plugin would you recommend to create a premium membership area?


    1. Ramsay

      Wishlist!


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