Tristan’s Note: This is a guest post by Tito Philips Jr. (see his info at the end of the post). I do not agree with everything he wrote, but I loved the passion that the he wrote it with. It’s something I’d never write, but I do think he makes some great points. That’s why I wanted to publish this piece. To read my thoughts on the issue, see my comment (it’s the first one). Take it away Tito…

My first contact with blogging was way back in 2003. Back then blogging was just a hobby and a medium for expression. It was beautiful. Then in July of 2010 I stepped into the professional realm of blogging. In those seven years, my eyes have seen a lot happen in the blogosphere and recently, I haven’t liked what I’ve seen.

What I Thought Blogging Was…

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t blogging about writing and reading articles for the purpose of learning? In recent times, I have noticed a rather unusual form of blogging totally far from what I thought blogging was all about. I have witnessed firsthand a weird kind of blogging with a whole new intent. This new intent of blogging is driven by the desire to make money (which in and of itself is not bad, of course). But that’s given rise to the unsettling trend of comment trading.

Why Is Trading Comments Bad?

Trading comments is the lame fad currently sweeping across the blogosphere that describes the intent and habits of bloggers to visit a blog for the singular reason to leave a comment behind to notify the blog owner that they were present.

I know, I know… Everyone is doing this comment trading thing, so you think you should also follow suit. You have read it over and over again that it is one of the best strategies for attracting traffic to your blog. So you head straight out and litter the whole of cyberspace with your worthless comments just because you want to pull in some traffic.

The whole idea is woven around the concept of give and take. People simply visit a blog not to learn but to trade comments because they desperately want to receive comments in return. The way I see it, trading comments is going to ruin the whole blogosphere if left unaddressed.

Let’s be sincere with ourselves here, do you get comments back from every blog you comment on? Obviously not. Do you know why? Because trading comments is futile without authoritative content.

Here’s what I mean.

In case you’ve suddenly forgotten, blogging means CONTENT MARKETING. This implies that to be a blogger you’ve got to know a lot about something (content) and must be willing to go about telling as many people as possible that you do (marketing). Simply put, in the blogosphere, content is the product we market. You are only as good as your content. Your worth as a blogger is judged by your content!

As a blogger, your content is in two parts: blog posts and blog comments. Your blog posts are articles on your blog or guest posts on other blogs and as free reports in the ebook format. For most bloggers, they think these are all that really matters, so they pay less attention to the other kind of content, blog comments.

Content, whichever way you decide to look at it, includes your comments. From the quality of the comments you leave on my blog, I can deduce how authoritative you are or not as a blogger. No matter what we may choose to believe, blogging at its core is still a knowledge driven business. What will set you apart and ultimately bring you great success is your level of knowledge about certain things you deeply care about.

Interestingly, as it turns out, many bloggers (especially newcomers) are learning this lesson the hard way. You cannot litter my blog with your lame comments and expect me to be inspired to check out your blog where you probably expect me to find authoritative content. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.

What bloggers must realize is that, whether it’s an article you are writing or it’s a comment you are leaving, in the blogosphere every bit of content you create is a footprint that can never be erased.

For crying out loud, humans are the ones reading all of your content, be it a blog post or comment. People read them, not robots. So if you don’t have something outstanding to contribute to the blogosphere, stop littering it with your lame comments.

Your comments are invitations to the readers. When they suck, you suck. When they rock, you rock. The bottom line is that if you are going to pass through a blog and want to leave your footprint behind, make it a memorable one.

For me to come to your blog, you must consistently blow my mind with your presence such that after writing a blog post you are the first person on my mind whose feedback I greatly look forward to.

If you want to trade comments, trade quality ones. If not, why are you still blogging?

So here’s the big question to all you comment traders out there:

Are your comments leaving a legacy behind on the blogs you visit?

If not, seriously, don’t bother leaving any behind. Why? Because the purpose for which they are supposed to be written — which is to contribute to the overall discussion going on in the blogosphere — is being defeated by your horrible comments.

Why Exactly Your Comments Suck

In case you haven’t gotten the picture yet… Here’s a reminder of what I think about your comments: they suck. All you are ever going to get from me when I see your comments is, “Thanks, but no thanks!”

I am just so sick and tired of receiving lame comments on my blog and reading some more on other people’s blogs. For God’s sake, if people don’t have anything useful to add to the ongoing discussion shouldn’t they just shut the hell up?

Commenting has become so bastardized that many people now leave comments out of courtesy rather than out of inspiration. They have come to see commenting as an obligation they must fulfill as a blogger. Commenting has suddenly become a blogging necessity so everyone — both those who have something reasonable to say and also those who don’t — all seem to be having a field day. Here’s the bitter truth: commenting is not for everyone.

Commenting is not a register that you must mark to indicate that you turned up. Commenting is not an attendance sheet that you must sign. Commenting is not a guestbook that you must sign when leaving a site. You would be doing yourself much good if you learn not to say anything unless you have something SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) to say. So many people have just taken commenting to be another way of gaining recognition. Well here is the thing… you are gaining recognition for being an idiot.

If only you can start taking your comments as seriously as your blog posts, then maybe, just maybe, you will eventually end up attracting the traffic you are so bent on getting through your comments!

A Winning Approach

When I decided to start leaving comments on a lot of blogs, I wanted to carve out a voice for myself. And I eventually did just that. On every blog I visited, I made sure I shared more than was needed; I made sure I brought the bloggers’ attention to something new which they weren’t aware of before. And guess what? Before long I got the tag as someone who dropped stellar comments. Every blog I visited made the owners publicly confess that they always looked forward to reading my stellar comments. And that was how my blog starting attracting the owners of the blogs I had left a legacy on.

Here are a few of the comments I left on some blogs. Please don’t misunderstand my intent for sharing these stories; they are not for bragging purposes. I share these links because they lend credibility to the fact that the underlying principle that forms the basis of a rewarding comment trading practice really works.

How can you be a better commenter?

Ah… Great question!

1. INNOVATE: Seriously, don’t leave a comment if it isn’t offering something SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) that wasn’t mentioned at all in the main article. The essence of commenting is to contribute to the ongoing discussion about that particular subject matter, if you don’t have anything innovative to include, just shut up!

Saying thank you or repeating what the author has already written about is lame. Add a fresh insight to the discussion and you will see not only the owners of the blog beating a path to your door, but other readers of the blog too. Always endeavor to add something totally new that wasn’t mentioned at all by the author.

2. INNOVATE: I have to say this again, because nothing else matters besides this. To make your comment count, leave a comment that stands out!

3. INNOVATE: Now I am sure you get the point. But there’s one last thing worthy of mention: don’t be stereotyped. I’m sure you’ve come across certain comment traders whose format for commenting is always the same every time and everywhere they leave a comment. You can tell the end of the comment just by reading their opening sentence. It is almost as if they have the comment already pre-typed and all they had to do was copy and paste it into every blog they visited.

Before you leave any comment on any blog, ask and answer these two questions:

1. What did the author forget to mention about this subject matter that I am aware of?

2. What I’m about to add that he forgot to mention, is it UNIQUE and USEFUL?

If you get a NO from any of these two questions, just move ahead to the next blog, don’t leave any comment. This only points out one thing; you do not possess sufficient knowledge about the subject matter being discussed. So hush. Every dog has its day.

4. Be STRATEGIC: I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with commenting. Well… everything. Commenting is the networking aspect of blogging. You certainly don’t want to be reading every blog out there because there isn’t just enough time for that. So you’ve got to be choosy about the blogs you read. Why is this necessary? Stellar comments are the outcomes of stellar blog posts. There’s something about a well written article that will unlock your knowledge base and inspire you to leave a remarkable comment.

I know this might hurt some people, but it is the simple truth: some blogs aren’t worth reading. Why? Because they are poorly written. And when a blog post is purely written, it doesn’t inspire stellar comments. Therefore, endeavor to read blogs that deliver stellar contents and they will help you respond in kind with your stellar comments.

Another key thing to note about being strategic is to read blogs that offer contents that resonates with your passion. What do I mean? Not every blog talks about things you really are interested in. So trying to trade comments with such bloggers might not really yield the best results. Seek out blogs that share contents about the kind of things that deeply interest you.

This is very important because you can only give what you have. Visiting blogs that discuss what you really are not interested in, will only make the knowledge you possess seem irrelevant and attempting to trade comments with such blogger will be futile. After all, the whole point of blogging which involves writing, reading and leaving a comment is all about learning (acquiring significant information) and sharing (spreading significant information).

Be strategic because blogging is all about content marketing. This means that you have to learn from those that really share what you deeply care about and put your content in front of the eyes of those that really matter.

5 Ways to Add Something Unique and Useful to Your Comments

1. Mention a book that has talked about the subject matter of the article.

2. Mention an authority figure, a blogger, author, entrepreneur, celebrity, anyone that has shared a similar view about the subject matter of the article in question. And don’t just mention their names, share what they said and how it relates to the blog post you just read.

3. Mention statistical information that either justifies or negate the facts presented by the article in question.

4. Mention your own personal view or experience of the subject matter. In other words, tell us your own story/experience about the subject matter of the article in question.

5. Ask a deeply thought out question that the author’s article didn’t clearly answer. And be sure to check back regularly till he/she answers.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear your input. Here’s your chance to leave a legacy behind at Blogging Bookshelf, so go for it!

  • Have you noticed the whole “trading comments” trend? What do you think about it?
  • Do you leave good comments? What makes you think you do or don’t?
  • How many great comments do you get on your blog vs. crap comments?
  • Do you care how good the comments are? To what extent?

About the Author

Tito Philips, Jnr., is the unusual CEO of MADphilips who blogs about business and entrepreneurship on naijapreneur! He’s currently recruiting an army of change-agents at UniteNigeria to help in the rebuilding of his motherland. Connect with him on Twitter @MADphilips

Tristan’s Note: Be sure to check out everything Tito’s doing, but leave a comment here first :)