Or, how do you promote a blog without looking like an infomercial pitchman?
[h/t Daniel at Casual Kitchen for suggesting this topic]
I have a question for you, readers:
What is an acceptable level of promoting your blog in the comments of another blog? Where's the line between linking back to your blog in the comments, and Blog Flogging?
Please answer in the comments section, at the bottom of the post.
Now for some context around why I'm asking this question.
Recently, I've started trying to get my blog read by a wider group of people. I've been submitting recipes to other sites that request them for links pages, and I've become an active commenter in blogs that I follow regularly.
Now, "leave comments on other sites with links back to your site" is common advice for increasing your blog's readership. It's such common advice that it often gets abused. I don't like it when I see a comment along the lines of:
My prime directive when commenting is: say something that adds to the conversation. If you can't, then don't comment. When I write a comment, I add a signature with a link back to my blog. My though process is: I am pushing my blog, but it's by adding to the conversation on this blog. If someone finds my comment interesting, maybe they'll click back to my blog to check it out.
Also, on occasion, I will link to a post on my blog in the comment. I only do this when the subject is something I've recently written about on my blog, particularly if my post goes into the topic at a depth that doesn't fit in a comment.
This has worked reasonably well in increasing my blog readership - it's gone from friends, family and Google Searches including the words "Rotisserie" to, well, a small group of regular readers. Nothing dramatic, but I can see the gains in my comments section and my Google Analytics numbers. Also, and more important, I've enjoyed being part of the conversation on the other blogs. Since I only comment on posts that I can add to, it's a post that I care about - I find myself following up on them to see what other people have to say.*
*It's all about the wider conversation. Blogging can be a pretty solitary effort; when you start out, it feels like you're shouting at the ocean. But there's a big group of us out there, and joining in that conversation is great. Knowing that there are other like-minded people out there can be uplifting, even if you've never met them face to face.
Then, earlier this week, I left a comment on the Bitten Blog at the New York Times. That's when the long knives came out. Commenters left some pretty biting remarks about "flogging your linked blog."*
*I have to admit, the signature from one made me laugh out loud:
Maybe I should launch that site?
Oh, my. Have I crossed the line? Gone from signing my work to just being rude? Am I Blog Flogging instead of commenting? Where is the line, exactly?
I spent some time searching Google, and reading the commenting policy on the bigger blogs I follow - the answers were contradictory.*
After an email exchange with Daniel at Casual Kitchen (one of those blogs I have been commenting on, to get some feedback), I think I'm going to change my personal commenting policy to:
1. Say something that adds to the conversation.
2. Sign your work...but not with a http:// header - only add a link if you can actually use HTML in the comments. My new "standard" signature will be MikeV @ DadCooksDinner.
*Technical details: This means, if the comments section can't handle DadCooksDinner, then I'm not getting a link back to my blog.
3. Never leave a comment on the New York Times again
*Sorry, hurt feelings
3. Be extra careful on the New York Times, and other sites that don't allow HTML in the comments. Something about that http:// and .blogspot.com brings out the "stop pushing your blog!" in people.
So, again...readers, what do you think?
[Update 10/19/2009] Daniel of Casual Kitchen just posted his take on this in his Quick Writing Tips blog: A few words about blog comments [quickwritingtips.blogspot.com].