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Make Blogger Comments Reader Friendly!

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Blogger’s comment system is quite different to that of other blogging services, and is not so “friendly” to regular readers who may not understand how this system works.

When faced with a default comment form, visitors to Blogger blogs may feel rather daunted and unwilling to participate in the conversation. However, there are many settings which Blogger authors can change which makes commenting more enticing for readers who are unfamiliar with the way Blogger comments work.

In this post, I’ll explain how you can alter your comment settings in Blogger to make it easier (and more enticing) for readers to comment on your posts, along with a few tips to present comments in a more favorable style.

The main problems with Blogger’s comment system

Many bloggers would agree that, in contrast to other blog comment systems, that employed by Blogger is extremely lacking in functionality!

There are many things about the Blogger comment system which we can’t control, including:

  • The comment form, which must always be presented on a separate page
  • The lack of moderation settings: we can either moderate ALL comments, or moderate none. There are no language filters or other mechanisms for ensuring unwanted comments don’t appear unless we choose to moderate each and every one!
  • No WYSIWYG editor: as Jeremy Martin points out, “WYSIWYG editors are now a consumer expectation”. Sure readers can use basic HTML tags in their comments, but nothing beats the ability to click a button and achieve the same thing!
  • The irregular “login” settings: rather than offer commenters the simple function of leaving their name, email address and optional URL when leaving a comment, we are faced with choices of Google Login, OpenID details, Anonymous commenting and finally Name/URL. It seems like overkill to me…

So why does Blogger force us to use this system?

As I’m not a Google employee, I can’t offer an official explanation; however, I can offer some insight based on my perception of the system.

Each comment made to a Blogger blog is hosted separately from the blog post it refers to (perhaps even on a different server). When comments are displayed on posts (and on the comment form page), each is referenced according to it’s unique ID number and the ID of the post to which it was posted.

Separating comments from blog posts closes some security flaws which could otherwise endanger the integrity of a Blogger hosted blog. And as I’m sure those who use Blogger will agree, we receive very little comment spam in contrast to those using WordPress!

Unfortunately, increased security does come at a price: most notably for our blog readers. So let’s explore the possibilities of making commenting on Blogger blogs more friendly and enticing for our readers.

Friendly Comment Settings

In our Blogger dashboards, we have a whole page of settings which we can change to make commenting more appealing for our readers. Here I’ll go through some of the best ways you can alter these settings to invite more comments from your readers.

Who can comment?

Unless you run a private blog, you’ll probably want all of your readers to be able to leave a comment on your posts.

By default, this setting is limited to “users with Google accounts”, which (in my opinion) is the most unfriendly setting of all! It’s unlikely that all of your blog’s readers will be using Blogger themselves; many may not have a Google account (or even know what one is!). Forcing readers to log in or create a Google account simply to leave a comment adds extra steps to actually writing a comment and puts most people off altogether.

Choosing “registered users” is a slightly better alternative, but again this forces readers to need an account of some sort in order to leave a comment. If your readers do not use WordPress, TypePad or OpenID, they will likely be unfamiliar with the login required and again be unwilling (or unable) to comment.

My preferred setting is to allow “Anyone” to comment. This allows readers to sign their comments using their own name (or nickname) and add their blog URL if appropriate.

Using “Anyone” as the setting for who can comment ensures no readers are excluded from the conversation in your blog.

The only downside of this setting is that anonymous comments are allowed too, providing an opening for spammers to attempt comments on your posts. However, as I mentioned earlier, comment spam is rare with Blogger and those which do seep through the security barriers can be deleted with just a few clicks (even faster if you choose to moderate all comments on your blog).

Comment form message

While we cannot access the code used to display the comment form, we are able to add a message which can be read by any reader leaving a comment.

This message could simply be an invitation to comment, or you may like to add some “rules” for the type of comments you allow (for example, asking readers to leave comments which are relevant to the post).

A personal message on the comment form adds a sense of interaction between you and your blog readers, and could assist in generating more comments for your posts.

Show comments in a pop-up window

This setting defines whether the comment form will appear in a small pop-up window or direct readers to a separate page.

Most blog readers would prefer the “pop-up window” option. This is because it’s much easier to access the original post (by closing the pop-up) once a comment has been made.

When the comment form is displayed in the same page, there is no clear link to go back to the original post and continue reading:

As such, the full page comment form provides readers with little incentive to remain on the blog any longer!

Enable comment moderation

This is a tricky one, and only you can decide the setting which will work best for you.

In my own blogs, I choose not to moderate all comments before they are displayed. I have had very few problems with comment spam, and prefer my readers to see comments as soon as they have been made.

However, in cases where you are concerned about any of the following issues, you may prefer to moderate comments before they appear on your blog:

  • If your posts are controversial in any way
  • If you have suffered from comment spam (or malicious commenters)
  • If you have any concerns about the validity of comments in regard to the actual content
  • Or simply…

  • If you prefer to have complete control over all content posted in your blog!

If you do choose to moderate comments, I would strongly advise you to check your dashboard often for notifications. If comments are left unmoderated for long periods of time, readers can become frustrated that their contributions are not valued, and feel less welcomed as a visitor to your blog.

Show word verification for comments

Word verification (or CATCHPA as it is often called) presents a set of letters displayed as an image which readers need to type before leaving a comment on your blog.

This is used by many different blog comment systems, and is intended to thwart spam-bots since it requires human verification.

Personally, I prefer this setting to be activated for my Blogger blogs, which may account for the minimal amount of comment spam I receive. Unfortunately, the CATCHPAs provided by Blogger can at times be difficult to interpret (generally I discover this when my posts attract fewer comments than normal).

If you decide to moderate comments before they are posted, I would suggest there is no need to use the word verification setting (since you can prevent any spammers simply by deleting their comments).

If moderation seems unnecessary to you, perhaps the word verification can add that extra layer of security to reassure you about the validity of comments posted to your blog 🙂

More tips for ensuring a friendly comment system

There are also methods available which can make commenting a more inviting prospect for your blog readers. These tips do require you to modify your blog’s HTML code in some way, though the overall changes can be beneficial to reader interaction with your blog:

Change the comment link

Many blog readers will be unaware of the significance of the “0 comments” or “n comments” links (where n is the number of comments attributed to a post) which provides a link to the comments section.

Vin of Dummies Guide to Google Blogger Beta has written a useful post explaining how to change this link to a more familiar phrase.

Highlight author comments

Using a different color or style for comments you have posted in reply to those left by readers can help visitors understand when you have responded. You can read a full tutorial of how to highlight author comments at Blogger Buster.

Add Avatars to Comments

Using MyBlogLog, you can add a useful script to the comments section of your blog which posts an avatar of the commenter beside their comment. This is similar to the Gravatars available to WordPress bloggers. You can read full instructions to add comment avatars in my post on Blogger Buster.

I hope this post will have provided useful information to make your Blogger comments section more appealing for your readers! Please feel free to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment below.

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Meet Daniel Cowen-Rivers of TravelWeekli.com

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Blogging can lead you to many opportunities. All established bloggers now have been through the phase of being a new comers. They have experimented one way or another along the process. Trying different things out does help in determining your own style and strategy.

We’ve interviewed bloggers covering various niches in Meet the Bloggers. For this episode, we’d like to introduce Daniel Cowen-Rivers. He’s a budding travel blogger. Read on to know more about his journey across the globe and a

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

Daniel Cowen-Rivers

I am a budding travel blogger who travels the world and shares my experiences and travel expertise via social media and through my blog. I got into blogging as I wanted to share my traveling tips and photos with others to make them travel more before global warming destroys the world.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

I chose traveling to share my love of seeing the world and different country’s way of living. I also wanted more people to find out about the world we live in.

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

AdSense. I have a few paid ads but not that many as I am still new to the game. I’ve started blogging since February of 2017.

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

I did not know about DA and SEO that I know now is very important in order to get sponsored post.

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

The blogs are:

  1. Backpack With Me
  2. Bradley Bow
  3. Hand Luggage Only

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

The three services that I recommended using to help your blog are:

  1. Yoast  A blog in called SEO by Yoast. This makes optimizing my blog post easier to rank higher on Google search.
  2. OneNote – I’m constantly making notes for future articles. As I always have random moments where I’m going by my day and I just randomly have an idea for a blog article. I always carry my phone to write the note in OneNote.
  3. MailMunch is a plugin for WordPress that comes with email subscription templates that you can place in certain parts of your blog and I made mine as a popup.

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Pick a niche category that you want your blog to be about. As well as this, one of the most important advice I have is one that you need to know when starting out, is how to improve your SEO and DA.

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

Just keep blogging! After a few months, I only got a few readers per day and I’ve thought to quit then. However, I’ve read that it takes people years to get enough readers to be a full time blogger. Just keep blogging and don’t stop.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

I would use the money to gain more Facebook likes on my Facebook page that in turn will convert readers for my blog. This will be done by advertising the page and blog on Facebook.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

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Three Resource Guides to Get Started with a Blog in 2018

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Blogging is one of the most powerful and effective ways to build a business, brand or content platform on the internet today. With more than a billion active websites on the internet today, it’s no longer about simply creating content, it’s now all about engagement and building a trusted following from an audience.

This can also be attributed to the massive use and success of WordPress as a CMS over the years.

While the concept of blogging is nothing new, there are still many people and businesses sitting on the sidelines. In this article, we are going to look at three of the best resources to help you not only get started with a blog of your own in 2018, but also how to find success in the process.

Follow each of the three steps and resources below, then begin to map out your blogging focus and content strategy.

1 – How to Start a Blog

There are currently more than 300 million blogs on the internet today. While this might seem like a huge number, there are still a lot of websites and businesses that don’t yet have a blog. At the same time, individuals, industry professionals, and anyone with a passion for writing or sharing their skill or expertise with the rest of the world, should also have a blog of their own. To see two great examples of what’s possible through the use of blogging, be sure to check out Wahaadventures and ThePennyHoarder. Both of these sites have become huge players in the world of financial and work at home resources. Not only that, they are also generating thousands of dollars in the process. Another great resource to consider following is this how to start a blog guide from WebEmployed, which not only walks through the process of how to start a blog, but also the many different ways to make money with one as well.

With all of that in mind… if you ever wanted to make money on the internet, blogging is a great way to accomplish. However, for that to actually happen — you need to actually get started!

The first step to getting started with a blog, is to simply find a reliable resource to walk you through the process step-by-step. The good news is that this is pretty simple, and there are no technical or design skills required — as long as you use the WordPress platform. WordPress is free to use and is often installed with just a click of a button through most web hosting solutions.

If you are looking for a quick and simple tutorial on how to get started with a domain name, web hosting, and also going live with a WordPress blog, be sure to check out BloggingTips’ Guide to Blogging. This resource has everything you need to walk through all of the steps mentioned above, in just a few minutes time, while also providing useful screenshots in the process.

2 – Building a Mailing List with Your Blog

Once you have your blog set up, the first thing you should focus your efforts on is creating high-quality content for your site and gaining valuable backlinks in the process. This is going to help with the SEO and organic search rankings for your site. As valuable as these components are to the long-term success and traffic of your blog, you will also need a content promotion plan in place to make sure you can keep bringing visitors back time and time again.

The sad truth is that more than 70% of the visitors that come to your site are likely never to come back. This has nothing to do with your content, but simply that there is already way too much information and website overload on the internet today.

One of the best ways to keep your audience coming back time and time again is to get them on your mailing list or newsletter. This is also quite easy to set up, as all you need is a reliable list hosting solution and an opt-in form on your site. With this structure in place, anyone can enter their email to join your list, which then allows the site owner to send out mailings at any given time.

To learn more about how to set this up, you can view this resource guide that highlights some of the top lead capture methods for getting subscribers onto your mailing. A subscription form is one of the most basic steps to getting started, but there are much better options to consider as well, such as popup windows, call-to-action buttons, and exit intent windows.

3 – How to Make Money with a Blog

Many people will start a blog with the initial goal to increase awareness and traffic to their existing brand or online business. However, what about everyone else who doesn’t already have a business or monetization method in place yet? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make money with a blog, even if you don’t have anything to market or sell.

Some of the top blogs in the world today are generating millions of dollars every month simply by creating valuable content and finding unique ways to monetize their site and audience. The most common blog monetization methods in use today are affiliate marketing, Google AdSense, product creation, direct ad sales, or even selling services of your own.

To give you some examples of what’s working for other site owners and bloggers in the world today, check out these top millionaire bloggers. Each of their stories and monetization methods is unique. What’s also quite amazing is that each of these bloggers started from nothing and are perfect examples of what’s possible through blogging, while also being an inspiration for others.

How to Find Success with a Blog in 2018

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to view a simple three-step process of how to create a successful blog on the internet today, it’s time for you to get started.

Before registering a domain name and installing WordPress, be sure to think about the focus of your site, how it’s going to provide value to your audience, and also how you can monetize it in the process. If you already have an online brand or service to offer, you should already have an idea of how a blog can be great for business.

Starting a blog is easy, but finding long-term success is usually a struggle for most bloggers. This is often because new bloggers think content creation is going to send loads of traffic to their site. However, with so many websites on the internet, this simply isn’t the truth. You need to have an effective content creation and marketing plan in place to compete.

Read through each of the resource guides above and also think about your blogging content creation and marketing strategy before getting started. This will likely only take a few minutes of your time but will make a huge difference in the overall success of your site.

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The Curious Case of Blogging Policy for Employees

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Blogging has always been a platform to discuss ideas and spark conversation about topics, even when it comes to business. Its flexibility and use-cases are what makes blogging great to begin with.

The same thing can be said with most tools available at your disposal for your business nowadays. From learning management systems to gamification platforms, they help motivate employees and encourage high levels of performance over a sustained period.

However, there are cases when technology can be harmful to your brand, even if indirectly.

For employees, blogging can be a means to to vent out their frustration at work. Some need to release the stress they’ve been keeping from their colleagues. While this process may be healthy for their well-being, the same cannot be said about the employer.

If you happen to be at the wrong end of the stick in this situation, then you’re probably suffering the aftermath of whatever they wrote on their blog.

You need to avoid any instance that your employees are expressing their resentment to their jobs using this medium.

While employees are people too, this does not absolve them from acting out of spite and recklessness. They need to be accountable for whatever they do that could affect the company they work for.

Therefore, you must set up a blogging policy to guide employees on how to conduct themselves online and outside of work.

Why do you need a blogging policy?

For business owners, a blogging policy is your safety net. You can’t control what people say or do outside of their work hours. However, what you can control is how their words and action affect your business.

A blogging policy in place will protect your business from anything defamatory your employee might say or do. Just as much as you value the work your employees do, you also need to protect the interests and image of your company.

A blogging policy doesn’t necessarily expose your employees to legal action. What the policy needs to remind your employees is accountability. What you want are not only hard-working employees but also responsible ones. You want to be working with people who respect what your company represents. If they can’t observe your blogging policy, then they might not be the people whom you want as your employees moving forwards.

Your blogging policy also applies to social media. People use social media more often than a blog as a platform to express their opinions. You can use the policy to cover the blogging and social media activities of your employees to exempt your company from their online activities.

What to include in your blogging policy

What to include in your blogging policy?

When drafting your blogging policy, you need to cover as much ground as possible. You don’t want to leave stones unturned for whatever reason. By being exhaustive in your policy, you exclude your company that you’ve worked so hard to build from sharing their opinions.

Below are the basic ones that you should cover in your policy:

Expressed consent

If your employee features your company on a blog post or a social media update, then you must require them to mention that their views were written and expressed in the content do not represent the views of the company. This rule also applies to your competitors that employees will mention on posts or updates.

At the same time, you need to request them to mention to you or the assigned managers about the post they’re writing that mentions your company. This courtesy preempts you and the higher-ups to anticipate the content and gives you a chance to visit the post at your will.

As long as the employees observe the conditions in your policy on their posts, then they should be in the clear. If they act on behalf of the company, then they cross your blogging policy, and you have grounds to take action against them. You can forbid them from using your logo without your permission to avoid the possibility that readers think that the employees represent your company on their blogs.

Confidentiality

The confidentiality clause is usually included in the contract they sign before stepping foot in your office. However, there’s no harm in reiterating the fact that they are forbidden to share sensitive information about your company to the public. Subjects that are not allowed include but are not limited to:

  • upcoming product releases
  • sales figures
  • number of products sold
  • trademarks
  • private information or those that have not been released by the company to the public

You need to be clear about the topics that employees should not discuss on a public platform to prevent them from divulging sensitive information. Encourage them to ask your PR Officer about topics that they can mention so they can avoid legal trouble.

Respect and privacy rights

If your employees paint your company in a negative light, then you have grounds for legal action against them. The last thing you want from them is a negative perception from the public, which could affect your sales performance if things escalate.

You also need to inform employees that any derogatory statements made about your company in their posts affect not only your business but also the other employees that have nothing to do with the post in the first place. Not to mention, you can terminate your contract with these employees, if push comes to shove. Surely, nobody would want that mess in their hands.

Wrapping it up

The blogging policy provisions above simply suggestions on how you approach this issues to your employees. I don’t claim to be an expert on these things. However, it doesn’t make me wrong either. The entire point of this post encourages you to cover all the bases of your business and protect it from any potential harm that your employees may commit against you. Therefore, you need to consult a professional to help you draft your policy and make it iron-clad and airtight as possible.

Also, it’s also best to mobilize employees to share content from within your company through employee advocacy. Instead of employees posting stuff on social media beyond your control, you can incentivize their social media and blogging activities to the benefit of your company.

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