Monetizing blog comments: Why your blog is economic gold

monetizing blog comments


By Mark Schaefer

“CommentGate” continued this week as Blogging Titan Chris Brogan announced he is turning off the comments on his blog. This follows in the footsteps of the recent Copyblogger comment announcement.

Chris cited two reasons why he is doing this and despite his unquestioned experience and stature in the business, his logic doesn’t make sense to me.

Before I get into that, I want to emphasize that there are no “rules” in this space. What is good business for Chris may or not make sense to you. As long as Chris is happy, who gives a damn?

I also want to say that Chris has been a pioneer in almost every aspect of blogging. Even though I sometimes disagree with him, every blogger is swimming in his wake and I think he is under-appreciated for that. So I applaud him for taking risks … even this one. Thank you.

Now on to the fun part. This is why I think his logic is flawed. The crux of his explanation:

Comments have scattered to the winds. If you want to know what people are saying about your posts, you have to scan Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and everywhere else a conversation can be had. People complain to me all the time that folks will chat up the link in Facebook but leave no comments on the blog, as if the comments on the blog are the gold. (They’re not. Nice to have, but not revenue-affecting. You’ll live.) I just told people: engage where the people engage. Fair enough.

Commenters represent reliable reach

I had a very interesting exchange recently with Jay Baer on his post articulating the idea that certain communication platforms have “reliable reach.” Twitter and Facebook do not have reliable audience reach because people may come by for a content snack but may not form active community.

Blog and email subscribers do have reliable reach because they are more likely to be an engaged audience you can eventually monetize.

This is another way to express a sentiment I have long-held — real social media power comes from the blog community.

By turning off comments, you are turning off the dialogue. Why would you WANT to scatter your comments to the wind? Comments may appear in other places, but that is not YOUR community of reliable reach.

Dear Chris Brogan blog reader:

Come to comment on my blog. I will continue to love on you because chances are it will develop into something big some day. Let’s do some business together.


Your new favorite blogger

How to make money through blog comments

Here is my theory on creating business benefits through social media marketing.

Twitter and Facebook open the door. These platforms are great for building awareness, but these folks are “weak links” who probably won’t buy things from you.

You need to get to know people, have them actually create some emotional tie with you that converts to a strong and lasting connection.

Converting people from a weak connection to a strong connection is the first step toward building loyalty. And loyalty trumps everything. These are the people you can COUNT ON. These are people who buy your books and hire you and probably always will.

Your blog comment section is a strong link machine. I could name 100 people I first came to know through blog comments — and still connect with me there — who have become valued collaborators and customers.

For me and many other bloggers, the blog community is an incredibly effective economic engine.

You are not just turning off comments. You are turning off your important commenters.

Comments for the record

Brogan’s other point is that these conversations are going on in other places any way. Why have the hassle of a comment section?

This is a myth. Let me use an example to illustrate.

In January, I wrote the Content Shock post which has received more than 700 comments. This was a very important discussion. Yes, there were conversations on Facebook, on Twitter, other blogs, and even at conferences. But if you wanted to find those conversations NOW, where would you go? Would you scan through the 500 blog posts written on the subject … or simply read the comments on the blog?

The whisps of social media conversations about this topic are long-gone like feathers in a hurricane. You couldn’t even find them by digging deep on a search engine.

The only conversation that remains, and will always remain, is on the blog. THAT is the conversation. That is the record of the community and the sentiment and the people who connected on the subject at that point of time.

If you are writing something you care about, if you care about community beyond just lip service, why wouldn’t you want to give people the opportunity to contribute to the record of the dialogue in one place?

Tipping toward Elvis

In a recent {grow} community newsletter, I wondered … if Elvis blogged, would he have an open comment section? Probably not. There is just too much stuff, too many kooks to keep up with.

Somewhere between me and Elvis on the blogging continuum is Chris Brogan. My own theory is that Chris has finally tipped toward Elvis. It has become too much of a hassle, there are too many spam kooks to keep up with. Speaking from experience, comments (and demanding commenters) can wear you out.

I started this post by saying there are no rules — so you have to do what is right for you. But I did want to provide an alternate perspective because I know that for many bloggers, there certainly is an opportunity for monetizing through blog comments.

Unless you’re tipping toward Elvis too, your blog commenters may be your most important reliable reach and economic engine.

I’m keeping the lights on in the comment section. Thoughts?

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration of pre-Columbian blog commenters courtesy of Flickr CC and Kenneth Lu.

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