We all know that time is your most important asset.
How you spend your time decides whether you actually eliminate your attachment to your many physical possessions, build your minimalist business, or sit in front of the TV.
We also know that the Internet is interactive.
We’ve been told that we need to discuss or contribute to ‘the conversation’. Many blogs thrive on people coming back again and again to be spoon-fed new content.
A good way for bloggers to ‘be interactive’ is to promote commenting, because it asks their reader to invest physical time into a site. This in turn builds a mental connection between the reader and the site, which leads them to come back more often.
When I used to work at New York Magazine we had a number of commenters that, as far as we could tell, spent up to ten hours a day commenting on every single story that the bloggers there put up –and I photo edited an average of 64 blog stories a day at New York, so imagine how many blog comments this was!– I’d obviously never want you to spend your time this way, but yet some people do.
Here’s the thing:
I don’t want to spoon feed you, I want you to create your own work.
You might have noticed that I’ve had commenting turned off for the last 4 weeks. This is partially because I was taking a digital sabbatical, and I needed peace of mind while I was gone.
Well, I’m back now, but comments aren’t.
I realized while I was gone that perhaps the most important thing I could ever do to help you, is to turn comments off on my blog.
Why? Because the comments you leave on my blog are wasting your time — you have better things to do that to comment on my blog.
I might bring comments back, who knows, it all depends on how I feel. I might bring them back once in awhile for a post or two that needs discussion. I just know that for now, they’re going to be off for the majority of blog posts.
Further reasons for eliminating comments on your blog.
- My average blog post receives 35 comments. That’s around 7% of my blog audience. Most people don’t care that much.
- Most people don’t read blog comments. How often do you see actual conversations take place? Most skip to the bottom and voice their opinion without regard to what was said above.
- Most of these commenters fall into three categories: people who have an opinion about everything (but never do anything), bloggers who want to get my attention, or confused first time visitors who want to know why I’m ‘crazy’.
- There are also spam comments that take time and effort to deal with.
- The more time you spend answering comments, the more you get. This, like email, is an endless cycle that will eat your time. This is why I don’t answer most blog comments, because if I do, I get twice as many blog comments.
- Many A-list bloggers choose to eliminate comments on their sites after a certain growth period. Seth Godin has had comments off for years, Leo Babauta opted to remove comments Zen Habits half a year ago (and was still named the top blog of the year by Time Magazine for 2010.) There are others, but those are two of my heroes, so I mention them here.
- My blog traffic has exploded to 64,000 readers per month while I was not even here to oversee the operation. Obviously being away from my blog encourages growth more than sitting around all day reading comments does.
- I’m going Vagabonding. I’ll be spending extended periods away from the Internet and computers in the coming months. The last two weeks I was isolated away from the Internet in Wisconsin with my family, and in October I’ll be headed overseas to Peru for an extended period of time. I won’t be able to answer my blog comments from these places, and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in the experience as much as I could if I wasn’t constantly checking blog comments. One of the keys to vagabonding, as Rolf Potts would say, is disconnection.
The most important reason of all:
I believe that every moment you spend commenting on blogs, you’re wasting precious time that you could invest in finding your own freedom. It’s hypocritical for me to continue to teach you how to have a 2-hour workday and continue to have comments on this blog. I want to prove that a blog-based business can work without commenting. I think it will actually work better.
You should spend your time making work instead of getting caught up in the endless cycle of blog commenting.
What are you going to do with your time, now that you can’t comment on my blog?
There are many more important ways to spend your time, other than commenting on my blog. Here are 7 ways that you can interact on the Internet that don’t involve commenting.
1. Write about the blog post that you enjoyed (or hated) on your blog.
Did you hate what I said about not having cars? Write about how much of an obnoxious bastard I am for trying to save the planet and reclaim the streets. Or, better yet, If you really love my post, write about how much it changed your perspective. If you don’t have a blog, the best decision you can make is to start one right now. Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free hosted blog to get you started.
2. Interview influentials about what they said in their blog post.
Only the most overwhelmed bloggers will say no to an Interview. I never will say no to an interview request — but it might take me some time to get back to you. Text interviews are best, as Skype is difficult to schedule. Interviews are one of the best ways to grow your own blog, get free consulting, and expose your readers to new ideas. A good interview can result in your blog receiving thousands of extra hits per day, depending on who you interview.
For a few good examples of how to do a good Interview see:
C.J. Anyasor interviewed 16+ bloggers about how to create the life you want.
Tyler Tervooren interviewed me about how to start a minimalist business.
I also have conducted interviews with dozens of people who I admire, including Joshua Becker, Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, and many more.
Interviews really are the number one way to grow your blog (if you heard it was commenting, you were lied to.) Get out there and send people good questions to answer! Stop commenting on blogs.
3. Create your own work.
Nothing is a better use of time than working on your own stuff. Every moment you spend commenting is time you’re not making your own work.
How do you create your own work? Well, that’s up to you. Some people paint, some people photograph, some people write on blogs and create e-books, some people negotiate peace treaties between angry nations.
Creating work involves taking an action to create something in this world.
Another great use of time is to learn new things about the world. Read a book, participate in an e-course, enroll in a college course, read a good blog from start to finish (I did this recently with Sivers’ blog, and I’m currently doing it with Ramit’s blog. I’m learning so much.)
How you learn is up to you, and depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to learn how to start a simple business, the best way to spend your time might be to actually start a business.
5. Promote work that you believe in.
Instead of blog commenting, why not invest your time in promoting the blog post that you really enjoyed? Sending a blog post into your social media network is a great way to contribute value to the people who follow you on these services.
I commonly retweet 2-3 blog posts that I really enjoyed from my all-star inner circle on an average day. This builds a connection between myself and the author in a much better way than leaving a comment does, because I’m exposing their work to new people. If I’d just commented, I’d simply be taking up their time.
6. Earn money.
Another great way to spend your time instead of commenting is to earn some money. A simple affiliate link to a product that you support can go a long way towards bringing in extra money. Most of the bloggers that you read have digital products that you can earn anywhere from 50%-65% commission selling.
7. Enjoy the sun.
You have finite time on this Earth. Someday you’re going be old and frail and wish you’d spend more time at the beach getting a nice tan, making hot love, or traveling the world.
All of these things are much more possible if you don’t spend all day commenting on blogs, and instead invest your time in the decisive elements that I listed above.
Surprise section! Should you turn off blog comments?
This section for A to B-list bloggers. If you’re not aiming to have a blog that supports your location independent life, you probably don’t need to read this.
No doubt this blog posts is going to shock a lot of people. Bloggers have a love/hate relationship with commenting.
Some bloggers have invested thousands of hours commenting on other blogs in order to try and get people to pay attention to them, others have comprehensive blog post answering schedules that take up hours of time.
One blogger I know sets an alarm in the middle of the night in order to wake up and make sure no one trolled his blog during the night! Yes, this is true.
When to turn off blog comments?
In the beginning of a blog, comments are essential. If you only have twelve readers, chances are you want them to stick around, and blog comments are a great way to do that. You can make every reader feel incredibly special and maybe they’ll write about you on their blog or something, and you’ll get more readers. I met some very cool people in the first month of my blog through comments.
So, I wouldn’t recommend turning off your blog comments until you reach what Chris Brogan calls ‘Escape Velocity.’ This is the moment when you’re able to support yourself exclusively from your blog. If you’re not living a full-time income from your blog, keep comments on until you do. Just don’t spend all day answering comments. Making work matters so much more.
Will my blog DIE if I turn off comments?!?!
As I said above, commenters are only a small percentage of your audience. That being said, it might be a good idea to give people an alternative call to action. Make it clear to people that instead of commenting, they can help you by spreading the word or doing an interview with you.
Paradoxically enough, having 35 people interview you about your blog post every time you post might take a lot of time, but your blog growth will explode. 35 comments won’t make your blog explode, it’ll just take up more time.
Turning off blog comments isn’t for everyone.
If your blog is built around the idea of a conversation, I’m not kidding, if you turn off comments everyone will probably leave.
However, if your blog is built around your ideas, if you’re a leader, if you’re a change-maker in your space. Chances are you’ll instead be able to dedicate 25% more time to creating great work.
I imagine because I won’t be spending time moderating comments, I’ll be able to double my blogging income over the next few months. I can probably write another whole e-book that helps a lot of people in the time that I used to spending making sure that people weren’t trolling my comments.
The most important part of this whole post is that I believe wholeheartedly that you can probably double your income if you stop spending so much time on comments. Stop commenting on blogs, start focusing on the important.
There are better ways to use your time, and now is the time to change the way that you invest.
If you haven’t already, or didn’t even know, you can sign up to receive Far Beyond The Stars in your email box for free. Or you can sign up via RSS.