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We spend a lot of time talking about blogging. How to blog, when to blog, what to blog about, and so on.

We focus on how to structure your blog, where you should host your blog, which plug-ins to use, and more.

We talk about how blogging is great for your SEO, helps build your reputation, and sets you up as an authority in your field.

But there’s one area of blogging and marketing that we tend to ignore: commenting. And I don’t necessarily mean the comments on our own blogs, thought that’s important. I’m talking about the importance of commenting on the blogs of others. This is something I had read about as part of building an audience for my own blog, but didn’t really take seriously for quite some time.

I’m here to tell you, that I’m living proof of the power of commenting. It has been incredibly important to my growth as a blogger, and to the growth of my business. Here are a few reasons why I believe that reading, and commenting on, other blogs, is crucial to your personal and professional growth:

1. You get to know other people – As you read other blogs, and then comment, consistently, you will get to know the author and others who are commenting. You will learn a lot about who they are and how they think. I’ve gotten to know some of my favorite authors better, not just by reading their books, but by also reading books that include their published letters. It gives you a greater look into the mind behind the books. Comments on the blog are much the same thing. By commenting on blogs, you’ll get to know other people and they’ll get to know you.

2. It builds community – Yes, that may seem rather trite and buzzwordish, but it’s true. By commenting on other blogs I have made new friends, both with the bloggers and the other commenters. I’ve become a member of a real online community.While I first connected with most of these folks on blogs, we have since connected on just about every other available social platform. Our conversations don’t just exist in blog comments; we also chat on the phone, Skype, g-chat, Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of other platforms. We communicate with one another regularly and share ideas. We support each other’s work, and share one another’s content. That’s what a community is all about.

3. It’s a doorway to guest blogging – I write guest posts on quite a few blogs. In most instances, my introduction to those blogs and their authors was through commenting. We got to know each other, and in most cases have gained respect for one another, both professionally and personally. I’ve been asked to write on other blogs, and in turn have asked many of the members of my community to write posts for my blog. And guest posting can be an incredibly powerful thing.

4. It drives traffic to your blog – I’ve spent a lot of time digging deeply into my analytics, taking a look at the various sources of traffic for my blog. You see, it’s incredibly important to know how readers are finding you. And one thing I’ve noticed is that a good bit of my traffic comes from inbound links from other blog posts. When I did even deeper, I discover that a good number of those inbound links are directly from my comments on those blogs. Plugins like Livefyre (which I love and use here on my blog) and CommentLuv help you out by including a link to your most recent blog post when you comment elsewhere. People see the title, and if they like what they see, they click on it and visit your blog. This is one of the reasons why I’ve seen a very real increase in my web traffic.

Comment on Livefyre

5. It increases engagement on your blog – As I look through the comments on my blog posts, I very often check out those who are commenting. I not only visit their blogs, but sometimes I’ll comment if I have something to say. I know that quite a few of the folks who visit and comment on my blog first discovered me in the comment section of other blogs.

6. You will grow – As a person, as a blogger, and as a business. As you read other blogs, you will learn new things. But it’s quite often in the comments where the real education takes place. Sure, not every comment is great, and some might even be silly, but you will learn. A lot.

As you start reading the blogs of others, and begin commenting on them, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Don’t comment just to comment – Only comment when you have something to say. There should be a reason for your comments. State your thoughts on the issue at hand. Ask questions for clarity. Feel free to disagree with the author. Just make sure your comments have a purpose and will add to the discussion.

Be consistent – Commenting on other blogs is something you need to do regularly. A comment here and a comment there won’t result in all of the things that I mentioned above. You should read and comment on other blogs often…perhaps daily.

Respond to comments – Don’t just comment, but respond. If you comment on a blog, and get a response, you should go back and consider responding. A discussion isn’t just one comment. It isn’t just one comment and one response. It is an ongoing dialogue

It doesn’t happen overnight – Give it time. All those things I mention above won’t happen quickly. It took me months, if not closer to a year, before I started to see the results. They happen slowly, and are part of a process. You’ll see some of those items develop sooner than others. It’s like farming: you need to cultivate it.

How often do you comment on other blogs? Have you seen the same benefits that I’ve seen, or any other benefits?

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