Expert: Thilak Raj Rao, Tech-Buzz.net

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About the Expert

Thilak Raj Rao is author and owner of TechBuzz, a blog focused on tech news, web 2.0 and computers. A pro blogger, Thilak also authors BlogTalks, enjoys learning about and discussing PHP, MySQL and Gimp as well as participating in Wikis, forums and unconferences such as BlogCamp, WikiCamp and BarCamp. Tech Buzz gets over 8,000 requests per day with around 850+ daily readers through feeds and email newsletters. With such a good community of loyal and active readers, Chitika could think of no more suitable blogger to share his wisdom on building a community around their blog.

Before I start talking about the chemistry, I would like to confess that I’m no guru nor will I presume as if I know it all. Although I’ve been blogging for the last two years, it was only a year ago that I started blogging seriously. I truly believe that comments power the web 2.0 aspects of a blog. You might have come across blogs like Problogger or Successful Blog where readers enjoy talking though comments. As a fulltime blogger, my friends always ask me “How to encourage comments on my blog”. Well, the two word answer is “Respect your readers”. Whenever someone leaves a comment on your blog, he/she expects a response from my side. I learned this lesson from Liz Strauss, when I first came across her blog six months ago, I dropped in a comment and she immediately responded to back. It kicked off a series of comment from my side. Soon, I was great fan of her blog.

Why am I telling all this? Well, just to let you know that maintaining a healthy relationship with your readers means it all! Whenever someone posts a comment on your blog, please try to respond back. It will encourage him to continue the conversation and keep coming back. This way, you’ll convert a one time visitor into a loyal visitor. WordPress users are lucky because there is a prefabricated plugin called Comment Relish which automates the whole process of maintaining good relationship with your first time commentators, by sending them thanks you messages. I tested this plugin on my blogs and the outcome was very successful. To keep the conversation going, you need to notify your commentators if someone responds to their comment. The most conventional approach would be to provide RSS feed for comments, but not everyone is educated about RSS. So, providing an email alternative to RSS makes complete sense. Yet again, WordPress users are in advantage here because a plugin called subscribe to comments painlessly adds email alternative to track new comments. In a few cases, readers look for an incentive to comment. In such cases, providing a free linkback to the top commentators come beneficial. If you are using WordPress, you could do that using Top Commentators plugin, else you just might need to hand code all the links.