Are Blog Comments A Trustworthy Source Of Feedback?

By Yaro Starak
56 Comments

I’ve done a lot of online launches – about eight all up if you include closing down and reopening promotions – and each one included heavy support from affiliates, some of whom run popular blogs, including Problogger, John Chow, Shoemoney, Copyblogger and DailyBlogTips.

During a launch, to get a feel for the pulse of how the campaign is going, I spend time reading the comments made to other blogs on the posts relevant to me, my products and the free resources I release.

This is always an interesting process, but it can be very misleading. Most forms of feedback you get online, including comments made to your blog, other blogs, emails you receive and any other discussion points like forums and social media, should be considered very warily.

The problem with this sort of feedback is that it comes from people who rarely represent the majority, yet because they are vocal, what they say does have an impact on the silent majority, those who read the posts and comments but never write a comment of their own.

As the creator of a product feedback is a great thing, but it’s so easy to read a negative comment made about you or what you do on another person’s blog and read into it as indicative of what everybody thinks, which it rarely is. The same goes for positive commentary too, but most people don’t stress about good comments – it’s only the bad ones.

Reputation management is important, but being careful not to involve yourself on an emotional level is important too.

Setting Expectations

The selection of blogs I listed above are very different. The personas behind each blog are different, thus the voice and writing style is different and hence the type of audience they attract is different too.

This is an important consideration, because you have to realize that what is being said on one blog relates to the environment established at that blog from prior blog posts and interactions with that particular blogger. Darren Rowse is different from John Chow, who is different from Brian Clark and Daniel Scocco.

These guys all have followings of people who have come to expect certain actions, types of posts and standards. It’s safe to say that the audience of a blogger generally likes the person behind the blog and shares some, not all, but some of the opinions and viewpoints of that blogger. In other words, they resonate with the person behind the words, hence they read their blog.

This is why, when you head out there and conduct a launch, which is presented in your voice and style, there’s a friction between how you “speak” and how the blogger who writes about you as an affiliate speaks too. The best affiliate is able to use their understanding of their market, and take what you give during a launch and promote your offer so it lines up well with the desires of the audience they have the attention of, using the right language.

Of course there are times when the alignment isn’t there and certain things you do as a marketer are frowned upon by some audiences and not others. This is why you have to be careful when reading comments on other blogs. If your style contradicts the expectations of the vocal minority at that blog, you’re going to hear about it.

State Based Opinions

Another interesting observation I’ve noticed when looking at feedback I receive is how state-based each situation is. This applies to comments made on your blog, or any other blog or any feedback anywhere you get.

What I mean by that is the person leaving the comment has established some kind of mental perception of what you are, what you represent and of course, how they feel about you and your work based on their unique experience with you. That’s how they feel about you in their present state.

It might be the first time they’ve ever heard of you so they have nothing to go by, or maybe they only hear about you when you promote something so they see you as a pure marketer, or maybe they’ve been a fan of your work for years and love what you do.

Of course your own experience with yourself is vast, so it can be frustrating when someone makes a judgment about you without really having any knowledge or experience with you, because you know it’s not true. There really is no truth of course, just your own opinion of yourself and other people’s perception of you, but still, you would like those two things to line up closely if possible, although they rarely do.

This doesn’t always equate to a negative reaction, but in most cases it does result in a poorly informed judgment, which is an opportunity for you to make a good impression, or for your fans (your tribe) or affiliates to clarify what you are about (it is especially good when your tribe defend you since they are viewed as impartial observers, rather than people with a bias towards you, like yourself or your affiliate).

Acknowledging that you have to accept that person’s perception of you and your product, but understand that it’s just an opinion given at a point in time is important, because it means you don’t have to worry about it. In most cases, at least when you know what you have and do is good, you can let your work do the talking for you. Let your “results” be your voice and do all the talking “on the court” as they say in sport.

The Variability of Opinion

Many times I’ve had a laugh when reading comments about my products at other blogs, in particular when it comes to discussion of price and value.

Surprisingly often, you will read a comment on a blog stating that your product is too expensive (and it doesn’t matter if it is $50 or $500, it’s expensive to someone out there), immediately followed by someone saying the product is good value or even too cheap.

I’ve had similar experiences with email feedback, with one person complaining the pace of my course is too slow or the lessons too easy, and literally within a matter of hours receiving another email from someone else saying my course is too quick and too hard and they can’t keep up.

I’m grateful for experiences like this because it has made me less impacted by the comments made on other blogs or any feedback from one individual given over email or even face to face. People are important and you should never discount what they say completely, but make sure you don’t overreact either.

In most cases you’re just getting one person’s thoughts based solely on their personal situation, which doesn’t indicate everyone else is experiencing the same thing.

So When Can You Trust Feedback?

If you can’t take much stock in comments left to blogs, or social media or even emails sent to you, then what can you trust and base decisions on when coming up with products, websites or even entire businesses?

As a long term Internet marketer, and this is going to sound a little like a cop-out especially if you are new to Internet marketing, often I find a mix of intuition (a “blink” moment if you are a Malcolm Gladwell fan), combined with solid empirical evidence, works best.

I can often “read” a market simply because I’ve observed it for so long and I’ve had experience both selling my own products and seeing how my peers sell their products. While I don’t have a 100% track record, I’m pretty good at predicting how many sales are going to be made for the launches I do.

The first ingredient you need is simply experience. You need to build up a stock of interactions, observations and just good old trial and error experiments, to establish a familiarity with your market that helps you understand what they want. This can only happen over time.

However, and this is coming from someone who hates statistics, empirical evidence is darn important too.

Take for example a survey. Surveys are an important part of assessing your market’s needs and wants, and while I think they are definitely better than just looking at blog comments or forum threads, they still suffer from skewed results because you only get a proportion of your audience responding – a proportion that may not be a good sample of your entire audience.

The most important factor I have discovered about surveys, is that you actually get responses. Often the particulars of the responses are not as important as just getting enough engagement from an audience that they give you feedback.

I believe why this is important is because of what I talked about with state-based decision making. The fact that a person gives you attention means you have some form of influence over them. When they fill out a survey or leave a blog comment, they are giving you their opinion at that moment in time – their present state.

However, because you are talking to humans, with all those emotional vulnerabilities, their state can be changed. If you are in a position to influence people, then it’s the state you take them to during a launch, combined with their built up experience with you that matters. The launch can be so impactful, that what they said was true previously in surveys or blog comments or emails has changed completely because they have been emotionally impacted by what you have done since then.

This is why someone might say they’d never buy something from you at that price or whatever justification they have, but then there state changes because they’ve seen how good your pre-launch content is, or you just said the right thing at the right time. Thus you can make the sale when all previous indicators proved otherwise.

All this points to the fact that feedback online, in general is helpful, but far from absolute. You should look more for engagement rather than the specificity of the responses themselves. People can be swayed, but only if they are paying attention.

What If You Don’t Get Any Feedback?

The dilemma you likely face right now is that you don’t have many people paying attention to you. You’re not receiving comments to your blog, you don’t have people email you genuine questions or feedback, and you’re not likely to get responses if you sent out a survey.

First of all – don’t despair! – we all start there and it is possible to change your situation. Change is always possible if you take the steps to make that change a reality.

One first step you can take right now is to read this article – Engagement: The Magic Ingredient You Need For Success Online Today – It will give you a better understanding of what I mean when I say “engagement” (which has nothing to do with marriage!).

The keys to attract attention online are a few things -

  1. A war of Attrition: keep jumping in front of people and showing them what you have until you build your own tribe
  2. Value Delivery: constantly deliver things people want
  3. Accept Rejection: not everyone wants what you have, so spend time on those who do
  4. Distribution: leverage the wonderful tool we’ve been given to get in touch with millions of people world wide (the Internet) to distribute your value to as many people as you can until you have a large enough tribe to achieve your goals

To put this in more practical terms – get out there and give people your goods!

Write amazing blog posts, create incredible videos, do podcasts, network with bloggers, give your best content away as guest posts, study constantly and always be testing something so you have new life experiences to talk about.

The only way you can fail at this is if you stop living and stop giving. The more you do, the more you have to give because the more you know. It’s as simple as that.

What Really Matters

At the end of the day what you consider important is what matters to you.

I look at my blog, my products, my friends, my life in general, and if I see what I want, then all is good. When I see areas lacking, that is where I must work harder and put in more effort.

Trust real results, not opinions and judgments. Look for trends in the data as indicators for success, not someone telling you your article is no good. Look at how many sales you have, not someone saying your product is too expensive.

Every launch I have ever done has exceeded my expectations. They’ve been roller coasters for sure, going from highs to lows back to highs and then back lows and over and over again, but if I look at the trend, I’m much, much better off than I was as each year passes, so things are good.

The only way you can go wrong here is by holding yourself back because of fear of what people will say. Expect negative feedback. Expect people to complain, to curse, to be rude and to say your work is no good, but let it all pass through you. As long as you are focusing on output, experience and growth, you can’t help but succeed.

Yaro Starak
Feeding Back

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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56 Comments

  • Hi Yaro!

    This was a very insightful posts especially for newbies because I’ve got to be honest with you, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made online was to take comments and emails from others to heart.

    Let me give you an example :

    I launched a new website a few months back and I thought the pre-launch content I gave was awesome! (And I believed that)

    But then I received one E-mail that shattered everything and made me sabotage my progress.

    The guy said something along the lines of “The audio quality of your video is WHACK! You shouldn’t have put out this kinda poor quality videos…”

    I was floored!

    I immediately became upset and I stopped all my work on that project.

    READ : STUPID!!!

    Why? Because I received a few emails days later that said they’re impressed with the content of the videos and asked when the next one will be coming out.

    What I learnt from this is simple, and I hope everyone understand this :

    STOP MAKING THINGS ABOUT YOU!

    I’ve got to be frank with you, when I’m doing my work, I do my best with it because I know it’s a reflection of who I am and secretly, I want people to thank and praise me for my good work.

    But this EGO that makes me feel good also makes me feel lousy when the feedback is against me.

    But when I come from a place of “I’m putting this out to help others” and not “I’m putting this out to help others and be praised for it”, you’re not attached to the feedback and you know it’s going to help others by virtue of your intention… just like what I experienced.

    I hope my experience has been enlightening to those who read this.

    Your audience is thinking about THEM when they’re reading what you put out, they’re not thinking about how good you are!

    As my mentor, Dr Joe Vitale puts it, the key to success in marketing is to “Get out of your own Ego and get into theirs…”

    And Yaro, you’re totally right about people changing sides from “I’m never going to buy this” to “I have to buy this” – I experienced it during my $10,092 launch and I’m sure everyone else will too!

    Thank you for the enlightening read!

    Always say ICAN!

    Saiful Rizal
    The World’s First Teen
    Personal Development Video Blogger

  • Hey Yaro – towards the end of your post, you touched on when people are NOT engaging at all i.e. no comments at all…nada! – as a person building a relatively new blog ( about three weeks….) – that hit home. One piece of advice that Darren Rowse suggested (and I’m trying…) is to not go out and pitch the overall blog but to take a few great articles you’ve written and promote those – I know you suggested the same with your pillars concept. Its acutally starting to work so ‘thanks to you and Darren for that’…

    Hopefully you won’t be emotionally detached from this comment! :-)

    Andrew

  • Thanks for the advice! I’ve experienced what you said, though on a smaller scale, and I fully understand when you say why I should concentrate on the people who resonate with my views, and taking feedback with a pinch of salt.

    One thing I practice is called “Emotional Detachment” – taking your emotions of the results of your blog business. It’s something I learned from personal-development books. It means that you don’t let the results of your business or blog affect you emotionally.

    Of course it’s way harder than it seems, since for me and most people, blogging represents our hope of freedom from a full-time job. But you have given us a great example of what it means to be emotionally detached and not let others negatively affect you and your judgment of the market, and it’s obvious it’s one of the reasons why you can be successful.

    Thank you again!

    Charles
    Big Idea Blogger

  • I really enjoyed reading your in-depth analysis of commenting and the effects of positive and negative comments. Thanks for a great post.

  • This was an extremely informative article and something, to be frank, I hadn’t considered in depth. I think the point that you make about accepting rejection is really pertinent and it comes down to having the confidence and self belief to continue on your chosen path (as opposed to blindly following somebody else) The whole process can be soul destroying for a “newbie”
    If only more people would make considered rational publications like this than the survival rate of fledgling Internet marketers may increase a little

  • FACT SHEET: Whenever people starts complaining,cursing about you and your things believe me you are progressing and on right way to success.

    If every one says good good always praise you and your work. you will go ice static. no development.

  • Great article Yaro. Very interesting to read. I remember when I just started blogging I had no comments at all, it was rather painful, but I promoted my posts and now I have a number of devoted readers and commentators

  • It’s tough sometimes to gauge comments… The best case scenario would be if you were able to get a comment from alot of people to be able to get a true measure. But.. your suggestion of Surveys.. I would think that even though they may be a proportion of your audience, they would still be highly trustworthy, especially if people are under the presumption of being “anonymous”

    Till then,

    Jean

  • The blog world is no different from the real world. No one bothers about what happens in the real world when some people badmouth you and most either buy from you or are neutral. The problem with the comments here, is that we see it in writing and it stays to haunt us again and again as we keep going back to it. If we can learn to be as indifferent to them as we are in real life, we should be okay.

  • Probably a bit of a double edged sword as it is so easy to vent and regret:)

  • As Nicole said, this all remains true in all aspects of life. We’re always selling something, whether it’s ourselves, our jobs, and idea, or a 1977 Oldsmobile. If there is any merit in what we do, and if there is an audience, we will have dissenters. Here’s a video I saw recently of Gary Vanerchuk responding to some extremely negative feedback. He’s showing an amazing amount of class in his responses.

    I wasn’t sure if the video would embed in comments, so here’s a link…

    http://www.viddler.com/explore/garyvaynerchuk/videos/75/

  • A great post. It’s very true that we love to hear great comments about our work but a negative one can end up consuming our thoughts…

    my way of dealing with this is this, if someone cannot provide criticism in a positive way to help me grow as an individual and improve my work then they are offering me nothing! Telling someone their work is ‘whack’ is not helping anyone. Suggesting how someone can improve their work can do so much more for that person and the people that follow their work…

    Thanks for sharing,

    Karl

  • Thank you for your thought provoking article today. I have printed it out and stuck it in my journal to remind me as I go through my journey of trying to recreate my career. I have several blogs I’m setting up and yes I do want to make money with them but at the moment a lot of it is personal. A journey for me to rediscover me and to create something positive out of the nightmare work situation I have found myself in.
    I’ve always wanted to write and I read your review of Alexis Dawes book with interest. Even though I am completely broke and about to lose my job (hence I’m trying to find a new career and lifestyle) I decided to jump in and purchase it. I am so glad I did. Her writing style is brilliant and she is so full of common sense. Thank you for the recommendation. I am pushing ahead with the blogs, the article writing and am about to try my hand at my first ebook (a promise I made to my therapist to take my mind off my iminent governor’s meeting at school – don’t you sometimes wonder why you just don’t keep your mouth shut! “I’ll have published an ebook by the time we next meet!” I said trying to sound oh so positive).
    I like your style and your attitude. Keep up the good work Yaro & thank you.

  • Yes I agree that it can be tough to deal with criticism. Although it is probably best to not dwell on these kinds of comments, I do think you should read what they have to say and consider their opinion. You can’t exactly ignore every negative comment. If you take everyone’s opinion into consideration you may get good ideas of how to improve your product.

  • Another daily outstanding post Yaro. MO, to assess integrity of feedback (that is comments), it’s ideal to check out the blogs of the commentators. It’s just one click away from their links.

  • Nicely timed…as I get ready to launch a product. I have found that the two reactions, both positive and negative, stem from a person’s ability to impact someone.

    In the past, I’ve found the negative to be based on rocking the boat for someone–either way it is better than middle of the road.

    Now if we all can just get to that point where it really doesn’t matter….

  • A blog always looks plain, boring, unread, and uncared for when there are very little or no comments on it. A blog like yours (with hundreds of comments) makes it look more trustworthy, because not that many people would keep coming back if they didn’t like it.

  • Great points again Yaro. I’ve had some success and some, well.. less than successful ventures online and its very important to take everything with a grain of salt. Some things arent for those who have thin skin. take it all in and learn from it all but never let it change who you are.

  • Very insightful post as usual Yaro. Very true about different styles of the top bloggers and how they differ. Really enjoyed the read.

  • Another great post from the Blog Master himself :)

    It’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to online forums, comments etc., the voice that’s usually the loudest, is the one of those who are unhappy or not satisfied with a certain products. Go to a cellphone forum for instance, you see a lot more “it doesn’t work!”-posts than “it works!”. People are just like that, I assume.

  • I think a big problem can be that with some blogs, you get alot of like minded regulars commenting, and any opinions to the contrary aren’t welcome. I recently commented and subscribed to a blog, and the follow up comments from the regulars all proceeded to tell me how wrong i was. When i explained that it wasn’t a subject that could be defined as right or wrong, the follow ups became even more aggressive. I immediately unsubscribed and left them to their closed minded existenced. poker rakeback

  • Feedback is always useful. It can help you in one way or the other.

  • Feedback is always pretty useful. It can help you in one way or the other.

  • Hi Yaro, I’m taking your course and it’s impressive. You write that, “Value Delivery: constantly deliver things people want.” That seems to be one of the most important things any writer can do. This seems to be true for Blogs, articles, and forum posts. It’s been commented on quite a bit that Google and the search engines want to make the searchers experience valuable. Delivering value is an easy way to do that and to get people to come back, and to get them to give feedback. Personal engagement is also quite important, many of the blogs you cited at the beginning of this post have a tremendous amount of “personality” of the author. Humor and controversy and both important in delivering some personal engagement.
    Many of the larger corporations are following the smaller, privately held businesses by having a person write a blog without engaging a $500 hr. attorney to preview everything that’s written. They’re doing this so they can build a relationship with the potential customer. It’s worked for the smaller businesses and now the larger companies are going to see if it will work for them.
    Thanks Yaro, Good Post,
    Tony Marino

  • I agree with Vaibhav who said “Whenever people starts complaining,cursing about you and your things believe me you are progressing and on right way to success.” This is definitely where you are starting to have success in my opinion as well. Thank you for the post Yaro.

  • Hi Yaro, I think blog comments can be very misleading. You have to consider whether or not the author has an ulterior motive. How many comments do you get praising you for a brilliant post?

    Now I do enjoy your blog and some of your posts can be very insightful, but I think most of the people who leave blatantly a$$-kissing comments are just trying to stroke your ego hoping to get some link love or a JV offer in return. Especially when its fairly obvious they didn’t even take the time to read the post in its entirety.

  • Sometimes blog comments are not reliable if you seek for feedbacks. Several commentators are just posting their compliments even if what they really feel is otherwise. While some commentators are just looking for links in SEO.

  • This info is great. Thanks for really hashing out all the considerations. Indeed we all need to take online feedback with a grain of salt and understand who is writing it and where.

    interesting stuff. keep it coming

  • Yeah. I have to agree with all of the above people who pointed out the obvious. That people are quick to point out the flaws in others blogs. Even the positive comments are usually along the lines of “good blog”, which doesn’t really offer any valuable feedback at all. poker rakeback

  • I found it really encouraging when you said towards the end that you will progress and succeed as long as you keep focused, no matter what people say about you. I think every person who is trying to create a name for himself on the web needs such boost because they have to be aware that they will face criticism. This is because all people do not have the same opinion. Thanks for this very insightful post.

  • I also think the concept of “taking everything with a grain of salt” applies here too. It’s like customer service anywhere, those who are mad, upset or disappointed will always be the first to spout off..

  • Hey Yaro, you are definitely a man with some pithy insights. Were you a philosophy major? I think you’re right on the money…I would personally believe in the credibility of blog comments a little more if I saw more provocative and negative posts. But, most posts seem to be “yes” posts, or as Shatner says, “Namby-pamby.” I’d like to see more controversy in blogs today. It would make more interesting reading.

  • In my opinion if you have something to say and you know how to say it, make yourself understood or you have something to share that address to a wider range of people you will most likely get the proper feedback.
    Good article writing Yaro, very well structured, definitely bookmarking you.

  • Yaro, your comments are completely trustworthy. Also you are a genius without compare. I am completely trustworthy.

  • I think the point that I can most relate to is the one about following your stats.. People can lie, be wrong or hold vastly different opinions.. but one thing that never lies, holds no bias and does not waiver, is numbers.. keep track of the numbers and you’ll do alright.

  • Greetings Yaro! If your blog comments are of the “Nice post, I like it…” variety I feel that there ain’t much feedback from that source. However the quality of your posts also reflect in the intelligent feedback your audience delivers, so I feel you’re sitting on a winner here, myself.

  • I like the feedback I receive plus it is a great way to stay in contact with users.

  • Its true,ego constantly gets in the way,but it can be a useful reality check as well.

  • Thanks Yaro, another great post. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • This is very enlightening! Sometimes, we read all the blog comments we receive and get easily convinced with what it’s saying . Though comments are means for improvement, we should take a careful analysis to determine if it is reliable or not.

  • Depending on what is the feedback, it can be credible or can simply mean nothing. That is what I personally think. Like for example the first commentator here.

  • I completely agree with what other says…. Comments play a vital role in analyzing our success. But there are time when no one comment… It does not mean that we are not growing we love to hear great comments about our work but a negative one can end up consuming our thoughts…

  • Hey Yaro,

    Blog comments, for me is something that makes my blog and me feel alive. I like when people comment on my posts, it makes me feel that I am being listened to.

    You were right that one should not despair if in initiation you don’t get feedback. And this happens firstly if you are new to blogging world.

  • I guess making a comment on whether you should believe comments is a little ironic! Your point is well taken however, most comments are from people who visit the blog and like it, so the comments are bound to be skewed. Everyone knows, also, that as bloggers we have the ability to just not approve bad comments. While this may give us feedback it is unlikely that someone would attempt to post a poor review when they know it is unlikely to be posted anyway..

  • I agree that there will always be a mix of good and bad comments about us or our products. This is simply because there is no way we can satisfy the world. There are bound to be people who are simply out there to negate this and that but there are also people who are very grateful about what we provide.

    So I think the key is not to please anyone but to do our best to provide the best for those who like us.

  • I definitely agree with this article. When I was starting to write for my blog, I used to be sensitive to negative comments. But then again, I realized it’s not about me, it’s about the article I wrote :) As I get used to it, I learned not to take bad comments seriously. Sometimes I realized they are not really doing positive criticism but rather venting out. :)

  • Blog comments are great,because it makes a site alive.When people see that you have less comments then they will start to think that your blog is unpopular and therefore they might leave the blog.That was my experience

  • You did point out the good bloggers and the likely ones who would comment a somewhat bad feedbacks but in most cases, once a blog has been PRed, SPAMMERS thrive in on your blog and messes the nice conversation done by good commentators. But I find most spammers funny at times but when they take you on, they thrive and thrive and makes you go mad.

  • great stuff , i bookmarked it. very knowledgeable article.

    Thanks
    Misbah Mumtaz

  • I think blog comments are the best bit about a blog, although it’s good to read an original and well researched article, its also great to get honest feedback and gauge popular opinion.

    bye Michael

  • Although very time consuming I guess the best way to get decent feedback on blogs is to always monitor posts and encourage replies to valid comments.

  • Feedback is always helpful, especially when it comes from people who are your main audience.

  • I really don’t get much feedback and need to look at that with my 5th grade science fair projects

  • I think as long as the blog owner is doing a great job of screening blog comments, then the comments on there blog should be considered relevant and good information.

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