No, I’m not talking about how to talk to your aunt who has no clue what blogging is, or your overly nosy neighbor who thinks blogging is like baking a pie every once in a while.
I’m talking about when people leave a comment you do not know how to respond to, or they send you emails asking questions they probably shouldn’t be asking, and those occasional review requests by companies(?) who send you emails from Hotmail accounts acting like they’re doing you a favor by offering 20% affiliate commission on their 10-dollar product, wherein the product itself may or may not have anything to do with your blog niche.
After a year+ of blogging, I have come up with some simple rules to keep myself sane. Here you go!
The Rude Reader
Don’t take it the hard way. You’re not doing thigs right if you do not have a few haters at the very least. So, if you’ve got a rude comment from someone, congrats, you’re a real deal!
But still, you’ve got to deal with that comment now and it’s no fun reading things that attack your values, or your beliefs, or your style of writing, and the list goes on.
Now, there are plenty of ways to deal with a rude comment. You can reply to the comment justifying your stance, you can apologize for being wrong (that was a joke, DO NOT DO THAT unless you really screwed something up, said something offensive to someone, or caused a major political and/or moral and/or ethical blunder), or you can simply ignore them.
I vote for ignoring them.
Most of us are busy people. We blog in-between things. We blog during lunch hour, over the weekend, after coming back from our full-time jobs, or after the kids go to sleep. It’s hectic enough already as it is, there’s no reason for added negativity.
I’m not saying ignore everyone regardless… sometimes a person may say something that will really make you think, and maybe, just maybe, you really were in the wrong. And if that is the case, you can learn from their comments.
But here’s my issue with such comments: publicly pointing out that you made a gigantic mistake is none the less, a rude thing to do. If a reader really cared, and wanted to correct your mistakes, they’d find another way to reach out to you. They’d email you, send you a private message, etc.
For example, I have a kind reader (if you’re reading it, you know who you are!) who sometimes points out my typoes. I use Grammarly and even read my articles a couple of times before publishing, but those pesky things always find their way in one way or another. This reader could have just left a public comment, and it’s not even rude to point out I have typoes… but she still goes out of her way to send me an email to let me know where I made these mistakes.
I love thoughtful and sensitive readers like her.
And then there was this other reader who chewed me out in a comment where he criticized my post because I didn’t give enough information about a topic. It was a post where I wrote about bloggers making some extra cash as virtual assistants. According to this reader, I should have properly laid out all the legalities that go into becoming a VA or a freelancer…
First of all, I’m not a lawyer. I ask my lawyer when I need legal advice, and I expect my readers to do the same (or ask if they’re not sure). My post was about sharing ideas with my readers, not teaching them how to start a business. How to file your taxes or how to make sure your business is legal are things I expect my readers to find out from their accountants or bookkeepers or lawyers. Not from me.
So, what did I do with this comment?
I simply didn’t “approve” it. There was no point.
Pro-tip: Use a comment filtering plugin in your WordPress blog, like Anti-Spam, so that you can review all comments before they show up in your blog.
The Awkward Reader
There’s another type of commenters who are really hard to deal with.
They’re not downright rude per se, in fact, they’re readers who are truly in need of some help, and that’s why they’re on your blog. These readers (and commenters) are hard to deal with because, on one hand, you recognize that they are in need of help, and on the other hand, they’re also not respecting your time.
Let me explain.
Sometimes I get comments asking me something that I have already said in the post. Which makes me wonder if the person read the post in the first place. They are not being rude, but also, they kinda are if you think about it.
I love a constructive question which makes me think, which gives me ideas for future posts or edit to the post to add better content. But I don’t know how to answer when someone asks me something I have already said in my post. A lot of the times I respond anyway because sometimes it’s easy to miss things, and there’s always a chance that what I shared wasn’t clear enough.
But there comes a time when one has to draw a line. I do my best to respond to these queries, but when things start to get out of hand (for example, when you start to see a pattern where one particular reader is always asking the most obvious questions) you have to say enough is enough. And you have to start ignoring some of these comments.
Back when I had just started blogging, I would respond to all emails and comments to the best of my abilities. But as I have grown, so has the number of comments and emails I get… and now it’s literally impossible for me to respond to all of these queries.
So I do the best I can.
If I have time, I respond.
If I’m busy, I ignore.
For now, at least, this is a case by case thing. But if there is a pattern, like the same reader always asking the questions or demanding things from you that are outside of your breadth, I ignore their comments and emails unless it’s a legit request.
The Companies Who Want To Reward You By Making You An Affiliate
Sometimes a pretty legit company reaches out to you. If so, congrats!
Sometimes others may reach out and ask for a helping hand. That’s fine too. We all need a helping hand from time to time, and if their business aligns with mine or my vision, I’m more than happy to help.
But what ticks me off is when a company reaches out (sometimes sending emails from their Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo accounts… like, WHY???) and asks for a product review, which by the way, has nothing to do with your blog, and in exchange asks you to be an affiliate.
Be careful of those!
First of all, they may not be legit.
Second, even if they’re legit, affiliate marketing isn’t something like you share a link and money starts pouring in. You have to consider your reader demographics. Does the product help your readers? Do your readers really need the product you’re selling? How many readers will convert from a review post?
There are a couple of ways to deal with these requests.
If their products do not align with your blog niche, you can either ignore them (and hope they won’t contact you again) or let them know that it’s not a good fit.
If it’s a product that does align with your blog niche, and you think some of your readers may be interested, you can ask instead if they’ll be interested in a sponsored post. Remember, affiliate marketing is an ongoing process. If you’re a big-name blogger with hundreds of thousands of pageviews, maybe you can be an affiliate, write a post, and make a sizable amount from that one post. But if you’re a new/newish blogger, unless you’re willing to put some effort, that affiliate link won’t generate enough revenue for it to be beneficial. My advice is that you pass.
I don’t like being rude to people, so, for the most part, I do my best to respond to all emails and comments to the best of my ability. But a time comes when you have set up some boundaries.
I’d love to hear your take on dealing with comments and emails and partnership requests. Feel free to share in the comments!