Kickstarter Lesson #128: The Art of the Comment

19 November 2014 | 52 Comments

“One comment is worth a thousand page views.” –Richard Bliss

“All comments are not created equal.” –Richard Bliss

“I like to start blog posts with quotes from Richard Bliss.” –Jamey Stegmaier

Recently on my post about the 10 daily actions to build your crowd before launching a Kickstarter project, I recommended that future creators try to make one comment somewhere online once a day.

Why is this important? Let me count the ways:

  • increase goodwill with people who you can help now and who might help you later
  • build relationships with content creators and members of the community
  • attract people to your brand
  • become more visible within your industry

These positive effects don’t happen overnight–it’s not like you can comment on a bunch of blogs the week before you launch your Kickstarter and hope to have the same impact as if you’ve been commenting here and there over the last few months or years. But it doesn’t need to be a chore–I love the content I consume online, and the way I show that love is by commenting.

How can you be a more effective commenter? It’s all about finding ways to encourage conversation. Recently podcaster Richard Bliss and I talked about the art of the comment on the Funding the Dream podcast, highlighting the following points:

  1. Don’t talk about yourself–don’t use comments to promote yourself or put the spotlight on you. Before you post a comment, look at how many times you write the word “I”. Have you made the comment too much about you?
  2. Use your real name. If you’re trying to launch a Kickstarter, your personal brand is incredibly important, and it starts with your real name, not the AOL screen name you picked when you were 13. Your real name is even better than your company name–our brains are built to remember people.
  3. Ask a question about something that is interesting to the blogger, podcaster, content creator, or Kickstarter creator. I can say from perspective of a content creator that there’s no better comment than a question. It gives the content creator a way to participate in the comments that goes beyond reaffirming things people have already said (or defending their stance).
  4. Build upon points the content creator made with specific examples. An example of this would be if someone posts in the comments of this blog entry to add another point this list. That’s a way of reinforcing the value of the content with more information, especially if it’s based on your personal experiences and observations.
  5. Comment once a day on your favorite blog entry, podcast, Facebook post, topical forum, Kickstarter project, or YouTube video for that day. It’s daunting to start or contribute to a dozen conversations every day, so instead just try to pick one to focus on. One is manageable.
  6. Disagree tactfully. Disagreeing with the content creator isn’t a bad thing–in fact, it can often lead to some of the best conversations online. But do it tactfully, or it will have the reverse effects of all the positive aspects of comments I listed above. That is, acknowledge that your opinion or experience is different than the blogger’s, and share your point of view in a constructive way. Also, focus on the content when disagreeing, not the comment creator. Something that gets under my skin is when someone says, “I’m disappointed that you did/didn’t say ___.” That’s too personal. Instead, just say, “One other idea to consider is _____.”

While this blog entry isn’t a trick to get you to comment here, I’m curious about how you engage with people through comments online (or like to be engaged).

Also read: How to Create Community Through Conversation on Kickstarter

Leave a Comment

52 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #128: The Art of the Comment

  1. I think the reason I’m hesitant to leave comments on blogs, at least yours, is that I get the feeling that I’m inconveniencing you. Like with all your posts and all the comments, is it ever overwhelming or annoying to respond to them?

    I especially don’t want to come off as someone who’s just commenting because you told us it’s a good thing to do. 😄 But I suppose that following the advice in this article would help people avoid leaving trite, useless comments.

    Anyway, are you (and other bloggers) honestly grateful about getting comments, or does it ever come off as annoying or a bore to review so many comments?

    1. That’s a great concern and question, Liz. I would say that I appreciate the vast majority of comments. The only comments that don’t really serve a purpose (in my opinion) are when people comment “First!” on a YouTube video or are overly aggressive to me or another commenter. Otherwise it means a lot that something I wrote inspired someone to speak up, and even if I just read the comment, I learn something from it.

      1. Thanks for the reply! Makes me feel less hesitant to comment. You can be assured that your writing is extremely valuable and inspirational. In preparing for my own board game Kickstarter campaign, I feel like I’d be totally lost without these blog posts and your crowdfunding book, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Thanks again!

  2. Jamey, great site! I found it the other day Googling around about Early Bird ideas for my first campaign and now I am staring at about 35 tabs of awesome tips. Thanks you!

    As someone new to KS, this is an amazing resource and I appreciate the effort you put into it because honestly, sometimes it’s hard for me to even post a comment… even though I am very social in real life.

    Do you think it’s a mistake to go with a Kickstarter account that does not use a person’s name? MY co-founder and I have been working on a pretty ambitious idea for the last four years, it’s also a sensitive topic, so we decided to use the company name as our account name.

    I ask because what you said about leveraging your personal brand and people remembering other people is resonating with me. Do you have any advice for when using a company name for the account might be OK instead? I should add that on the project page, we have a personal story from the founders and include our names there. I also plan to make a lot of personal updates on social media with my real name because the project came from a personal need.


    1. Anatoly: Thanks for your questions! I think it’s totally fine to use your company name as the account name. Many creators do that. To make it personal, you can do the things you’ve already mentioned, and potentially include your faces in the avatar you use for Kickstarter (though even that isn’t necessary if your photos are elsewhere on the project page).

  3. For someone who may not read a lot of blogs or listen to many podcasts, how would you suggest doing their the in and who would be the best to keep up with? You and Mathe are an obvious choice, but ya’ll seem untouchable bc you’re of the “tastemaker” realm.

    1. Jessi: Thanks for your comment! I would suggest focusing on the people whom you’re hoping will review your game. Do you have a few reviewers you’ve seen on other Kickstarter pages that you admire?

      I’m certainly not untouchable in this sense–like, now I recognize your name, which is a good start!

  4. As usual, Jamey, you’ve found a way to take a topic that one might take for granted as pretty straightforward and add some real insight to it. I love that you do your best to foster community and discussion, by encouraging not only questions but also (tactfully, of course) sharing ways that you disagree. That is a particularly refreshing outlook, as I’m sure we’ve all seen both extremes of that spectrum too many times…those who simply agree with anything [X person] says, as well as those who just like to argue for the sake of arguing.

    Here’s a fairly applicable question…is there ever a statute of limitations on commenting? Is there a point where it’s too late to be commenting on a blog/Facebook/Reddit/etc post? 2.5 years perhaps haha?

    1. David: Thanks! I agree that it’s hard to find the right balance within that spectrum. I mess it up all the time. :)

      I feel like there’s no statute of limitations on blog comments, as blogs are permanent by design. They’re meant to be discovered weeks, months, and years after they’re written, not just within the first 24 hours.

      Most other forms of social media have a much tighter timeframe, in my opinion. I think this is mostly because search engines don’t index them. So if someone comments on a cat photo I posted in 2014, it means they’ve done a deep dive into my past, which, while flattering, can also feel a little odd. :)

  5. The opening three lines cracked me up quite a bit—which is quite rare for me while reading something online!

    As for the topic of this post, the proper way to engage with others seems to be the path you take; you seem to find time to respond to all questions and put a large importance on being clear (not simply writing a few words or using abbreviations).

    Great way of doing it in my opinion.

  6. Jamey: If a blogger have a YouTube channel and his blog site, and he is posting his videos on his blog site and of course YT channel. Now my question is: Is it more effective to comment on their website or directly in their YouTube channel?

    1. Mateusz: I would probably say to comment on the source (YouTube). However, that may depend on the person–if you see more conversation on the blog, perhaps that’s the best place to engage.

  7. Michael: That’s an excellent question. I have two cats, Biddy and Walter. Biddy was originally named Baby Bok Choy, but my girlfriend at the time kept giving him new nicknames. His name evolved to Bitten Kitten, Bitten Boy, Biddy Boy, then just Biddy. That name stuck.

    I got Walter later (as a pet for Biddy), and I wanted a name that didn’t sound like “Biddy” when I called him to me. Walter seemed like a good fit.

    You’re right about Thunder–it’s a great name for a cat! :)

  8. A bit late to the party ;p Great stuff as always and thanks for the eye opening. But seriously, not one person has yet asked the #1 question? I’m shocked! OK, I guess I’ll ask it:

    How DID you name your cat?

    [mine is Thunder and she’s black as pitch and super loving. Named Thunder because it’s got several good sounds; say it 3 different ways and you’ll see how nice it feels – over your tongue with the TH and ND sounds, where you roll your R [not getting too detailed, because, you know, memes!], and, by the 3rd time, when you reach your hands skyward or thump your chest and say THUNDERRRRRRRRRRRRR!]

  9. I have to admit reading the comments under a post is as informative as the original post. It gives the reader chance to see multiple opinions and most of the questions raised in your mind are answered in the comments section.

    Jamey you say at the start that our brains are designed to remember people’s name. Is it also true for creating your KS campaign? Should a creator use his personal name or company’s name to create the campaign? I have seen people using both.

    Thanks for one more great lesson.

    1. Ahmed: I agree! That’s why I love blogs that treat the content as the beginning to a conversation instead of the end. :)

      As for KS campaigns, that’s a great question about the name. I would give the slight edge to using a real human name, but there are pros and cons to both. The nice thing about using your name is that backers immediately feel like they’re connecting to a person, and they know who that person is. However, a company name can be handy as well because multiple people within that company can respond from the company account without confusing anyone. It’s also potentially better for branding. But it’s very close. If you’re a one-man show, I would lean towards using your real name as your Kickstarter creator account name.

  10. All excellent points! It took me a while to figure out that people like talking to…people, not companies. That’s actually an advantage for Indie designers too. People can check out who you are, and get to know you, rather than a nebulous brand.

  11. Like a lot of people, I’m going to start here!

    I’ve spent the last three days straight reading every Kickstarter Lesson you’ve posted, and I’m going through and starting again. The highs, the lows, the huge number of times you reference 4PX (it might be worth doing a search and adding disclaimers, in case people find the handful of off-hand mentions and think you still support them – you’ve redacted a number of the recommendations, but not all of them. I’ll leave a comment if I find any more).

    I’m not planning to start my Kickstarter until April, and so I’m glad I found this blog when I did – little things like sending review copies to 3rd party reviewers have to be done now, and so as long as everything goes according to plan, I won’t have to push anything back.

    Thanks so much for your efforts. I’m not sure if you take Kickstarter Lesson suggestions, but one idea I had was “Sites to read (other than this one)” – you have an comprehensive and incredible guide, but for people like me who like to over-read, I’d love a list of similar resources to check out.

    You’re doing amazing work!

    1. Peter: Thanks so much for your comment. That’s a great point about 4px–I’ll try to find other mentions where I didn’t add a disclaimer (if you can think of any, let me know).

      That is a GREAT idea for a post. I’ll put that on my list right away.

      Good luck in your KS prep!

  12. Great article, Jamie. I’ve been trying the comment a day practice. I find like exercising, it’s hard to maintain even though its good for you. I have a few questions about how to keep it up: How do you make sure it does not take up too much time? How can you tell when it’s working? Is it better to target a few sites or spread around your comments. I’m curious how people who are trying the comment a day are managing to sustain it. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the comment-a-day practice, Niels. As for the time, writing a comment typically takes 1-2 minutes, which isn’t much. The more time-consuming aspect is reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and paying attention to Facebook (and BGG) feeds. I try to do each of those things in small doses once or twice a day.

      How can you tell when it’s working? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but from the perspective of a blogger, while we don’t remember most individual comments, it’s not hard to remember names of people who engage every few weeks.

      That’s a good question about spreading comments around vs. targeting specific sites. For the most part I would recommend simply choosing the blogs that inspire you to say something. But when in doubt, choose your favorite content creators to return to, especially if those creators engage with you. I personally find it tough to post comments on blogs where the content creators never respond (I don’t expect a response every time, but every now and then a comment in response helps to show that someone is at least reading them).

  13. Thanks for the article Jamey, but how on earth do you have TIME to comment on comments on your comment recommending blog commentary? :-P

    Seriously though, you must be spectacularly efficient or have a time machine or be more than one person, which brings me to my next question: ARE YOU THE REAL MR STEGMAIER??

  14. So Jamey, do you think this blog post will end up having the most comments out of all of them? (I think that covers #1,2 and 3…)

    In all seriousness, what you say reminds me of something someone once told me about talking online. It’s like being at a party. If you come in shouting and getting in everyone’s faces all about yourself then no-one wants to listen and people will back away sharpish. However if you listen to people around you and occasionally chip in with something meaningful to say that adds something to the conversation then people will want to hear more from you in future.

    1. Gino: Great question! No, I don’t, but I appreciate the conversation here. :)

      I like that party analogy. You mentioned a key word (“listen”) that I didn’t mention in the post, but it definitely belongs here.

  15. Great comments all around guys.
    I feel closest with what David & Lori say about appreciation.
    Simply by seeing a reply that acknowledges your words, be it even disagreement, is much appreciated. Not only because it makes you feel heard but cause it has a potential to spark a conversation thus making a bound between the commenters.

    Foremost in your comments be constructive than you don’t need to worry about being tactful.

    Love to read this stuff. Thank you for writing Jamey :)
    All the Best.

  16. Commenting on a comment article seems really meta…. ;-)

    Another good blog, all good points. The one that really struck a chord with me was the Disagree Tactfully one. This seems like a really useful skill for any conversation, making sure you don’t instantly cause the other people to turn off as you shut them down.

    One thing I would say is don’t comment for the sake of commenting. If you just repeat something someone else has said, you can sometimes come across as a bit of a brown-noser, or worse! That’s why I love the Favourite star on Twitter; even if I have nothing to add to the conversation for fear of repeating something already said, I can at least show solidarity with the post author. Thoughts?

    P.S. That is my terrible attempt at a question…

    1. Bevan: “Don’t comment for the sake of commenting.” I like that! That’s actually one of the reasons that I typically don’t reply to every comment. Sometimes it can interrupt the natural flow of conversation. Sometimes I wish comments on WordPress had a star or Like button for that very purpose. There is a comment system I could use for that (Disqus or even Facebook comments), but I would lose all comments already on the blog.

  17. The challenge to commenting is feeling you have something relevant to add to the conversation when you first begin the process you recommend. Take that first step and relax. Most of these people we have chosen to follow on blogs, video series, and social networks are really friendly and want to interact with you. Start the conversation and see where it leads you.

  18. I love when you (Jamey) post blog entries that strike at the heart of writer / reader interaction, like this one. I’m sure you’d agree that there are few things quite as encouraging and uplifting as some good commentary from your audience. Have you found that to be true even of people who tactfully disagree?

    1. Derik: Absolutely. There’s nothing better than a comment. Page views, likes, and tweets are great, but a comment is memorable (or at least the person who made it).

      I’ve definitely found that to be true of people who tactfully disagree. In fact, people who disagree with no tact are memorable too–just not in the good way. :)

        1. You guys crack me up!

          Comments are a great way to introduce yourself to a community without having to make a formal introduction. Like David mentioned above, it’s always nice to be recognized for something you’ve said and likewise it bonds people together as they create a more direct exchange of conversation.

          I know that personally, I’m happy to see familiar faces in the kickstarter comments because it reinforces my decision to back a project. It also makes me feel like the project is more likely to succeed because I know these other backers are going to create a positive atmosphere and take the time to support the project.

          The best projects have the most interesting, active comments sections!

          1. Lori: That’s a really interesting point about how commenting can make the world seem a lot smaller when you see those same people (particularly those whose tastes you trust) on other Kickstarter campaigns. I think that’s very revealing about the way Kickstarter works.

  19. One other positive is that you are forced to read content you might otherwise skip. Rarely do I stop reading blogs and such once I’ve read them once or twice because I learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    1. Jeff: Great point. Commenting (and then subscribing to comments) is a great way to revisit a blog over time. Just today I got a comment notification from a blog I commented on months ago, and it was a chance for me to go back and reread the content.

  20. When it comes to comments the one thing that I really appreciate is when the original poster comments on your comment (or acknowledges your contribution somehow). I find that you are exceptionally good at this – all one has to do is look at the bottom of any of your blog posts and you will see a continuing conversation that often goes beyond the original post. When it comes to blogs that I like to return to, I look for this active dialog between poster and reader. Thanks for providing quality content and an enriching forum to discuss it!


    1. Thanks David, that’s helpful to know from the perspective of a content creator. It seems to me that it adds to the idea that the art of the content is all about encouraging conversation, no matter who is commenting.

  21. One comment every day? Do you mean like that? :)
    I agree with all your points. Besides that, commenting in interesting posts are always a good way to sparkle a conversation about an interesting topic with people with the same interests as you. This way you can always learn/discuss even more things in the comments department.

    1. I do mean like that. :)

      That’s a great point that focusing on posts that really hit home with your personal interests and passions can build strong bonds with other people who have similar passions.

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