The larger your website grows, the larger your website will likely continue to grow. It’s a virtuous cycle that makes blogging easier the longer you survive. You just need to get past that first two or three year wasteland, that most all of us go through where we wonder whether it’s all worth it or not.
If your website gets big enough, even 1% of your community who hates your guts will engender a lot of comments. For example, let’s say each article you publish garners 5,000 pageviews, 5% of your readers comment (250), and 1% of your commenters hate you. That’s 25 really nasty comments that when added together can probably combine for another full post!
THE BENEFITS OF TROLLS
I’m using the term “trolls” loosely in this post. Trolls can encompass those annoying commenters who don’t read anything you write and just want to nitpick or bash everything you say. Trolls can be commenters who love trying to make you look bad in front of the community. Trolls can even be those who just disagree with what you write, yet don’t have anything to back up their beliefs. The great thing about trolls is that they help you grow! Here are five benefits I see.
1) They enlarge your content and let your site rank better in search. We all know that meatier content tends to rank better in search. This is why all of us should write whale posts. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could write just a 500 word post, but generate thousands and thousands of words of comments as an extension to your post? Your comments will provide more keyword density, more searchable terms, and more signaling to the search engines that there’s activity. I’ve searched for terms where the results highlight the search terms in the comments section rather than in the post. It’s clear to me that comments help your content rank better in search.
2) More debate and engagement. Most of our readers are supporters of our content. Sometimes the comment section becomes a reinforcing love fest where we all just agree with each other. That’s not really that great if we want to broaden our perspectives. Trolls provide a jagged view of the world that may lead to broadened minds. Trolls might rally your community of supporters to your defense as well. If you can bring in a wave of supporters and a wave of dissenters, you’ll have double the amount of engagement in your posts.
3) Comment commentary posts. Comment commentary posts are some of my favorite, especially if the comment is extremely meaty. Since you own the content of all the comments on your site, you can simply copy and paste a comment into the post, comment about the comment, and then voila! You’ve got another meaty post to send out into the internet that will boost traffic event further. You don’t have to always just produce original content anymore!
4) Shows you’re an equal opportunity publisher. If you can publish comments that disagree with your view or comments that purposefully tries to antagonize you, then it shows that you’re able to take criticism. You’ll be able to win over more fans and lurkers as a result who might be thinking the same thing, but who don’t bother to comment. The great thing is that you can always delete or not approve comments if you feel like it.
5) You’ll develop a much thicker skin. A lot of bloggers quit because they can’t take the criticism. There’s a lot of hate on the internet that can wear down even the most gung-ho publisher. It’s generally a good idea to just delete all trollish commentary. But if you can publish just a little bit of them and debate with a few at a time, you’ll build up your endurance until you no longer get down about some stranger trying to bash your work after spending so much time putting an article together. The thicker your skin, the higher your chance of continuing on.
STRATEGIES TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTARY
1) Publish some, but not all comments. You want to give your trolls hope that their activities will get through your spam filter. As a result, it’s a good idea for you to approve some of the less trollish comments, and then delete the more extreme comments. You’ll be able to keep the troll coming back for more, trying to publish more comments that won’t get through. It’ll be maddening for him, but oh so fun for you. One of the best feelings is having a troll write a huge comment and just pressing delete!
2) Engage by being a little non sequitur. This strategy confuses the troll into trying to comment more and more for you. Congratulate them when they are attacking. Ask them to explain their reasoning. Tell them you enjoy their opinions. Ask them to write more. Your goal is to come across unfazed by whatever they say and confuse them by making them wonder how you’re feeling.
3) Engage and then ignore. Just when the troll thinks they’ve built a rapport, go ahead and ignore them after they leave another massive comment. This is how you can create addicts to your content! They’ll just keep coming back for more and more in hopes that you’ll respond. Keep them longing.
4) Ask them to write a guest post for you. This is one of the best ways to get people who dissent with your views to attempt to write something more logical and substantive. Most of the time they won’t want to write a post for you. And even if they do, most of the time the post won’t be very good. But sometimes, you’ll find some gems to be able to use. Of course you will edit the post to your liking, so you really can’t lose. They might even appreciate your efforts in the future once they realize how hard it is to write a quality post.
5) Ban the IDs and IP addresses. If you just don’t want to bother with the worst commenters anymore, then you can simply go to your WordPress Dashboard, click Settings, Discussion, and input the names and IP addresses of the trolls. Pretty easy stuff! They’ll eventually move on.
USER GENERATED CONTENT IS THE BEST
Having users generate content for you is one of the best ways to build traffic to your site. This is why having a forum is a pretty good idea.
It’s inevitable you’ll have haters the larger you get. Some are respectful dissenters that maturely share their views. Some are just very spiteful. While others spit out some of the worst vitriol you’ll ever read. You can choose to let haters get you down. Or, you can utilize their content to your advantage.
I’ve learned a lot from my dissenters over the past six years that has helped Financial Samurai for the better. For example, a lot of people hate my post: Disadvantages Of A Roth IRA: Not All Is What It Seems. But given the amount of dissension (there are 400+ comments), the post now ranks #1 in search for “disadvantages of a Roth IRA.” Furthermore, I’ve listened to my readers viewpoints and penned another post entitled, The Only Reasons To Ever Contribute To A Roth IRA, that is also doing well in search with 143 comments.
If you embrace the good and the bad of your community, you’ll never run out of post ideas. Your site will continue to grow to the point where you’ll surprise yourself! As they say in PR, any publicity is good publicity.
STARTING A MONEY MAKING BLOG
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, learn how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like this one.
Leverage the 3+ billion internet users and build your brand online. There are professional bloggers now who make way more than bankers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs while having much more fun, much more freedom, and doing less work. Get started. You never know where the journey will take you!
Updated for 2017 and beyond.