You can read this article on Medium too.
I know the feeling that the title may arouse. “Hey, I don’t want my commenting to be ‘tactic’!”
Of course, you don’t want your comments not to be authentic. This is not a post about dishonest commenting, at all. But if you want to gain some exposure on Medium as a writer, commenting is key. And how to comment makes a huge difference.
Rule number one
Rule number one is that your commenting should be sincere. Not sincere? Step away or be brave and leave a respectful critic.
There’s plenty of stories to read and comment, and authors to connect with. You don’t need to fake your personality, to write what you don’t want to, or to exploit someone.
Just pick the right places where to be honest, then enjoy connecting.
Caring about visibility
Anyway, if you want visibility, you need to be visible. You can’t escape that.And nobody will care about your visibility more than you.
As writers, we’re usually a little reluctant about self-promotion. The truth is that self-promotion is not what it seems. It’s not about advertising. Nor about shouting around.
To be visible, you need just one thing: To be present under the eyes of the readers.
Okay, not that simple. But the good part is that you don’t need a killer campaign. You can just do what fits you, at least to start. Just be visible in any way you’re comfortable with. No more. Maybe just experiment a bit out of your comfort zone, but you don’t need much more. With time, your need for exposure will give you the courage, you can bet.
Commenting is a perfect example of comfortable visibility. You like reading. You like connecting with writers and readers, talking with them about your preferred topics. You already like commenting! A secondary effect of commenting is visibility.
Don’t worry about the popularity of stories or authors. Maybe just a little bit…
You don’t have to pick stories or authors according to a commenting/visibility strategy. You don’t need to change your reading habits, nor your tastes, nor your frequentations. At all. On the contrary, just be what you are, and read what you want. The more you are you, the more you don’t waste time on fake things, and you set a clearer online identity.
Commenting on popular stories, especially if you are among the first ones, gives you visibility, and the possibility to connect with other readers. You’d better read some stories from popular authors anyway. But sometimes those authors are not much available to connect, or your comments will sink to the bottom of the list.
On the opposite side, commenting on stories with a few claps may likely help to connect with a peer. A lot of my connections here started by commenting on stories from people on my same path, with similar interests and needs, at a similar stage in the Medium game. But nobody will see your comment except for the author.
So, caring about the visibility of your comment is not necessary. You get advantages and disadvantages in any case.
What matters is not getting stuck in commenting only popular stories or only invisible stories. Just add a little variety.
Be the first
In case you’re commenting popular stories, being among the first ones to comment may make the difference. If you’re following popular authors, check their stories frequently.
You can comment even after months. Active authors and readers don’t care much. I appreciate when someone resuscitates one of my stories and shows up.
Just, if you can be the first to comment on popular stories, the better.
Visibility is a secondary effect of commenting. Your primary goal with comments is connecting.
Connecting requires some continuity, and this help commenting and visibility too.
If you read a good part of what your preferred authors write, you’ll know them better, they and their audience will know you better, your contribution by commenting will be more relevant.
But look around and enjoy more parties. You need casual reading and commenting too.
You don’t always have something thoughtful to share. But if you appreciate the story, just appreciate. Let the author know your appreciation.
Maybe just try to go beyond “thank you.” If you have no time or no more words, just skip. You don’t need and shouldn’t comment on everything, but if you have the opportunity and have something to tell, don’t hold back. Writers — like any creative and maybe any human — need some appreciation. If you appreciate, let them know.
The general rule on Medium seems to be “if you don’t agree just step away.”
But we need critics too, both writers and readers.
Okay, we want a peaceful and respectful community, so, if you have something disrespectful to tell, just hold your fingers and follow the Medium rule: Step away. Nobody needs to know that the story is crap in your opinion. Also, think twice about damaging an author by your critic. Keep useless or minor critics for yourself.
But if you have a specific critic that’s worth sharing and a solid foundation for it, why not to speak? Because of the fear of losing readers or a good connection?
Don’t defend a fake identity. Be yourself. You already have to shut up in too many situations in your real daily life. Let’s treat yourself with a bit of more authenticity. Don’t use the online barrier as a shield. Speak as you would speak in person. Be respectful. But, if you deem it worth, speak.
Your family, co-workers, friends, and anyone else have the opportunity to see you in many situations. You say something about yourself even when you don’t speak. But online they can hear you only when you speak.
No need to make enemies, fight battles, or provoke. Nobody needs that. But by speaking, you define your identity. Someone won’t appreciate, but some others will agree or be interested.
Do you lose a couple of readers? Pay the price, sometimes.
You may appreciate, be a critic or whatsoever, but remember that you’re in the comments section. It’s not your post.
You want to go deeper, to let readers know much more? Write your own story and respect the author as you’d want for you and your story from the others.
Sometimes the story is about something you know well, or you’ve written about it, or maybe have a product or a course to sell.
You’re in front of a dilemma. To spam or not to spam. Yes, because linking to your story will be relevant for someone, and spam for many others. It may also seem to upstage.
That’s the trickiest part. Try to resist the temptation. Don’t catch any opportunity or you’ll just end up sporting a flashing “junior sales” on your badge. But, from time to time, if it’s likely relevant for the author or the readers, go for it. Rare, Relevant, and Respectful, if you want a recipe.
Links in the comments help. They helped many of my stories. But the line between a relevant contribution and upstaging or spamming may be subtle. Make a bold step, from time to time, — you need that too, and Google like that — but be prudent.
A usually neglected aspect of comments is tagging.
Yes, you can tag comments and, yes, maybe you’re ashamed to do it.
You spent some time to write a comment. You want that comment to be read, maybe not just by the author. Why not helping more readers to see it?
We don’t know exactly how Medium algorithm handles tags in comments by I know for sure that tags contributed to many of my Top Writer, if nothing else.
You don’t need to exaggerate. Just one or two relevant tags. Sometimes more, in case of long or specific comments. No need to spend more than a few seconds. But don’t waste the opportunity. You probably have much more comments than stories, on Medium.
Mentions and links
You’re generous with the author and with yourself, but it’s good to be generous with the community too.
Don’t mention or link just to get attention from someone. You’d just annoy people. And don’t use mentions just to let someone know about an interesting article. There’s too much to read. They may appreciate curation but not that pushing curation.
But if you think that someone can actually benefit from your bringing to attention an article or an author, do it. The referred author will likely appreciate, and some interested reader could appreciate your tip.
Till now we’ve seen comments from a reading writer perspective. But comments from a writing writer perspective are important too.
The common advice is to reply to comments to your stories, and many popular authors still follow it — even if it cost a lot of time –. But it’s surprising to see that some authors just clap most of the comments — or even neglect them — without replying.
Replying to comment is saying thank you to your reader. It’s letting the reader know that you saw the comment and appreciate their feedback. They guess that you’ll appreciate it again in the future. They want to connect with the author.
Maybe they also want to be visible. Their choice. No need to feel offended.
You can just clap a very short or anonymous comment, of course. But — unless you’re Stephen King — try not to neglect who spent the time to comment on your work.
Also, by commenting comments, you get most of the benefits of any other comments. Your readers just gave you the opportunity to comment on your turn.
You might receive critics, of course. Deal them with tact. Don’t be condescending, but don’t feel offended too fast. Your readers are different from you. They have the right to their own opinion, and you’ve amply shown your in the article already. They took the time to read your article. They deserve a little opportunity to be heard from you — maybe even get a thank you — and their open critic may help your future work. An open critic may hurt but it’s better than fugitive readers, and your respectful reply is better than a presumptuous silence.
You may encounter some troll. Not many, on Medium, but it might happen. Don’t engage with them. But don’t hurry to call someone a troll just because they have a different opinion or they let their words be a bit rude.
The strategy behind
While I spoke of “tactic” commenting, “strategic” would be more appropriate.
It’s tactic because you proceed one comment at a time, maybe paying attention to specific aspects of commenting. But there’s not a goal. Commenting should not be finalized to bring followers to one story, or to sell one more book, or to gain a new connection.
You’re here because you want to be appreciated as a writer. You’re here for the long haul. You want your online identity to be visible and to find your tribe.
You also want to learn. You want and need friends in the World Wild Web.
Never forget that commenting is talking to persons. You are a social animal. You need to act accordingly.
The visibility effect of comments is a welcome one, and you need to take advantage of it. Just don’t let it take on you.