Monday, March 24, 2014

Discussion: The Art of Blog Commenting

Blogging is a community based activity and without blog comments it wouldn't be the same. But blogging is not the same as it was 2 years ago, those who have been blogging for longer would have definitely noticed a shift in things. 

For every blogger, being a part of a community is the most important thing. 

And naturally being a part of a community means that you exchange ideas, respond to others’ thoughts and voicing your opinion. And what better way to do this than by leaving comments?


Pageviews may show you that people are ‘seeing’ your content but how many of them are actually ‘reading’ it? 

So do comments hold value in the current blogging world? Hell Yes. Comments are tangible validation that your readers aren’t simply skimming your posts, comments are tangible validation that your readers are eager to share their thoughts and interact with you.

Reader engagement has changed so much and pointing out what makes readers speak out is a tricky thing. Each reader interacts differently, some:
  • Readers are pressed for time or have a lower attention span so they choose to read, absorb the knowledge and move on. 
  • Some readers choose to engage more quickly by tweeting, sharing or liking posts. 
  • And then there are others who consider blogging a conversation-They believe that blogging is a two way street, they believe that true connections are formed in the comments section and that conversations begin and end here.
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Mastering the dying art of commenting

The most important thing to remember when you leave a comment on a blog post is that you are representing both your blog and yourself. 
  • Try your best to add value to the conversation -Yes, I understand that sometimes this is easier said than done! How many of us have read blog posts and thought ‘I’m totally with you’ or ‘Great Review’? Sometimes it is hard to say anything more because you feel like whatever needs to be said has already been said. That’s fine. 
  • Most people find generic comments off putting so the best route to take if you wish to let the blogger know that you enjoyed their post, it to reach out to them via social media. What I usually do is share the blog post on Twitter tagging the author of the post. Bingo! You’ve achieved TWO things: You’ve shared your favourite post with your fellow readers and you have also let the blogger know that you appreciate their post. 
  • Don’t be THAT douchebag! - Generic ‘Great Post’ comment followed by a ‘Come visit my blog at blahdeblah.com’ is NOT a cool move, dude. When you leave a thoughtful comment automatically, the blogger and even other readers will be encouraged to check out your blog.
  • That awkward moment … doesn’t have to be awkward at all! If you disagree with the ideas that blogger has put forth you can always tell them. Most bloggers actually encourage their readers to share their stances however different it may be because it helps build up a great conversation. So the next time you didn’t like a book that the reviewer loved you can say so as long as you state why it didn’t work for you. But something you need to remember is that you should NEVER bash the blogger. Personal attacks are NOT the way to build a community!
  • It’s the small things that…. – Using the blogger’s name when you share your viewpoint and saying  a simple ‘thanks for sharing your thoughts’ are a few things that could go a long way.
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What can you do as a blogger to encourage commenting?

  • Simplify - Make it easy for your readers to comment, use a low-fuss and responsive commenting system. I actually prefer Disqus as a commenting platform because it's very user friendly-Hopefully I'll make the switch soon. Get rid of CAPTCHA-If you have an issue with spam you can always switch on comment moderation.
  • Ask questions and invite you readers to share their thoughts. This shows that you are interested in their input and that you want them to join the conversation.
  • Replying to comments - When a reader asks you a question directly try you best to answer them as soon as possible. Replying to every single comment that you receive on your blog is a lofty and unrealistic goal because sometimes there's not much you can say in response to some comments. It's when you feel that commenting back becomes a chore that you need to take a step back. I'm a part of the Bloggers Commenting Back programme at Readers in Wonderland and signing up for this has helped me become a more active commenter.
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So what do you think? 

As Readers: What motivates you to leave comments? And what prevents you from sharing your thoughts?

As Bloggers: Do you think that commenting is important? What do you do to increase engagement with your readers?

Check out these related posts that inspired me:
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43 comments :

  1. I agree, Nuzaifa! I like getting comments on my blogs, because I like to know how the readers think. I know people are generally busy though, so I understand. But I feel good that I'm getting more comments now :)

    I've become more active commenting on other bloggers. My blog roll has helped me choose a blogger, according to genre, so I visit their blogs every now and then. I have also started putting a question at the end of my posts, which I think helps people in commenting :)

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    1. I'm glad to hear that, Goldie! And yes, asking a direct question from your readers definitely encourages them to speak out. Having a blog roll has helped me too because every time I see my favorite blogs on my blog's sidebar it motivates me to visit them more. :)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  2. I always try to comment on posts that I like or find interesting, but you're right, sometimes it's hard to avoid just a simple I like your post type of comment, because there's really not much to add! It's even more difficult to comment on memes! I can never find anything good to say. And what bothers me the most too is captcha! I really hate it and don't understnad why people do that! I often write my comment click publish and if a captcha turns up I click out!

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    1. YESSS. With some memes it's so hard to say anything! But I do read some of the memes when it's a blogger whose tastes are similar to mine because they introduce me to books that I may or may not have missed out on.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Nadia! :)

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  3. About the "awkward moment," I totally agree! I know it's a little scary to be that person who pipes up with something like "I didn't like this because of x reason" but as long as it's done in a non-flamey way, it's a great start to a conversation. Back when I posted my review of Anna and the French Kiss (I didn't like it very much), I was afraid to get nasty comments. But thankfully, the commenters who DID like the book were very nice about it. They shared what parts they did like, and the parts that we both didn't like. It made for good dialogue. :)

    As for encouraging commenting, having an easier commenting system is also good. I tend to dislike the default Blogger system because sometimes my comment doesn't go through, OpenID hates me, and especially because I won't get a notification that someone has replied to my comment. I think that's why I love other commenting systems like Disqus or IntenseDebate (but I will ALWAYS love the Wordpress commenting system first), because I actually get a notif! I can reply too! :D

    Great post, definitely something that's been on my mind lately. Especially because I feel like I've been lazy recently. :P

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    1. Yes, I can remember your review of Anna and the French Kiss-Although I hadn't read the book I could see why it wouldn't be your cup of tea. Kudos to you for being brave and writing about a book that you didn't like because I can understand how scary criticism can be especially if it's coming from your blog readers! ;)

      Thank you for bring up the point on the default Blogger commenting system-I had no idea the system was giving you trouble. I think your feedback just strengthened my resolve to switch over to Disqus! :)

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  4. As a reader, I definitely prefer it when the commenting system has some method of reply notification. I don't mind Blogger comments but I just like to know when I get a reply. It makes me way more bothered because I actually know when the blogger will reply. And of course, it's always important for the blogger to reply.

    I definitely think that comments are an important part of blogging! It just makes me feel so much more connected to the community. :D I loved this topic! Awesome post. ;)

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    1. I'm so switching over to Disqus, Laura! I really hope there aren't any issues when I move my comments. *fingers crossed*

      So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by! :)

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  5. I've been trying to comment more on the blogs I follow! Every day I go through my Bloglovin feed and open the posts I'm interested in. =)

    As a reader, I comment if I have something to say about the topic/book/... addressed in the post. I don't want to be one of those copy/paste commenters, especially with memes. I often see people comment the same thing on every single blog that posted that meme. If I get a comment like that on my blog, I really don't feel like commenting back. So as a blogger I do think it's important. I love to hear from my readers and I actually feel self-conscious about it from time to time when I don't get any comments. And I hate CAPTCHA, so if I want to comment on a post and there's a CAPTCHA, I just click the page away because it annoys the hell out of me. x)

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    1. I cleaned up by Bloglovin feed and now I'm trying to do the same, Bieke! I agree with you, seeing someone comment like that on your post just so that they can leave their link is a bit disheartening. :((

      I'm seeing a decrease in the use of CAPTCHA but occasionally I see it on a blog and I just want to close the tab too!

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  6. As a reader, I guess I just leave comments to show that I had an interest in the post. I like to comment on most posts I read (although obviously sometimes there are time constraints, so I might not always be able to) to communicate with the author of the post. That's why I love it when there are reply notifications (so lol sorry but I actually really dislike the Blogger commenting system because it doesn't let you be notified only for your own comment replies).

    As a blogger, I definitely think that commenting is super important! It really helps you network with other people- just as much as Twitter/FB etc. And like you said, I think it's nice to leave a question at the end of a discussion post to encourage interaction. A bit harder to do that with reviews, but I suppose you could if you really wanted to.

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    1. Haha! No worries, I can see why you'd dislike it-Moving to Disqus is on my to-do list now!

      Yes sometimes, a question can prompt readers to leave their thoughts especially if they feel like it's a great post but they have nothing else to say. :)

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  7. Suuccchh a good post! Your absolutely right when you say there is an art to commenting! Also, ha! comments are everything! I continually tell my brother [who keeps asking how many followers i have because he wants to know whether i am ''famous'' yet (NOT going to get to 1K followers any time soon *sigh* ;))] that it's not how many followers i have. i really couldn't care less how many followers i have. if i had five followers but got a really good number of comments on each of my posts i would be more happy than now, when i have an okay following but sometimes barely any comments.
    one thing that irks me slightly is when is see that i have, say, 100 views on a post but five comments. w to the h to the y?! ;p i try not to fall into the trap of reading a post i love and then not commenting because i know how annoying it is for me to see that!
    and yep, social networking is uber important! and haha yes, the awkward moment! i would much rather like it if someone said they disagreed with my opinion and told me why than if they just said 'great review'. on of the main reasons why i blog is to share my opinions AND get other people's opinions on MY opinions! :)

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    1. ...to share my opinions AND get other people's opinions on MY opinions. YESSS.

      Haha, you can tell your brother that I think that you are pretty fabulous blogger, IMO! :D

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  8. I 100% agree with this Nuzaifa! Comments means so much more to me than page views because when someone comments on your post it means that you inspired thought, that you sparked an interest. And isn't that the goal of blogging?

    I love your idea of sharing a post you like on twitter during the times that you find it hard to write a comment. Sometimes I have a major case of writers block and even if I truly enjoy a post I can't for the life of me think of what to say. But I really want that person to know I was there but I don't want to leave a generic comment. Most of the time I just end up pressing the like button (if they have one) but I will definitely be trying your twitter idea as it sounds much more flattering.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Lindsey comments mean a lot to me too! I hope the twitter sharing thing works for you. :)

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  9. Oh absolutely! I value comments greatly. The only time I don't comment is if a) the blog is taking forever to load, b) it's EXTREMELY messy and therefore drives me up the wall, or c) I don't really have anything to say. I have this peeve of saying Great Review or Great Post alone. I might say it, but I have other thoughts as well.

    Great post! (Yeah, I said it alright?)

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    1. Yes, messy blogs with complicated commenting systems are pet peeve for me too.
      Haha you can say great post, Sophie-I'm glad you think so actually! :D It only irks me when it is followed by 'come see my blog here'. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  10. Love this post! This is great information for people who are new to blogging/commenting. I think another important point for "What can you do as a blogger to encourage commenting" would be to focus more on providing your readers with "higher value" content, such as discussion posts. Spending more time creating your own content rather than relying almost completely on blog tours can encourage a lot more commenting.

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    1. You are absolutely right, Stephanie! Copy + Paste content don't encourage a lot of interaction so original content is definitely important.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

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  11. As Readers: What motivates you to leave comments? And what prevents you from sharing your thoughts?
    -I really like talking and interacting with other bloggers, so that's the main reason to leave a comment. I always like to share my thoughts on a review/subject. I don't comment if I feel I don't have anything useful to say. I don't want to be the person to leave a 'great review' comment without adding some more information. So most of the times when I see a review about I book I'm not interested in, I skip commenting :)

    As Bloggers: Do you think that commenting is important? What do you do to increase engagement with your readers?
    -Comments are the most important thing to me. I don't care about stats or amount of followers. I care about how many people feel the need to leave a comment, especially when they SAY something. I prefer having 10 true comments, than 100 'great post' ones. I try to end my discussion posts with questions and with reviews I always hope I've said interesting things they might comment on :)

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    1. Same here, Mel! I don't mind 'a great review/post' comment as long as the person tells why they think so. :)
      I prefer having 10 true comments, than 100 'great post' ones.
      YES!! For those readers who find it difficult to share their thoughts asking questions can be a great prompt.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mel. :D

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  12. We all love comments and it's one of those things that you have to give to get. I love building up a relationship with bloggers through comments both on their blog and on mine. But not those meaningless comments, blah. I do find sometimes I prefer to read without commenting though and it's usually down to where I'm reading the post. If it's on my phone, it's too hard to type a long comment. My tablet hates blogger and often the comment gets lost. So I tend to wait till I'm on the PC to comment which means I often read and don't comment. I do try to share the post or click like on bloglovin though just so the blogger knows I appreciated what they said. Great post Nuz.

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    1. Thank you for bringing up the point on 'reading blogs using your phone', Trish! I only read blog posts on my phone during a tough work week when I'm not able to log onto my laptop. And when I do that, I have to admit that I don't comment either mainly 'cause it's hard to type on the small keypad and I'm VERY clumsy!

      Clicking like on bloglovin' is something that I've started to do too, Trish. :)

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  13. I really enjoyed reading your posts and you have some great tips! I already do some of them, but for exmaple I rarely take the time to actually tweet about someone's blog post.
    For a long time I didn't got much comments on my blogs, but now that I actually have and take the time to visit other blogs and comment on them I found that I also got comments back on my own posts. In the beginning I found commenting really hard, because I didn't know what else to say than great review, but I gradually figured it out and I like participating in the community this way and finding out about new and awesome blogs. I also am part of 'bloggers commenting back' and it really helps for myself to have that commitment. I think commenting is a really important part of this community and I am glad to have found out it isn't as difficult as I once thought!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lora! I'm really glad to hear that my tips are helping you-Your comment just made my day! <3

      The blogging community is a wonderful one so I'm very happy to hear that you are having fun! :)

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  14. I really agree with most of your sentiments here, except for the generic comments thing. I don't understand where this hate for generic comments came from. I don't always feel like sharing the post on social media, but I don't always have something to add to the conversation either. Personally, that's when I choose not to leave a comment. But if someone else wants to acknowledge that they read my post and truly have nothing else to say besides "great post!" then that's fine by me. It's nice to know that they cared enough to let me know they truly enjoyed my post, even if they weren't inspired to add anything to the conversation. I also don't want to scare off someone who might comment with a more thoughtful comment on a different post later, by telling them I'm annoyed by generic comments.

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    1. I'm sorry if I made it seem as if I hate comments that say 'great post/review'. To clarify, these comments are actually very welcome the only thing that irks me is when someone leaves a comment of that sort and follows it up with a 'come visit my blog' line.

      But I definitely understand what you mean by not wanting to scare them off-Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, Kelly! :)

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  15. Comments are the best way to show the blogger you read the post and enjoyed it. Even if you don't have anything new to add, a simple "omg I agree, thanks for writing this" is a nice pat on the back :)

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    1. Definitely, Julie a heartfelt thought is always welcome! Hope you enjoyed the post! :)

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  16. Lovely post about commenting, Nuz! Comments are a surefire way to make a blogger's day, especially when they're really thoughtful. I personally spend a lot of time formulating my own comments because I don't ever want to leave something half-baked and tactless. I think it's important to contribute something with each comment I leave. I love that you pointed out addressing the blogger's name because that's something I think more people should do. It really feels like you're trying to engage with the blogger then. :)

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    1. I think it's important to contribute something with each comment I leave.

      Ditto, Hazel. I like to know that I added something meaningful to the conversation too. :)
      Using the blogger's name definitely helps strengthen your relationship and makes feel them more connected. Thanks for the lovely comment, Hazel! :D

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  17. I love it when people leave thoughtful comments on my blog, even when they disagree with me. (As long as they're polite, which so far has been the case.) I like it even better on the rare occasions when they start replying to other people's comments, or when my reply generates another reply, and we get a real conversation going.

    I love your idea of tweeting a review or post that you enjoyed. I think I will start doing that more!

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    1. I have made some really great friends on the comments sections of blogs so yes, I agree that replies can generate some lovely conversation! :)

      I hope the tweeting idea works for you, Lark. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. You can see how long people stay on your blog if you use Google Analytics - also it shows the "bounce rate" which is a measure of if people travel to other posts on your blog. All these are also methods that show reader engagement. I do love comments too, but it's useful to check other methods if comments aren't where you want it to be. People may still be visiting and loving on your blog :-)

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  19. Well, I guess I can't read a post about the art of commenting without leaving a comment, hm? One of my goals for 2014 was to be a better about comments. It can be such a time consuming practice, but such a great practice in which to engage! I always find that when I take that time to read other blogs and respond, I also feel more inspired in my own blog content. Thanks for giving some tips to do this more effectively, Nuzaifa!

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  20. Commenting is, to me, one of the most important parts of blogging. Why blog if you're not going to interact with others?

    Things that keep me from commenting? Some posts just don't lend themselves to conversation, or I personally can't relate to it. That's not to say I don't still enjoy reading them, I just don't have anything to add. Also, if a blogger never replies to comments (doesn't have to be every comment, doesn't even have to be my comments, but when they never reply at all...) then I won't bother because it feels like I'm not being heard.

    And as others have mentioned, I can't leave comments from my phone. It's too frustrating. I do try to mark the post to return to later once I'm back at my computer, but it doesn't always happen.

    Oh, and CAPTCHA is a total deal-breaker.

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    1. Oh, and one final thought: moderation! I'm not opposed to comment moderation (especially if it's that blogger's only alternative to CAPTCHA), but it drives me crazy when they don't approve comments in a timely fashion. This seems to happen the most on blogs that (presumably) only require the first comment to be moderated, because I'll check back and see a lot of new comments, and mine is still waiting to be approved.

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  21. I love the suggestion to use twitter when you just really like a post. I hadn't thought of that before but sometimes I just want to say, "yup!" but I want to be more interesting than that :) So this is a great idea and I was just commenting over at Angela's Anxious Life http://angelasanxiouslife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/what-i-like-about-your-blog.html on how I want to use twitter more.

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  22. I totally agree! I always checking my blog and email for new comment, and compared to pageviews... well, I just don't check them, ever (Except when requesting review copy, maybe?)
    I mean, pageviews are mere number, whereas comments are well, personal message or something like that. It's definitely has more value than pageviews.
    And yep, I've joined Blogger Commenting Back too, and it helps me commenting more often and more thoughtful significantly!

    Great post! And ooh, love the look of your blog :D

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

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  23. I've been blogging for almost 6 years and it definitely seems like commenting is becoming more of the norm. Before it seems like not nearly as many did it. What frustrates me is bloggers who whine about not having views but say they don't have time to visit others. Well, if you don't visit others it's likely that blogs aren't finding you and you aren't really being a 'part of' the community.
    For several years now I've visited and commented on 30+ blogs daily but this year has been more of a struggle. It's harder to fit in the time and sometimes I can go three days without visiting some of them and it drives me nuts. I have this little voice in me saying I NEED to find time to comment! Anyway, I'm off to share on FB, this is an excellent post!

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  24. I hope it's not too late to reply to this post!

    I've been blogging since 2011 and I've witnessed firsthand the drastic change of the blogging world. It's become a passive-aggressive race in a sense (mostly among fashion bloggers) and comments have DEFINITELY dwindled in a major way. Before, readers used to comment wholeheartedly and sometimes even didn't leave links to their blogs. They used to voice their opinions, show where they agree/disagree on something, etc. Now it's mostly 'amazing!' with links to their blog & social media accounts.

    I appreciate that people like you still stick around want to bring back the good ol' commenting days.

    As Readers: What motivates you to leave comments? And what prevents you from sharing your thoughts?
    If a post is well written and genuinely thought out and not just 12 photos and links to what they wore (fashion blogs).

    As Bloggers: Do you think that commenting is important? What do you do to increase engagement with your readers?
    Definitely. I'm not sure what to do to increase readership, but I try to provide inspiration on a regular basis and see what my friends want in terms of outfit inspiration and provide that, as I know not everyone has a huge budget and they want something more realistic.

    Anyways, great post! xx

    Lubna | WWW.ELLEVOX.COM

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  25. Oooohhh great post! I agree that comments are proof that my readers actually read my posts. When I first started blogging, I was OBSESSED with page views! But recently, I realized that I care more about comments than mere page views. I feel like 20 page views and 20 comments are SO MUCH better than, say 50 page views without comments. As a reader, I'm always motivated to comment on posts that are 1) relatable and 2) thought provoking so as a blogger, I tried writing posts that call for opinions and I always ask questions at the end of every post :) anyway, I just discovered your blog and I'm reading some of the posts. Loving it so far <3

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Words are powerful - Please use yours wisely.

I read and appreciate all comments, so do feel free to leave some comment love! :)