One of the most rewarding things about blogging is receiving comments from readers. Those of you publish articles on videos online will understand how rewarding it can be. This is particularly true at the start of our blogging journey as it is discouraging to publish articles every week and not receive any comments. It starts to feel like you are talking to a brick wall as no one is listening.
Responding to comments shows readers you appreciate their input and in many articles, the comment area ends up hosting a more interesting discussion than the article itself.
We all know the benefits of comments on blog. The question is: Should freelance bloggers be expected to respond to comments on articles they have written for others?
As you can see from the title of this blog post, I do not believe that they should be; however, I would like to explain my reasoning in more detail below.
A Freelancer Blogger's Responsibilities
After finding success as a blogger with my own blogs, I started getting approached frequently about writing for other blogs. It is something that I was hesitant to do initially, but I soon found myself in the position where I was writing more often for other people than I was for my own blogs.
The responsibilities of a freelance blogger changes from blog to blog. Some blog owners expect me to add featured images, some do not. Some want me to mention certain keywords in my articles, some do not. Others want me to find new topics to blog about, while others give me detailed explanations of what they need covered.
I always ensure I speak to blog owners beforehand about what is expected of me. This saves any disagreements at a later date.
Unfortunately, some blog owners have unrealistic expectations about what freelance bloggers should do.
For example, I was once approached to write a series of 500 word articles for a large website. I was requested a long series of rules and steps before I even began writing. The biggest problem with this was the number of hoops they wanted me to jump through.
It would have taken me 30 minutes to write the kind of articles they wanted, however it would have taken another 30 to 40 minutes to complete all the spreadsheets and checklists they wanted me to update before and after writing the article.
In the end, I declined the job as the additional hoops they expected me to jump through were effectively halving my rate. I believe that it is better to avoid working with clients who take up more of your time without adding anything to your bottom line (I touched upon this issue recently when I spoke about eliminating time wasting clients).
Responding to Comments
If you own a successful blog, you will know that when a blog reaches a certain level, it can be time-consuming responding to all comments. This is something that some blog owners fail to understand.
While I do try and respond to comments left on articles I have written for other blogs, I simply cannot guarantee that I will do so because of the time it takes.
I had a disagreement with one of my main clients about this stance last year and it sadly ended with us both parting ways. Allow me to explain what happened.
Around the time we first started working together (I believe it was after the first article was completed), he asked if I could respond to comments left on the article. I advised that I could never guarantee that I would do that and it was not included in my writing rate, but would respond if and when I had time. He was happy with this and said he understood my position.
I began to respond to comments when I could. Unfortunately, this proved to be an extremely time-consuming task. I was writing three or four articles per week for them and each article would receive over one hundred comments. Most comments from readers were questions. That is, I received very few “Great post” type comments and lots of “How can I do X, Y, or Z?” type comments.
I soon realised that I was no longer responding to comments; I was providing support. These questions took a long time to answer as I had to leave detailed explanations and link to useful resources.
Since it was a regular gig, I did try and still go above and beyond and respond to comments as much as I could; however, the situation soon became unmanageable. I had been writing for them for months. Newer blog posts were getting lots of comments and older articles were indexing well in search engines, therefore they were generating lots of comments too. No word of a lie; I could have spent 20 to 30 hours per week simply responding to comments.
In June last year, I went on a holiday in Colombia for two weeks. I was still writing articles during the trip, however I made a point of not responding to comments as it would drain what little time I had to enjoy my holiday.
After a while, the blog owner asked why I was not responding to comments and I reiterated what I said initially that it was not part of my rate. I explained that the sheer volume of comments was overwhelming and that I was not really responding to comments, I was actively supporting his customers and as such had to be compensated in some way i.e. be paid on an hourly basis.
He noted that by not responding to comments, it made the blog look bad and gave the impression that they did not case about their customers. I actually believe this to be true. A blog should interact with commenters. However, I also think it is ridiculous for blog owners to expect freelance writers to reply to comments free of charge; which is what this client wanted me to do.
Responding to comments properly takes time, and as a freelance blogger, I am not compensated for responding to comments.
I have published hundreds, if not thousands, of articles for other people (and many thousands more for my own blogs). I could email notifications every single day of the week advising me a new comment has been left on an article I wrote. I simply cannot spend time responding to these comments or I would not complete any work.
Many blog owners have never been bloggers themselves.
In the past, a large number of blog owners used to write for their blog and took a step back from writing duties once their blog became profitable. Whilst these blog owners no longer actively blogged themselves, they did have a great understanding of what it is like to blog every day.
The changes that Google have made in their ranking algorithms over the last couple of years has encouraged companies to add blogs in order to increase traffic. Due to this, I have seen a stark rise in the number of blogs that are run by people who have never blogged themselves.
Perhaps this is why many blog owners cannot see things from a freelancer's point of view.
I am someone who has owned blogs that hired writers, someone who has written thousands of articles for his own blogs, and as someone who has spent a lot of time freelance blogging for others. Therefore, I feel that I am in a unique position to see both sides of this issue.
As a blog owner, I recognise the need for the authors of articles to get involved and respond to commentators. It create a community spirit and shows commentators they are valued.
As a freelancer, my time is extremely precious to me. I do not receive the same benefits as full time employees, such as sick pay or a pension. There is never a day when I can be lazy and slack off either; something which many full time employees do. If I do not work hard, I do not get paid.
Whilst I do understand that blog owners want authors to respond to comments, it is a task that offers me nothing in return. Whether I spent five minutes or five hours a week responding to comments on other people's blogs, the money I make from a client is the same. There is therefore no incentive for me to spend time responding to comments. Time is money, and I lose money if I spend time doing things that do not increase my income since it reduces the time I have to complete work for other clients.
Every job is different and it is up to the blog owner and blogger to agree on what is expected of both parties. Personally, I believe that a freelance blogger's responsibility is to write the article. If a blog owner wants the author to respond to comments too, the freelancer should be compensated for this; be it on an hourly basis, per comment basis, or per word basis. Or to put it more simply: The freelancer has to always be rewarded for the time he is working.
What are your thoughts on this issue? I would love to hear your opinion on this so please leave a comment below.