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You probably already know that commenting on other blogs can bring traffic back to your own art blog. . . but did you also know that the way you handle the comments that people leave you can not only build relationships with your readers, but increase your readership?

When you manage and respond to comments in a meaningful and heartfelt way, you let your readers know you aren’t simply blogging for attention. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to show that you’re blogging to build a community of like-minded individuals who share similar ideas, beliefs, and interests.

Below are 5 simple steps for handling comments on your blog.

1. Scrap log-ins

Requiring your readers to create a log-in or register to become a part of your blog is a HUGE turn off. If you want readers to comment, make it easy on them. Let them comment before joining anything.

2. Set boundaries

Write a comment policy, then actively enforce it. When your readers know you are serious about protecting the integrity of your blog, even through the comments section, trust is reinforced.

3. Monitor comments

Whether you choose to turn on blog moderation or allow comments to post immediately, take the time to personally monitor comments made on your blog.

Delete all the comments that appear to be real but are really spam in disguise—you know the kind. . . self-serving posts that have no relevance to your post or your blog. And don’t be afraid to delete comments that put you or your readers down, too. Allow a healthy debate between readers, but when it appears to get out of hand, step in.

4. Interact with readers

When you first start a blog, receiving comments from readers is like receiving a blue ribbon at the state fair.

Acknowledge those comments by emailing your response directly to the commenter, then share the same comment (or a summarized version) on your own blog so others can see your response too. Finally, click on the commenter’s blog, read a few of their blog posts, and leave a meaningful comment.

These three steps let your readers know that you appreciate the time they took to visit and comment on your blog and look forward to building a relationship with them.

As your blog grows, it may become impossible to respond to every comment with a personal note. It is still possible to acknowledge comments left by your readers in a comment of your own. Thank your readers for commenting and address a few issues, concerns, or thoughts left in the comments section.

5. Spotlight a reader

Acknowledge the fact that your readers are important to you (especially those that are the most loyal) by giving them a little bit of link love.

Did a reader leave a thought-provoking comment? Did he or she get you to try something new or change your thoughts on a certain subject? Did they offer up valuable insight that your own readers may find helpful? Then write a post that either acknowledges that reader’s insight or showcases his or her original comment.

And don’t stop there. . . if you visit another blog via a comment left on yours, and discover something your readers may find interesting, then share that blog with your readers by creating a post dedicated to that blog or subject. (Just remember to seek permission before grabbing any images for use in your post.)

In the end, comments are an extension of your blog and should not be an area you slack in. If a reader has taken the time to acknowledge you, your blog, or your work, be courteous and acknowledge that reader in return.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Have you ever seen an art blog on the very popular Blogspot.com that uses more space than the standard template they give you? Many times, it's because the artist has added a third column. I managed to update my blog recently to a three column site, and here's how I did it: (NOTE: The following information works best with the Minima template, which is the one I am using and I believe to be. . . read more

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