When Your Blog Readers WANT To Be Anonymous

I write a blog for parents (mostly moms) who want to remain anonymous. No, it’s not anything illegal or nefarious. My blog is for parents who are applying to ultra-competitive elementary schools in Los Angeles. These schools are so competitive that parents are reluctant to leave comments on my blog. That’s how nervous they are about the admissions process. Rumors and gossip circulate in this small world like wildfire and no prospective parent wants a powerful admissions director to see a comment they left on a blog. 

When I started writing the Beyond The Brochure in September 2009, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had just co-authored a book on the same topic. I started writing the blog to offer information that we weren’t able to put in the book.

Reading many wonderful mom blogs over the past year, I know bloggers love comments and some blogs get a hundred or more comments per day, many of them from other bloggers. I love reading comments on other blogs.  Reader comments give me a sense that I belong to a community-oriented blog. They make the blog seem down to earth and relatable. Comments can also connect bloggers and readers online and even offline.

But, for better or worse, that’s not the model for my blog. At first, I was puzzled by the lack of comments on my blog. Why weren’t people leaving comments? After receiving emails from some of our readers, I realized they were so nervous about their child getting into private school that they felt like leaving a comment, even anonymously, might jeopardize their chances of getting in. This is an irrational fear, but when you’re in this stressful situation, as I was a few years ago, pretty much anything can worry you. The one exception would be if a parent were careless enough to leave nasty comments about specific schools or administrators using their name. Now, that would be a bad idea!

Beyond The Brochure has had more than 83,000 page views since it launched. Modest by some standards, but pretty good for a local niche blog. I’m pleased to say I’m slowly encouraging readers to comment. I get several comments per week, sometimes a bunch in one day. Mostly still anonymous, but I’m thrilled with the progress.

Here’s what I’m doing to increase my blog comments for readers who want to remain anonymous:

  • I leave detailed instructions on how to leave an anonymous comment after each post
  • I ask readers who email me to leave a comment. My email is also a way for readers to contact me privately and they do. I respond to every email and that’s helped build confidence that our blog is completely confidential and a safe place for nervous parents to visit. Occasionally, I turn a question that was emailed to me into a "reader question" keeping it anonymous, of course. 
  • I write guest blog pieces about topics not related to private schools. Writing about my daughter’s anxiety starting preschool, quitting my corporate job to become a stay at home mom and taking up tennis at age 43 has helped readers get to know me.  
  • Writing posts to elicit responses or asking questions doesn’t work on my blog. Instead, I focus on trying to generate great content and write posts that I think will resonate with my readers.
  • I have a few mom blogger friends who comment on my blog and I do the same for them. 
  • I frequently feature excellent guest bloggers who add fresh voices to the blog. This has helped the blog grow and has generated new comments.
  • I respond to some, but not all, comments on the blog (when comments are anonymous, some can be nasty). I moderate the comments and publish most comments, but not all.
  • I joined a great blogging community to learn more about blogging and connect with other mom bloggers

I’m not looking to put ads on my blog. I’m not looking to review products or develop relationships with brands. All I want is a little comment luv…but not the actual plugin. That’s great for other blogs, but it isn’t right for my readers. At least not now… in the future, who knows?

 

Christina Simon is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.” She also writes the blog, Beyond The Brochure about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and the ups and downs as life as a private school mom.  

 

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