Meta-blog post

In a conversation yesterday, a friend said to me, "You know, you have a very interesting blog... I wonder why you don't get more comments?"

I was totally and completely surprised and flattered by the 'very interesting blog' comment... I wasn't sure anyone thought that (and that would explain the lack of readership!). Once I got over that, I got asking the same question... why don't I get more comments? I figured because I was boring, but at least one person disagrees with that... what else could it be?

My theory is a combination of two factors. The first is the fact this blog is fairly unfocused. I talk about knitting, frugality & finance, politics, faith, news, technology, home, environment, random-life-stuff-that-happens, photography... you get the idea. Should any of that be cut out of the mess? Yeah, that's a really broad collection of topics, and I can't imagine that any of my readers care about all of it, so that could be problem number one: I lose readers because a significant percentage of the blog is not interesting to them (although any one topic might be).

My second, and even more plausible theory, is the Community theory. I am not a part of a blogging community, or 'clique'. My topics are edgier than what is typical for the "Christian wives/moms" community. I don't do enough knitting to fit into the "knitters" group. I aspire to be environmentally friendly and a country girl, but I'm still an apartment-dweller, so don't have enough to say on the subject to fit into the homesteaders groups. I don't WANT to be part of the technology, news or politics bloggers. What am I to do?

Here's what I'm going to do:
  • Comment more regularly. I'm a shy girl sometimes. I would rather read others' good ideas and contemplate them to myself, or discuss them with my husband. I'm sure I don't have anything to actually contribute to the conversations. But maybe I do? Or maybe I should? Maybe I should make an effort to create conversation elsewhere, and perhaps it'll come back here, too?

  • Link love. I'm a blog- and news-reading addict. There. I said it. I probably need addiction treatment for my problem. The evidence: My Google Reader has 210 total subscriptions. Now, some of those are inactive, but, you get the idea. I add the subscriptions all the time, but am not as conscientious about updating my Links page. I'll update the Links to reflect what blogs I read (and what other blogs link here!) to be a good blog-community citizen.

  • Any other ideas? Anything I should post about to be more interesting? Anything I shouldn't post about so I'll stop boring you? What did my friends with higher Technorati Authority do to get there? What should I do?

All that said, I really appreciate Ashley, the Matts, and the other faithful readers that DO contribute to conversations. I love discussions, and thinking, and making other people think with me. Thanks so much for joining in. If there's anyone out there who ISN'T joining in, feel free to jump in wherever. I want your opinion, too.


James Kubecki said...

"I want your opinion, too."

Careful what you wish for! :-)

Joanna said...

Well, not YOU, James ;-)

Just kidding. You're welcome to jump in, too.

I probably (or hopefully? I said I like discussion...) just opened up a whole can o' worms, giving James permission to share his opinion :)

ashley@twentysixcats said...

I noticed I got a lot more comments when I started commenting on other peoples' blogs. I probably agree with the broad variety of topics thing too. It seems that most of the popular blogs are more focused. I have been debating this for my blog too.

In other news, I gave you an award! Go check out my blog. :-)

Matt said...

Obviously, the number of comments you get is proportional to the number of readers you have. You already touched on that.

But I think there's more to the formula than just having readers who care about what you write. Readers must, when reading your blog, be motivated to respond, and feel that they have liberty to dialog publicly with you (and your other readers). Commenting in blogs is a very public affair.

What motivates a response? The most obvious answer to me would be feelings of strong agreement or disagreement with you. Do your posts state things that cause people to want to affirm or challenge the content? The sharper the point of your post, the more likely that people will feel strong enough feelings to actually respond while they read it. Or, as is usually the case with my comments, people may be motivated by having something witty to say in response to my blog, which they post for my readers to also laugh at. Frequently at my expense.

Secondly, do your readers actually have assurance that they are respecting the bounds of their relationship with you by speaking up? If your relationship is primarily employee-employee or something like that, they may refrain because they feel it is not their place to comment. I personally tend to throw that kind of thing out the window, but it could be that your readers don't think it would be proper to comment on your blog. How you'd dispell that I don't know.

And finally, I come to a petty point that I was hoping to just not bring up, but still feel is waiting there under the surface: the cult of personality. People publicly associate themselves with other people that they think are cool. Why do people create discussion forums just to blabber on and on about musicians, etc? It's because they have been wooed by a superficial outward presentation of the person. That's certainly not something to strive for, but it's there nonetheless. People get excited about talking to and about someone who is a bit of a celebrity in their mind. Application point: You may get more comments if you become a celebrity.

Penelope Waffleface said...

I don't comment more often because Blogger's comment page loads slowly over my dialup internet. :-) Also because the word verification makes me do it twice most of the time. It's certainly not because your posts aren't interesting.

Coming up with interesting names to post under takes some mental energy, too.

The Mommy said...

I don't comment because most of my blog-reading time is done with an infant on my lap. It's not conducive to typing. Or it's ridiculously late (11:44pm, for example) and I just barely stayed awake long enough to finish your blog and can't spare another minute of possible sleep by commenting. But I do love your blog. And I love the wide range of topics. I know, I'm weird. But if all your blogs were news-related or knitting related... well, I wouldn't be as interested! But that's most likely because you are a real-life friend and I want to know about your day-to-day goings-on. People that haven't met you physically probably don't care for that as much.

I just realized I need to change my blogger identity to direct people to my new site!

(It's www.thenaturalmommy.com)

Joanna said...

Matt - You did a couple post on your blog on motivating readers to respond, didn't you? I should consider you my blog mentor, you seem to know what you're talking about.

Penny W. - I enjoy your names you come up with, and, yes, I've had others complain about the CAPTCHA. The only alternative is moderated comments, and I don't like the time-delay (and the actual moderation effort required on my part...)

Beth- I understand the baby-in-the-lap thing. I know you're out there :) I'm glad someone cares about the random topics I touch on. I wasn't sure :)

TulipGrrl said...

Comments are fun--to give and receive. It feels like I've been blogging forever now. Sometimes I get tons of comments--a lot of times none. *shrug* The last year or so, I've been mostly family blogging, which generates a few "cute kids" sort of comments, but doesn't really foster a discussion. Except for in the last week or so, I've stayed away from anything that is a potential "hot topic"--lemme tell you, say something controversial and people will feel the NEED to throw in their two cents! *L*

Anyway, I found you through True Womanhood, and I'm glad I did. (Though, I think I surfed through here sometime before. . .) And reading this post--well, I couldn't NOT comment. *grin*

Grace and peace.

Stephanie said...

I found when I commented more at other sites they were more likely comment at mine. You are developing a relationship.

I often feel I don't exactly fit into the "groups" either. Personally, I like the wide variety of topics. A little bit something for everyone.

Try turning off the verification once. Mine is off and comments aren't moderated. I rarely get spam and if I do it is usually on older posts and then I turn the comments off!

Corey said...

I mostly don't comment because I read off of RSS feeds and just don't have the time. It probably takes a good hour per day for me to get through all my feeds. That seems like a lot of time, but its my method of choice for keeping up with what's going on in the world.

As far as the content goes, I wouldn't change anything. I find the variety of topics interesting (except for the cooking stuff, and you already took care of that :). Blogs that focus too heavily on one topic tend to run out of fresh ideas after a while and just start re-hashing the same stuff over. You have an interesting view on life thats refreshing to read about. Keep up the good work and just keep in mind that there is a group of less vocal people out there that greatly appreciate your work. We just don't come out and say so very often.

bfine107 said...

Joanna, commenting is interesting. For one, I would say probably only 20% of people who regularly read your blog comment, just a guess at the numbers, but that's about what mine is. And of the 20% they only comment 10% of the time (I'm starting to totally make things up).

But interacting with comments is good too.

The MAIN reason I don't comment on your blog... blogger makes you go to another page to comment. If I could just click less and leave a comment at the bottom of a post I'd be MUCH more likely to comment.

Joanna said...

Stephanie - I took your advice and turned off the CAPTCHA's. No problems so far- And I've already heard of people appreciating it, so it was probably a good move. I like what you said about commenting as 'developing relationships'- I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I think you're right.

Corey- yeah, for a while there, I had just a partial feed going, to force people to click through, and then realized it annoyed me, so it was definitely going to annoy everyone else. The faze didn't last long. I'm glad to hear you say you enjoy the variety of topics- except cooking, which I took care of :) I thought the number of cooking posts was getting excessive, too.

Ariah - I hadn't thought of the usability aspects of an extra click to comment on Blogger blogs. You're right, that's not the best design. I do appreciate your input & commenting when you drop by!

Thanks, everyone, for your great ideas!

ZAM said...

I don't normally comment on the sites I visit too because I'm kinda shy to do that. I was only encouraged to do so these past few days because I found out that yeah, it can be fun to comment on other people's posts especially if you can relate to the subject..and I agree with Stephanie about developing a relationship when you comment on a site.



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