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On Blog Comments And Motivation

A screenshot from the Sims, of a number of people standing in front of a desk where someone is typing on a computer

Does the number of comments you receive on your blog posts affect your motivation for blogging? This is a subject that I suppose can look like a rant at face value, but my purpose today is to simply discuss the impact of obvious interaction on motivation.

There are of course lots of points that could be considered when answering such a question, for example are we talking of every post needing a great number of comments – can these comments be evened out over posts in a way that suggests the blog isn’t so popular, and do we take into account those articles we write that we know won’t see much reader input?

For this discussion we’ll look at comments in general rather than focusing on any of those specifics – ergo, the number of comments you receive on average in, say, any given week. This is because it makes sense, for example, that readers may not comment so much on reviews, or that the blogging community might happen to have a slow few days.

In my case, the number of comments I receive on average varies depending on the topic I’m writing about. A perfectly understandable situation that has led me, as I’m sure it does others, to work out what sorts of posts my readers like the most. My comments will of course be affected by other factors such as those explained above, and also my own actions. I can’t expect people to comment on my blog if I’m not posting, for example. So my number of comments swings back and forth.

Do comments make me feel more determined in my blogging? In some ways yes, most definitely, but in other ways, no. Comments let you know that your words are being read, and how many people don’t appreciate the interaction and further discussion they inspire? And what about the sheer feel-good factor that occurs with seeing people commenting on something you wrote? Personally I’ve come to love the fact that comments mean you all give me something to think about when I thought I’d exhausted a topic, and I also love it when people counter my opinions with their own. There’s a lot of learning to be had through interaction.

As for the “no”? It’s important to believe in your writing, in yourself, your worth with or without lots of comments. Blogs are relatively new, all things considered, and it wasn’t long ago that columnists and reviewers were effectively speaking to silence (fan mail being different). And to place an answer somewhere in the middle – a lack of comments after a time of many comments can make me want to be better, a better writer, more interactive myself.

Yet sometimes it’s impossible not to let comments get you down, especially when you’re a new blogger trying to gain a following. It takes weeks, years, and you have to write with the possibility of speaking to a number of page views that, although possibly high, doesn’t reply in words.

Comments are important to me, I can’t lie. I would miss it if there was no more discussion. But due to the differences between offline and online living you can’t let the number get you down.

How do comments affect your motivation?



March 25, 2013, 1:34 am

I get anxious when I post something and it doesn’t get what feels like “enough” comments — this is a widely variant number depending on the post — and then I have a brief but intense tailspin of doubt. And then I feel lucky that I started blogging when book blogging was smaller and easier to start with. :/

Sheila (Book Journey)

March 25, 2013, 3:56 am

Its fun to create posts that generate conversation. After blogging for almost 4 years now I like posting conversation starters such as this one to build up what readers think, and as I said, start a conversation.
Someone once said, comments are the bread and butter of a blogger and I would have to agree :)

Ana @ things mean a lot

March 25, 2013, 6:26 am

What Jenny said! I agree completely that you need to believe in your voice with or without the immediate feedback comments provide, and yet I just can’t help it. Blogging can feel lonely without the interaction and that does affect my motivation a lot.

Laurie C

March 25, 2013, 10:17 am

I love the illustration you chose to go with this post! I tell myself that the number of comments aren’t an accurate reflection of the number of readers of a post. There are a lot of lurkers out there, and some of them have got to be reading. Also, page views aren’t an accurate stat either, because so many people just read the emailed post or read in Google Reader. Don’t get discouraged! :)


March 25, 2013, 11:30 am

Like Jenny and Ana (who exchange comments with me) I get anxious if I post something and perceive too much silence. For me, that’s a smaller number but I’m hoping to interest at least a couple of people enough to get a response.


March 25, 2013, 12:54 pm

Another great topic Charlie :)

I love comments and I love discussions. The interaction with this community is probably the number one reason why I blog.

You’ve made me think again. You have a way to doing that ;)


March 25, 2013, 1:40 pm

You make some really interesting points here Charlie. I think comments do boost my motivation to write. It is always to lovely to hear reader’s opinions and recommendations, but I’m not a comment counter. I don’t blog to receive comments I blog to put my thoughts down for myself and others. It is a just a wonderful bonus when people want to comment too.


March 25, 2013, 2:51 pm

As much as I don’t like to admit it, I do think comments affect my motivation. My best example is my Small Fry Saturday children’s literature feature on my blog. I started it because I do love to share what my son is reading…however, I quickly realized that those posts don’t get many (if any) comments. Probably because it’s kids books, and Saturday (less traffic)…who knows. It kind of burst my bubble for a while. But then I thought, why stop doing it if I enjoy it? So I scaled it back to a when-I-feel-like-it feature, rather than weekly, just to take the pressure off myself if no one was going to comment.
So that said, I don’t keep careful track of comments, but a lack of comments on a certain feature does tell me a lot about what my readers like/don’t like.


March 25, 2013, 3:04 pm

Another ‘you’ve posted what I’ve been thinking’ blog, Charlie! I feel like you’ve a psychic blook blogging link to my mind.

“Does the number of comments you receive on your blog posts affect your motivation for blogging?”

No, but it does make me wonder if anyone is actually reading.

I read a lot of book blogs, and I find I don’t tend to comment on post solely about a book, especially if I’ve not read it – so I came to the conclusion pretty early on in blogging that a lot of readers who may come to my blog would feel the same.

I agree, non review posts tend to get more comments, but I think it can be a give and take thing as well – a lot of the time if someone new comments on my blog I’ll comment back and vice versa; I wouldn’t have perhaps found their blog otherwise.

I do like a comment though, especially as you say, when they counter your opinion or give you more food for thought. Plus as much as I don’t need comments to write, they are a very lovely addition to the blogging experience. A great way to meet like minded friends.

Belle Wong

March 25, 2013, 3:15 pm

What a great post, Charlie! I do like getting comments on my posts and they do motivate me to a certain extent. I’ve been writing more reviews lately and it’s been interesting to see what kinds of books generate more comments. I also like getting comments because I often find new-to-me bloggers, and sometimes that interaction gets carried over to Twitter and/or Facebook or email – it’s always nice to form new relationships via my blog.


March 25, 2013, 7:03 pm

I love comments and I agree that it’s a source of motivation. On the other hand, as you say, we should (and are!) doing this for our own satisfaction, not (just) to attract many readers.

I don’t look at the number of comments very often, but page views are important to me. You like to know there’s an audience out there that reads what you wirte!


March 25, 2013, 11:42 pm

I love when people comment. Blogging isn’t so great if you’re just yelling into the ether!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

March 26, 2013, 2:09 am

I love the picture you posted with this! I think comments do affect content, but not a ton. I don’t get a lot of comments on some reviews, but they’re books I liked and want to tell people about so I’m glad to have put up that content. But I like putting up more chatty posts too, like my Currently posts on Sundays, because it’s fun to get feedback. I guess the point is that it’s important to balance things out, and having a mix of content is a good way to help foster and encourage comments.


March 26, 2013, 4:39 am

Comments used to affect my motivation, but not so much any longer. I realize that some posts are just not interesting to people or it might be a really busy time of the week or month and people don’t have time to comment. So many things can affect comments. It’s really easy to make it personal, but it is more than likely not about you or your post . This is something I’ve had to realize over the years or I would driven myself crazy!

Maria @ A bookworm’s life

March 26, 2013, 11:13 am

You raise some great points Charlie! I have to admit, I love getting comments and I find that it does affect my motivation as a blogger. Most of the time I only get comments from you (thanks!) and I greatly appreciate it because it means I’m not talking to this great big void but there’s actually someone listening. This definitely helps keep me on some sort of regular posting schedule. And of course, the posts that do get comments are a good indicator of what my blog visitors want to talk about but, I don’t think that has any effect on what I choose to post.
I would love to have big discussions with people in the comments, to hear different opinions and to see things from a different perspective. But, given how inconsistent I am in replying to an average of one comment per post I am not sure this would ever happen.
P.S. I’m loving the picture. Yay for The Sims!


March 26, 2013, 12:59 pm

Comments also hugely affect how I feel about my blogging. I am always a little bit haunted by the fact that I’m sure I used to get more comments, but I know a huge part of that is the fact that I don’t comment as often as I used to (and I also review quite a few books that my normal commenters aren’t too interested in). I’m kind of like Jenny – if a post doesn’t match my expectations I do sometimes doubt and get disappointed. Yes, we should blog for ourselves, but readers are nice.

Also, like others have said, nice picture! I love The Sims.


March 26, 2013, 2:27 pm

Fascinating post, Charlie! I think you have touched a chord in the heart of every book blogger :) Comments do make or break one’s day during the initial days of blogging. But I also agree with what others have said, that sometimes writing what one wants or what one believes in is important though the comments that one may get for that kind of post might not be much. In my own case, I don’t really worry about comments when I write a post on my blog but I value every thought that a fellow book blogger shares on one of my posts, because in these hectic times, when our schedules are busy and we are hard pressed for time with commitments to work, family and a thousand other things, the fact that someone took some time to read one of my posts and commented on it – it makes me feel very happy.


March 27, 2013, 12:28 am

I laughed at your choice of image for this post :)

I find that comments don’t affect my motivation per se (when I started my blog, I decided to do daily Monday to Friday, regardless of traffic or feedback,) but rather it affects my feelings about my blog. A good comment can genuinely brighten my day, but doesn’t really have much to do with my work output.

We’re reading, even if we’re silent sometimes!

Tanya Patrice

March 27, 2013, 12:47 am

I love getting comments, and conversely, I love commenting on blogs also. But here’s an ironic comparison – I have a blog where I post workout music playlists. I turned comments off a long time ago, but it just didn’t get many comments, but I know it gets a ton of traffic – easily, 20x what my book blog gets – which gets way more comments.

It makes me realize that people interact with websites in different ways, and to look at a bunch of different think to measure interaction, rather than just comments.


March 27, 2013, 7:37 am

I also love comments, and I think that they are what make people write posts, because if you don’t like or you don’t want to have comments, you can just write a diary of readings or something like that (private, I mean).

And yes, I feel a little frustrated when I have less comments than the “normal average” on the posts (talking about my Spanish blog, of course, because in the English one I have a little amount of comments, which I’m very happy about!), thinking if people are no more interested in my reviews or something ;)


March 27, 2013, 7:54 am

Isi, I have the same thing on my Dutch blog. I think it’s because there are so many more people who speak English so you get more readers and thus more comments on your English blog.

It seems to be so for me. Also, when your blog is a bit older, people are more likely to comment if they have followed you for a while already and they start fto “know” you.

A trick that may help, run a giveaway on your blog where people can only enter if they leave a comment. Once they have commented they may do it more often. Especially if you react to each comment yourself.


March 27, 2013, 11:39 am

I didn’t express myself well, I think.
I meant that in my English blog I have few comments, but it’s normal because it is new and I don’t post very often (1,5 post per week). But despite they are few comments, I’m very happy with them because some people comment and that is enough for me.

In my Spanish blog I have 30 and 40 comments sometimes, and when I have less than 20 I feel like life is not worth the effort ;)


March 27, 2013, 12:16 pm

I see! :-)

Weekend reading | A bookworm's life

March 29, 2013, 12:01 pm

[…] Charlie’s interesting posts on comments and motivation. […]


April 2, 2013, 8:18 pm

Jenny: That’s a very good point – what if less/no comments means people didn’t like what you wrote? I think this community is pretty good for that, though, they’ll correct your mistakes or help your argument and you know it’s from a place of kindness. Your knowledge of the years is likely very helpful.

Sheila: Oh yes, without comments you really are speaking into a void, at least to those who aren’t familiar with the other readers of the blog (and that’s difficult if there are no comments). I agree with your liking conversation start posts – book bloggers and readers have so much knowledge of their topic, and because of the subgenres this is varied, that you really want to get that conversation. And I know how much I love reading posts and then the comments after them on other blogs, everyone chiming in with new ideas and their own opinions.

Ana: This, exactly. You need to believe in your voice, but then comments are the voices of others that in almost all cases will only serve to improve (of course leaving out here spam and hating for the sake of hating). Regarding loneliness, I think that’s what’s so nice about Twitter et al. You’ll still feel lonely, but it’s not as bad or, well, lonely.

Laurie: Thank you! After some thought I’ve decided I’ll likely stick with the same Sim people in future. That’s true, and any analytics software would back you up :) Page views are very problematic. It’s nice to have them but I know there are mornings I’ve thought “wow, that was a lot of traffic!” and then remember that the evening before I’d refreshed the blog lots of times whilst editing…

Jeanne: When you’ve posted something that seems to only get silence, that one first (or of course only) comment is gold, isn’t it?

Jennifer: Thanks! It would be incredibly difficult to keep blogging without the community. It might make you look a bit special if you were one of only a few, but thinking back to the days before people blogged – it would be like being isolated now. Glad to hear it ;)

Jessica: That’s a good point. To like comments but not count them and worry too much.

Kelly: I know what you mean. You can write something that means a lot but find no one is interested (or at least it appears to be that way). Ironically, I read your latest post today and saw a mention of those posts (or one like it) and was really intrigued :) Posting about it when you want is a good alternative in that situation. Oh yes, I completely agree. Knowing the number does help when you want to write something with the aim of discussion.

Alice: I’d say I do but that would be incorrect… and sound pretty weird. You can have all the numerical data in the world and it still won’t tell you if people are actually reading your posts. I’d say you’re right, at least where not having read or soon-to-be-reading the book is concerned. Reviews are generally longer so it’s a time investment. Very good point, yes, I’d say it’s very much give and take. In a real-life situation it might sound less… correct?… but you can’t expect people to read and comment if you don’t put yourself out there. That’s the mistake I made on my old blog – how I expected readers when I didn’t join in their conversations is beyond me. I love your last thought, and it’s very true.

Belle: Thanks! That sounds like a post in the making ;) I love it when I get a new commentor for the same reason, you think you’ve found the blogs that appeal to you and then someone new comes along and you’re so glad they said hi.

Judith: Indeed. And that’s why we started, because we love books, so to loose that in favour of something else… it wouldn’t work very well. Yes, when you write in public it is nice to have that.

Liviania: Yes, and you’d always be wondering how you came across. I have to admit when I see a blog has disabled the comment function I feel a bit sad, like opinions aren’t wanted – especially if I’ve something particular to say.

Kim: Thanks! Oh yes, if you didn’t write about books you loved, expectation of comments or not, there would be no fun in it. I like your currently posts, there is always quite a bit to talk about – as you’re looking for ;) I’d agree with your thoughts on balance.

Anbolyn: That’s the thing, there are many things that affect it, and there will always be good and bad days, so to speak. Very good point about it not being personal. You’re more likely to look at the clock and think “eek, I’m late, must go” than think “grr, this post”.

Maria: Thanks! Really? I didn’t realise that (I check back via the WordPress bar at the top). I’ll keep commenting ;) Yes, an indicator is good, but letting it rule your schedule or ideas completely would affect your motivation, too. The issue with time is it affects the blog owner too :/ This group of Sims will be sticking around :)

Meghan: That is surely one of the big downers – you cabn get happy about numbers or just simply conversation, but if it drops it can feel bad. Even if it’s just for a time. Actually I think in a way it’s worse that way than having less overall. It it is easy to get disappointed that way, I know there have been times when I’ve felt I should have held back on a post, edited it a bit more, before I had posted it. Thanks!

Vishy: Thanks! I’d have to agree with you; when you are without comments at the start, and it looks like it won’t improve, it seems easier to give up. Indeed, you’ve got to write what you want, even if that means balancing what you like with other ideas. If you loose that important part, writing whatever you want, then it becomes a chore. That is very true, a comment is a sign of precious time that was considered worth spent on your blog. A humbling thought!

Beck: Using The Sims will never lend itself to seriousness, but it fits :) Interesting to read about your schedule, having it all set is an awesome start! It does brighten a day, doesn’t it? True, silence doesn’t necessarily mean no one is there.

Tanya: Same here. Commenting elsewhere is important to me. It is weird the way blogs can work. To be honest you’d think music playlists might get more comments because lists are so easy to comment on. Yes, there is that definitely. Different ways, and also it can depend on the type of website and the way the different communities respond.

Isi: Yes, comments can push you to write more, and that can end up in posts that are better still. And you can have private journals, too. I understand that completely – you wonder if you wrote something silly or just not interesting.

Judith & Isi (if I may join your conversation): When Isi said about her Spanish blog I was thinking the same as you Judith, the numbers of speakers. I’d say an older blog would get more comments, too. You’ve gain an “authority” almost, and people can see that others already like you. I think I’ve seen that trick on a few blogs, and it does definitely work. You’re literally giving something back to your readers, so they would likely do the same and comment.

That said, yes, Isi, it sounds right that you get more comments if you post more on your Spanish blog (though of course with RSS and email a schedule isn’t necessary). There are more posts that people could share, and therefore more people might read about you. You’ll likely find more readers for your English blog as you continue writing there :)



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