When I wrote my post about how I got my start in problogging and if there was anything you wanted to know, I promised to follow up with a post about comments. And why you shouldn't stress if you don't get many. Or any. Of course comments feel good—who doesn't love being appreciated? Just saying that if you're the type of person that needs lots of "strokes," make sure you have other places to get them. I have never felt that comments were a good indicator of how many people are reading your blog.
My thoughts on the matter are my own opinion, but here goes.
After last year's wildly popular NaBloWriMo, in which legions of bloggers pledged to write every day for the month of November, I noticed that my comments dropped off sharply. I chalked it up to the fact that so many bloggers were writing so much that people were overwhelmed with reading and had no time to comment. Not to mention the time it takes to write all those posts. I suddenly realized where all the commenters went: they were writing their own posts and reading all those others.
Maybe NaBloWriMo blew up people's RSS readers. It's just a theory. Was my comment decline all NaBloWriMo's fault? No. But it sure got me thinking about where my commenters were going. I think that, combined with so many people reading blogs through feed readers (like Bloglines or Google Reader), helped to make readers out of commenters. And why not? I pretty much only read blogs through my reader, and you can't comment unless you click on the blog and open a new window. (I don't have time to do that, and I don't think I'm alone.) Having said all that, there are just so many blogs now anyway that it's difficult to keep up with them all.
Also regarding my comment decline, I wondered if perhaps my "story" had
run its course with readers. I know I feel that way about blogs
I've read, and I do believe that some blogs (mine included) just run
their course (which is why big changes are around the corner, hinthint). Did I go
through a particularly dark and depressing period? Readers no likee.
Did my angst about our house not selling turn readers off? Could be. Was my content uninteresting? (I know not everyone loved Rockstar Supernova like I did...) Everyone's taste is different.
All of these things and more add to why people may not comment, and you have to try not to worry too much about pleasing everybody. You're not gonna, and frankly, that sucks all the fun out of blogging.
Also mid-to-late last year, spammers got particularly clever and awful. Suddenly people were turning on comment authentication to prevent spambots and sploggers from wreaking havoc their sites. For me, comment authentication—with those alpha-numeric combinations that I find impossible to read and never get right on the first pass —is another barrier to commenting.
And as Mary, Lia, Charlene and I discussed over a pre-BlogHer blogger dinner last night, some people are readers and some people are commenters. I lean toward the reader category; I read so many blogs every day that it's hard for me to stop and comment. I think about commenting a lot, but don't do it. When people comment on my blog, though, I always take time to shoot an email back (my comments are copied to my email inbox). I figure if people are taking the time to comment, I want to show them my appreciation.
Lastly, I want to say that if you are worried about comments (or lack thereof) don't be. Think about your intentions. For whom are you blogging? You know that expression "dance like no one is watching?" Well, I say, "Blog like no one is reading." One of the best feelings I know is stumbling across a blog where someone has been writing their a-- off for months in relative obscurity, and you find yourself among the first few readers to have the privilege of reading their words. Ultimately, your blog is you. If people like what you're putting out there they'll read. They may not always comment, but they'll read. If that's what you want.
P.S. If you really want to know who is coming to your site, install Google Analytics and pay the most attention to how long people stay to read.
[overfed cartoon credit: dave walker]