Confessions of a Comment Addict

addiction

My name is Johnny Truant, and I am a comment addict.

A large amount of my self-worth as a blogger is defined not by my traffic, or readership, or income, or buzz. It’s defined by the relatively meaningless number below each post that counts the people who fill out a form and click Submit.

On a gut level, I think I’d be more satisfied by a mediocre post that generated 100 fluff comments than a really good one that generated 5 meaningful comments. I like and need that hollow validation. I crave it in the same way I get a charge out of watching my Twitter Grade improve and my Tweet Nuts grow.

The good news? I know how to feed that addiction. In this post, I’ll give you a guaranteed way to get more comments from your readers.

The bad news? Pretty much by definition, it’s going to make you uncomfortable.

Here’s why: you have to confess.

Confessions Get Comments

Making a high number of comments a higher priority than business or genuine interaction is kind of stupid. Any consultant worth her salt should be gunning to kick me in the groin until I came to my senses. By making this confession, I’m opening myself up to looking pretty dumb.

Yet my guess is that I’m not the only person here who feels this way. I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe . . . umm . . . you have the same addiction too? In fact, I bet you’re itching to chime in and confess to your own comment-lust by. . . commenting on this post.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

The problem with most blogs and most bloggers is that they’re playing it safe. They’re just “reporting” on things, playing by the rules of what a person should and shouldn’t say in public. If you can buck that trend and talk about what others are feeling but won’t admit, you’ll draw a reaction. Opening up, especially when it’s uncomfortable, will get you more comments.

Here’s Proof

Let’s take me as a case study. Here are my three most commented-on posts:

These posts aren’t entirely appropriate. They each cop to something that a normal person shouldn’t admit, but that nonetheless, a normal person is likely to feel. In other words, they’re nakedly human. And because it’s mainly humans who read my blog, the “human” aspect has some appeal.

How to Get More Comments

So, you want more comments? Here’s how you do it:

  1. Think of something that you feel or that is bothering/affecting you, but which you are reluctant to talk about.
  2. Ask yourself if other people are likely to identify with it or to feel the same thing, but are similarly reluctant to admit it. There’s little point to confessing to something that only you feel. (So for instance, perhaps you have a deep desire to rub yourself with rats. It seems unlikely that others will share this desire. But maybe that’s me. Maybe I’m out of touch.)
  3. Make your confession, showing yourself in full, naked glory.
  4. Watch the comments roll in.

This works because everyone has foibles, but most people are too preoccupied with looking “correct” or “professional” to discuss them. By finding and talking about these “elephant in the room” topics, you’re being brave on behalf of your readers. You’re being the first person to say what everyone is thinking, but which everyone is afraid to admit. You’re giving them permission to feel the same way, to discuss it, to admit it in kind.

But Isn’t It Scary?

Sure.

Each time I published one of the above confessions, my first thoughts were, “You moron! What have you done?” I expected to pull up FeedBurner and see my subscriber count having dropped to zero. That’s what you get when you expose your innermost weaknesses, right?

Well, apparently not. Those posts picked up a combined 211 comments, by far the most in the history of my blog. Since then, I’ve also had a deeper, more genuine connection with my readers. Now I can’t imagine going back to everyone not knowing how I feel.

For a medium that’s supposed to be social, sometimes the blogosphere is awfully cold. We feel like we have to puff ourselves up, as if no one would ever read our blog unless they believe we are better than they are. As a result, our blog reads like a corporate memo.

But what people really want, I think, is a friend. Not some know-it-all who pretends to like you just so he can make a sale, but a living, breathing human being who is just as screwed up as you are and isn’t afraid to admit it.

Know what I mean?

About the Author: Johnny B. Truant is the creator of Zero to Business: A ridiculously simple guide to turning your online business from tech headache to profit center and reluctantly confesses to enjoying reruns of Sex in the City.

Print Friendly

Smarter is Better Solutions for Smarter Content Marketing

Here’s what we’ve got for you:

  • 15 high-impact ebooks on content marketing, SEO, email marketing, landing pages, keyword research, and more.
  • A 20-part Internet marketing course that lays out a comprehensive path for your own online strategy.
  • An organized reference guide to the “best of the best” of Copyblogger.com, and how it all profitably fits together.
Free Registration

Take The Conversation Further ...

We'd love to know your thoughts on this article.
Meet us over on Google+ or Twitter to join the conversation right now!

Comments

  1. Rich Feelgood :

    That’s the most moving piece of blogpost ever published on Copyblogger so far.

    I just hope you didn’t make it up to get more subscribers!! :D

    - Enjoy life
    Rich Feelgood

  2. Me, too, Johnny. Me, too.

  3. I completely agree. On my blog, sometimes certain posts will get read a lot but not a lot of people will comment. I guess as writers we want to see people leave little tracks behind as they pass through our blogs, we want that instant gratification that comes with commenting and getting feedback. Of course, I also realize that as a reader of other people’s blogs I don’t always comment, even if I love what I’ve read. What makes me comment is when I feel like chipping in. If everything’s been said then I usually won’t comment.

  4. Hey Johnny,

    Great “naked” post! Doesn’t everyone want to get comments? It makes me feel like I’m connecting with people, having an impact with my words. Full, naked glory goes for any kind of writing. If you don’t put yourself on some kind of emotional line, what’s the point?

    One other way to get comments is to take the time to give comments. A paying it forward of comments.

    Thx!

    Giulietta

  5. I tried to resist commenting just to make a point, but I just can’t do it… great post.

  6. I feel you, Johnny. I was mainlining the comment crack when I first started, but I’ve kicked the addiction. Comments feel like such an empty metric when compared to links or a ringing phone. I do agree that emotional nakedness and raw honesty are excellent conduits for communication and bonding, and I’ve written my share of confessionals, but I pay a lot less attention to comments than I ever have before.

    I answer every comment, and though I used to LOVE when one of my posts hit 50 + comments, now I can’t help but think how long it’s going to take me to answer everyone.

    I guess the grass IS always greener.

    : > )

  7. I can’t resist responding and feeding your addiction. Transparency is the stuff of success online. So on that note, I’ll confess. I used to be antisocial. Wouldn’t have anything to do with “social” marketing. But I’m a marketing person for crying out loud! So, I took the plunge and found that it’s made be a better person, more open. But I’m not a butterfly yet!

  8. Everyone loves comments. They are the driving force to write more :D

  9. Hi, I’m Rob and I’m a commentaholic…

    It’s true that quite often the blog entries that you’re most proud of – the ones that you poured the most effort into or are especially meaningful to you – are the very ones that go largely unnoticed. No comments. No emails. No love.

    Yet inexplicably, some fluff piece (about, say, a new tattoo) garners loads of comments (relatively speaking) overnight.

    I know that blogging should be reward enough all on its own, but I’ll admit that i do crave a little validation from time to time. Traffic stats are a nice metric, but they certainly don’t tell the whole story.

  10. I really do love comments. I get all mad when spammers leave comments like, “ERECTILE DRUGS CHEAP says: ‘Good work. I am adding you to my feed.’”

    Writer Dad, I’m not there at all. Naomi of IttyBiz had her comments off for a long time and I was like, “But how can people convey to you what feels like but doesn’t truly correlate to love?”

  11. I’d just like to say that I just left a comment above this one that went into moderation. If you mention or describe medicines on this blog that start with a V, and with an A, and have to do with engorgement of a body part, you will go into the moderation queue.

    Q.E.D.

  12. Aww, well I hope this comment gives you your fix of comment love :)

    I think you’re spot on as to WHY those kind of posts provoke the most responses. It gives the readers a chance to EMPATHIZE with you. And you’re giving them PERMISSION to feel the same way, as you said.

    People don’t always want to be leaders, but they DO often want to be the next in line behind the leader.

    Anyway, back to my rat rubbing. (Mmmmm).

  13. Hey Johnny,

    I’m curious to know whether the comments you get for opening up so much are made up of a higher proportion of negative comments than normal or positive?

    Are you opening your self up to being bitten in the arse later on if a potential future business partner or employer reads and sees someone’s negative albeit honest side?

    Interested to hear your thoughts. Great post! Cheers!

  14. I hate being an enabler, but…

    Great post. It’s one of those “elephant in the room” topics that I’m a little surprised is not addressed more often. I appreciate your thoughts on it.

    Your comment on “playing it safe” struck me. I think that’s definitely true with a lot of writers in general, but with bloggers, it seems like it’s often the opposite. I see so many bloggers that try too hard to be shocking and in your face. I won’t name names, but to me it’s obvious when someone is putting an awkward effort into bringing something new to the table. I guess I find both extremes annoying.

    Again, good thoughts. Thanks for posting it.

    Twitter: @aljmac

  15. Johnny,

    You make a great point. Admitting your faults and foibles will do much more to endear yourself to an audience than trying to project an aura of yourself as a perfect human being. We’re much more likely to connect with people’s struggles than with their triumphs. The important thing is to share both.

    Six months since I quit my job to work for myself. Still scared as hell and still loving it!

  16. Thanks for the provocative post! And it makes perfect sense. Marketing communication at its best is about telling a story, and the more personal the story, the better. You can’t get much more personal than admitting your frailties, especially if your readers can relate to them.

    As far as I’m concerned, Johnny B. True!

  17. @Lifestyle Design – If you get bored, you can scan through the comments on those posts and see if you agree, but in general, NO, I don’t get many negative comments. The one on ignoring world events got a few dissenters (chief among them was a client! Haha…), but the others didn’t at all.

    More than anything, I don’t get “yay, Johnny” or “boo, Johnny.” I get, “Hey, me too.” They’re agreeing, not truly giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

    Remember two things:

    1. The best bet is to open up about things you think people will empathize (not sympathize) with. You can definitely get a ton of comments by discussing things that people will DISAGREE with, but that’s another strategy. If I wrote a post about how a certain religion or race truly sucks, I’d get a TON of comments. However, that’s not the kind of thing I’m going for. Opening up, not deliberate controversy.

    2. I usually write humor, so while these are confessions, in my case, they’re also funny. So YES, I do know “Star Trek: The Next Generation” inside and out. But I’m also saying it in the context of a humor post.

    That said, a true, non-funny confession of the right type would surely produce a deluge. Think about when people come out of the closet and admit to being gay. That would surely get a big response, especially if they wrote about the pressures of staying in the closet and other gays (both open and closeted) could relate. Or straight people who could relate those pressures to other topics.

    You’re looking deliberately for things that you think others feel as well, not thing that are simply contrarian. That will limit or eliminate the backlash.

  18. Oh, and one other thing: I think this also relates to business, since I do get a lot of business from people wanting the services I have at http://learntobeyourownva.com. When I don’t know the answer to something, I admit it readily, and it seems to create trust with my clients. Perfection is always a lie, so when anyone (especially tech people, who are known to have a talent for jargony BS) tries to look perfect, it always comes across as disingenuous.

    Admitting that you don’t know something, as long it’s not critical to the job and is correctable or avoidable, will allow people to believe you more readily when you say you DO know something.

  19. Every one that knows me pegs me for the type that doesn’t watch TV, but I must admit, I watched 7 hours of Dexter on Netflix last night!

  20. Caroline Middlebrook is a great example to check out fo the non-funny confession. She got a big rush of comments (and more important, reader engagement) when she came out on her blog. It was clearly difficult & scary for her, but she got a lot of love and encouragement. It was a great moment. She’s also a “make money online” blogger who actually tells the truth about her income, good months and bad, and gets into what works for her & what doesn’t.

  21. Nicely said. I still wish I had more interaction with my readers. My posts have become more journal-like and bulletin-like because I wasn’t getting responses even to emotional revelations. I’m not hurt, but my blog is mine. I have unmoderated comments to try to encourage participation, and added a widget to show recent comments. And I do ask questions. Probably, most people just check my blog to see my paintings, which is good. That’s what I sell, not my blog writing. But there’s still a disconnect. I’m probably internally conflicted. That’s it. Must be. See here’s an emotional epiphany happening, right now in your comments. I still feel weird trying to sell my work by sharing stories about it. It’s why, even with Godin’s personal discouragement, I ponder the hard sell. Not going to, but I ponder it. And I ponder it in my blog! Sheesh.

    Peace.
    @vinylart

  22. I got 50 comments when I asked why nobody is commenting on my blog like they used to ;)

    try that too :D

  23. Sheesh, Johnny, I think I’ve come out as just about everything imaginable.

    *evil grin* I need your help. What can I come out as next?

  24. Hey Johnny!
    Great stuff. I’m a new blogger and already a comment addict! good tips!
    Jen

  25. I have just stumbled across your blog.
    I do not read blogs. I do not comment them.
    But for some unknown reason, I have started to read your blog daily. And now you have me commenting.
    I rather enjoy reading what you have to say, so thanks for showing me this insane world of blogging.

  26. @Pace – It’s all relative. You can’t move a readership of freaks with confessions about being a freak. Confess to something mainstream, like watching “Friends” or enjoying monster trucks.

  27. Johnny, after a pitch like that, how could I resist adding a comment. I’ll note that I did leave comments in most or all of the TEIH posts that you linked, so your methods definitely worked for me.

    But you omitted another key tactic for getting lots of comments. I’m not sure why, but grammar posts attract comments like flies on shiitake mushrooms. Brian’s Princess Bride grammar post right here on Copyblogger got over 300 comments if I recall correctly. Forgive me if you were saving this for a followup post… :)

  28. I love to see comments on my blog, because it lets you know that the work you’re doing is having an impact. It doesn’t matter if they agree with what I say or violently disagree. I feel if I’ve made them think, I’ve done my job.

    I’m pretty much an open book, so I do share a lot of “naked truth” about me on my posts as well. But I also like to challenge my readers, engage them, and open up group discussions. Then you get the power of the mastermind going and it benefits everyone.

    -RG

  29. @Johnny, @Pace, ha ha, you know, that’s absolutely true. Pace, I don’t suppose you have an American Idol obsession you haven’t fessed up to, do you?

  30. Thanks so much for this. I cannot tell you how this has helped me today. I’ve been writing a post and it wasn’t flowing. I just Twittered words to that effect, then spotted I had a new email in my inbox with my Copyblogger update. Once I’d read it I knew what my problem was. I was totally missing from my blogpost. I’d taken some higher ground place and forgotten that I’d faced and indeed AM facing the very problems I was writing about. I suddenly feel freed up to write something much more genuine!

  31. @Mike S: Check it out:

    • http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/personal-musings/literally-lost-mind/
    = 22 COMMENTS

    • http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/personal-musings/um-words-2/
    = 73 COMMENTS

    Yes, grammar is a draw!

    P.S: These are funny. Y’all should read them.

  32. @Christine – Glad I could help… I think a good guideline is that if a post seriously has you wondering if you should run it (but isn’t SO far in that direction that it’s obvious you shouldn’t), you’re golden.

  33. I guess people often feel difficult to comment on the superior post which may not need any addition or editing. But if the post is about inadequacy of incompleteness of the author or the subject matters, it becomes much easier to add to or edit the inferior post by commenting.

  34. Here I was thinking that I was unprofessional because I do strip myself bare in my blog. I narrate inadequacy, fear of commitment and failure, family problems, growing pains, and everything between and beyond. I ALWAYS identify with hardship, especially when it’s told in the spirit of positive evolution.

    I talk about not knowing (“clueless”) and how we get to knowing. Thank you for validating that this difficult path can lead to others’ well being, Johnny.

  35. “I blog, therefore I’m a loser inside?”

  36. @Johnny yep, those TEIH grammar posts were good fun. I commented more than once (OK, twice) on both.

  37. @Peter Shine, that’s a terrific point. Sometimes we want to “say it all” with a blog post, but posts usually do much better when we leave room for the comment audience to make their own contributions. That “incompleteness” is an important part of blogging, and one that some otherwise excellent bloggers miss.

  38. When my e-mail inbox is empty I have a reason to worry about the quality of my latest blog since I usually get 10 times as many e-mails as comments. I imagine its also something about my blog’s subject matter that compels more to send me an e-mail than leave comments.

  39. Great post, web 2.0 is calling for more transparency and openness. It is about time, hope it does not get junked up. We, as a society, have been lead down too many paths of deception in the past and are demanding this new style of marketing. This exposure allows us to be honest about our weaknesses with hopes to help others. Is this not the way it should have been all along? Let’s hope our elected officials take a hint and practice accordingly.
    Dr Deb ND
    Boston

  40. My name is Edge and I’m a comment virgin.

    I confess I’m a little nervous as this is my first time commenting on any post!

    I’ve spent the past few weeks reading up on the blogosphere. Taking in all the great advice so generously provided for clueless beginners like me.

    Time now to give something back and thank the great bloggers inspiring new beginnings!

    What better place to start than here where I can help satisfy a powerful craving and fire my little shot of instant gratification!

    Thank you Johnny B. Truant for sharing your talent and words of wisdom!

    Keep it coming!

  41. I am not a fan of a short comment. When I see a reader leave several brief comments only minutes apart, on several posts, I find it more dismaying than no comments at all. No comments tells me to not talk about that topic again, it is a failure with value! Short comments depict a mentality of, “I am in a hurry but feel obligated to say something.” Yuck!!!

    The best articles seem to be those that draw up emotion, and they start with our own selve’s opening up.

    Great article, thank you!

  42. You know what, Peter Shine & Sonia?? You have hit home right there. I can’t believe how many times I have heard someone (probably Sonia at least twice) tell me to leave something to the imagination of the reader so they actually HAVE something to comment on.

    I make the promise to myself that I will purposefully leave some content out & lead the reader where I want them to go (or at least spark a nerve) and then I resort right back to saying it all myself in my blog post! Habits die hard, I guess.

    Johnny, I love comments too. When I don’t get any comments I feel like I have not been helpful enough, or at least not interesting enough. I am not quite the comment whore, but..oops, is that okay to say? I didn’t say the V word or talk about engorgement of any body parts, so I hope so! Thanks for the great post!

  43. I have been wanting to blog about my stinginess and the effect it has on my young adult sons. This post provides not only encouragement but also a concrete how-to. I really appreciate it.

  44. Are you the Johnny Truant from “House Of Leaves?” If so, I’d love to know what that book was really all about:)

  45. The thing that forced me to comment on your great post was simply that you made me laugh. The world is such a mess that to be transported away from the battle for a small period of time is a truly welcome event. The imagery of someone rubbing themselves rats (more than one) had tears running down my cheeks.
    Thank you
    James

  46. @Josh – It’s POSSIBLE I may have taken something from that. You are, however, the first person to make the connection. Bravo!

  47. “I get a charge out of watching my Twitter Grade improve and my Tweet Nuts grow. ”

    Is that you Johnny in the photo above doing just that?

  48. OK, Shane, that made me laugh.

  49. James, you should see how funny I can be when I’m not constrained by this annoying requisite Copyblogger has, requiring me to “have a point.”

    Shane, they got my pic right on post I did about the secret to becoming a popular blogger, flanked by two hot chicks.

  50. I’ve been working on my first weeklong series of blog posts and due to the common theme of the series, they tend to be more factual or informational, although there may be some slight controversial element to some of them.

    I understand how certain types of posts can be left more open-ended to prompt readers to comment. But how do you structure posts that are more informational (rather than, for example, blogs that relate a story) so that they prompt comments?

  51. Very compelling – this is my first ever blog comment!

    …now off to finish my second ever blog post…

    Thank you,
    Karen

  52. Not only can exposing your vulnerabilities help you gain traffic, readership, and fame (or notoriety..)–it can also help your readers.

    Every time you blog about something “inappropriate”, you help out readers who have that same problem–but who have potentially felt like they were the only ones in the world.

  53. Way to go, Johnny. I see you clean up your language for Coppyblogger, too (ha ha, not that is ever bothered me).

    You’re right on the money when you talk about bloggers just “reporting on things.” There’s no way that kind of mundane style is going to manifest long-term readership or growth.

    The trick is to get people attention with genuine heart and passion and then at the same time deliver them some value and maybe even get them to pull out their wallets. I enjoyed your Ittybiz martyr post the other day, too. Thanks.

  54. Mike, the most popular Copyblogger post (as far as comments go) was the first I did on grammar (566 comments and counting… well, 126 of those are trackbacks, which of course is the real point).

    It always works, so whenever I need an ego boost, I challenge people on grammar and step back to watch all hell break loose. ;)

  55. Nice one, Johnny! We seem to be having a Truth-Off at our Small Business Owner blog. The stuff that’s coming out is amazing. And it really makes us see the humanity of our community members. So, a big thumbs up to your message. Best regards, P. :)

  56. @Rob – That’s a good question, and one I haven’t answered yet. (See how I keep admitting things?) You’ll notice that all of the examples I’ve given are from my TheEconomyIsntHappening.com blog. But my LearnToBeYourOwnVA.com blog, where I teach technology? VERY few comments. I think it’s a case of people learning the lesson and moving on, without feeling the need to add to the discussion.

    @Charles – These fine folks here run a clean establishment. I must clean up if I’m to sit at the table. I mean, in my first Copyblogger post, I tried to have Donald Duck yelling “F**K!” but it didn’t pass. *sigh*

  57. P.S: First comment on that grammar post Brian linked to. PLEASE tell me I’m not the only person who snickered at “homophone.”

  58. Hey you know what?

    I started reviewing True Confessions magazine when I saw this RT by @writerdad. Need I CONFESS, I’ve stolen your idea without any shame for the main paragraph of my review?

  59. So true. I think it is because our species is wired to seek approval due to our long dependency during infancy. Teenage hormones are meant to fix this but society represses it in most of us. But not you man, you Zig when the world Zags. Keep up the good work!

  60. just found your blog from twitter. loved this post, so here is my meaningless fluff comment. now go comment on my blog so we can be even.

  61. Why do you want comments? What are you doing with the comments? Is your self worth on measured in the number of comments? Fluff is fluff and clogs the internet. Useful, meaningful blogs actually help people!

  62. Thanks for coming clean, Johnny. Didn’t know Twitter Grader & TweetNuts. Thanks for them too.

  63. I’m mad that Tweetmeme was down when this post went live. It has kept the number of tweets relatively low, meaning that another pointless number isn’t where it should be to provide more hollow validation or something like that.

  64. You pointed out a simple yet great truth.
    We all tend to connect better with honest people.
    Thks for being honest!
    Cheers!

  65. Johnny,
    I loved the post. I don’t totally agree that comments are pointless though. Comments encourage traffic. Retweets encourage traffic. Along with wanting to connect with someone, people also want to fit in. Wouldn’t being the only person commenting on a webpage make you feel like you didn’t fit in? Comments breed comments! I will definitely be more inclined to write a naked post or two each month to bring my bond with my readers closer.

  66. Probably one of the most profound blogs I have read in my life. Thanks for getting out of the closet John.

    Igor

  67. 67 comments! Obviously there is a lot to be learnt from this post.

  68. @Sonia & Johnny: Nope. No “Friends”, no monster trucks, no American Idol, no professional wrestling. The closest thing I’ve got to a deep dark secret is listening to Britney Spears.

  69. Umm, Pace? Out of the 5 options, the Britney confession is the absolute worst. Let’s keep this under wraps, shall we? ;)

  70. Is commenting an obligation? I want to churn quality posts, something that my readers want to read. Not only for the sake of receiving comments. Quality encourages quantities :)

  71. I really dig this blog article and the excellent point. I have a blog and rarely get comments, and as a result I do not pay attention to the ratings at all! Perhaps, I should. And, since we’re getting “naked” I rarely post comments either. Clearly, I can learn from you Johnny Truant.

  72. thanks for the advice

  73. Wow, very honest.. most blogs just blog about what they think you should read about….. you are different.. well done i may well try your way to increase traffic.

    Mark

  74. Bryce Eldridge :

    Exactly! People are looking for genuine, transparent leaders who aren’t afraid to confess they DON’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. Our culture isn’t satisfied with fake, phony & fluff anymore. Your blog’s that show your human and able to relate to is what connects us closer.

  75. I like reading confessions posts . When i started with my personal blog, (now more into internet marketing and development stuff ) , i totally believed blogs were diaries online. And in diaries, it is common to have confessions dreams and so on.

  76. @Pace – When I was younger, I used to also listen to Britney just because I wanted her. ;)

    BTW, I haven’t seen you around Pace, drop me a line!

    @Johnny… I just came here to admire the Copyblogger design as I do from time to time and you’re here rocking my world. Not that what you said is by any means new to me… stories are great, and emotional and confession stories are better, but daaaaaamn did you write that well!

  77. Thanks for all the kudos, folks! I appreciate it, and of course the number of comments.

  78. thanks to admin, i really and will apply these tips

  79. I hate this idea! Which means I need to start using it more often on my blog. There’s so much to confess.

  80. Well I certainly feel the opposite. From what I feel a blog should be, i would certainly separate my personal things From my blog which are geared towards a community. If you do that in your personal blog then fine. But if you are doing that in a maybe tech blog, then you are risking chance of losing readership. I am not sure how it worked for you!!!

    I would certainly unsubscribe from a blog if he started becoming more personal. I have certainly done that to more than 3 blogs till now.

  81. Yep Johnny, I know what you mean.

    I have published more than one confession post. They received the most comments by far and were a big reason for the loyal readership that’s formed. Interestingly, I also received comments that helped with whatever I was confessing about. I can therefore, highly recommend them!

  82. I stopped caring how many comments I get long ago. I mean, I DO care in a way. I do want people to read my blog and post if they want/need to, but I don’t get hung up on the numbers anymore. I sleep better at night.

    I will be vulnerable on my blog and see what happens though. :)

  83. Thanks for sharing your “confessions” of being a comment addict. Being that I have a truly addictive personality, I appreciate the genuine human expression in written form.

    That is a huge challenge to convey what it is that you are feeling to a person that will only read the words, but still be able to make a connection.

    There are two reasons for the brilliance of this post. The first being that if you are confessing to show the “realness” of you, bravo.

    Secondly, if you are “teaching” in an indirect manner on how to get more readers to leave a comment – you achieved your goal.

    Thanks again either way.

  84. This was a great article. I am glad that this technique worked for you. I can’t wait to see how many bloggers are now going to admit how “geeky” they really are.

  85. It seems that people are always gonna be addicted to something (that is seriously the truth of life ^-^). I’m a forum addict before. And now after I had my blog, I’m a comment addict, just like what you said. Actually, I don’t even know I have an addiction until you mention it in this article.

  86. Here to be an enabler … or a dealer … not sure which. At any rate, I come bearing another delicious and validating comment. ;)

    I agree that confessions are a great “hook” for more comments, but I also think that they have the potential to deliver personal benefits. Though I’ve been blogging professionally for years, I still sometimes find myself sliding into a style that is more journalistic than conversational. I think that’s because there is some part of me that wants to appear authoritative. But, that’s not really the point – or the beauty – of blogging, is it?

    When I realize I’m going into “lecture” mode, I try to pull myself back and get down to the “nitty gritty” of what I’m trying to say. Peel back the layers, ditch the logic, screw the justification, and just say what I mean. It isn’t easy. Sometimes, I’m not sure what I mean … I just know there’s something to be said. And, ultimately, I think that’s ok … sometimes a post doesn’t have to SAY anything – it can just ASK.

    The personal benefit? I get a clearer sense of what I’m all about. When you can stop feeling like you have to have all the answers, when you can drill down to the essence of what you want to say without having to wrap it up all neat and PC-like … THEN you will often have one of those A-ha moments … about yourself, your business … your world.

    Thanks for the great reminder. Enjoyed every word & the comments, too.
    Cheers!

  87. Yes, the blogosphere can be a cold, cold place. And going the confession route can surely make the comments roll in. But…what about when you do make a confession post and nothing happens in the comments when you expect them to start rolling in…? Then what you have is a true test of your passion to blog. Because the cold, cold truth of blogging (especially for beginners) is that blogging is for YOU first. And the best way to make it un-fun and boring really fast is to base your desire to blog on how many comments you get.

    That said, it’s easy for a high-traffic blogger to get tons of reinforcement in the comments from their developed following, but new bloggers have to slug it out, post by post, even when noone is commenting on their confession.

    If you’re a new blogger, stick to it and keep confessing! And if you’re a pro blogger, don’t lose sight of what makes blogging one of the best mediums around!

    Oh, btw, nice post Johnny (hope you like this comment ;) )

  88. I have to agree with you.

    Being human is what it’s all about. You’re right when you say that all too often everyone is trying to be a little to “professional” and never very “social” with their social media.

    People want to feel like they are reading the thoughts of a real person, not just reports about the day.

    Cheers.

  89. Yup I do agree with you.Blogs can really be a cold place if the content inside is not that much warmthgiving.So the blogger should actually select his topic in a way that provides enough warmth to the readers.

  90. Great post, I’ve found that slipping in content that’s more personal in nature works well when you do it right. I think it helps people reaffirm that you really are a normal person with normal people’s problems and not some superhero.

    This also helps them because they realise if you’re doing well and you’re still human, then they can do well too.

    Sean

  91. Despite writing a pest control blog, I can’t really imagine any of the readers wishing to “rub themselves with rats”. However, saying how much I hate wasps, bedbugs and other such pests seems to resonate with the reader – particularly when they have had similar (or worse) experiences!

  92. Enjoyable post Johnny. I think you are brave to discuss matters that are personal to you, but you have shown that it works and something we could all learn from. People go onto blogs to gain information but personal interaction is essential to gaining those views.

  93. comments are not too important, but they do feel very nice!

  94. Great information. I really love comments, provided they’re related of course.

  95. Oh, I have another tip: Ask for feedback and genuinely consider the answers you get.

    Case in point, anyone want to offer opinions on which directions I should go in the future? If so, weigh in: http://is.gd/2LewU

  96. Johnny,

    Well said. Seriously. You nailed it – really captured the value of blogs. We learn a bit from blogs but it is the raw human element that makes the blogosphere appealing. Stuffy authorities are everywhere. But we can’t get enough real stories. I have a guilty confession. I like watching Hell’s Kitchen but it scares me to think what that says about me.

  97. I like Hell’s Kitchen too, dude… but not as much as The Biggest Loser or So You Think You Can Dance.

  98. Although I agree with the the ability of vulnerability to draw people towards you and your life, the immediate attempt to monetize or formalize the human act of weakness is offensive. This is why the world of commerce needs an ethical overhaul from the ground up. Using therapeutic language to feign a degree of transparency only to suck someone towards a product is emotional bait and switch. The human part needs to remain throughout the exchange and go deeper into the ethos of the person or companies branding strategies. Sorry to bring the party down but I felt like I just got “worked” as they say in Chicago. It is what we are taught to do in grad school.

  99. @David – I think you misunderstand my intentions. I have nothing for sale (well, okay, a $15 book) on the site I’ve linked to with those “open” posts. This post is about getting more comments and activity, not increasing sales.

  100. David,

    Your post makes no sense. What do you do for a living? The fact is that business revolves around relationships and you could say that makes a relationship dirty or you could say that makes the business deal honorable.

    It all depends on the honesty and integrity of the parties involved. Sharing your stories that your audience can relate to is how you inspire people to take action, whether it is helping your kids to their homework or help your prospects understand that you really can help them.

    Stories also let prospects know you may NOT be able to help them. You’ve got to get out of the mystic realm and start leaning more pedestrian so that you too can start to relate to people and stop trying to impress yourself with your grad school credentials and high minded ethos.

    This is all said in tough love because it’s not too late for you to also join the world, tell stories, offer confessions, add value, and make sales.

  101. I have been worrying for days that you didn’t get any comments from your confession post. I kept thinking, “I must write something for that nice man.” It also made me wonder why I need to take care of every needy person in the world. You pushed my button. I think in your case I have found copyblogger so immensely pertinent and useful, that I wanted to make sure I let you know.

    Thank you
    Betsy Lewis

  102. @Johnny – How’s that novel about a film about a house working out for you?

  103. @Betsy – Thank you for your concern. It’s cool. The number of comments on this post has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    @Zachary – Sorry, haven’t had any time for that. Waxing the banister on my infinite Spiral Staircase is taking a lot longer than I figured.

  104. I think what you’re really saying here is “Be engaging.” Sure, confessions and controversy get people talking but you can be engaging with many different types of posts from sharing an experience, to asking questions and soliciting advice and opinions. I think we all enjoy having comments on our posts but they are not created equal and if that drives your content then you could potentially risk not providing what your readers are seeking.
    Angela Connor
    Author, “18 Rules of Community Engagement”

  105. I think we all enjoy having comments on our posts but they are not created equal and if that drives your content then you could potentially risk not providing what your readers are seeking.

  106. I love the beginning of this article. It made me feel like I was in comment rehab. A very odd feeling.

  107. Responding to Johnny and Yusef…man Yusef…touched a nerve did I? I actually have had my own business for 20 years and currently do media relations for a publishing company. These are not the ramblings of some esoteric wing nut but a person who desires social media allow itself to foster human worth beyond the metric assesment by carefully handling the more primal emotions to which you refer to in your piece. I get stories. In fact it appears we are formed or informed by narratives. My ethical concern was the statements imbeddded in your article Johnny that appeared to speak to motives ( i.e. get more responses-is that your motivation?). At the risk of sounding pedantic, there is a real danger in creating a world of simulated responses to real emotions. Just look at the porn industry. So my concern was the seeming (& I am saying seeming here) suggestion that being transparent touched a part of others that induced a better response than other types of messages. This of course is why we have laws as to how we engage children on Saturday morning TV. Clearly certian emotions evoke strong responses. Would it not therefore encourage us to ask ourelves the deeper questions as to motive? It is the intentionality I am calling into question here. Not the fact it works. Pragmatism is a dangerously slippery slope. I am always intrigued by the statement that refers to living in the “real” world. Which world is that? Check out “Culture Jam” by Kalle Lasn. Thx 4 responding rather than reacting Johnny. That encourages me and tells me somethng abut your intentions. Time spent to respond often equates to respect for one’s community.

  108. @David – Yeah, I’m not into the whole manipulation thing. I’m pretty much “what you see is what you get,” so this advice is meant in that spirit.

    i.e.,

    NOT: “Say what you think will get more reactions,” but rather

    “Open up, and I’ll bet you’ll get more reactions.”

    I always assume genuineness.

  109. Excellent and brave article, Johnny. You’ve given me lots to think about and challenged me to be more willing to expose my foibles for all the world to see.

    Way to go!

  110. Yeah comments are just ego. Thats why they are so addictive!

    Thanks

  111. Thank you alot. Now I know to make posts about things I am uncomfortable with. Thanks,thanks.

  112. Hi there,

    I completely agree with you! I run a monthly column in a magazine and so far, the column which generated the most response from my readers was one where I really and truly put my heart out on the table. I went naked (so to speak) and bore my soul for the whole country to read about something very private.

    One quote springs to mind about this topic:
    “Words that come from the heart enter the heart”

    People react to things when they can relate / identify with it. I guess I’ve also been ‘playing it safe’ recently on my blog. But once in a while, we should shake it off and let loose. Thanks for this :-)

  113. Thanks for that post.Makes me want to learn more info on blog

  114. I couldn’t agree more. You are my hero. Great post! Blah…blah…blah.

    I see so much of that in comments, I want to gag. It’s blatant back link building…and I’m as guilty as anyone. I read this post 9 months ago and it was all I could do to skip out without leaving a comment.

    I made myself a promise that I would get over this “slash and run” style of commenting and decide carefully if I could contribute anything.

    I put a note in my Outlook calendar to review myself after 9 months and see if I had made any progress. I’m delirious to report that I have turned my life around. Now, I feel like I’m on my way to a happier life…and it’s all due to you, Johhny Marr or Truant or whatever this months non de plume is. Thank you for allowing me to pour my guts out.

    My higher power is calling me to dinner…and it’s not a good idea to ignore her.

    Steve Benedict

  115. I put a note in my Outlook calendar to review myself after 9 months and see if I had made any progress. I’m delirious to report that I have turned my life around. Now, I feel like I’m on my way to a happier life…and it’s all due to you, Johhny Marr or Truant or whatever this months non de plume is. Thank you for allowing me to pour my guts out.

  116. I must know more… how did *I* help you turn around in 9 months? Was it because this post had you opening up, and it really worked well?

  117. What a confession. How did that make you feel after writing this blog post Jonny? You are indeed a rare breed and I appreciate you…just being you. I think I have learned something from you.

    Thanks.

  118. There’s this super-specific blogging community that you only understand if you’re knee-deep in the trenches. So maybe my friends don’t 100% get why I dig comments, but anyone else with a blog understands how vital they are to not only your site’s survival, but to your sanity/ego/motivation to move forward with your life.

    We judge a blog entirely on its comments. I could give less of a sh*t if you get millions of readers every month, but if you’re getting 100 comments per post you are the cat’s pajamas. If you’re in PR you understand that reaching out to bloggers is important. But which bloggers do you contact? Those who are part of something bigger? The columnists for AOL? The biggies on HuffPo? Or do you go to the ones who have established their own little “cult followings”? People like The Bloggess or Marie Forleo…

    To be perfectly honest, the reason I comment on blogs isn’t because people ask. From my experience, both with my own comments and seeing why other people write, here are the top reasons I comment a blog post:

    * The blogger has said something I agree or disagree with strongly
    * I want to congratulate someone on a new job/baby/engagement/personal success
    * Something is hilarious and I want to add my own experience
    * Something is so amazing I couldn’t possibly leave the website without letting the blogger know how amazing they are but am too lazy to write an email (There is a fine line. Remember that.)
    * There’s some form of list, usually in advice-form, where I have something to contribute

    I’m a little late on commenting, but this is a BRILLIANT BRILLIANT post. I also wanted to up your numbers ;-) You rock my socks.

  119. This is way true. I got a surprise 2000 extra visits to my site yesterday out of the blue, but they came, read, and left. Nobody seems to have left comments. And so I was like, “Okay, that’s nice… I guess.”

    But I didn’t know the traffic had come until someone explained to me why it was there, and then I looked.

  120. @josephine I have been to the exact same thing in my short blogger life, hard to describe though..

  121. Commenting on posts is a way to express your opinion, and it is only natural to want to have lots of comments made in regards to your blog post. Everyone wants to be validated, to have that good feeling when you get a big response from something you write.

  122. Any good speaker knows that a talk has to not only be informative but entertaining and I guess the same goes for blog writing. It’s a type of voyeurism; we love to see people bare their souls.
    Riley