Want to Get More Blog Comments? Check the Junk Drawer.

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I love blogs that make me laugh. I'm the kind of girl that's jaded enough to roll my eyes at The Simpsons but quirky to the point of laughing into choking fits watching The Office, vintage SNL and Sarah Silverman. Enter The Junk Drawer blog. I love The Drawer for a couple of reasons. First, the junk drawer in my house is sacred. More times than I can count, I've found the essential lost item in my junk drawer--the spare car key, the Victoria's Secret gift certificate from last Christmas, the lone AAA battery (don't ask).

Second, the Drawer's owner Kathy Frederick is a real hoot. Don't believe me? Consider this: where else can you read about loving banana clips, runaway boobs and an ass table? Nowhere but The Junk Drawer. Read Kathy's near daily accounts of life and you'll laugh out loud, or at least snort suppressing it.

But you'll also notice something quite extraordinary. Kathy's readers comment, A LOT. Her posts consistently get upwards of 70 - 80 individual comments, bringing her collective comments to over 10,000 for a blog only 1.5 years old. And they're funny, insightful, clever comments that people who have obviously read the whole post take time to share. It's a blogger's dream.

How did Kathy become the most successful comment breeder this side of Dooce? That's just what I asked her and she was kind enough to respond. I sat down with one of my favorite snacks, a glass of wine and bag of Flamin' Cheetos, and wrote down my questions for Kathy. Here's what she had to say.

How do your readers' comments make you feel?
Like a million bucks! Reader comments are the life blood of my blog, my fuel. I cannot tell you how rewarding it is for me to get instant feedback for my writing. It’s a gift every time someone comments.

Did you get that many in the beginning or did they evolve along with your blog?
Glad you asked. Many people think I got a lot of comments right from the start because they see high numbers now. But if you dug back into my stats, you’d see that comments grew very gradually. Like all bloggers, I had single-digit comments for the first few months. There’s no way around that unless you’re Oprah.

Why do you think so many people enjoy responding to you?
I think it’s because I’m an open book. Some may think I reveal too much about myself and my life, but it may be the key to making readers feel comfortable sharing a bit of themselves with me. Also, a good friend once said I had self-deprecation down to a science. He might be right. Admitting my idiocy seems to generate a lot of comments. I still haven’t figured out if people are laughing at me or with me. Hmmm.

How much time do you spend replying each day?
About an hour, more if comments are heavy. A typical post sees 20-30 comments per day. I like to respond to them in chunks of 10 or 20 to keep it manageable.

Do you comment on other blogs?
Absolutely. I follow and comment on about 30 blogs regularly. If you’re looking for examples of commenting done right, check out a few of my favorites:

  • JD at I Do Things So You Don’t Have To: JD writes the best comment responses, bar none. When I read her gut-busting replies, I feel like I’m getting a bonus post. It’s like dessert after a good meal.

  • Jeff at View from the Cloud: Jeff has a razor-sharp wit and he makes humor writing look effortless. Trust me, it’s not. As is the case with JD, Jeff’s responses are as funny as the posts he writes. It’s not always easy to write humorous responses, but Jeff masters it.

  • Cardiogirl: “CG” writes passionately about a number of personal and thorny issues. By her responses, you can tell that she’s thought long and hard about what her readers say and appreciates every visitor. Commenting for her is serious business.

In all three of these cases, the bloggers are essentially saying “Welcome to my home. I’m really glad you’re here.” There is no better way to build a community and retain visitors than to engage those who took time to leave a comment.

What type of posts get the biggest reaction from readers and why do you think that is?
There are two types: 1) where I admit my stupidity or vulnerability, and 2) where I ask readers for their opinion about something. In the first case, readers react because they’ve either been there themselves, or they are flabbergasted by what I’ll admit to in the blog. In the second case, I’ve basically opened up the floor for comments. People love to talk about themselves or an issue near and dear to them.

Can you think of a particularly funny comment, or one where the reader was offended with your humor?
A funny comment? Oh, yeah. There were many, many hilarious comments left on my post about my grade school memories. Some comments were sad, too. A mixture of laughter and pain, that post and its comments had it all.

Anyone offended? Unfortunately, yes. It happened on a sarcastic post gone wrong. I felt bad I offended some readers and vowed to never to do it again. That crummy feeling stays with me to this day.

Do you moderate your comments?
No, and it’s not really necessary. I’m frequently in touch with my blog and watch comments roll in throughout the day. If someone leaves an offensive comment, I can delete it almost immediately. Luckily, I’ve only had to do that a few times. If anyone wants to leave an inappropriate comment, do it between 9PM-5AM EST, when I’m usually unconscious.

Do ‘real life’ friends comment or only virtual readers?
Many of my friends, work associates and family comment regularly, especially my two sisters and my niece. My Dad also reads my blog, but doesn’t comment. Not online, anyway. He’ll call instead to tell me how much he liked a certain post, which is sweet. Thanks, Dad!

Commenting really enriches a blog's sense of community. What advice do you have for bloggers trying to cultivate more comments and/or readers?
Make it a point to respond to comments. People want to feel heard. Show them you’re listening and that you’re glad they stopped by. You’re glad, right?

Ask a question! If you’ve covered some topic and you want feedback, ask away. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Comment on blogs you enjoy. Their owners and their readers may navigate back to your blog and comment, too. Over time, you’ll start seeing repeat visitors. Get to know them. You’ll make connections and the rest is magic.

As for gaining new readers, consider joining networks like Entrecard, and if you’re a humor writer, Humor-Blogs. You may want to try out Blogerella, a new directory run by the same person who runs Humor-Blogs. Bloggers in any niche can sign up there. Some services and networks may prove more useful than others. My advice is to simply try them out and see which ones bring you the most new readers. Happy commenting!

~~~

Thanks for your insights, Kathy. I hereby dub you Countess of Comments. I can't offer you your own kingdom, but I do wish you continued success with your spectacular blog.

This blog, Diva Cosmos, rarely receives comments. Why is that, I wonder? My friend said I sound too mean and people might hesitate to comment. To that, I said shut your mouth awww, c'mon now. I'm all bark and no bite. Well, I bite sometimes but I never draw blood. So please, share. I can only hope to learn from Kathy's success. I refuse to give up. I shall continue to court the elusive comment.

Back to The Junk Drawer. If you haven't opened it yet, I suggest you click over. You'll be entertained, and likely leave a bloody comment.

31 Snap and Comment:

cardiogirl said...

I like the snaps and the tone and I can dance to it. I give an 80 Dick Clark. (Are you old enough to remember American Bandstand? If not, forget the reference.)

I just had to comment because of your plea. And (shamefacedly admits) I found my own name in the post.

Kathy is funny and awesome. And she's generous -- she's one of the few bloggers out there who doesn't feel the need to compete. Her stumble page is a testament to that.

Alan Gay and Straight said...

"Anyone offended? Unfortunately, yes. It happened on a sarcastic post gone wrong."

I can say really snarky things everyone laughs at, but had to learn it doesn't usually work online too well. I still do it, it's funny, but in text can be interpreted wrong so easily.

I have to remember, text doesn't have humor built in to it.

Jeff said...

Oh dear... you fell for this? You see Kathy doesn't actually get that many comments. She only has about 10 actual readers but she's created 100 or so extra fake user IDs and writes all those other comments herself. I'm sorry to say you've been duped. But don't feel bad. Kathy is a pro and this is a common mistake.

self taught artist said...

i think getting comments on a blog is great, i wouldn't blog if i didn't get comments.
seems the people with 73 comments are usually commenting back on those comments and make up at least half of those 73 comments.
i tend to NOT comment on blogs (at least after awhile)that never go to mine and comment, but sometimes, like on your blog, i still comment.

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

Getting comments is like being a kid again and getting mail. Maybe it's a new pop-psychology affirmation.

Anyway, Kathy rocks. So do her commenters.

sewducky said...

I've read for a while and recently started commenting. I am pretty darn sure her or the rest of the readers (except the few that have and I love you guys *sniff, sniff*) bother reading my own blog, but everyone is so darn nice there. It was nice to see the interview, and Kathy's one of the nicest people in blog land I've have the fortune to meet.

JD at I Do Things said...

I love The Junk Drawer!

And yes, it's true that some bloggers respond to every comment individually, thus puffing up their comment totals, but the pros (eg, Kathy) don't need to do that. That said, I can't imagine not responding to all of my comments. My readers are awesome and, like Kathy's, they totally make my blog what it is.

Great interview! Very enjoyable read about one of the best and funniest bloggers writing today.

JD at I Do Things

JD at I Do Things said...

(And I will be back! I love your blog and your style of writing.)

JD at I Do Things

Jenn Thorson said...

Kathy is terrific-- a funny lady as well as just very nice all around.

Thanks for taking the time to interview her, and allow us to learn a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes.

Chris Casey said...

Kathy is the nicest person in all of blogland. I've been blogging fir three years, and she still teaches me things i didn't know or realize computer wise.
My wife and I both look forward to reading her blog, because it is like a good friend inviting you over for laughs. I am disappointed though, that there was no mention of "windy!"
I'm sure Mrs C will add diva Cosmos to her reading list! You fit right in with the rest of us!

Daisy said...

I love The Junk Drawer, too! It's one of the gems that I discovered through Entrecard and now visit all the time. You never know what you might find in the junk drawer! But it will always make you laugh.

Laura-Junkfoodaholic.com said...

Nice interview! I love Kathy's blog - she's hilarious! I also enjoy reading the comments on Kathy's blog (many are as funny as the post).

unfinishedrambler said...

Very well done. A long overdue interview with Kathy. I saw the interview link over at Kathy's, but I already had you in my Google Reader, so I just hadn't made it to yours yet. Honest.

Best comment so far: Jeff's. It does seem odd that she has so many comments, doesn't it? She's quite the huckster. ;)

Gandalf and Grayson said...

We love Kathy and The Junk Drawer! We found her through EntreCard, too! It's always entertaining, not just her posts, but reading other commenter's comments! Be sure and have your drink of choice on hand (or paw)!

Chat Blanc said...

The Junk Drawer rocks! Great interview. thanks! :)

Poetikat and the Hyggecats said...

For me, there are some blogs that grab my attention initially, but my interest either quickly or eventually wanes.
Kathy's blog keeps me coming back, out of curiosity about what she's revealing this time, interest in the things she recalls from the past, or the reactions she generates.
Of course, I'm always anxious to know what she's thought of MY comment. (Isn't that awful?)

Others may come and go, but The Junk Drawer is like an old friend - you reconnect and it's like you never left.

Poetikat

Da Old Man said...

I'm a huge Junk Drawer fan.
She knows two of the kesy to comments: she replies to them, and she visits other blogs and leaves comments.
And she doesn't have that word verification thing.
Just saying.

Maureen said...

Har Jeff!

I've been bloggy friends with Kathy for a long time, and I can honestly say she deserves every comment and bit of praise that is heaped upon her. She works hard on her blog; writing, promoting and responding to each and every comment. I swear she cloned herself....

Babs (Beetle) said...

I have no idea how I found Kathy's blog, but I found it when I was very new to blogging. That was almost a year ago, and I don't think I've missed a post since!

Something of Kathy flows out through her blog and she is a lovely, unpretentious lady, who is happy to laugh at herself. What more could you want?

Great interview!

Babs (Beetle) said...

P.S. Who you calling a bitch?
Oh! Me! .... OK, I'll subscribe then ;O)

tarheelrambler said...

I've been a regular follower of The Junk Drawer pretty much since I started blogging about 14 months ago. We traded tips and advice when we both switched to WordPress and self-hosted platforms for our blogs.

I agree with everything she said about why her blog gets so many comments. But I would emphasize the personal touch she puts into her replies to the comments. It's easy to see that what you're reading is not just a robotic acknowledgment. There is real appreciation expressed toward the reader who left the comment.

And besides...she really is funny!

Vivienne said...

Whoa! Double digit comments in the Cosmos? I've enjoyed riding Kathy's coat tails today! Truth be told, I want my own talk show in the worst way. Why Tyra? Why Montell? Why Oprah? Why not ME? *shows best dramatic expression to camera*

I enjoy interviewing people and have thought about asking a blogger for one for some time. With each visit to The Junk Drawer, I was ever amazed by the personable, sincere and keen comments that read like real conversations - and of course Kathy's funny posts. Also the contrast between her big stack o' comments and my blank slate (save my very own treasured commenter Self Taught Artist ) was funny. And here we are.

I'm glad you enjoyed the premier episode of Diva Digs Deep, with special guest Kathy Frederick. And thanks for commenting!

@cardiogirl, you betcha I remember AmBand, reruns anyway. Just kidding. I'm 39. I can see why Kathy likes your blog. And you're right, generosity goes a long way on or offline.

@Alan Gay & Straight, snark does have its jagged edge. Still, it's my drug - on this blog, at least!

@Jeff, thanks for cluing me into this shameless charade. I'll have to try it myself.

@Self Taught Artist, I need to get better at visiting more blogs regularly. I'm going to scapegoat my job and widgets for "preventing" me from doing so. I work about 12 hrs a day and when I come home, I should go to frickin sleep but instead I look for flashy new blog widgets, play around with them and then don't put them on my blog anyway.

@Prefers Her Fantasy Life, that's an intriguing handle, by the way...I like that pop-psych association. Comments are the bomb indeed.

@sewducky, yes, The Drawer is a very hospitable place. It's like Friend's "Central Perk" for grown folk.

@JD, I've seen those blogs, too. I did that for a while on my other blog, thinking each person would want their very own entry. Then I realized I was both insane and sick of seeing my own avatar.

Glad you enjoyed the post!

@Jenn, I'm happy to hear you got a behind-the-scenes feel from the interview. If I don't get that after reading one, I feel cheated.

@Chris, I know what you mean. I'm a new fob in The Drawer and I already feel at home. And you mean "Windy" the old bag, right? If Windy's a real person...my apologies.

@Daisy, you're so cute I want to eat your face! (Yours, not your Mom's).

@Laura, thank you! I read every comment over there, too. Like I said, it's a real conversation.

@UnfinshedRambler, I'm so pleased to be popping up in your reader. There will be an extra something special for you in the next few days. *wink*

Aaand, I love the word 'huckster'.

@Gandalf & Grayson, you two are bootiful just like my Black Magic fluffy boy. And I do have my favorite drink on hand right now! Good thing I'm not driving.

@Chat Blanc, rocks AND rolls! Thanks and glad you liked it.

@Poetikat and the Hyggecats, that is so NOT awful because I feel the same twisted way! I always look forward to Kathy's response to my very own brilliant comment. Tee hee!

@Da Old Man, so word verification rings your bell, eh? Yeah, I hear you. But I like to be like a firecracker, a little annoying and a lot of bang.

@Maureen, I hope she cloned herself. I want to have a Kathy at my workplace. I want all those balloons she blew up for her coworker.

@Babs, indeed, the personality jumps off and into your room. Those are my favorite reading places. Informative info is good, but personality is better, to me at least.

And you're not a bitch! Everyone who didn't subscribe is.

@tarheelrambler, that's right you definitely don't just feel like 'comment #58' over there. What's telling is that when I read Kathy's responses, I hear her voice reading them aloud in my head. At least it's the voice I've made up for her. Not in a psycho way, but that's the dose of personality that comes off her blog. If something doesn't come alive for me like that, then I just hear my own voice reading the words.

Don't worry. I don't hear voices in my head when I'm not reading something. Yet.

Jay said...

I am a Junk Drawer subscriber too, Like Babs, I can't remember how I found it, but I've been reading ever since. :)

I have to admit I'm slightly envious of the number of comments Kathy gets, so I read through this eagerly, combing it for tips and hints. Sadly, I do pretty much all of those things already, so I must reluctantly conclude that I'm simply not as interesting as she is. Poot.

Blogerella looked promising, but there seems to be no information anywhere to tell you what the site aims to be, or what the terms of entry/use are. I know I wouldn't be accepted by Humour Bloggers, because my content is not 100% humour, so I'd kind of like to give them a try ...

The Mind of a Mom said...

I recently found Kathy's drawer and I think it is such a funny read! I am like everyone else, I would love to see big numbers for my followers and big numbers in my comment section. I am taking Kathy's advise and I will just keep writing and making people laugh.
Enjoy and thanks for sharing

musing said...

I'm a Junk Drawer junkie. Kathy's witty writing is addictive! She gives her readers lots to comment on. :)

Kathy said...

Hi! Kathy here. Thought I'd pop my head in and thank everyone for their kind words and thoughts about me, my blog and commenting.

A few follow-up points based on the comments here:

Cardiogirl is right about not feeling the need to compete. I've found I made the greatest strides by networking with other bloggers, sharing advice and ideas, rather than trying to compete. Stumbling is one way to help other bloggers out and it only costs you a minute of your time. You never know. You might get a Stumble in return!

I'm glad Poetikat mentioned that she likes to see how I responded to comments. I take time to respond as personally as I can, and it's easier if I make it a point to visit my readers' blogs. That's how you can get to know your community, and responding to their comments becomes more like chatting with them than leaving a generic answer to a stranger.

I have to admit the word verification thing bugs me sometimes, but I see a need for spam control on Blogger blogs. WordPress has a nifty plugin called Akismet that works like a charm, save for a few false positives, which I check for every day. Remember, if a word verification is too hard to decipher, some readers may not return. Getting comments is tough, so try not to make it unnecessarily harder.

Another thing, and I almost hate to say it, is comment moderation can be a turnoff for some. If you are moderating comments, try to release incoming comments from moderation in a day or less. Some people who don't see their comments show up for a long time will give up and move on.

I'd like to thank Vivienne again for interviewing me. I know some bloggers may feel they're doing all this already, but it does take time and patience. Remember, there's no magic bullet. Keep at it and the comments will come!

Vivienne said...

Hello Jay, first I must share with you that the word 'poot' in Dutch means 'fart'. Did you know that? If you did, then your use of it is even funnier that it already is.

I don't know that comment volume is a gauge of someone's interest appeal. Rather, it's more a measure of having found one's own audience. I think blogs are like shoes that way, every reader's got their own particular silver slipper.

I relate to your noticing that you do already engage in many of the pointers Kathy offers. I do, too, but not nearly to the extent that Kathy does and I realize that to be a shortcoming on my part as a blogger. I might drop a few Entrecards a day, comment on a few blogs and maybe place an ad or two with my meager EC credits, but I'm horrible when it comes to blogging time management. I get distracted and before I know it, it's 3 a.m. and I haven't even visited the blogs I enjoy most.

Ho hum. Let's just keep at it. I'm going to master my blogging demons in 2009!

@Mind of a Mom, I approach my writing with a similar care-free attitude like you describe. I just enjoy it. And then after the post is published, I do like the pitter patter of little clicks here and there, but I don't write specifically for traffic and comments.

@Musing, I agree! It's fun to read blogs that are so easily relatable to my own life and that of others, as evidenced by the comments.

Hi Kathy! Thanks for coming over and chiming in for some follow-up. I am seriously deficient in the Stumbling dept. I joined a year ago and haven't even scratched the surface. It's that time management problem again. I think I need to carve out some kind of blogging routine, of sorts.

I agree with the hoop jumping sentiment working against commenting, although I use the word verify myself for Blogger issues you mention. I was going to comment on a new blog last night and when the form popped up, a big COMMENTS ARE MODERATED popped up and I just said forget it. Unless you're getting blasted with porn spam or inappropriate insults (some insults, I feel, are wonderfully appropriate) I don't see why the extra moderation beyond the captcha.

Anyway, the pleasure's been mine, Kathy. Thanks again :)

Amy Grindhouse said...

Hi Diva - thanks for stopping by my site earlier, wanted to return the favour. I adore this post.

I found Junk Drawer recently and noticed the same thing. It is a great site and has a great community. I always find building a community to be very chicken and egg and to be honest I think after a handful of comments people comment so they can join in and feel part of something. Like, comments mean you get even more comments if that makes sense.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for such a great interview! And I have to say to Kathy - you write so well, it compels me to post a comment that says more than just "that's so cute," or "that really sucks." Great writing breeds great commenting, I think anyway!

Scary Mommy said...

I just discovered Junk Drawer, and this interview was terrific. Kathy is totally hilarious and a great writer. A perfect combo. Thanks to both of you!

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