Note: This is not a "Writer's Guide" because it is intended for writers and artists.
Do the words "4 comments" frequently haunt your deviations? Is it difficult to find an audience for your artwork or writing? Do you yearn for detailed critique on your artistic technique and receive comments such as "nice" and "cute girl?"
Low stats result from a number of things. Maybe you don't comment much on other people's works. (You get what you give.) Perhaps you haven't joined any groups, or you haven't submitted to them yet. Maybe you are doing these things, but you're just new to the site.
I can't give you automatic popularity. I may, however, be able to provide the information to give you a little boost.
Your attitude can actually affect what people think about your work. Think about it: a message delivered with a smile will be received much better than a message accompanied by a scowl. A crucial part of your work is the Artist's Description. If you write a happy message, chances are that your readers and viewers will smile. If you write write an angry or depressing description, they might back off and decide not to comment or fave after all.
Here are some ideas that may help you.
Things that Generally Discourage Positive Interaction
(Yeah, I'm doing the "don'ts" first to get them over with)
Swearing a Lot
This puts off some younger deviants and intellectuals. They may view you as a cantankerous person or as someone who is trying to be cool. Choosing not to swear is a sign of politeness, so consider cutting down if that's the impression you want to make.
Many deviants pepper their language with the occasional (or not-so-occasional) curse, and this doesn't stop them from becoming popular. However, every member of your audience has different tolerance levels, so consider whom you want to attract and what type of impression you want to make. Swearing can make you seem like you're "one of the guys," (which is why some people do it), but you can achieve the same tone using slang and words that are less offensive.
While using the internet requires a certain tolerance to bad language, choosing not to use it gives you a more professional appearance in most viewers' eyes.
I've seen adorable pictures with Artist's Descriptions saying things like "f*** i hate this piece of s***!" (asterisks politely mine). Hateful remarks squelch any happy feelings that may arise from a pretty picture or good piece of writing. They ruin the mood that the artist worked so hard to achieve. Angry people are perceived as threats, so people tend to avoid them. This makes people much more likely to click away from your deviation.
Saying Depressing Stuff/Begging for Compliments
It's natural to hate your art or writing at times, and your friends can offer support if you're feeling down. However, writing depressing Artist's Descriptions or indirectly asking for compliments (my art/writing/skill with any sort of artistic tool sucks so much!) can make new or casual acquaintances feel uncomfortable, and they may choose to simply click away and let your friends deal with you.
You've probably tried to console someone who said they hated their art, their face, or some other aspect of themselves. Do you remember how bad it makes you feel, especially if the person keeps going on and on despite your reassurances? If you're just hoping for compliments, remember that—people know that it's no fun, so they're likely to click away for fear of being sucked into a social obligation to (halfheartedly) compliment you.
I don't suggest constantly shutting your mouth when you need someone to cheer you up: write in your journal or go hug a loved one. Seek attention wherever you feel most comfortable receiving it. Just keep in mind that self-hating Artist's Descriptions typically do not attract new watchers, so you may want to think twice before submitting your piece to fifty different groups in the hopes of popularity.
Writing Five-Page Opinions
Some writers say, "If your character cries, your reader doesn't have to." At first that seems to make no sense—we can cry along with characters—but it's a bit easier to understand if you view it as a guideline and not a rule.
If you talk a lot without drawing the audience in, readers are likely to become passive and apathetic. If you write a long, gushing paragraph on how cute Anna and Seth are together, readers who think they should be a couple may feel like their thoughts have already been shared. There's no need to repeat what you just said, unless they're already major AnnaxSeth fans, in which case they probably would have commented anyway.
While it's perfectly fine to express your opinion, text walls are better avoided. It gives people more room to share their own thoughts. Don't worry; it won't diminish reader interest—I can't recall ever remarking on my characters' cuteness, but I have received comments on it anyway. Think about it, try it, and see if it works for you.
Personally, I prefer to only remark on things that I think readers won't notice (such as a minor allusion). I typically try to keep my opinions to myself, hoping that it will give more air time for viewers to share theirs.
Complaining about Unrelated Things
It's no fun for anyone, and when you come upon the deviation three months later, chances are you'll feel a little silly. (I say this out of personal experience. Usually I very quietly delete the text wall and pledge never to write something like that again.) Consider venting to a diary or Word document instead, or a dA journal entry/loved one if you need support.
Things that Generally Encourage Positive Interaction
Be Positive and Engaging
People like to talk to friendly, cheerful people. They feel that you're more likely to reply to a comment, and talking with you might be pleasant, so why not drop a compliment or start a conversation? Furthermore, they're more likely to consider you deserving of some praise or a fave. Most people believe in rewarding nice people.
Humor is also a plus, if something funny pops into your head.
"I'm always much more likely to fave a work if the artist feels like an individual separated from me by nothing more than a screen... The more distant an artist is, the more I'm intimidated by them, and the less likely I am to leave feedback" ~Relixala
There's nothing wrong with typing "." so that deviantART won't remind you that an Artist's Description is required—however, it doesn't take much effort, does it?
If you type a few sentences, you'll let people know that you're open to interaction. People who type only periods, ellipses or hyphens seem more likely to be inactive and less likely to be interested in chatting. Apparently they have nothing to say.
It's not always a correct assumption, but people often assume it nonetheless.
If you really have nothing to say, consider a simple message like this:
~I'm happy with how this turned out.
~I'd be curious to hear your interpretation of this.
~My goodness, this took ages to finish! My hands are dying. XD
~My cat Sophie inspired this poem. She loves to watch the snow fall out the window.
These are just a few examples of ways to seem more friendly and open to conversation. Even if people decide not to comment, they know a little bit more about you and the piece, which is always something fun—and it promotes future interaction as well.
Answer your Messages
People are more likely to come back if you reply to say thanks or discuss their ideas. You might make some friends too! Interacting with people is the number one way to boost your stats and have more fun online.
(Most people who don't answer their messages are usually (a) so popular that they simply can't answer them all, (b) pretty inactive, (c) lazy, (d) really shy, or (e) new to dA and ignorant of the culture.)
Sometimes people don't know what to write in a comment. Why not ask them questions? They might answer some of them, making them feel like kind and intelligent people. I started doing this recently and found a jump in helpful and heartwarming comments. Try asking about your technique (giving technical advice makes people feel smart!) and perhaps their personal opinions of the events, ideas or characters. Here are some examples of questions I've asked in the past:
After a story Was it engaging? Did it ever drag?Keep in mind to only ask the questions you want to hear answered! It's no fun to hear critique if you can't take it, and if you have a lot of watchers, you may not want to ask them to share strong emotional experiences: you'll end up drained after replying to them all.
On a portrait By the Kanni's standards, Kirrah is a beautiful young woman. [...] Yet our society has a different definition of beauty [...] Is Kirrah beautiful? And why do you think she is/isn't?
On an expressions meme Do you have a favorite expression? If I were to do this again, is there a character you'd really like to see?
On nearly everything Do you have any tips for me? Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Try to break up any text walls, or eliminate them entirely. (Do you notice how I hit Enter twice before every paragraph, and three times before every major heading?) Blank space lets the eye rest, and it makes it easier for readers to keep their place.
For fun, try using <hr> or cute borders to break it into sections if it's long. Borders might use emoticons (especially seasonal ones, like :pumpkin: or :rudolph:), bullets (like :bulletblue:), and/or symbols (like ✯ and ♥). Borders, like paragraphs, typically look best if there is a blank line before and after them.
If your work is centered around an emotional experience or a strong feeling, write your Artist's Description with that mood in mind. Maybe even invite discussion about it.
Link Back to Stuff
Sometimes people are bored or curious enough to click! You might want to link to folders (of your characters, for example) or related pieces. It works* with my Writer's Guides and chibi comics; I'm sure it works for other stuff too.
I've also seen people put thumbnails of related works in descriptions. Sometimes the extra scrolling annoys people, but other times they find the writings/artwork intriguing and click on them.
*When I post a new one, I often see that some of the old ones are favorited too, which indicates that people actually do click those links.
Edit Before Posting
Reread your Artist's Description at least once before posting. This can help you refine your tone and catch irritating typos. Also, you may realize that you forgot to say something!
Your Artist's Description is part of your viewers' experience of your art. It can intensify or dampen their feelings, encourage or discourage them to comment, dullen their interest or leave them begging for more. It's a powerful tool, so use it wisely.
As always, these tips are only tips, so don't feel inclined to overextend them. They may not fit your mood, personality or your style of writing. If not, then you're welcome not to use them. These are simple observations that I've found generally help encourage interaction and good relationships. A friendly, casual attitude is generally the most inviting.
Artist's Descriptions are not everything, but they are something—and they're certainly significant. If you seem like an approachable person, people will be more likely to talk to you. So be nice! Type with a smile, and your audience is likely to smile as they read. It's a wonder how emotions can transfer through the written word.
Good luck to you all.