It’s time for me to over-think the data from my recent reader survey and share the funniest comments left by my stalkers…I mean devoted fans! I’ll try to keep it to seven.
1. Some of the info wasn’t surprising at all. Most of my readers are married women in their thirties with kids. Even the amount of chickens with feathers on their feet who read wasn’t surprising. (I mean, how many coops really have wifi access??)
2. Seventy five percent of my readers aren’t special needs parents themselves, but most people enjoy reading about Fulton and Teddy, our joys and challenges as a special needs family, and want to know more about how they can help families like ours. It confirms a need for the book I’m writing (ever so slowly) but that the nitty-gritty how-to info is still best saved for private correspondence, and perhaps a private Facebook group for Catholic families raising kids with a serious, genetic diagnosis. (An idea I’ve been tossing around for a while.)
3. Originally when I created the survey, I gave the option under favorite topic to add ‘other’ and people started writing in ‘EVERYTHING!’ or ‘ALL OF IT!’ so I took away ‘other’, and added an ‘All of it.’ option. Well then everyone started selecting that, which isn’t really helpful feedback guys!!! So I did away with the ‘other’ and ‘all’ options, forcing people to choose one topic they enjoyed the most, which surprisingly enough was the funny stuff, followed by comments like:
Really everything you write has had some value in my reading.
I just love your writing and your voice, it’s all good!
Pretty much all your posts!
Faith and parenting. But also everything.
FINE! I’ll keeping writing about everything!! (Undoubtedly it will be great for my ego.) It’s just funny that blogging gurus always tell you to pick a niche (you can never be too specific!), and then develop and market your posts, products, etc. to people in that niche. I want to write about a ton of stuff and finding a niche has always felt confining to me. The survey shows there are still a bunch of folks reading blogs who don’t always need or want very specific posts targeted to their own narrow views or interests.
This past year I felt I needed every post to be super high quality and very useful (PInterest worthy if you will.) I wanted to be professional, run the blog like a successful business so it would grow, and I felt like I wasn’t being true to that new ideal by writing traditional, rambly Quick Takes posts. But I can’t have my blog be a business and a scrapbook at the same time. It’s frustrating on several levels. I still have the entrepreneurial bug, but I can’t make this blog my storefront.
4. In that vein, when asked about the blogging landscape in general, several readers voiced comments / concerns about blogs doing a higher number of sponsored posts, affiliate posts, etc.
The best part is understanding other people better and engaging in discussion. It makes me sad how blogging has changed from day in the life posts to more polished, marketable, pieces. I want the raw connection with other people, which helps me know I’m not alone, and think the technical stuff and push to get your stuff seen is overrated.
I feel like your blog has remained authentic but many blogs are pushing agendas, after $$, or total BS. I used to love the diverse and wonderful Mommy blogs out there – lamenting there wasn’t more time to read them all. Now, I read maybe 3-4 regularly.
My favorite bloggers have stopped posting regularly or have switched to less day-to-day posts and do product endorsement posts instead. Also, several have switched to podcasting. Podcasts aren’t my thing so I have stopped following them. I miss the depth of regular blogging. Social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat don’t compare.
Now, first off, bloggers can do whatever they want. And if a blogger keeps writing these types of posts, they must work for him or her. I’m not telling anyone to stop writing what they want, and what might help provide for their family. But, despite the surge in more sales-y posts (for lack of a better term) I believe there is still a real desire for old school blogging- and not just micro-blogging via Instagram and Facebook. People want full posts written by their favorite bloggers.
I definitely think if you’re a blogger seeking out advice on how to run your blog, there is 203,972,057 times more info out there (some free, some very expensive) then there was back when blogging started. It can often feel like if you’re not doing sponsored posts, running giveaways, placing ads everywhere, moving into video/ podcasts/ courses, or creating a ‘cohesive brand’ that you’re not doing blogging right. And while there are some very successful bloggers doing all those things (I’ve noticed many tend to be the ones selling advice on blogging), I think ultimately, there is plenty of room online for people who want to do none of those things.
This past year I did more sales-y stuff (for example, promoting more bundle sales) and I wondered if people would complain, but, at least in this survey, no one did. Maybe the readers most irked had already left, or maybe while there were more posts they disguised my sales-y intentions well?? Anyway, I think I will go through phases where I want to create and/or sell stuff, and times where I just want to share weird pictures of myself. You probably won’t like it all, and some of it will surely be bad for my brand, but ultimately, trying to make a steady income stresses me out and sharing weird pictures usually doesn’t. So, #4 tl:dr – bloggers, you do you. There are readers out there for whatever you enjoy doing.
In fact, a few of my readers are looking for posts on the following topics and I don’t think I can help them out.
How to sneak a pack of llamas into your neighbor’s back yard without getting caught or being suspected.
Okay, maybe I can help with that last one.
5. Most people had no idea that I started putting out a newsletter this year, despite the fact that I redesigned the home page in April to feature a huge picture of my face next to a button that asked people to sign up. (Plus I had a sign up form on my sidebar, footer, Facebook page, every stand alone page on my blog, and regular mentions in posts.) I was already afraid I had it mentioned too much, but the survey showed that more than half of responders didn’t even know that it existed. Nowadays, any blogger who wants to ‘make it’, whatever that means, needs a newsletter (and accompanying email list). I don’t mind creating a newsletter, but my next question should have been; ” Now that you know it exists, do you want to sign up?” Not sure what the future holds for my invisible newsletter, but any suggestions are welcome.
6. Many people mentioned their love of Quick Takes, or posts that share small snippets of my life. Since I took over #7QT a few years back it, and many Catholic link ups, have declined quite a bit. I have a few theories as to why, first, most bloggers no longer save seven smaller ‘takes’ for one post, they simply share them throughout the week on social media. Second, I have not always been the best host when it comes to interacting with those who link up (which I’m really trying to work on this year). As older blogs I’d built relationships with became dormant, and new ones sprung up, I wasn’t putting the same effort into building new friendships, and the link up number dwindled. Third, many link ups have folded in the last couple of years, or drastically reduced their publication, maybe due to the bloggers busy lives, but also maybe after a decline in participation. Perhaps link ups just aren’t ‘the thing’ anymore. Once touted as the best way to meet other bloggers and grow your blog, they seem to have fallen out of fashion with gurus and perhaps with bloggers who are trying new methods (Facebook groups, micro-blogging, etc) to attract and maintain readers while juggling their busy lives. If you know of a popular link up that could prove me wrong, please share!
7. Lastly, I wanted to reassure all my readers that I have no intent to give up blogging any time soon. (Though occasional breaks, with notice of course, are always nice.) My life is a different kind of busy now than when I started blogging, and despite not having a house of young kids, I seem to be pulled in just as many directions.I could never give up blogging for micro-blogging via Instagram or Facebook because first off, just logging onto those sites is a huge time sink for me, and without concerted effort it’s easy to forget why I stopped by. Second, my family doesn’t want pictures and videos of them shared constantly. I do still take snapshots, but more for private enjoyment then public consumption. My family doesn’t want everything we do to be a story on Instagram, and so, as everyone has gotten older, I’ve learned to put the phone down and just enjoy my family’s company, even if the lighting is perfect and someone looks especially cute. Third, I need the longer form of blogging to empty my head and properly remember, reflect upon, and share all that happens in my life. Fourth, typing with my thumbs pisses me off after more than two sentences.
Once again, I’ve dragged this Quick Takes out far too long. Mea culpa! How was your week? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!
I also don’t like thumb typing. Actually, using my phone to access the Internet at all just feels SO SLOW to me.
I like that you point out the blogs who make money are the ones selling advice to bloggers on how to make money. Not calling anything a Ponzi scheme but…
I love that people want to you to write about bats!!! and unicorns! I really like reading blogs.. I had gotten rid of my old blog during a really crazy time, and started it back up about a year ago. I realized things had changed a lot. But I write my blog because I like to write. I normally do freelance writing that allows very little creativity. I like the outlet. And I like connecting via other people blogs.
I mean other people’s blogs. 🙂
I actually tried to link up once last month to find that you had taken the month off! (Good for you!) I wrote the post anyway!!! 🙂
My blogs aren’t successful; I feel like I have just a handful of faithful readers but that’s not why I have them. I have a need to write; it’s therapeutic for me. It is a huge turn-off to go to a blog and see all of those advertisements. And pop-ups for newsletters drive me crazy (although I succumbed and did one for my speech blog). I rarely subscribe to those…the only reason I do is to remind me to visit the blog!
Keep doing what you’re doing, Kelly! 🙂
Maybe most people don’t know about the newsletter because they use the mobile site, as I do, and it doesn’t show up anywhere as a suggestion. There’s no side bar. The top ribbon shows links to social media and a menu link, but even the menu doesn’t show it (just tried to find a link for the newsletter and didn’t see one). Sorry if I’m totally missing it but I seriously want to sign up and can’t find it! I’ve never commented before. Okay back to creeping.
I have since redesigned the blog so there is no huge picture of my face next to a button. (Which is probably a good thing.) Right now, as I figure out what to do with it, I only have a sign up box in my footer (which you’re probably right- won’t show up in mobile). In the mean time, for you!, here’s a direct link: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r6d6g2
Kelly, I really like this post! It makes me feel better about my own blog, which I never created to be a business but feel the pressure to up my SEO and affiliate links and monetize so I can be in the big leagues. I have tried, but it’s just not me. Thanks for saying so. Shelving that idea right now!
I like your blog and your link up. I wish I could get more links up on it but I am aiming for once a month. I was just saying to Hubby that you think when the kids are all little life is so busy and you have no time but with big kids it is even crazier because they are all busy in different ways and you need to keep up with them.
I’m glad you will keep blogging. Just be you–zany and off beat, and all–that is what we all love.
PS I miss all the link ups and the “old fashioned blogs” that didn’t make any money and weren’t all polished but did your heart good!
Thanks for this post. As you see, it was inspiring enough for me to take my gift of extra time in the am & do my own for the first time in ages. Thanks for validating my discomfort with the “SEO/monetize/give your readers every opportunity to hand over their cash” pressure in the blogging world. I know I’m supposed to do those things if I want to, you know, sell the books I write, but it just makes me feel… soiled. http://www.carolynastfalk.com/tag/open-book/
Anyway, the best kept linkup secret in the world of Catholic readers of books is Carolyn Astfalks’s 1st Wednesday Open Book linkup. It’s a really supportive community of Catholic book bloggers who are on the cutting edge of what’s going on with the present-day Catholic literary scene. If you haven’t checked it out already, you really should. Carolyn is a gracious host, and while, yes, Open Book has added to my already sky-high TBR pile, it’s also helped me weed out some stuff that I otherwise would’ve wasted time reading.
Nice. I pasted the link to Carolyn’s in the wrong place. Anyway, she writes books, too! I’m probably better at selling hers than mine anyways!
If it makes you feel any better, my linkup is WAY less popular than yours ?
That wasn’t supposed to be a question mark… Mine is less popular than yours! ?
I don’t understand why sharing Sunday outfits became less fashionable. (See what I did there?) Tons of people still share family snapshots or outfit photos on Sunday. Why not link up?
I don’t need to be the most popular link-up: I would really like to see a resurgence of Catholic link ups in general. Unfortunately, growing link ups at large is outside the scope of this survey!
Yes to writing about everything!!
A few sponsored post from blogs isn’t so bad but when it’s every single one that’s when I quit reading.
And I love your linkup! Some blogs have so many that my brain can’t even begin to filter through them…your’s is great!
Yes, it’s definitely about finding a balance you and your readers are happy with.
And what other link ups do you read?? I would love to find some new ones, in and out of the Catholic blogosphere.
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