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!