Yesterday, I did a really scary thing. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and pressed “send” on the email that sent my mid-year blog reader survey out to all of my blog subscribers.
I see blog reader surveys all of the time, usually at the end of the year. Bloggers send them out to our readers requesting feedback and opinions. Ideally, this is done to help us evaluate blog post categories, social media strategies, content plans, etc. It helps us see what’s working and what’s not working when it comes to our blogs and blog growth. The issue is that a lot of bloggers are thin-skinned. The feedback in these surveys can generate major meltdowns. That’s why sending mine was such a scary thing.
I’ve been through a lot of major changes lately and I’ve put my blog through even more. The visual branding changed (multiple times), the categories changed, my husband has shared a few mental health posts, and we moved to the mountains. Those are major shifts and I’ve been struggling. I’ve melted down in my email newsletter a couple of times and ranted on Twitter. There’s been a lot of, “Who am I?” and even more of “What is this blog?” I’ve never felt so inspired to write yet, at the same time, felt an overwhelming loss of identity and insecurity over what to write.
These struggles pushed me into investing more time into blogging courses. Social Fabric University has incredible (free) courses and one of them affected me in a big way a couple of days ago. I did an audit of my last 90 days of blog content and felt so discouraged. The course encouraged us to keep a spreadsheet which clearly identified the blog post title, category, number of shares, and number of comments. After I filled it out, all I could think was, “I suck.” I burst into tears (par for the course lately) and told my husband I felt like shutting it all down. He hugged me and said, “That’s a huge decision. Why don’t you just talk to your people?”
Ugh! He was right though so I put on my big girl pants, created a survey, took a deep breath, and sent it out. All I can say is that y’all are amazing. This is a sampling of the things some of y’all said to me that lifted my spirits right up:
I enjoy the posts and don’t have any feedback other than, keep doing you!
Just keep trying to be real/you and don’t make posts you think people want to hear, just write about what you learn that is adding value to your life because it will add value to someone else’s. A wise young blogger once told me people buy into you, not your blog, so just be you and let people buy into you. Keep up what you’re doing!
Personally, I like when people are transparent. I found your site via link about blogging (a topic of the moment) but stayed for the transparency and authenticity of your style – and topics including mental health. Too many bloggers are all about the revenue and have differentiating substance behind them. I haven’t followed other people’s posts about blogging – only yours because of your style. Also, while I don’t mind affiliate and sponsor links, if it feels like the blogger doesn’t believe in the product i get turned off.
I wish I could hug you all. I’m still sorting through the other answers to determine if there are categories I should drop or if I should just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m getting there and your insights (the good + the bad) were incredible.
Now, I want to talk about the importance of a blog reader survey and how to build one that works for you. As I said earlier in this post, I see a lot of these surveys and if it’s for a blog I read, I take it. There are some major do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating a productive blog reader survey. If you don’t create it correctly from the beginning the whole thing is pointless.
Blog Reader Survey DO’s
- Gather basic demographic details (sex + age)
- Gather follower information (where do they follow you, how frequently do they visit)
- Ask for their favorite categories (let them select from a list, don’t expect them to know every category on your blog)
- Ask for suggestions or opinions regarding content additions (videos, photos, tutorials, etc.)
- Ask what they would like to see less of and leave it open-ended for comments and feedback
- Request feedback via long-form comments and encourage honesty and criticism
- Play word association and provide positive and negative words
Blog Reader Survey DON’Ts
- Get bogged down in demographic details (learn to use Google Analytics)
- Ask for user names, interaction, or other personally identifiable information
- Take criticism personally and rant about the feedback on social media
- Require their name, email address, or phone number; People deserve to be anonymous if they choose.
- Get offended by the feedback. Remember, you asked for this and if you had it all figured it out you wouldn’t be seeking their opinions
The most important thing about a reader survey is leaving enough questions or comment areas open-ended for your readers to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Don’t restrict the possible responses so much that your readers aren’t allowed to express themselves.
Then, put on your thick skin, take a deep breath, and review your answers. It’s very likely you’ll receive a lot of encouragement but it’s equally likely that you’ll hear from readers that have become disenchanted, that are feeling less connected, and are questioning whether or not to stick with you. Let the encouragement make you feel good but do some serious soul-searching over the comments that aren’t quite so make-you-feel-good. Why are they discouraged? Why don’t they read very often? If they accuse you of being too try-hard or snobby, you owe them a little self-reflection. If they perceive you as selling out or blogging only for the love of money, evaluate your motives.
What comes after a blog reader survey can be ugly, discouraging, and hurtful. It can also be enlightening, encouraging, and motivation. It’s all in your perspective. The people that responded are the people that want to see you succeed. They want to read your blog, connect with you, follow your stories, and watch you blossom. The respondents took the time to answer your questions and give you direction, the least you can do is take the time to truly and deeply consider their POV.
As for me, I’m feeling better than ever about my blog and I think we’re heading in a good direction. If you responded to my survey, thank you so much! If you didn’t, you can take it here.