When I first started blogging, blogs were simple with a feel of neighbors visiting over the fence. In the twelve years since then, bloggers have been urged to find their niche and develop their platforms. Certain features became musts. I had mixed emotions about some of the advice given in “how to have a successful blog” articles, so I decided to ask my readers about their own preferences in a poll. My friend Lou Ann has conducted polls with Survey Monkey a few times, so I asked her about them and then took the plunge.
I had originally planned to announce the poll on my blog, give my own readers a couple of days to have first crack at it, and then share the poll on social media. However, I decided not to do the latter for two reasons. First, I wanted the answers to just reflect readers’ preferences. I didn’t want strangers to the blog to filter in what they did or what they thought should be done. Secondly, Survey Monkey’s free plan only allows for 100 responses. I wasn’t sure what to do if I should happen to get more than 100, and I didn’t want people to get angry or upset if they couldn’t respond. In retrospect, I realize I could have said upfront that only the first 100 responses would be taken.
The poll received 51 responses in a week’s time. I’ll share the questions, results, and a few of my thoughts. The first number is the people who chose that particular answer; the second number is the percentage that answer received among total responses.
Question 1: Is it important to you that bloggers you read follow a consistent schedule?
- Yes (1; 2%)
- Somewhat, but it’s not the most important factor (34; 68%)
- No (15; 30%)
I did not take the poll myself, but my answer would have been the second response. All kinds of blogging advice articles talk about setting and maintaining a schedule so readers know what to expect, but that is not all that important to me as a reader. I enjoy the rhythm of blogs who do follow a schedule or routine, but I also enjoy many with no discernible schedule.
Question 2: How do you feel about pop-up notices asking you to subscribe or offering you free booklets, printables, prayer guides, etc.?
- I like them. They make it easy to respond. (1; 1.96%)
- I’m ambivalent about them (3; 5.88%)
- Hate them (23; 45.10 %)
- I don’t mind them, but I don’t like for them to pop up the first few seconds I’m on the site or right in the middle of what I am reading. (24; 47.06%)
My answer would have been #3. I don’t care for pop-ups of any kind, but I especially dislike when they appear the first few seconds after I open the site or they block the post I came there to read. It’s almost funny to see an eager “Hey, do you want to subscribe to my blog?” pop-up when I just got there and I don’t even know anything about the blog yet. And it’s irritating when a pop-up blocks the content and has to be clicked off in some way before I can continue reading. When someone comes to our site from a link somewhere else, don’t we want them to be able to read the post they came there for first? And if they like that, they may then decide they want more. Pop-ups are less objectionable to me if they come up on the side or in a corner after several seconds, but I’d rather have offers to subscribe or sign up for free stuff at the end of a post, on a sidebar, across a top banner, etc., rather than a pop-up.
Question 3: How do you prefer for bloggers to respond to your comments?
- I don’t expect a reply at all (18; 35.29%)
- A response in the comments (28; 54.90%)
- A personal email reply (2; 3.92%)
- A visit to my blog (3; 5.88%)
- Other (0)
This is something I have long wondered about, and I’m sorry that I have been hit-and-miss in replying. I try generally to visit the blog of everyone who comments and leave at least one comment there, but I have missed that sometimes. I’ll try to work on responding in the comments from now on as well as visiting you as well.
Question 4: How often does your ideal blogger post?
- Every day (2; 4%)
- 2-4 times a week (34; 68%)
- Once a week (11; 22%)
- Once or twice a month (3; 6%)
Someone emailed me re this question that content was more important than frequency, and I agree. What one writes is a bigger factor than how often. If a blogger writes really good stuff, I’ll read it however often they post. But my answer would have been #2. If every blogger I read posted every day, I’d only be able to read a handful of blogs. There are only a couple I follow that do post every day, and I admit I only scan some of their posts. I follow a couple of authors who post very infrequently, and that’s fine: I’d rather they spend their time on their next book. So it depends on the blog, the blogger, and the available time any given week, but it looks like a few posts a week is the clear preference here.
Question 5: How do you feel about “tweetables,” lines in a blog post designed for you to click on to post directly to Twitter?
- I like them: they make it easy to support the blogger and share the love. (2; 3.92%)
- I don’t care about them one way or the other. (35; 68.63%)
- I hate them: they seem pretentious and clutter the blog. (14; 27.45%)
I admit, the first few times I saw these, I thought they were pretentious. But then I saw a commenter ask one blogger for them because it was an easy way to tweet the blog post. I know a number of bloggers now who support each other in that way, promoting each other’s blogs on social media. For monetized blogs or authors or speakers using their blogs as platforms, the more observable blog traffic, the better chance they’ll have with sponsors or publishers. The situation in publishing these days unfortunately requires an author to be somewhat self-promotional. So I understand them more now, but at this point I am not comfortable with using them myself. I have little buttons at the bottom of each post where one can share to social media if desired, and I think each one automatically puts the title of the post in when shared. Thank you to those of you who do that!
Question 6: Do you sign up for newsletters from blogs that offer them?
- Yes. I like reading more from the bloggers I follow (2; 3.92%)
- I have for a couple of bloggers, but not everyone. (24; 47.06%)
- No. I have all I can do just to read blog posts. (25; 49.02%)
The few times I did sign up for a blogger’s newsletter, I unsubscribed after a while, because they were mostly an additional post and a list of their posts on the blog over the last month, which I had already seen. I get a few author newsletters to keep up with when they have something new coming out, but they either don’t have blogs or I don’t read them, so I guess for me it’s either/or but not both.
Question 7: If a blogger is writing a lot on one topic, do you prefer one long post or several shorter posts?
- One long post so all the information is in one place. (9; 17.65%)
- Several shorter posts in a series so I can take it in a little at a time. (22; 43.14%)
- No preference (20; 39.22%)
So it looks like a series of shorter posts wins out. 🙂 I have mixed emotions: I have seen some blog series where I felt like I was being baited to keep coming back, and if I want to link back to the series for future reference or to share it with others, it’s nice to have just one link for that. But other times it is easier to take in a little at a time in shorter posts, and sometimes there’s just way too much information for one post.
Question 8: Do you listen to blogger podcasts?
- Yes (1; 1.96%)
- A few (14; 27.45%)
- No (36; 70.59%)
Usually if I am listening to anything, it’s an audiobook or music. I’ve seen people mention a few podcasts that sound tempting, but so far I haven’t gotten into them. But I know some people love them.
Question 9: How do you prefer to follow the blogs you read?
- Email (19; 37.25%)
- Facebook (7, 13.73%)
- Blog aggregator like Feedly or Bloglovin’ (9; 17.65%)
- Other (16; 31.37%)
I should have put a comment box with “Other” to find out what other ways there are to follow blogs. Besides just remembering where it is and checking back with it periodically, the only other option I can think of is newsletters.
Question 10: What posts do you like most here at Stray Thoughts?
- Personal and family info. (1; 2%)
- Friday’s Fave Fives (16; 32%)
- Devotions/Biblically based posts (4; 8%)
- Book reviews (13; 26%)
- Laudable linkage (5; 10%)
- Rambling “stray thoughts” (4; 8%)
- Other (7; 14%)
Some of you commented that you wished you had been able to choose more than one answer. I apologize: I wanted to configure it that way but I couldn’t figure out how. So in one sense these numbers aren’t totally accurate, because many of you commented that you liked several of the options. But I guess they reflect “If you had to choose one, which would you choose.” 🙂 One commented that they appreciated that there were different categories. That was gratifying to me, because I have wondered if I should narrow the blog down to one focus or niche, though I have always like the hodgepodge aspect of it.
Thank you so much for your sweet, kind comments on this last question! They touched my heart. When I started blogging, of course I hoped for readers – otherwise I would have just started a journal. And I appreciated readers all along, but you have come to mean so much to me. When you share that something I have written touched or ministered to you in some way, it encourages me that God can use me tucked away here at my desk.
One reader commented that though we’re different in many ways, we have much in common because of Christ. I have so enjoyed that bond we share together. Some of you have become dear friends; I’ve even met a couple in person! Some of you have enlarged my horizons, encouraged me, convicted me, and helped me grow. Thank you! I love and appreciate you!
And thank you for taking the time to respond to this poll. If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them.
One quick little unsolicited plug for Survey Monkey: they allow for 10 questions and 100 responses on their free plan. They were easy to use, even though I didn’t understand quite everything. They have other features that can be unlocked with a paid plan. In my short search, I did not see any other free survey plan that allowed for more than one question. This was a learning experience for me: I’ve thought of ways I could have phrased questions better. I had more than 10 questions I wanted to ask and came up with a few more, so, who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a part 2 poll sometime.