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Reader Survey Results Part 1: Data (Sunday Salon)

The Sunday Salon.com

Last Sunday, I asked Erin Reads readers to fill out a quick survey to help me decide how best to use my blogging time. Many people respond, and the feedback has been very helpful. Thank you to all of you who took a moment to help me out! I received several requests to share my results, which I’ll do today and tomorrow.

95% of the people who took the survey are followers of Erin Reads in some way (RSS, email, GFC, etc.). I’m really happy about that, as it means most of the responses came from people who are (and will hopefully continue to be!) regular readers. Here are the results for each question, along with how the results impact Erin Reads. (Yes, the pie charts are excessive, but I was bored!)

Question #1: Do you read responses to comments you leave on other blogs?

Comment Replies Pie Chart

With well over three quarters of Erin Reads readers checking back or subscribing to comments at least some of the time, I plan to continue replying to every comment left.

I really enjoy when comments turn into mini conversations, and it would be hard for me to feel okay with not replying, so I’m glad the data suggests I keep doing what I’m doing. The number of comments left here certainly isn’t unmanageable, so for now, at least, I’ll keep on replying, at least every couple of days.

Question #2: How do you feel about blog owners emailing comment responses?

Email Preferences Pie Chart

I’ve toyed with using a plug-in* that allows commenters to subscribe to direct replies only, instead of subscribing to all subsequent comments left on a post. (*A plug-in is a sort of extra feature bloggers using self-hosted WordPress can install on their blogs.) This would be something you could opt into on a comment-by-comment basis, not a default or blanket setting.

The up side to this plug-in is that those who prefer to receive emailed comment replies without subscribing to every comment left could do so. The down side is that, at the moment, this plug-in does not offer a way to unsubscribe. I cannot imagine this ever being a problem, as it’s usually just me replying to people’s comments, and I know that other bloggers use it on their blogs without any problems. But I’d rather not start offering the option without being up front about the unsubscribe thing.

My question to you: would you like to see this option on Erin Reads?

Question #3: Which style of blogging do you prefer?

Posting Preferences Pie Chart

The results for this question are especially helpful to me. Up til now, I’ve been able to keep up a daily schedule of posting, but if my schedule does change in the near future, I was curious about which sort of posting schedule readers preferred. As you can see from the numbers, most people prefer just the meatier posts. We all have limited blog reading time, so I can certainly understand that!

Personally, I prefer to write substantial posts, like reviews (or “book thoughts,” as I’ve taken to calling them). I have never been a big meme person and actually find them harder to complete than posts of my own creation. Aside from the Sunday Salon, which feels rather un-meme-like to me, I won’t be participating in any regular memes. I will not make a habit of posting more than once a day. Nor will I worry about posting filler material just to have a daily post.

I will continue my Saturday feature (My Week in Books) as well as my Wednesday Classics Reclamation Project posts. And I have every intention of keeping up with at least two other “reviews” per week. I’ve been toying with a sort of “reading reflections” type posts, written while I’m in the process of reading a book, kind of like my War and Peace: Characters post from last week. Sometimes the writing in a book strikes me in a particular way, and I’ve thought I might like to share some of those passages as well. We’ll see!

In Summary

What I’ve learned from this survey is that if I cut back on post frequency but keep the same style of posts, most people won’t mind. Many would notice, however, if I stopped replying to comments. I won’t be automatically emailing comment replies to people, but I may start offering the option to opt in on a comment-to-comment basis, depending on how people feel about the plug-in described under question #2 above.

I promised to share the tips people offered for managing my Google Reader, but this post is getting much longer than I’d intended. Stop back tomorrow for Reader Survey Results Part 2: Tips!

Worth sharing?
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  • http://www.thingsmeanalot.com Nymeth

    “What I’ve learned from this survey is that if I cut back on post frequency but keep the same style of posts, most people won’t mind. ”

    Yes! I used to be a daily or almost daily poster until I started grad school last September and had to cut back to three posts a week. Other than the change in posting frequency, everything remained the same and my blog hasn’t suffered at all. I’m glad the survey was helpful to you, Erin. I’m sure you’ll soon find a weekly schedule that works for you :)

    • Erin

      So good to hear real-life examples that back up my survey results! It’s scary to change some large aspect of a blog, especially when the blog hasn’t been around that long. Thanks for sharing your experience :-)

  • http://www.linussblanket.com Nicole

    Thanks for sharing your results with us. I have noticed that when I have cut back on posting, things continued on in much the same way. So, whatever you decide to do, don’t worry about it. Your readers will stay with you – as your results seem to indicate.

    • Erin

      That’s great to hear, Nicole, thanks for backing up the results :-)

  • http://senior-common-room.blogspot.com Annie

    I’ve been a daily poster up to this point as I felt it was necessary to get the blog established and give it some sort of recognisable style. However, term starts tomorrow and then there will be days when there simply won’t be a space in my schedule to allow for blogging. In general, I think it has to be whatever works for you at the time.

    • Erin

      Yes, I felt the same way! Hard to know when you’re “established” and can let your vigilance slip a tiny bit. I’m realizing, though, that no one out there is counting how often we post!

  • http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com Amanda

    There’s a plugin for that????? I so have to find that! I’ve been wondering why some blogs I get just the one reply when I’ve never subscribed, and I want it! I want it now!! 😀 Seriously if possible can you email me or tweet at me the name of the plugin so I can install asap??

  • http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com Trish

    One of my biggest regrets about blogger is that it doesn’t allow direct replies or threaded comments. I really try to make an effort to respond to comments (do well with the first days but if someone comments several days late it’s hard to keep up), but I wonder if I’m spending all that time responding and if anyone actually reads them. Glad to see so many DO check back!

    Also interesting about the number of posts a week. I perfer when bloggers don’t post every day but obviously that is a blogger’s choice and I won’t stop reading–just can’t promise to comment on all!

    Keep sharing! Love this.

    • Erin

      That’s tough with blogger. I remember that from a bookstore blog I used to write. I wish that, in general, there was better comment notification software out there, because it’s so hard to keep track of where one leaves comments! I always try to check back, especially if I know a blogger tends to reply, but I know I always forget people.

      I never expect people to comment (or even read!) daily; that posting schedule is more to keep myself on track. If I don’t make myself post every day, I get into the habit of “I don’t feel like it today, I’ll do it tomorrow,” and then I never post!

  • http://www.eclectic-eccentric.com Trisha

    I am very happy that your results are giving you a sort of permission to be a bit more loose with posting schedules and the such not. You want to keep blogging fun!

    • Erin

      Yes, I do…thanks for the reminder! It’s so hard to find the right balance. Everyone’s input and advice has been very helpful.

  • http://ardentreader.wordpress.com Christina

    “What I’ve learned from this survey is that if I cut back on post frequency but keep the same style of posts, most people won’t mind. ”

    The first few weeks of this month have been very odd for me as I almost never post on a daily basis. I’ve just read a lot over my winter break and therefore had a lot of books to review. Readers of my blog will certainly notice a drop-off once I return back to school because life eclipse blogging. Despite this, I have yet to notice a significant drop-off amongst readers when this happens. So don’t fret! Your readers will still be here!

    I love the idea of the plug-in that emails individual comments. I rarely subscribe to a whole thread (unless it’s a really controversial topic), and because I read things in Google Reader once read the post is out of my feed I often forget to look back at replies to my comments. Now I wish I was self-hosting!

    • Erin

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Good to hear that readership stays pretty steady.

      I tend to not subscribe to whole threads, too, as it just results in a lot of mail in my inbox. I try to check back for comments, but I know I forget people. It seems to me it should not be hard for WordPress to offer a “subscribe to direct replies only” feature, but then, I’m not a programmer, so maybe it’s harder than I think!

  • http://www.readinasinglesitting.com Stephanie

    Love the breakdown of the results Erin. I’m one of your “love the meaty posts” readers, and will happily sit through a blog drought if it means I get more thoughtful content in the future. :)

    I’d love to be able to post a daily review on my site, but my work hours are so crazy that I barely have time to read, let alone write reviews, so unfortunately I only manage 3 or so a week. Oh well!

    • Erin

      Good to know, Stephanie, thanks! I’m hoping there won’t be too major a drought, as I may never get back to blogging! I completely understand about not being able to post a review daily. It’s possible I could write one a day, but there’s no way I can read that many books, especially if the pace of life picks up at all. Thank goodness for audiobooks — they almost double the amount of reading I can get done!

  • http://www.lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    Loving the pie charts! Very colorful.

    Thanks for sharing the results … I found it very helpful for my blog too. One of the things I wanted in the self-hosted WordPress was the option to have my specific replies to a comment left to be e-mailed to that person so they don’t have to bother about coming back to see a reply … and so they know I value the comment and saw it. I found that in WP Thread Comment. I don’t know if you’d like that but it was what I really wanted in a commenting system.

    • http://www.fizzythoughts.com softdrink

      And I love this feature of Jenner’s blog. Like Amanda, I really should follow up on this…

      • Erin

        I do, too!

    • Erin

      Thanks! It never occurred to me to play with pretty graphs until I saw some of the end-of-year stats bloggers posted. Now I want to use them in everything!

      Those are exactly the reasons I’d like to offer people a way to subscribe to direct replies only. I’m always torn between emailing each commenter (which is hard without a plug-in that supports that) and just hoping they check back, so offering a subscribe option will hopefully offer a good compromise. I don’t know anything about WP Thread Comment; if what I have now doesn’t work out, I’ll look into that one! Thanks for sharing your secrets :-)

  • http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

    I have found that using the plugin is very useful – it helps to create discussion on the post and I highly recommend using it. I don’t think people mind receiving several replies if all are directed to them – in fact I think they like it :-)

    • Erin

      Thanks, Jackie, for sharing your experience with he plug-in as well as the plug-in itself! I’m excited about adding it and hope readers like the new option.

  • http://booksnyc.blogspot.com Colleen (Books in the City)

    Thanks so much for gathering and analyzing this data – I have found it very helpful. I also liked your tips re: managing google reader – putting feeds into folders has saved me in the busy past few months and felt me from getting too overwhelmed!

    • Erin

      I’m glad it’s helpful to you! I’ve just implemented a folder system for myself, and so far, it’s great. Happy to hear it works longer term!