A key part of writing for an audience is understanding what that audience wants to read about. I blog for me and I write about what I want to write about, but it doesn’t matter if I put all this time into this blog if no one is reading it. That’s why, every year since I’ve started blogging, I’ve done a reader survey. Last year I talked about why bloggers should do one, so I won’t go into that today and will instead talk about what you should ask when you do one of your own. (And I’ll share the results of my most recent survey at the end of the post!)
What To Ask in a Reader Survey
About the Readers
It’s generally a good idea to know the kinds of people who are reading your blog. Knowing this can help you determine the type of things to write about, what your audience is more likely to be interested in, and to tell possible sponsors the demographics of your audience.
Some of the key things you should consider asking are your readers gender, age range, and location. These matter because so many different content decisions can boil down to these 3 things. For example, knowing how many people who read are from your home country can help you decide how much time to spend on posts related to holidays native to it.
About the Blog
If your blog already has a set structure, you should look for feedback on that structure. This means figuring out what does and does not work from your current structure and how you can improve it. In order to get the most helpful feedback, I suggest using multiple choice answers for many of your questions, as then you can easily sort the results by answer and see the percentages. However, I do think it’s important to use a write-in option for these multiple choice questions in case someone’s answer is not an option. I also think that you should have open-ended questions for some of the questions, such as asking how the blog could be better. This way, you get the most honest answer and it isn’t someone choosing something that’s not really an answer because they have to pick one of the available answers.
If your blog does not have a set structure – as in, you write about whatever you feel about that day – you should focus on finding out what your readers are and are not interested in. (I am, of course, operating under the assumption that you are planning on getting a structure for your blog. This is not because I think everyone should, as I know that everyone is different. However, if you are doing a reader survey to figure out what’s working and what’s not working, I am operating under the understanding that you are interested in making a change.) Your questions should focus on topics that you already write about or would be interested in writing about, and if you know that you’re not interested in writing about something, don’t offer to.
But honestly, the most important thing is to ask yourself, “What do I want to know about my readers and their opinions?” Answering that question will help you to formulate a reader survey that will help your blog in its own unique way.
Results of the 2016 Reader Survey
About the Readers
Age – 15-17: 3%; 18-22: 6%; 23-28: 35%; 28-40: 41%; 41+: 15%
Location – USA: 97%; Europe: 3%
Gender – Female: 100%
How long have you been reading? I was pleasantly surprised that most had been reading for months, if not years! That made me very, very happy.
How did you find the blog? Social media: 45%; Search engine: 6.5%; Other blogger: 29%; Other: 20%
About the Blog
Favorite content category – Lifestyle: 65%; Health: 6.5%; Writing & Blogging: 23%; I don’t have a favorite: 6.5%
Least favorite content category – Lifestyle: 3%; Health: 3%; Writing & Blogging: 13%; I don’t have a least favorite: 80%
What do you want to see more of? I was really surprised how many answers were about my personal life! Honestly, my personal life isn’t very interesting (work, school, medical appointments, repeat), but I promise to bring it up when it is. There were also a handful of other answers, but they were all very different from each other and mostly can be described as specific ideas within the current content categories, so I’ll add them to my lists and write about them.
What do you want to see less of? Most answers were related to things that were not applicable to the reader’s life, like school or blogging.