Last November, I launched my most recent Reader Survey. This is the fourth year I have gone through this exercise. I have benefited enormously each time. Ultimately, I think it also benefits you, because it helps me improve the content I create, whether on this blog, my podcast, or elsewhere.
More than twenty-eight hundred people participated in the survey—almost double the number that took my last one. This was particularly surprising given the fact that I asked almost twice the number of questions (fifty-three as compared to thirty).
If I boiled the results down into a “reader profile,” it would look like this.
- My typical reader is a male (63%) between the ages of 31-50 (55%).
- He has at least a college degree (79%) and household income of $70,000 or more (59%).
He lives in the U.S. (79%), though this number is declining and my audience is becoming more international.
He identifies himself as a Christian (89%), attending church at least once a week (78%), and his faith is very important (87%).
He has been reading my blog for a year or more (65%) and prefers to read it via email (59%). He reads most of my blog posts (78%) and is especially interested in those related to the topic of personal development (85%), productivity (75%), and leadership (74%). He has recommended my blog to others (86%).
He also listens to my podcast (60%), most likely on a mobile device (49%). He prefers the podcast (36%) over the blog (30%).
The biggest challenge he faces is not having enough time (59%) and money (40%) to do what he wants to do.
He is very active in pursing personal development, reading at least one book a month (96%) and listening to at least one podcast a week (71%). He also attended one or more webinars (71%) or conferences in the last year (68%).
He has his own blog (51%) and posts at least once a week (53%). The biggest challenge he faces is building traffic (58%), followed closely by publishing consistently (58%). He is active on several social media networks, including Facebook (90%), Twitter (82.1%), and LinkedIn (63%).
He hopes to publish a book in the future (64%) and even has an idea for it (51%) but hasn’t gotten much further than that (76%).
Not much has changed demographically since my last survey. However, three items are worth mentioning. My audience, as compared to two years ago, is:
- More international;
- More affluent; and
- More mobile.
If you are a survey geek and want to see the specific responses to each question, including the reader comments, you may do so by clicking here. All the responses are anonymous; I can’t tell how any one person voted.
Based on my readers’ comments, I have come to five conclusions:
- Keep podcasting. Nothing I do takes more work than my podcast, and, to be honest, I have considered quitting. However, the survey assured me I must continue. Of those who both read the blog and listen to the podcast, more prefer the podcast. In terms of sheer numbers, I currently have more blog readers, but this will flip in the next eighteen to twenty-four months.
Focus more on personal development, productivity, and leadership. Since publishing my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I have written on various aspects of platform-building and publishing. I will continue to do that, but I plan to shift the mix this year and focus more on what my readers told me they prefer. This will be a natural fit with the topic of my next book, The Life Plan Manifesto with my good friend, Daniel Harkavy.
Stay personal, honest, and practical. One of the consistent themes I picked up in the comments is that my readers like it when I tell personal stories, especially of some challenge or failure I have facing or have faced. It makes them feel they are not alone. They also like it when I share how to accomplish something specific and break it down into step-by-step instructions.
Be more open in sharing my faith. This has been a tough one for me, not because I am afraid to express my faith, but because it is not my specific calling. I have wanted to reach as broad an audience as possible without making anyone feel excluded. But the truth is, I have throttled my expression back, and that doesn’t feel quite right either. As a result, I plan talk more about this part of my life this year. (Don’t worry, I won’t start preaching!)
Don’t try to please everyone. It was amazing how many contrary opinions there were. For example, some think I post too much; others, too little. Some think my posts and podcasts are too long; others, too short. Some want more on technology; others, less. In the end, I have to follow my own compass. As I often tell people who complain: “Feel free to unfollow me. I’m not for everyone.”
I got scores of great ideas from reviewing the comments. We are already working away on several of them. I think you are going to like the changes I have planned for the rest of 2014. If you participated in the survey, thank you for taking the time to do that. I consider it a gift.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.