5 min read

Show Me The Survey!

Show Me The Survey!
I hope Tom Cruise movies don't become an ongoing theme.

It's been two weeks since I post-hypnotically suggested that you fill out a survey, which I think is long enough to wait for responses and the sweet sweet data that comes with them.

But I don't want to hold that data close to my chest like some sort of highly corrupted hobbit with a ring fetish. I'm an open and transparent kind of guy, so I'm going to share the results with the world via this blog post.

That might be a bit boring though, so to spice it up, I'm also going to do my best to reflect on the data and to provide some "interesting points" using some of those "good words" that you all seem to like so much.

The Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds

Lets get started with some numbers.

11 of you glorious humans filled out the survey, and given than I think I have maybe 40 regular readers, I'm going to take that as a response rate of ~25%.

That's pretty good as far as I'm concerned. At least until I did a tiny amount of research and found out that a response rate of more than 60% is something of a minimum in order to be considered a representative sample.

It's pretty likely that the results I'm about to share suffer from participation bias, which is really just a fancy way of saying that the people who responded to the survey have attributes that pre-dispose them to replying to the survey in a particular way, thus skewing the results.

But as long as I keep that in mind, I don't think it really matters.

Mostly because I'm just stoked that 11 people took the time to help me out :)

What Do You Want From Me? My Soul?

Moving on, the first question I asked in the survey was why people read my blog posts.

It's the sort of question I ask myself a lot when I consider what sort of things I should write about. The intent here was to help me understand exactly what sort of value I was providing to people in exchange for their precious, precious time.

Forms response chart. Question title: What, if anything, attracts you to my blog posts?. Number of responses: 11 responses.
See if you can guess which one of these responses was my wife

It turns out that the reason most of you come to this blog is because it presents interesting and thoughtful points via a sequence of words that is pleasing to read.

I'm okay with that.

Also, at least one of you were attracted to the blog care of Harold Murn, a prolific internal blogger at Atlassian. Thanks Harold!

I thought for sure that people came for the movie puns and funny headlines (which take a surprising amount of effort to do), but it turns out that I mostly do those things for my own enjoyment.

I'll never stop, and you can't make me!

You Had Me At Hello

The second question I asked was how people know when I've posted something.

I use a few different notification channels to let people know that I've made a thing, but I don't have a lot of clear intelligence about which one is the most effective, so the intent here was to clarify my own assumptions and assess the value those notifications provide.

Forms response chart. Question title: How do you know when I've posted something?. Number of responses: 11 responses.
Ahhh email, will you ever die?

The most common response was that people learn about a new post thanks to the actual subscription options built into the Ghost platform. This is interesting, because it implies that once I motivate someone to subscribe, it's a channel straight into their brain.

Good to know.

The second most common response to the question was that people see my LinkedIn "articles" (read: snippets that funnel people towards my actual website) which makes sense because it's the platform that I generally get the most engagement from (i.e. likes, comments, etc).

Interestingly enough, no-one really just thinks to themselves "gosh, I wonder if Todd has written anything new". It's not all that surprising considering how fierce the fight for human attention is, but it does reinforce the importance of having a number of good notification channels.

I should probably consider expanding the ones that I make use of.

Maybe I should use that bird one. I mean, chicks dig 280 character snippets after all.

Help Me To Help You

The remainder of the survey was filled with a grab bag of questions intended to clarify the type of content that people like to see and to gather ideas about attracting readers or general improvements.

Some of the more interesting reflections from these questions include:

  • My long-winded musings and the conclusions that I derive from them are interesting. That is a slippery slope friends, I've got many, many thoughts inside me that are just waiting to be let loose
  • The fact that I write honestly and openly is great because it makes me seem like a real person experiencing real things and trying to learn from them. I like this comment because it's exactly what I was going for and reinforcement is nice
  • People want to be able to comment directly on my blog posts instead of on the LinkedIn stub. This is a very reasonable idea and I've put something into my backlog to look into providing that functionality natively via Ghost
  • The meta posts about blogging (like...uh, this one I suppose) are less interesting than the ones reflecting on leadership or other concepts. Fair call, but I'm probably going to keep writing about blog stuff every now and then because I've got to vent somewhere :P
  • Posting nudes might help get more readers. Counterpoint: it would scare away existing readers

There were lots of other interesting bits and pieces, but I don't want this section to drag on, so you'll just have to believe me when I say I read every single comment and ruminated on them all.

I'm Glad We Had This Talk

Bringing it all to a close, I really only have one thing to say. You know, apart from all the words prior to this.

Thank you.

Thank you to every single person who took the time to fill out the survey and help me understand a little bit about what this blog means to them and to give me ideas about where it could go.

I wish I could reward each of you with more than just with these paltry words, but I don't actually know who you are because the survey really was anonymous :(

For me, the biggest and most unexpected outcome out of this survey was a big old boost to my motivation to continue writing on this blog. It's actually been easier to get up in the mornings.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes I really do just like the act of writing, but sometimes it can be a struggle and understanding more about the people who take the time to read the words that I vomit, really does help to put it all in perspective.

Funnily enough, I originally thought this blog post was going to be a quick one. All I had to do was read through the survey responses again, knock up a summary, badda bing, badda boom, easy week.

It was not.

It required thought and consideration and actually internalising some of the comments and responses and meaningfully reflecting on them.

And if that's not a point in favour of writing as a means to improve myself, I don't know what is.