Big Data for a Little Blog
Hello loyal Blondihacks readers!
The results from the first ever Reader Survey are in. My apologies if you didn’t get a chance to participate. It was only up for a couple of days, but the spam bots found it quickly and were starting to pollute the data. However, I got a very strong response in the opening hours, so I feel good about the quality of the results. I could have prevented the spam by requiring log-in to do the survey, but I didn’t want to do that because I know from my comment threads that there is a large silent majority of readers that prefer not to log in to WordPress. No problem- I get that. I wanted your voice to be heard here as well.
Many folks used the comment field to let me know they would contribute to the site if they knew how. Allow me to remedy that right now. The best way to support Blondihacks is via Patreon. Just click this big Patreon banner:
Patrons are charged per post, not on some time schedule. That incentivizes me to make more content, and protects you in case I go on vacation or have life stuff that gets in the way of blogging (which happens sometimes).
The second option is direct gifting through PayPal. Just click here:
My dream is to someday make Blondihacks pay the rent. It’s a long way from doing that right now, but every bit helps. There is roughly 40 hours of work that goes into every post on this site, and often hundreds of dollars in materials and tools. I spend 11 hours a day at my day job, then come home and spend my evenings working on this site. It’s a lot of effort, but I want to make it good.
If you feel the content is worthwhile and you’d like to see it continue, please consider supporting me.
Now, let’s take a look at the results from that survey. First up, the content of the articles.
Those results are pretty strong. Most of you seem to like the variety here. That’s good, because I’m also all about variety. That will continue! There’s also a secondary preference for the electronics stuff. That makes sense, since much of the early traffic to the blog came from sites like Hack-a-Day and Adafruit. There’s a base of my audience still from there, I imagine. Lately things have expanded as my machine shop content has gained some interest, but don’t worry electronics fans- there will be more. I have a queue of interesting projects backed up in this area.
How about article frequency?
On the frequency front, things are less clear. I suspect people voted here for different reasons. It would be interesting to segment this data, for example, on Patreon donors. They pay for the content everyone reads, and they pay per article. They are going to have a budget that doesn’t scale past some point. Someone who can afford to pay for one article per month from me might be unhappy if I suddenly started cranking out weekly content. Conversely, perhaps the readers who do not donate are mostly in the Often As Possible column. That’s rampant speculation, though. This data is all anonymous, and I have no way to segment or do further analysis. I expect the current rate of “roughly every 2-4 weeks when I have time” will continue.
On to the question of article length.
Seems that the bulk of the audience feels I have a sweet spot on length. That’s good to know. I try to aim for about a 5-10min read, depending on the number of pictures. Much longer and people wouldn’t finish. Much shorter and people wouldn’t feel value for their Patreon dollar. I try to strike that balance.
The final question may have come out of the blue for you all, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. All the cool kids do YouTube these days, and there’s opportunity there. However, producing video is immensely time consuming, and what I like about this is the writing. No matter what, the blog would continue, because writing is fun for me. Editing video is not very fun for me, but if people would pay for it, I might do it.
In surveys, the wording of the questions is everything. That’s why you should view all data reported in the media based on surveys with immense skepticism. You can pretty much get any audience to generate any data you want by how you word the questions. I think this YouTube thing is an example of a poorly worded question. There was overlap between the Yes answer and the Both answer. My intent was that “yes” meant you would support me dropping the blog completely and moving to YouTube. I suspect many people didn’t mean it that way, but it’s hard to know because I didn’t word the question well.
At the end of the day, I think the data shows there is interest in me doing video content, so I’ll continue to think about whether I have room in my schedule for it. If I do it, it would be exclusive paid content for Patreon supporters, perhaps using their new Lens system, or through a private YouTube.
If you’d like to keep in regular touch with me and my projects, follow me on Twitter. I post sneak peeks and in-progress shots of upcoming projects. Also sometimes cats.
Thanks again to all my readers who participated, and those who wanted to but got cut off by the spam bots. I was very surprised (even a little overwhelmed) at the volume of responses I got. If even a few percent of the people who responded became Patreon supporters, we could kick it up a notch around here.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Blondihacks.