Thanks to everyone who participated in my recent survey. Seventy four people participated -- this is roughly 9% of my readers.
You can view the survey results here, including all kinds of colorful graphs, such as the one below.
Here's a summary of the survey results:
79% of you work in the field of technical communication, with another 4% who want to break in, and about 3% who want to transition out.
About 50% of you read my blog during work as a "break," or else you read it at random times. About 13% read it before work, 12% read it after work, and only 9% read it on the weekends.
67% of you prefer my blog posts over podcasts, but 26% of you like both the blog and podcasts.
58% of you listen to my podcasts directly from the computer; 30% of you use an MP3 player or iPod; others actually burn the files onto CDs.
65% of you read my blog through your feedreader, 34% read it by visiting my site, and 9% from email notifications.
42% of you are between 30-39 years old, and 29% of you are 40-49.
78% of you prefer topics about technical communication, and 48% enjoy innovation.
77% of you create user guides, 76% of you create online help, and 59% of you create quick reference guides.
41% of you also have a blog, 34% of you don't have a blog, and 11% of you are thinking of starting one. Another 11% of you have blogs but rarely post to them.
37% of you like the podcast as is, while 19% want more interesting topics
40% of you like the blog posts as is, 25% want me to focus more on technical communication, and 25% want me to focus more on personal stories and experiences.
New Directions for the Blog
Based on these results, I've decided to do the following:
Since most people read my blog during work, I'll set my blog posts to publish during weekday work hours. I've always been hesitant about doing this, for fear that my employer would think I was blogging during work. But really the concept of timestamped posts is not unheard of. In the past, I just published posts when I finished them -- which was often on the weekends. But this hurts readership because when Monday rolls around, at around 11 a.m. when you need a break, the posts I wrote during the weekend will be buried in your feedreader and you won't notice them. I'll let you know if timestamping to work hours increases my hits.
Given that you read my blog during work, you probably feel a little guilty too unless you view the blog as an act of professional development. If you're reading posts on WordPress and blogging, this might violate your rationalization to read. So I will focus more on technical writing. I also like that my readers value innovation, because blogs should be a venue for new ideas and exploration. I will pursue these topics more exclusively.
I'll try to integrate more personal stories and experiences, but this is tough because transparency is a delicate issue if topics stem from work situations. Your responses here are such an interesting result given the recent article on The Content Wrangler about a reader who was irate about an author's supposed expression of political opinion. I too value personal stories and experiences. I'll work on this. I enjoy authenticity and voice almost as much as content itself.
Regarding the imbalance of podcasts to blogs and your preferences (you prefer blog posts 3:1), I've had mixed thoughts about the podcast. I could try to focus all my energy on blogging, trying to reach as many as possible. However, I get a lot of visibility from simply having a podcast, and interviewing people is often fun. Maybe the core audience of technical writers isn't embracing podcasting yet. Maybe the podcasts have more impact than blog posts. Maybe .... the podcasting scene hasn't emerged yet in tech comm, and when it does, I'll be in the right place. Or maybe podcasting is morphing into something else. As for integrating more video, that might be possible with skype and webcams, but it's less practical given that few people have these tools.
Is there anything else I should do, based on your responses? If I missed something there, please let me know. Thank you to all who participated in the survey. If you missed out and still want to take the survey, go for it.
By the way, I really, really like Survey Gizmo as a survey tool. It's free up to the first 250 responses, and the graphs and charts in the reports look superb. In fact, I'm thinking of using Survey Gizmo to survey my users about their favorite help deliverable.
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About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.