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Survey Results of My Blog's Readership and My Accompanying Analysis

by Tom Johnson on Jun 16, 2007
categories: blogging technical-writing

Last week I posted a survey on my site asking who my readers were. Here are the results of that survey.


You can view the report here as well.

Geographic Breakdown

Here's a geographic breakdown of where my readers are located.

geographic representation of readers

Survey Analysis

Most of my of my readers are in technical communication. They're more interested in blogging than podcasting, and only a handful have met me personally.

This means I'm largely writing for strangers. A lot of my posts are descriptions of good podcasts I've listened to. But if readers aren't interested in podcasts, these recommendations may have little appeal.

What Is Blogging's ROI?

I have been a little concerned about the ROI of blogging lately. I'm thinking that —

  • Blogging requires a lot of time without producing any direct monetary rewards.
  • Only a tiny percent of my readers actually know me personally. (What kind of relationships am I building?)
  • Neither blogging, podcasting, or wikis seem to be skills in demand in the field of technical communication. (If you find a job description for a technical communicator that even mentions the word blog, wiki, or podcast, let me know. I don't think they exist. Or if they do, they're one in a thousand.)

How Readers Consume Blogs

After the survey dropped off the front page, I had only a few more respondents. This confirmed my suspicion that even though you may have written 250 posts, only the last 10 exist to your reader. This leads to the treadmill effect Arrington described -- the idea that blogging is like running on a treadmill. You just keep putting time and energy into something that goes around and around without taking you anywhere.

Ideally, blogs should present readers with a neatly organized view of posts related to their interests. The index doesn't really work (for example, see my index). Neither do users peruse categories much (at least I don't). Perhaps providing related posts, top ten categories, and other aggregations that appeal to users is more useful.

Update: I decided to build in more embedded navigation into each post. Now at the end of each post, I show you 10 Related Posts and also the Top 10 Posts on my Site. Since 70% of my site visitors are supposedly first-timers (according to Google Analytics), it might make sense to provide per-post navigation like this.

Any Feedback ?

Do you have any thoughts for my about my analysis? I'd really like to hear them.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.