Today, Part II of the APW reader survey results (here is Part I). This part is about content, and it’s a long one….
First of all, lucky for me, you guys like every kind of content I publish, more or less. The vast majority commented that you thought the mix was about right (very few of you thought it was ‘scattered.’) A few of you talked about the blog’s transition ‘from a wedding blog to a married blog,’ and I wanted to discuss that. The site currently has about the balance I was aiming for – lots of wedding content, some married content, some personal content, a little bit of life content, and it should hold about steady here. A wedding blog about getting married. Or something. Not a married blog. It’s going to stay my blog, more or less. Lots of community generated content, yes yes yes, but it’s always going to be my voice that’s the through-line. That’s what feels right to me as a writer, and that’s what I like to read on other blogs, so I’m sticking to it.
The first serious surprise of the survey was that you guys like the marriage/reclaiming wife discussions the best, with 59% of you picking it as a favorite. This blew me away, since those are inevitably the posts where someone’s head explodes all over the comments. Because of that, I had a feeling that many of you HATED these posts. But it turns out you don’t!
Second place was, no-surprise, wedding graduates, with 57% of you loving them the best. One person commented, rightly I think, that they loved wedding graduates, but sometimes they became repetitive. This is something I think about a lot – the message of the wedding graduates is, over and over, that the little things don’t end up mattering on your wedding day, that what matters is love and joy. This was (sadly) a message I hadn’t heard much until I started eliciting these posts before our wedding. So I think a lot about the balance – how much is it helpful to hear this message over and over again in different voices… and how much is it repetitive? I try to limit graduates to about two a week (Christmas every day would be boring, right?), and my criteria for picking which graduates I post (since I no longer am able to post them all) is strong writing, and fresh perspective. Though pictures that make me want to jump up and dance don’t hurt.
Third place went to ‘sass,’ which is funny, since again, these are the posts I enviably have to close comments on. One of you commented that I shouldn’t use the word ‘sass’ ever, because it seemed like I was trying too hard. I think the best explanation for that is that I use it a bit defensively and proactively… a warning that, if you offend easily, you should avert your eyes. In real life I’m, um, funny… in a slightly caustic call-it-like-I see-it kind of way. I learned a long time ago that doesn’t always fly on the internet, because someone somewhere is ALWAYS getting offended. I’ve been debating turning off comments on short funny posts, so you get them more often, and the comments don’t get awful. I may finally go through with that.
Lots of you asked for more advice posts – where I take questions from readers. I do that a lot via email, and I’m starting to think about publishing those exchanges more often, even if they are a bit rough around the edges.
The other main thing you wanted was DIY posts, and I’m going to run with that… sort of. Standard DIY posts like “how to make a bouquet out of toothpicks,” bore me to tears. I really have no interest in making a bouquet out of toothpicks, and if I did, I’d probably figure out how to do it myself. That said, I have big love for what I’d call “How To” posts. Not, random crafty objects, but big projects – DJing your wedding with and ipod, doing your own flowers, etc. There will be a How To section on the new site, and I’ll be soliciting posts for The Big Stuff, aiming to create a resource you can turn to in a pinch.Fascinatingly, by a landslide, you guys wanted wedding and married content mixed together. 80% of you wanted the content mixed the way it is, 14% of you liked both sets of content but would be fine with sister sites, and only 6% of you wanted just one kind of content. I had expected that the vast majority of you wanted only one kind of content, and was moving towards the sister site idea, but it seems that you guys like it just the way it is, so we’re going to stick with that for the moment.Forums. I was pretty relieved that 40% of you were on the fence (because I’m on the fence) and that 41% of you only want the blog. That said, what emerged in the comments was fascinating. What you guys are interested in is a forum to discuss marriage. I think this is really interesting, because there are other awesome wedding forums, and I’m not sure recreating the wheel makes a ton of sense. But! There are not, that I know of, any forums to discuss being a modern progressive newlywed, and I dig that idea.
When it came to weddings, what most people were interested in was less a general forum, and more a way to share resources and information. Lots of people wanted a way to share information on ‘Team Practical Approved’ venues, for example. So I’m going to start to think about ways to collect and share that kind of information that don’t involve endless chatty threads.
Finally, one of you suggested something that I thought was brilliant. She suggested that there be a nominal membership fee for joining the forums – say $5. Yes, this would help support the site, but the real reason for this suggestion w
as that a $5 fee would insure a certain level of privacy, or in her words, ‘a way to keep out the crazies.’ The fee would ensure that everyone who was there WANTED to be there, and that random, uh, knot-like brides wouldn’t wander in off the street and knock the conversation off the rails. If I did something like this, I could easily set it up so that if you had a financial hardship situation, you could email me and get a code to join for free… since the idea would not be to exclude people, but to make sure that people actively chose to be part of the discussion.
And one last note. In an interesting display of group psychology, many of you had clearly created some sort of hierarchy of readership in your heads. Some people said they didn’t want to send in their weddings, because I didn’t know them, so I couldn’t write a nice introduction to their post (I’d say 70% of wedding graduates have never emailed me or ever left a comment, and I write lovely introductions for everyone). Some of you said that you wanted to be on Team Practical, but thought that you weren’t (Team Practical is a silly silly term that I made up for my readers when I had not-so-many-readers. The readers ended adopting it as their own, so I still use the term. It is, however, synonymous with ALL readers. I have a general philosophy and if you treat people like a community, they will act like one). And finally, some of you were concerned that I only cared about readers who “lived in my comments.” I did a quick calculation, and at any given time, roughly 0.1% of readers are regular commenters. Did you get that? 0.1%. So, no. I don’t love them more than the rest of you, though I’m grateful to them, because they give me feedback and direction. So comment if you want to, or not. But you’re still on Team Practical, if you want to be.
Phew. So that’s the survey! I’d love any and all feedback on the ideas I’m throwing around in the comments. I’ve turned anonymous comments back on for the day so everyone can chat, KINDLY.
And thank you again, this was so, so helpful.
Amazing graphs: big thanks and big love to Jamie, who really is as cool as she seems.