Reader Survey Results and the Changes I’m Going to Be Making


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Can I kick off this post by saying how awesome you guys are?

I was so intimidated by the idea of running a reader survey — so much so that it’s taken me four years to put one together! — but I’ve been incredibly touched by the number and quality of your responses.

I told Dave that was expecting to have around 100 survey takers, secretly hoping for more like 300. I was overwhelmed, then, to receive over 500 detailed and thoughtful responses, and they were so much fun to read through! I’m eager and inspired to start making some changes.

As you took time out of your day to share your thoughts with me, I’d like to do the same for you. In this post, I’ll be sharing the survey results and explaining how I’ll be using your feedback to improve the site.

Let’s get started!

Lauren with her backpack

Who You Are

78% of you are women. This was a bit of a surprise, as I receive an equal amount of comments/emails from guys and girls!

44% of you are aged between 25 and 34. 23% are under 24 and 33% are over 35. I had 8 responders who were over 65.

Next, I asked where’s home for you and was excited to receive responses from unexpected places, such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, and Ecuador. The most heavily represented countries, though, were the United States with 30% and the United Kingdom with 25% — no big surprises there! Going further down the list, Australia came in at 8%, Canada at 8%, and 5% of you are nomadic!

When it comes to travel style, 47% of you confessed to being budget travellers, while only 15% have taken a luxury trip in the past few years.

Let’s talk about travel companions! 53% of you have recently taken a solo trip, 57% of have travelled as part of a couple, and 59% have opted to hit the road with friends. 43% have travelled independently over the past couple of years, and 15% have recently travelled as part of a tour group.

When it comes to the length of your trips, 13% of you have taken a long-term trip lasting for over a year, 7% are nomadic, and 4% of you haven’t travelled at all.

I’ve been struggling with my anxiety recently, so I asked how many of you were also sufferers. I was surprised to see that 34% of you have an anxiety disorder, a much higher number than I was expecting.

Working in the Maldives: surprisingly easy!

On Never Ending Footsteps 

I kicked off this section by asking if you remembered how you first came across Never Ending Footsteps. 35% of you found me through Googling something random and 30% discovered me through another travel blog. On the lower-but-heartwarming end of the spectrum, 5% found me through a friend’s recommendations, 8 responders know me in real life (hi!), and 5 of you even found the site through buying How Not to Travel the World first.

Next, I asked how long you’ve been reading the site for. 44% of you have been following along with my misadventures for two or three years, 34% have been doing so for a full year, and 20% found me within the past few months. Shout out to the 5% who have been reading from the very first post!

When it comes to keeping up with new posts, 44% find out about new posts through social media, 43% are subscribed by email, 37% head on over here directly to see if anything new has been posted, and 15% are subscribed via RSS.

I asked what type of posts you enjoy most on Never Ending Footsteps. A whopping 86% of you love when I write narratives about a specific place, 66% love giggling at my incidents, 60% of you are a fan of my monthly summaries, and 59% of you prefer to read detailed destination guides.

Now it’s time for the posts you enjoy least! Posts about writing came on top here, gaining 35% of the vote. 30% of you enjoy my non-travel musings least and 22% voted for posts about travel blogging.

58% of you are currently subscribed to my newsletter. When it comes to your favourite part, 32% voted for personal stories I don’t share here, 13% are subcribed for advice and insights into working from anywhere, and 11% confessed they enjoy my income reports most. This was a surprise for me, as I’d assumed many subscribers were nosey about how much money I make as a travel blogger!

Lauren in London

The Good and the Bad Bits

On to the part that made me most nervous! I asked you to share what you like most about Never Ending Footsteps and what you like least/think I could improve on.

Let’s start with the good.

I was overjoyed to read so much positive feedback about the site! The vast majority commented on how personal my writing is, how relatable you find me, and how much you appreciate my unwavering honesty. Awwww! After spending the first year of my blogging career trying to act as if I was a travel expert who never did anything wrong, it means the world to learn that embracing my mishaps and sharing the reality of my life on the road is something you guys love to read about.

You love that I don’t pretend to be an expert. A lot of you shared that one of the reasons why I’m so relatable is because I don’t try to act as if I’m a travel expert. You love that I’m honest when I screw up, you like that I write about the good and the bad times, and you’re happy that I don’t talk down to you.

You love that I don’t have my travels sponsored by anyone. Many of you commented on how enjoyable it is to read a site that isn’t filled with press trips and sponsored hotel stays. You love that I travel exactly how non-bloggers do — that I go to the places that interest me most, that I can share the positives and negatives of an experience, and that because I pay for everything myself, there’s never any question about whether my opinion has been swayed.

You love that I share my travel costs. I received a lot of comments thanking me for sharing a detailed account of my travel expenses. I was thrilled to learn that you find it super-helpful for planning your budget for upcoming trips.

The quality of my writing and photography. I was particularly surprised by the latter, as I’ve always believed myself to be a mediocre photographer! I was flattered by the many comments praising the quality of the site.

My honesty about my anxiety. So many of you confessed that even though you don’t personally suffer from anxiety, you appreciate that I’m vulnerable about my struggles, as it makes me seem more human.

Lauren loves her macbook pro

And on to the bad!

To be honest — and as many of you told me in your responses! — I can be too hard on myself at times, so all but around five responses were things I was already beating myself up about. The most common request was to post more frequently, to write less about my book and my anxiety, and (awww) to stop being so down on myself.

I value your feedback, so here are the changes I’m going to be making.

A Proper Posting Schedule

I’m going to be publishing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from now on, dropping back to two days a week if I’ve got too much stuff going on. I’ve never had a fixed posting schedule on Never Ending Footsteps so I’m excited to see how it works out.

And if I skip a few weeks, know that I’m likely struggling with anxiety and taking some time off for myself. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself right now.

A Wider Variety of Topics

I’ve shied away from writing anything vaguely resource-y in the past because I wasn’t sure anyone would care about my recommendations. Y’know, I’m kind of disastrous — would anyone trust that I knew what I was talking about? As it turns out, you would!

You’ve given me tons of suggestions for future post ideas and topics you want me to cover in the future. You want to know how I find my cheap flights, how travel has affected my friendships, an update on my packing list, how I choose where to visit next, how I deal with visas, how I prepare for an upcoming trip, and there were even lots of requests for me to write more about food!

I’ll be tackling all of these topics over the coming months, transforming this site into both a practical resource and a place full of incidents.

Detailed Information on How You Can Do the Same Trip

Something a lot of you requested was an information box at the end of each post detailing how to get to a certain place, how much things cost there, recommendations for restaurants, and anything else that will help you follow along in my footsteps. I’ll be adding this to every relevant post in the future!

More Photo Essays

I’ve shied away from photo essays in recent years, because they’ve always felt like a bit of a cop out — I guess because they’re so easy for me to put together and don’t require much writing, I thought it was lazy to publish them.

I was surprised, then, to have so many of you requesting that I share more of my travel photos! From now on, I’ll be posting a few photo essays every month.

A Chronological-Ish Blog Structure

Most people confessed they prefer to read a travel blog that’s written chronologically so they can follow along with a trip.

From now on, I’m going to start writing chronologically about my 2015 travels on Mondays and Wednesdays, reserving Friday as a chance to flashback or flashforward to some of my favourite travel experiences.

Less Complaining

This hurt to hear, even though I was expecting it. You’re over hearing about my recent breakdown, there have been too many posts about anxiety, and sometimes it feels like all I ever focus on are the negatives in my life.

I can’t deny doing this. It’s been a tough couple of years for me, but I’m on the track to recovery and feeling stronger than ever. Never Ending Footsteps will have a much more positive focus going forwards.

A Better Newsletter

My newsletter has been all over the place since I launched: I’ve been trying to do too much. Many of you commented to say it’s too long, there are too many details, and you don’t care about half of the things I write about.

I’m going to relaunch the newsletter next year with a tighter focus and less information on the business side of things.

 

I can’t thank you enough for all of your helpful feedback! It means the world to hear that so many of you love what I’m doing and that I, to quote one answer, “could write about how HD TVs work and I’d read it”. I hope the changes I’m about to make will improve your experience as a reader!

See you on Wednesday, when I’ll be kicking off with an exciting post about the great colour definition on the 1080p Samsung UN55J6300 display!

Maybe.

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21 Comments

  1. Amanda
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    I am so glad you decided to do this reader survey. Lauren, I freaking LOVE your site. It’s one of the blogs (humans? is that weird?) that I would love mine to be one day. Anxiety is hard, and I totally understand being hard on yourself. So it’s super awesome that you posted all of this! Can’t wait to see where your blog heads in the next couple of months.

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, that makes me so happy! Thank you so much, Amanda! :-D

  2. Keir Briscoe
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    Feedback can always be scary. Sounds like you are taking it in a positive light. I’m looking forward to three posts a week, but if you feel overwhelmed I’ll take what I can get. PS that Samsung is a great TV! ;)

    • Lauren
      November 19, 2015
      Reply

      Yep! Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of the feedback was positive :-)

  3. Dominique
    November 18, 2015
    Reply

    Your reader survey seems to be helping! To ask the Internet for their opinion can be very scary – but it seems it has completely worked out for you! Your future plans sound great and I’m looking forward to the changes, just continue taking it easy! All the best for the future and I’ll be eager to follow along!

    • Lauren
      November 19, 2015
      Reply

      Haha — it’s true! I was nervous I was going to receive lots of hurtful criticisms, but there wasn’t very many at all! And you’re correct — it’s been so helpful for showing me what I need to focus on in the future :-)

  4. Lotte
    November 18, 2015
    Reply

    Greay summary of the results! I am looking forward to your new posts:-)

    • Lauren
      November 19, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Lotte! :-)

  5. Shirley Hollick
    November 18, 2015
    Reply

    Fascinating survey results. Personally, I haven’t had the courage to do a survey, but maybe I will. It looks like it is really worthwhile. Then again, could you ever please everyone?

    • Lauren
      November 19, 2015
      Reply

      There were definitely a few conflicting results: post once a week! Post as many times as possible! Less posts on Southeast Asia! I’m most interested in your Southeast Asia travels! But for the most part, everyone was pretty aligned with each other. I think it’s a good idea to run a survey — you never know if a large majority of your readers were wishing you would change something with your site!

  6. Kate Wildheart
    November 19, 2015
    Reply

    It’s really nice to see the results of feedback, especially if you have taken part yourself (at least I’m sure I did at the time anyway!) I’m really looking forward to some regular posts from you, especially some informative ones, and I’m really glad to hear that you seem to be in a better place now.

    • Lauren
      November 19, 2015
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Kate! I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things! :-)

  7. Kerstin Pilz
    November 30, 2015
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing the results of your reader survey with us. So interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. I personally didn’t mind your posts about anxiety and what you call your ‘complaining”. It makes you human and allows me to relate to your voice. I look forward to the three weekly posts and I agree with your readers that a box on how much things cost etc at the end of a destination profile will be helpful. Happy travels, wishing you an anxiety-free transition to 2016 :)

    • Lauren
      November 30, 2015
      Reply

      Awww, well thanks for that, Kerstin! I won’t stop writing about my anxiety and struggles completely, but I think lessening the amount will help improve the site and bring it back to its travel focus :-)

  8. Logan Brown
    December 1, 2015
    Reply

    Bummer about the income and behind the scenes stuff. As a nomadic traveler myself, I really enjoyed these. Especially as I was planning my trip. But I’ve always been into the “inside baseball” stuff (does that translate for Brits?). I hope it doesn’t fully disappear. :)

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2015
      Reply

      I haven’t decided yet. I’ve felt for a while that my income reports aren’t very valuable — I make the same amount from similar sources each month and don’t have a huge amount of motivation to increase it. We’ll see! :-)

  9. Ash
    December 10, 2015
    Reply

    I would like it to be known that your “negativity” has a lot of value. Our world has this idea that gratitude is the fix-all to everything, but I seriously think that has us brainwashing ourselves. Being grateful for a shitty partner keeps you from leaving a bad relationships. Turning to gratitude when you have a boss that treats you less than human keeps you working the same crappy job. Yes, there are always things to be grateful for and perspective really IS everything, but our feelings come about for a reason. Anxieties, sadness, and anger are messages that something isn’t right. Until we listen to our feelings, analyze them, and address what is causing them, we aren’t going to be truly happy. Those things will constantly be eating at us no matter how grateful we are, because we’re ignoring them by sugar-coating problems with gratitude.

    Sometimes we have to feel sad and angry. That’s what gets us so sick of things that we will FINALLY look at what we’re doing and commit to making some changes. Please don’t feel bad about sharing your “negative” life experiences. It makes you real, and it offers valuable ideas and insights to people going through hard times. We don’t get through hard times by pretending they aren’t happening. We get through them by putting on our boots and treading through the shit that lies before us. It makes us stronger and wiser and, in my opinion, it’s precisely why those experiences fall upon us. To teach us something and make us better. And it sounds like you’re in a great place right now, so I’d say those hard times may have been priceless opportunities for your own growth.

    Good luck with what’s ahead! Much love! :-D

  10. Simon Pierce
    December 21, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I love your writing! Remember this is your site, so please take all suggestions / criticisms with multiple grains of salt… there wouldn’t be so many of us reading if we didn’t already like what you’re doing.

    If you’re going to include less business stuff in your newsletters (nooooooo… I really like it!), it would be great if you’d consider a specific ebook or similar product on the topic.

    I’ll buy it :-)

    • Lauren
      June 3, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much for the feedback, Simon!

  11. Yok
    December 25, 2015
    Reply

    Surveys are sweet. And if the majority of responders offered little to no constructive feedback, you would likely have had a “dud” survey.

    In my opinion the negative-cum-constructive feedback was why the survey has value: you likely have a relatively strong grasp of your strengths (the website is still here pulling in readers :), it’s the areas your audience feels you can improve on.

    Your blog is a cool part of the travel blog community, so keep it up.

    • Lauren
      December 27, 2015
      Reply

      That’s true. I definitely needed the negative comments to help me improve :-)

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