Happy Weekend, friends! I hope you all had a great week and are gearing up for a fun- and/or rest-filled weekend! We’re running a bunch of errands to finally take care of some Christmas present returns and then I am breaking out the paint brushes and working on a small furniture project. I can’t tell you how excited I am! Today, I wanted to pop in and share the results of my 2015 Reader Survey and chat a bit more about my thoughts and plans for the blog in the coming year. Above all, I can’t thank those of you who took the survey enough. Your honest, genuine, and constructive feedback helped me not only sort through a bunch of ideas and plans I have for the future, but also made me feel like I have the most awesome, dedicated, loving readers ever! So before I dive into the nitty gritty…thank you for the love, the support, and the ideas!
I always like to ask a few demographic questions to get a better sense of who is reading. It becomes easy as a blogger to envision who is out there, but that can sometimes be quite different than who actually is. One of my biggest surprises in these few questions was how few of my readers are renters and how few are military spouses. While I was originally a bit sad to see that my renter-friendly and military-themed ideas and content aren’t reaching those who might actually want and need them, but so many of you said that even though you’re not renters or military, you still find the projects applicable to your living situation and find the military insights enlightening. Phew!
About You as a Reader
It is really helpful for me as a blogger to better understand how you read, access, and follow my posts and projects. It helps me decide where to place my efforts, what issues need to be resolved, and what is working and not working. In looking at my stats over the last year, I can see that I’ve experienced some pretty considerable growth, and that was only emphasized by how many of you are new readers (over half of you started following in the last year!). It is so encouraging that all of my hustle and hard work of the last 6-8 months really did pay off!
I prefer to read my favorite blogs in a blog reader, so I often underestimate how many people really do click over to the website…and it turns out that it’s most of you! I am incredibly aware and very sensitive to the host of site issues here over the last few months…trust me…it’s been a painful period behind the scenes for me too. I want you to know that I am 100% committed to making my site as easy to load, read, and navigate as possible. A few of you had some site recommendations, and I will be re-visiting some of them to see if there are a good fit for my blog. I still have some things to work through in order to speed things up around here, but fingers crossed, the worst is behind us!
I did want to comment briefly on my free-lance work for other websites. I currently write between 5-9 posts a month for other websites. And while I do realize this is time and effort not put toward THIHM, these opportunities also make up about 80% of my income…which in turn allows me to spend the time and money to buy supplies and create content for this blog. I appreciate, more than I can say, that you all take the time and extra effort to visit my projects on other sites. As THIHM grows, I may be able to cut back on these assignments, but for now, they are an important aspect of my business model.
I addressed the slow site loading above (I promise I am working on it!), but a few more things to note here too. I just recently added advertising back onto my site. For whatever it’s worth, blogging takes an enormous amount of time and resources, and the 5 months I went without ad revenue significantly affected my ability to offset supply costs and contribute to our family budgetary goals. I am still working with my ad agency to fine tune the ads and their placement so that everything is just right. While it’s important for me to make some ad revenue, I never want that to be at the expense of your reading experience. For those of you who primarily read on my mobile theme…fixes are coming!
THIHM Content Feedback
One proposed fixes to my site loading issues was to truncate posts. Several of you voiced some pretty legitimate concerns (of which I share…I don’t like truncated posts either), so for the time being, things will remain as they are 🙂
My posting schedule was one of the biggest things I was looking for feedback on, and I was so relieved to see that a majority of you will read what I post, whenever I post it. If you haven’t noticed already, I am “officially” switching my posting schedule to Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays. All-too-often, our weekends were a mess and I was up until crazy hours on Sunday nights just to get a post out by Monday morning. This simple shift allows me to re-claim my weekends a bit more and better use the days Henry is in school. Admittedly, it’s taken me some time to get used to it. I keep thinking it’s a different day of the week than it is based on if I had a post go live or not. But already, I can see this schedule will better help me remain present with my family on weekends while still producing consistent content for you all.
So this question (above) was my most favorite, and the answers you all provided warmed my heart so much. It is the best feeling in the world to put your heart, your passions, your experiences, your ideas, and your failures out into the world only for people to say “I love it all!” This question alone showed me that despite any number of survey responses, pins, likes, comments I get on various posts and projects…I should trust my gut and post things I am passionate about.
This one was another really useful question for me because it helps me better understand which types of posts you all like the most. I was so excited to see that the most popular responses were the ones that I love to do the most: room makeovers, organizing projects, furniture makeovers, sewing projects and printables! So that’s where we’re heading folks! You better bet you’ll see lots more of these kinds of projects coming up this year with personal posts and other things sprinkled throughout!
I had to giggle at the comments I got about these two questions. So many of you didn’t like picking one for either question, and I appreciate that. However, forcing you all to choose your favorite and least favorite really helped me tease out what you guys REALLY like and don’t like! Don’t worry, none of these types of posts are going to fully go away because I think they each have a valuable place on this blog. However, each one may be a little less consistent, while others may be a little more consistent.
So admittedly, the answers to these two questions surprised me a bit. In the months that I narrowed my site to a more renter-friendly focus, I’ve seen the most growth of my blog in the four years I’ve been writing it. While I thought this was correlated, the answers to these two questions (and a few others) might suggest differently. As I said above, I have no plans to make any drastic changes to my content/focus at this time. I’m going to keep plugging away at our rental houses and share the projects that make the most sense for our living situation…but I won’t hesitate to share some other types of projects too!
All in all, 2015 was a pretty great year for THIHM in so many ways. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to work with brands; I have connected with so many of you in really meaningful ways; and both my stats and income have grown. However, this year I’ve also struggled a TON with technical site issues (understatement of the year!), comparing myself to others, and a never-ending struggle to stay motivated and creative. More than anything, I want this next year to be more about sharing creative projects and smart solutions (the part I love), and less about the relentless blog race that so many bloggers seem to be on…myself included.
You all make what I do here worth every minute and every penny. Thank you for being here, friends! Let’s have a great 2016!