Offbeat Mama reader survey results part 1: demographics

January 14 | offbeatbride

Last month we conducted the first ever Offbeat Mama reader survey, and wow: that was enlightening. See, I thought I knew y'all based on the comments, submissions, and emails we receive. But the survey reminded me that duh: it's only a tiny fraction of readers who participate vocally in a website. The rest of you contently lurk quietly, not speaking up until you're invited to do so anonymously. So, while I knew the outspoken and squeaky wheels among you … it was a treat to get to meet the rest of you.

Want to meet each other? Come on in…

Basic Demographics

  • 98% of you are women
  • 50% of you are in your mid-20s
  • 88% of you identify as Caucasian
  • 16% of you identify as lesbian, gay, bi, or trans
  • 60% of you are urban
  • 65% of you have a BA, Masters, or PhD
  • 44% of you work full-time and 15% of you are stay at home parents

Where are you at in family planning

Here's where things start to get interesting.

So, look at that. A fourth of you aren't yet parents, less than half of you identify as actual "Offbeat Mamas" and the rest of you are a scattering of curious bystanders, aunties, caregivers, and my beloved OTHERS, which includes:

  • Adoptive parents (considering, trying, preparing)
  • Birth-parents in open adoption
  • Childfree/Childless
  • Childcare providers
  • Infertile
  • "Looking for sperm"
  • Miscarriage survivors
  • Nannies
  • "So very single"
  • Step-parents (interesting that some of you called yourself out this way — I consider step-mamas to just be Offbeat Mamas)
  • Waiting

Many of these answers lead into the next question, which is what phase of family planning you're in. This was FUCKING FASCINATING:

  • Considering parenthood 32%
  • Trying to conceive 13.3%
  • Pregnant 18.2%
  • Parenting a baby 20%
  • Parenting a toddler 13%
  • Parenting a pre-schooler 5.7%
  • Parenting a school aged child 4.9%
  • Parenting a middle-schooler 1.7%
  • Parenting a high schooler 1.5%
  • Proudly childfree 7.8%

(Of note: the percentages add up to more than 100% because of course people can be in multiple phases, ie pregnant while also parenting a pre-schooler)

Ok, I had no idea almost half of you were in the considering or trying phase. We get a lot of complaints that Offbeat Mama is too focused on pregnancy, birth, and babies and should feature more older kids — but if our readership is any indication, we actually need more PRE-parenthood content.

Don't get me wrong: Stephanie and I are ALWAYS looking for content for parents of older kids and teens. Seriously, we both work our tails off to find original, awesome content for older kids. But look at the numbers: 45% of our readers aren't even pregnant yet, and another 40% are pregnant or have babies. There's a reason 80% of our content is about the earlier phases of parenting: that's where y'all are at.

My favorite part: subcultures

This is always my favorite part of the Offbeat Bride reader survey every year, and y'all did not disappoint! We all know I'm subculture obsessed, and I love seeing how y'all identify — which includes the fact that over half of you don't identify at all with a subculture. This is even more than Offbeat Bride, something that makes sense to me, given the fact that it's fucking hard to balance your subcultural identities with a family.

  • 55%: Offbeat Lite (no subcultural affiliation)
  • 42%: DIY/Crafts Obsessive
  • 40% Academia Nerd
  • 23% Hippie
  • 21% Sci-Fi
  • 21% Gamer
  • 17% Retro
  • 10% Queer
  • 12% Other

Oh, OTHERs. I love you. A short list: a dabbler, activist, blogger, artist, farmer, agriculture, alternative, anarchist, anime, artist, attachment parenting, BDSM, Beard Fanatic, bookworm, Buffy Fan, Burlesque Family, Choir nerd, Circus, comic book geek, crazy cat lady, crunchy, dance, doofer, eco-queen, ex punk, farmer, fetish costume, former raver, geeks, dog-lover, hip hop, Homesteader, hooper, horror nerd, Iranian, indie rockers, kayaker, Kinky, Library geek, Metalhead, minority, nature/animal nerd, New Age, Otherkin/Fae Society, outdoor sports fanatic, Pagan/Wiccan, poly, northwest hipster, pretty princess pin-up dyke, psychobilly, radical Feminism, Radical Rustic, Rocker/Hipster, Roller Derby/roller girl, Scene, science nerd, self-reliance lifestyle, smartarse, Social Justice Activist, Society for Creative Anachronism, Star Wars Geek, Stoner, straight edge, SUPERHERO NERD, theatre geek, Tribal Bellydancer, Unschooler, Vegan, vegetarian, Vintage

Y'ALL JUST GAVE ME A SOCIOLOGY BONER!

I love the breadth and depth of y'all's culture and the only challenge that comes from all this diversity is that everyone wishes we talked more about their specific niche.

"Why don't you have more [fill in the blank with any of the subcultures listed above] stories?" people ask us again and again. And you know what the answer is?

Because you haven't shared your story with us yet.

See, here's the thing: I'm not a lesbian kayaker, so I can't write that story about how river kayaking can be used to explain family rights for all. I mean, I could try, but then y'all who ARE lesbian kayakers would be like WTF? You don't know shit about this! Stephanie's not a psychobilly, so she can't write that perfect post about finding Demonia shoes in sizes that will fit an 8-year-old. Neither of us are doofers (a particular breed of Australian hippie/raver/burner type), or pretty princess pin-up dykes, or Iranian, or librarians … YOU ARE. We don't have all the answers … YOU DO.

We can't tell your stories for you … but we sure as hell want to help you tell them yourselves! I got an email last week from a reader who wrote about her emotions around the biological challenges of lesbian baby-making, asking me if I could please have more posts that were sensitive to the issues around lesbian conception. I was like, "Absolutely we can do more posts about that — starting with yours." She wrote a beautiful post that's coming on Monday that I know y'all are going to love.

This is all to say, part of the joy and pain of running a site that caters to a lot of delicious diverse niche communities is that we can't possibly represent all of you … without your help.

So. When are you going to submit a guest post?

Coming in Part 2: Offbeat Mama content & business

    • As a disabled woman who hopes SOMEDAY to be a mom, I would really love to hear about this! I've always been told I can't or shouldn't parent because of my disability. I really look forward to your post!

      7 agree
        • Maybe it is because the world of history graduate students is narrowminded. One of my classmates even thought I couldn't bear children.

          Which is a curious assumption since I'm blind in one eye.

          I might consider writing about it, although I don't know how much there is to it other than really obnoxious outsider commentary.

          1 agrees
          • Others in your boat might find it helpful to read about your experience and how you respond when people say stupid things like that. Anyway, I think it's because people assume that if you have ONE thing wrong with you, you probably have other things wrong with you. A lot of people assume that because I'm deaf, I also have subpar intelligence. :-/

            1 agrees
  1. I wanted to say why I personally read Offbeat Mama. I'm pretty sure I don't want children. But I'm not 100% positive, and if there should be a time when I change my mind, or an "accident" that changes my mind (heh), I want some reassurance that parenthood will rock, and that I will rock as a mom in my own crazy way. Thanks for providing that!

    17 agree
    • yes yes yes! This is me! And:
      Now that I've got both a new nephew AND a new niece on the way, it's my nerdtastic duty to be the Offbeat-ist Auntie/Tante possible. I fully forward Offbeat Mama articles to both of my super normal sisters regularly, and they adore them πŸ˜‰

  2. Maybe the reason more people haven't submitted guest posts to share their own experiences, viewpoints, etc is because they don't feel like they have anything interesting or intelligent to share?

    3 agree
    • I certainly don't expect that every single reader is going to have something interesting or intelligent to share. But with 45,000 readers a month … I'd expect that at least several dozen of you do.

      4 agree
  3. Love graphs and demographics! I've been waiting for these survey results to see who the rest of us readers are…

    6 agree
  4. Great to read!

    I read delicious diverse as delicious DIVERS,
    'now that's a new subculture..' πŸ˜‰

    1 agrees
  5. "doofers"? that just sent me to google… i've got a sociology boner now too!

    i've got another story coming for you too, ariel – a BIG SURPRISE. πŸ™‚

      • Of note: I love the onomatopoeia-etry of "doofer." (Trance bassbin says DOOF DOOF DOOF.)

        Other suggestions:
        * boots-and-pantser (househeads!)
        * wobbleblobber (dubstep fans!)
        * oontsies (club kids!)

        This is getting me all nostalgic for my rave writing days when it was all onomatopoeias all the time!!

  6. This is really interesting!

    Although as a good representative of my subcategory I should point out that the 32% considering parenting might not all be considering getting pregnant. πŸ˜›

    3 agree
    • I'd like to add that as someone in the considering phase, I also love stories about bigger kids. One of the things that scare me most about kids is that you will have for 18 years and you can't bring them back to the store if you don't want them anymore (if that makes any sense…) Guess that I'm trying to say that in my considering phase I look beyond the baby phase (too) and stories from parents who still like their kids when they're 8 or so are comforting. I must admit that I really like to read birth stories, because that deals with another fear of mine.

      7 agree
  7. So this is a little off-topic, but I've been wondering for a while, and this is as good a place as any to ask – how do people get pictures to come up with our comments? I assume it's in the account set-up or something, but I can't seem to find it….

    also, nice graphs & stats! πŸ™‚

  8. this was great! It's always fun to read the survey results after taking the survey πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  9. Wow… I am totally a lurker only (in fact, I made my first comment yesterday, and it was about lesbian conception and the lack of information/conversation/resources – AND I SO CANNOT WAIT FOR MONDAY'S POST OMFG YES!) although I read this blog every. single. morning. and usually check back multiple times during the day. I always assumed I was in the smallest minority of readers (considering parenthood/figuring out the how-to's of conception), and didn't want to clog up the boards or butt in on the conversations of actual Offbeat Mamas. But now…. hello, other women like me!! Who knew you were here! I totally feel like part of the family πŸ™‚ (And hello, 10% queer readership… I am in a queer mama vacuum and will you please be my friend? Please? I sound desperate because I AM. Thank you.)

    4 agree
    • I'm a queer soon-to-be mama! πŸ™‚ and I'm also REALLY excited about the post on Monday.

      • You did reciprocal IVF with your partner, right? (I'm not stalking, promise – I commented after you on the infertility/miscarriage post.) Would you write a post about the nuts and bolts of that, please pretty please please please? My wife and I are considering the same thing (her egg, my womb), and I'm in an information desert! IVF info is easy to come by, but how does the procedure change if, for instance, neither of you actually have fertility issues? Or have no idea if you have fertility issues? (I mean how would we know? Parthenogenesis?) What about legal issues? Who's the bio mom? Am I a surrogate or is she a donor? We live in Texas, so legal concerns are really REALLY big worries… There is so much more, but I will stop hijacking this thread now. I would so love to hear you (or anyone!) post or about this (or you can email me: jennafer.rose@gmail.com).

        • Yep, that's what we did! I just wrote up a (ridiculously long) email for a friend, so I can send that to you now.

          I'd be happy to write a post about it but it seems like a bit of a niche market….

          • I would love to read a post about it. My partner and I are super on the fence about having kids (right now, we're at "probably not, but maybe?" Yeah.) and reciprocal IVF is one thing we've considered if we were going to do it.

          • I'd love to hear about that! My sister is considering this and I'm crazy interested and I'm sure she would be, too. Doitdoitdoit.

          • I would love to read a post about your experience with reciprocal IVF. I'm queer, though partnered with a cis-gendered man, and I've always been interested in learning more.

  10. "Sociology boner"
    <3 I love you. That list really gave me one too. Had I not become an illustrator, I would have gone into sociology and/or anthropology. But with sites like this, I get my fix.

    I will be submitting my story in as soon. <3 I've been a bit delayed do to all day sickness. :-p Wooo! The perks of being pregnant. At least it gives me an excuse to sleep, and I get a cute belly monster out of it.

    Thank you so much for sharing Ariel, in your every enlightening and spirited way. <3

    2 agree
  11. I would love to see how people manage their careers with kids. I don't have kids yet and want to hear more about how parents handle their offbeat careers with a kiddo in tow.

    11 agree
  12. Haha – as I started to read this I realized that I couldn't figure out why I was here or what "subcategory" I fit into when I filled out the survey.
    And then I realized – duh!
    I'm a poly, nerd-loving, Harry Potter bookworm, free-range parent – with a husband in the Air Force (altho not at all like stereotypical military wife).
    Silly how I had to read through all the categories to figure out just because I'm not "goth" or "rockabilly" or a "sci-fi nerd" or "gamer" so doesn't mean I'm not "offbeat."
    I guess it's fun to see what everyone else chooses to "label" themselves as.

    3 agree
  13. I totally thought I was the only non/pre pregnant visitor! I feel so much better now. I would love more pre-pregnancy (which seems so strange to type) content. I'd love to contribute a topic if it was needed.

  14. I'm not surprised there are so many pre-parent readers. I'm one of them. We got married in October 2009 and engaged in December 2008 — and I'd been reading Offbeat Bride since early 2008, knowing that I was probably going to be engaged and planning a wedding soon, and wanting to be ready to dive in deeper when the time came.

    Well, we've had a series of "kids" talks. And at this point it's not "if," but "when." And talk about an enormous and strange world to dive into! So I swing through here a couple of times a week, especially interested in the birth stories, because I know that when "someday" turns into "now," I'm going to have a biologically pre-determined, limited number of weeks in which to figure it all out — so if I've heard some stories and started to learn the language and options before I get there, so much the better!

    9 agree
  15. I love this site even more after reading the results and maybe one day I will write my story.

  16. So yes the majority of your readers are considering parenting or in the very early stages of parenting. But part of learning about parenthood to me is learning about all of parenthood not just the, pregnancy, baby, toddler and preschooler stuff. but the preteen and teen years too! I think the posts about parenting older kids, heck how people are managing to be a parent to 20 somethings is awesome and soooooo great to hear about!

    9 agree
  17. I love seeing all the results! In response to the "step" call out, I felt it necessary to add. I'm currently in a long-term relationship with a partner who has children and there's not really a label for that relationship. I also added that because there are unique struggles to the step-relationship (with children, partner and former spouses) that one navigates.

    I've really appreciated everything that I've learned from this site without the "step" judginess.

    2 agree
    • Yeah, I'm not a stepmom since I a can never marry my boyfriend (we're both already married :-P), but I can definitely relate to the need to consider it a separate category. These boys have a mom. While I will often be the one to read them books, put them in time out, and tuck them into bed, I am not their mom. I'm Anie (or Miss Anie), which is awesome in it's own right, but is also different.

      3 agree
  18. I also didn't realize how many other readers were, like me, considering pregnancy but not yet mamas.

    As my husband and I wrangle over the feasibility of being able to raise kids as two offbeat artist-y self employed people, it has been so unbelievably helpful to read other people's accounts of how they're managing it.

    I would LOVE to hear more about the nuts and bolts of pregnancy and raising kids — how do you find a good midwife? How do you navigate prenatal care without health insurance? (Or even better: how do you FIND good health insurance if you're poor and self employed?) How do you balance working and raising kids?

    Thanks so much for all the work you put into keeping this site going!

    4 agree
    • I totally agree. I don't know if I would be nearly as ready to have kids if it weren't for this site. I used to feel completely overwhelmed by the idea of having a baby AND keeping my offbeat lifestyle – not anymore! Reading the posts from mamas dealing with all ages/stages of parenthood are a daily shot of confidence that I can do this too. And it can rock! (Full disclosure: I was also an OBT member and devoted Offbeat Bride reader, and moved straight over to Offbeat Mama after the wedding – ok, months before the wedding, but shhhh πŸ™‚ )

      3 agree
  19. I have to admit I missed the survey, but I'm a little amazed that punk didn't make the subculture list…pretty much all the offbeat families I know are more or less punk, as well as a smattering of other things. Hmm, interesting.

    1 agrees
    • Laura, punk was definitely represented. It was one of the pre-populated options people could check — but I only included the top most checked cultures, and then a sampling of the others. Here's the full run-down:

      Academia nerd 462 40.1%
      Bike geek 59 5.1%
      Burner 31 2.7%
      DIY/Crafts obsessive 478 41.5%
      EDM (Electronic Dance Music) 40 3.5%
      Fantasy/cosplay 101 8.8%
      Gamer 238 20.7%
      Goth 84 7.3%
      Hippie 269 23.4%
      Offbeat Lite (quirky, but not into a subculture) 628 54.6%
      Punk 130 11.3%
      Queer 121 10.5%
      Ren Faire 98 8.5%
      Rockabilly 101 8.8%
      Retro 192 16.7%
      Sci-Fi 243 21.1%
      Steampunk 105 9.1%
      None 42 3.6%
      Other 136 11.8%

      1 agrees
      • That clarifies things a little more. I was going to ask the same thing about Goth.

        1 agrees
  20. After thinking about it for a bit, I realize there is some logic to the fact that a big portion of the readers are in the considering/planning phase or pregnant. From what I hear parents are pretty busy people! πŸ™‚ Pre-kids but interested and pregnant are probably when you have the most time on your hands to read and research about kid stuff.

    3 agree
  21. "There's a reason 80% of our content is about the earlier phases of parenting: that's where y'all are at."

    it's possible that readership is self-selecting based on content; more content for parents of older kids and the demographics could change.

    2 agree
  22. I was an offbeat bride and now I'm trying to become an offbeat mama! I would love to see more post about pre-conception. I myself am looking into things like massage and acupuncture for fertility VS Chlomid and IVF.
    Thanks for this great article!

    • Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler is an awesome resource if you haven't read it yet.

      4 agree
      • This book changed my ideas about fertility and family planning forever. I was skeptical, but found it totally scientific and it made sense. I used fertility awareness for 7 years as birth control, and when we were ready, we got pregnant on the first try.

      • Yep, that book changed my life. I found it very empowering. It helped me understand myself and my body so much more. The website is pretty good too, and they have free online charts you can use on your computer or print out.

  23. Cool! I'd really like to see some stories on anti-authoritarian/anarchist/activist parents. I'm an anarchist myself but I'm only about 20 weeks along in my pregnancy right now and I have a hard time coming across information on libertarian parenting styles.

    2 agree
    • Me too, and I'm 19 weeks. Just curious – are you paleo/pastoral/WAPF as well? (those are diets, for those who don't know). I know they often run together. I'm thinking of writing an article about it in maybe a year.

      • I'm a big fan of Paleo! I got out of the swing of things for a while but I have been getting back into it lately and I would love to see an article on it πŸ™‚

  24. I think I identified both as parenting a preschooler and considering parenting. I already have one child so obviously I am already parenting but I am considering having another and have not yet made the decision to try to conceive again. This may not be exactly what you meant but I wonder if I am the only one who identified both as already being a parent and eitehr considering or trying to concieve.

    1 agrees
  25. I came to your site via offbeat Bride, and I became a die hard fan when you said "Shambhala". I met my fiance at Shams, and we'll be there on our honeymoon in August.

    I am an offbeat stepmom, former raver, occasional festival goer, hooper (we'll have hoops at our wedding too!), Anthro geek, EDM fan, bellydancing, sci-fi watching, Pagan goddess blogger who spends way too much time online and checks in here at least once a day.

    We're going to start trying next spring, and I love reading articles about every part of the process, but because it's my focus right now, the articles on preparing for conception and pregnancy and birth are my favorites.

  26. Well, Ariel, you may not be an Iranian librarian, but I am. πŸ™‚ My husband and I recently tossed aside our condoms and gave in to the babycrack, and I'm so grateful for Offbeat Mama and all of you. You've shown me that when pregnancy and motherhood eventually come, it'll be okay – I'll still be me. I don't have to trade myself in for mom jeans and a stroller the size of Texas.

    I really do need to write something to submit, though. I keep thinking about this past year and what my husband and I have gone through along our journey towards saying yes to parenthood, and I figure, other twenty-something less-than-affluent kids have to be going through some of the same fears and doubts.

    2 agree
    • As a twenty-something, less than affluent, soon-to-be librarian, I'm eager to see what you have to say. πŸ™‚

  27. I'm currently pregnant and have been following this site from inception. Its been such a great help and to be honest, I dont think we would have jumped in so soon if I'd had to rely on all the mainstream parenting blogs/forums.

    I've especially always liked the posts based on young kids and how to teach them about the world and infuse your values.

    1 agrees
  28. I'm an aunt (to a 2 yearold vegetarian accidental-hipster farm kid) and an early childhood educator. I'm not a parent yet and not looking to be for a few years, but I love coming here and being able to read things that parents and other caregivers are thinking, plus get informed about some issues.
    I'm not sure if it would fit in, but I work a lot in the realm of children dealing with homelessness or incarcerated parents. Would a guest post on helping support those families be an acceptable submission?

    4 agree
  29. I have 9 & 7 year old sons and am pregnant (due next Wednesday!) with baby #3. However, I'm not really a writer and can't think of anything to say about the many things we do to parent. I'm also fairly opinionated about raising young kids (age 2-5) and wasn't sure how to write about what we've done.

    On the other hand, I do work with medical insurance, so if you guys could point out some specific questions, I could do some insurance explaining. πŸ™‚

    And once I've navigated my maternity leave and work return, I'll submit something regarding that. Since the company I work for is too small to qualify for FMLA, it's all kind of up in the air right now.

    As for the question of how to find a midwife, I emailed the closest midwife with a website and asked for a referral. I was given the number of someone closer. I called her and asked where she travelled to and she gave me the number of someone closer. Etc., etc. The midwives themselves have a whole 'underground' phone system thing to help you out.

    1 agrees
  30. hi – wanted to mention that part of why considering-parenthood and pregnant people read the site might be this: we want to see what actual parenting is like. that's how i got involved. i didn't want to see a whole bunch of pregnancy photos and stuff — there are plenty of websites devoted to pregnancy and such.

    i like the diversity here, with posts about childfree, and this and that, but i would personally stop reading if it became overly focused on pregnancy and considering. when you're pregnant, you need to read about how people are handling having a one year old…

    1 agrees
  31. I totally agree with the "more pre-parenting" thing. Looking forward to reading everyone's guest blog post. πŸ˜‰

  32. Hi Ariel,

    I've been considering becoming a mentor through a charity called Friendship Works (http://www.friendshipworks.org.uk/). But, as someone who's many years away from motherhood and has never spent much time around children, the idea of mentoring is quite daunting and overwhelming. I wondered if you'd consider incorporating content on these sorts of schemes into Offbeat Mama.

    Obviously this is dependent on whether appropriate writers come forward (I did read this post, honest!) but it's a subject that might be nice to have on your radar.

  33. I am due in Aug. 2011 w/ my first and will be going back to work full time. I would like to see more articles about balancing work and family. Specifically about how to not let motherhood status affect my professional reputation. I have been reading lots of horror stories about this.

    1 agrees
  34. Reading this blog post and the comments, I've realized that I could fill in some of the voids/topics people want to hear about or could identify with. I'll send an email/submission and we'll go from there.

  35. I think even more than the surveys, I really enjoy reading the comments! I love the people associated with these blogs. I'm also due in August, and have found that surfing Offbeat Mama for more than a year before conception has made the idea of pregnancy and parenting a whole lot more relaxing and chilled out. In fact, it contributed to me feeling ready.
    I think it would be interesting to hear some thoughts on those of us in our mid-20s who do NOT have careers lined up yet, are in limbo, or have no clue what they want to do for a job and are planning, expecting, or parenting. We need some shared wisdom from the Offbeat Mamas ahead of us, because the typical pregnancy books do not talk about this stuff!

  36. I love the insight into Offbeat Mama community! I am an offbeat mama hopeful (sometime this year) and my partner has 3 kids from her first marriage. She was offbeat when there wasn't even a term for it. I also read Offbeat Mama as a grandma (G.G. for short, Gay Granny) to our first grandchild and as a former midwives assistant and doula. Love the posts about blended families, GLBT fam life, birth stories, to many to name! Offbeat Mama <3

  37. I submitted a suggestion once about speaking to a parent who has a child with a severe food allergy. My friend's son has EE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis), and both her and her son has faced enormous prejudices because of it. They even showed a program on MTV about children with severe food allergy disorders. However, when I submitted the idea (because she does reach out to other parents), I received a response that it was "too medical" and Offbeat Mama doesn't discuss medical problems. I feel whoever read my submission completely missed the point. It wasn't that I was suggestion a medical discussion, but an article to address it. I guess it's just another feather in hat toward people with severe food allergies. Apparently neither mainstream or any sub-culture feels like acknowledging it.

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