I’ve written on the Offbeat Empire business blog about why I’m not doing my usual massive multi-site reader survey this year. Nevertheless, Offbeat Home & Life has undergone a lot of changes in 2013, so it felt important to do a little mini-reader survey specific to this site. Big thanks to the thousand of you who took us up on the invitation to share your feedback, and apologies again for the technical difficulties we experienced in the first few hours of the survey.
This post is going to be long, but for those of you who are into data and/or invested in the future of Offbeat Home & Life, it’s going to be fun. We’ve got stuff about Facebook, family-related content, and the kinds of posts y’all hate. Come along!
How long have you been reading Offbeat Home & Life?
This surprised me. Of course the whole idea with this website has always been building a more long-term community. Since Offbeat Bride has such a transient readership, I’ve always hoped that Offbeat Home & Life readers would be the type to stick around… but I didn’t realize so many of you actually were!
Almost two thirds of you have been reading since 2011, the year we launched. I think it’s fair to generalize that the majority of you have been reading for a couple years or so. This surprises me because, with a few exceptions, I don’t feel like I know all of you very well. I can think of maybe a dozen repeat guestpost contributors, and maybe 30 frequent commenters… but that’s maybe 50 people total. We have about 200,000 monthly readers, and even if we skew the percentages, this means thousands of you have been reading for years! It makes me a little sad. Considering how long many of you have been reading, I wish I felt like I knew y’all better.
What now? I hope some of you will consider stepping out of the shadows and becoming more active via comments or guestposts or advice questions. Or heck, even patronage! Clearly, lots of y’all have settled in with us for the long haul… so let’s chat! Let me know if there’s anything we can do (BESIDES starting a forum, which we’ve decided not to do) to help y’all feel more comfortable getting involved.
Are you an Offbeat Bride “graduate,” or Offbeat Families “refugee”?
Of course the Offbeat Empire blogs are designed to complement each other, with Offbeat Home & Life being the place that former Offbeat Bride readers feel they can continue their time with us. But we threw a wrench in things when we ceased publication on Offbeat Families.
Neither of the numbers here surprise me: about 80% of y’all come to us from Offbeat Bride, which is the massively-trafficked flagship of the Offbeat Empire. And roughly 15% of you were Offbeat Families readers who have shuffled over here to see if we can fill the hole that Families left.
What now? We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing: steadily reminding Offbeat Brides that there’s a website for non-wedding stuff, and reminding Offbeat Families that they should read Offbeat Home & Life if they want new posts that are sometimes family-relevant. (Lots more about this later.)
Do you follow us via social media or other tools?
This was a dumb question since we have follower counts for each follow method, and the situation was made dumber by Polldaddy requiring a response for every answer which meant you had to answer yes to all of them. SURVEY FAIL. Sorry about that.
What now? Uh, ask fewer dumb survey questions?
Facebook follower questions: how do you feel about the quantity & type of posts you see on our Facebook page?
Offbeat Home & Life’s Facebook page is the biggest business mystery I have right now. Your average Offbeat Bride Facebook post is seen by about a fourth of its 31k followers. Offbeat Families Facebook posts are often seen by half its 12k followers. Offbeat Home & Life Facebook posts, however, are typically seen by less than 10% of our 8600 followers.
This means that most posts on Offbeat Home & Life’s Facebook page only reach about 500 of you, and sometimes as few as 100 of you.
We’ve tried posting different kinds of content (new posts! old posts! pictures! staff gossip! exactly the stuff you’re telling us you like!) and every once in a while a post will be seen by as many as 15% of our followers. But unless we syndicate the link to Bride’s or Families’ Facebook pages, Offbeat Home posts DO NOT get traction. I’ve managed Facebook pages for years, and I do everything the same way on Offbeat Home & Life’s page as I do on the other Empire pages, but wow. It is really the ugly duckling of the lot, and I have no idea why.
What now? If you’re part of the 11% of Facebook followers who wishes they saw more posts from us on Facebook, you need to engage with all the posts from us that you DO see. Click it, like it, comment on it, share it, whatever. If you want to see more from us (or any other page) on Facebook, you need to interact with the content as frequently as possible.
What are your favorite kinds of posts?
I know there was some drama with this question on the survey, and for a few hours some of you could only select 5 favorites instead of 10. Sorry about that, but ultimately whether five or 10 doesn’t matter too much to me: I just wanted to see the big picture patterns.
Our “…& Life” categories have been around for less than a year, but they’ve quickly become favorites: Relationships, Families, Budget & Career, It Worked For Me all did well. Of course y’all like some of the more focused HOME categories too, like DIY, Food, and Organizing, too… but it’s clear that our expansion almost a year ago to include more lifestyle content has been a good one.
What now? These favorites mostly line up with the editorial strategy we’ve been aiming for, although you should know that none of the site editors are foodies or DIY queens, so if you want to see more of that, you’ll need to git submittin‘!
What are your LEAST favorite kinds of posts?
We’d already gotten the feedback loud and clear via Offbeat Empire’s blog comments that y’all don’t like the “Where Are They Now?” posts. We’ve got the last one slated for this Friday, and then we can forget we ever had that idea.
Real Estate Porn shouldn’t have even been included, because we basically stopped doing those after last year’s reader survey, when you told us you hated ’em. We’ll be folding the category into a higher-level category so it won’t show up on future surveys.
Skipping ahead a bit, I was flabbergasted to see so little love for our Style & Beauty posts. These posts are consistently some of the most clicked, most commented, and most shared. I’m almost wondering if some of you were responding to the WORDS “style & beauty” … which can trigger mental images of weight loss tips and make-up etiquette instead of wool underwear, non-aluminum-based deodorants, and weirdo ambassadors.
Now, we need to talk about Sponsors & Shopping. 14% of you said you don’t like these kinds of posts, and to you I say: do you guys want Offbeat Home & Life to go the way of Offbeat Families? The Sponsors & Shopping posts are how Offbeat Home & Life is (barely) able to cover its expenses, and if you want to have a site to read… then you want us to cover our expenses.
That said, maybe y’all were using this vote to cast your weight in favor of our experiments with a more reader-supported business model? Maybe you were saying that instead of Sponsors or Shopping posts, you’d rather become a supporter?
What now? If we got to a place where we had, say, 50 monthly subscribers, 50 annual subscribers, and 2 patrons each month, I could TOTALLY get rid of those Sponsors and Shopping posts. If that’s a future you want to move towards… FUCKING AWESOME.
What topics do you wish you saw more of on Offbeat Home & Life?
Let’s talk about that top search result there: Families. If you want lots and lots of family-related content, Offbeat Home & Life is probably never going to be wholly satisfying. I published Offbeat Families for four years, and it was not a success. I ceased publication of that site for a reason, and I do not intend to duplicate that failure on Offbeat Home & Life.
….BUT! I do hear y’all loud and clear, and here are some things we can all do:
- Lots of us said you wanted more of the awesome LGBT family content we had on Offbeat Families, and YES! That is totally the kind of parenting identity stuff we totally want to be running on Offbeat Home & Life. That said, none of us are LGBT parents — so if you are, you need to share your story with us!
- We’ll be syndicating a few of our very favorite posts from Offbeat Families here on Offbeat Home & Life. These will mostly be catered towards the earlier phases of family like deciding if or when to have kids, and trying to conceive.
- If you want a guided tour of Offbeat Families’ deep archives (2400 posts!), we totally suggest following Offbeat Families on Facebook. We share a couple links a day to all kinds of posts — birth stories, adoption stories, breastfeeding advice, childhood education issues, etc. Yes, Offbeat Families no longer publishes new content, but the Offbeat Families Facebook page is totally vibrant!
We’re getting the message that you want more personal posts from us and well… wow. We’re quite flattered, really. In general, the Offbeat Empire’s editors try to stand back from the blogs a bit — these are not our personal websites, and we’re mostly focused on our community and the community’s stories. But we hear you, and all the Empire’s editors will be sharing more personal stories here in coming weeks (including pop culture stuff). We hope you like these more personal posts as much as you think you will? Eep.
What now? I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but we’d LOVE to share more subcultural stories, LGBT and academia issues, and inspiring stories from our gracefully-aging 40+ offbeat lifestyle experts… we’re a community-driven site, so if you wish there was more of something represented, we warmly invite you to submit!
What about the OTHER OPTION suggestions?
Well, as you could see from the tag cloud image, it’s hard to give an at-a-glance perspective on qualitative data like we get in the “OTHER” feedback field. 111 of you gave feedback and if I had to do an anecdotal break-down, I’d say it tended toward polyamory, specific requests for family-related stuff (babies! trans* parents! adoption! special needs!), and varying requests for what I’mma call “DINK” content — not literally “double income, no kids” but content related to that post-wedding/pre-kids phase of a relationship.
I also noticed a general trend of a cluster of you aching for the kind of stuff that Cat Rocketship used to do way more of back in her era as editor: homesteading, eco-conscious, cleaning product DIY, etc. I got a chuckle out of this because I remember back when Cat was editor, we got feedback that Offbeat Home & Life “felt like the Cat Rocketship show” … a show that some of you now miss! We’ll see if we can bring some of that stuff back in.
What now? Many of you revealed a lot about yourselves through your requests… you want more content that reflects your personal challenges and pains. And (this is the last time I’ll say it), we can’t share those stories unless you share them with us. Seriously. We LOVE reading your submissions and publish the vast majority of them (although of course we can’t promise to publish them all). If you get nothing else from this enormous 2000-word post, get this:
We love you. We want to get to know you. We can’t wait to share the story of YOUR Offbeat Home & Life.
Sometimes people email to ask if their guestpost idea is “offbeat enough” and our answer is always the same: if someone who reads Offbeat Home & Life (e.g. YOU) is interested in it, then it’s offbeat enough. Get submitting!