Back in September, I asked you to participate in a survey to help me better understand my readers. I had 135 responses, which I estimated to be 2.7 percent of my readership at the time. (My readership is a larger number than my daily visitor count, because many people read me occasionally. Of course that means I can’t tell you how many distinct readers I have; I know it’s more than my daily visitor count, and my weekly/monthly visitor counts just add up all the daily numbers.) That response rate probably doesn’t give a meaningful result, but I have kept your comments in mind since then.
Only in mind, in fact. Some of you have written and asked me to publish the results. I apologize for dragging my heels on this. Here, at last, are the results, livened up with the Google Chart API.
How Do You Read OWF?
RSS/Site is for people who see the update in their RSS reader and then click through to the site.
These data didn’t surprise me because I see which browsers people use to visit this site. In addition to the obvious clients, I also see lots of RSS readers of various stripes. For those who don’t use an RSS reader, it doesn’t make sense to come here every day; I only update once or twice a week.
Do You Read An Obsession With Everything Else?
I used to say that I could count OWEE readers on one hand, but clearly I was wrong. Still, I’m not surprised to see so few OWEE readers: My rants about silly editing issues and my links to mechanical puzzle sites probably have a more limited audience.
Do You Ever Follow The Snacks Links On The Right?
One person pointed out that those who read the site via RSS don’t see the sidebar. I posted about the feature when I first implemented it, but I agree that most RSS readers have probably forgotten about it. (Of course, Snacks has its own feed, but the links that make it in are even more eclectic than the ones that show up on OWEE.
What Do You Like About OWF?
Fifty-five of you left comments here, and I was happy to see that you all like the facets I’m proudest of: the writing style (thanks!), the strong opinions, the deep knowledge, the “from scratch” mentality, the focus on techniques, and of course Melissa’s photos. I appreciated all the kind words you left.
What Don’t You Like About OWF?
(I rolled the next question — Other Comments? — into this one.) Forty-three of you offered suggestions for things I could improve. Many of you wrote something along the lines of “Do you ever cook anymore? Maybe you should write about that.” Here’s one typical comment in that vein:
… lately you've veered much more in the direction of writing more about food politics, the food blog community, etc. and have had less frequent posts about actual cooking, which were what drew me to the blog originally. It seems like the blog is less focused on actual food lately and more focused on talking about food, if that makes sense. I'd love to see more technique-focused posts, like the ones you've done in the past on rendering lard and making gravlax, for example.I may have corrected this a bit since then, but once we’re settled in the house, you’ll find lots more cooking posts. I promise. A number of you gloss over the wine posts — “I tend to read the food posts more closely than the wine posts... but that's my habit in all my reading,” says one commenter — and the book reviews — “Honestly, your book reviews are usually pretty boring and I'm almost never interested in buying the books,” writes another. Others mentioned some design issues, which I hope to focus on soon. And, of course, many of you mentioned my low-frequency posting schedule, which I’m sure has only gotten worse as I’ve done more writing for other venues.
I’m constantly trying to improve my wine descriptions, and at least one person commented that my wine tasting notes read more or less like Wine Spectator’s: in other words, yawn-inducing. So I’ll keep experimenting to find a nice balance. My book reviews are another experiment in form, so I hope that you’ll bear with me on those.
How Did You Find OWF?
As I quickly realized, this wasn’t a very fair question. Could I tell you how I found most of the sites in my blogroll? No. And most of you couldn’t really remember either, though “from another blog” was a popular guess. I guess this makes sense: Search engine referrals usually make up a pretty small piece of my traffic, and my mentions in the mainstream press usually give me spikes that disappear after a day.
How Long Have You Been Reading OWF?
With five years of blogging under my belt, I wanted to know how many of you have been here since the beginning. More than I would have guessed, though maybe you’re more likely to have taken this poll. My readership went through a period of linear growth (albeit with a low slope) and now it stair-steps: I go up by 100 readers or so every few months. I don’t check my stats all that often these days, but that’s my sense of what happened.
Name Five Other Food Sites You Read
I asked this question for a few reasons. First, I wanted to hear about interesting sites from you all. Second, I wanted to know if there was some correlation between OWF’s readership and the readership of other blogs. Some of the results suggest surprising overlaps, but I think my graph may just prove that people who read food blogs tend to read the popular ones. Here are all the sites that 5 or more of you mentioned (sub-blogs within the New York Times or Chronicle went into those totals):
Do You Have A Blog?
A big thanks to everyone who participated in the survey; it really helped me understand what you like and don’t like in your food blog reading habits. If you missed this survey, stick around until 2012, when I post my 10-year anniversary reader survey.