Survey Says: Original Content Really is Queen

A couple months ago, I asked my blog readers to participate in a short survey about Grit and Glamour. I created the survey for several reasons:

  1. To get feedback on my blog.
  2. To test theories I have about blogging and usability.
  3. To establish a proper foundation from which to preach this: If you’re a serious blogger, no matter your topic, there are some universal truths and best practices that when applied, make your blog better. Period.

It’s taken me a little while to finally craft this post, because even after the survey was completed and I found that the results supported what I have been practicing and preaching, I wanted to take a closer look at my blog comments and stats to truly connect it all. And so I have.

Reading options:
View complete G&G Reader Survey Results | Download/print post as PDF | Click images in text below to view at full-size

Background on Me and G&G

For those of you who don’t know me or are new to G&G, I think it’s important to share a little about me so you understand why I can make the proclamations that I do in this post. I’ve been working as a Web content writer/editor/developer for more than a decade. To put this into perspective, I’ve been working on Web copy and dev since it hit mainstream, before SEO and Web 2.0, back when we were still using frames, Netscape and Yahoo were the search engines, and Google was still in R&D.

Early in my career, I transitioned from writing print copy to Web copy, and learned the Web from the outside-in through on-the-job training and experience. I honed my Web writing and usability chops in the headquarters of one of the largest U.S. financial institutions, where I worked with a treasure trove of talent that included some of the nation’s best information architects, designers, and developers. We even had an in-house usability lab and a non-sighted user on payroll to test our sites not just visually, but for ADA compliance as well. Suffice it to say I learned a LOT about what makes a Web site successful.

During during those years, I went from dealing only with words and writing, to copying-and-pasting site code in corporate content management systems. I jumped into WYSIWYG Web development, dabbling on my own in Microsoft FrontPage until blogging software hit the scene and saved us all from DIY site hell. Back in 2006, I started Grit and Glamour on Blogger and cut my teeth on widgets and plugins there for quite some time. Along the way, I applied what I learned in my days at my “real job” to the work I was doing after-hours on my blog. But  the more I worked within Blogger, the more I began to feel that my wings were clipped. I began seriously contemplating my blog identity, and craved better templates and usability, so I briefly (and fruitlessly) moved to freebie blog hosting through OnSugar, only to experience the same frustrations (albeit with a better-looking interface and access to Getty Images). Finally, last year I decided it was time to get serious, so I bought a template, registered my domain name, and moved to a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org.

Older versions of G&G on Blogger (left) and OnSugar (right).

Having finally found a permanent home and template that works for me, I’ve spent the last year learning the nuts-and-bolts of modern blogging—how social networking factors in, promotion, commenting, etc. My numbers still remain modest, but they absolutely reflect the progress I’ve made. I’ve gone from 14,727 page loads in 2009 to 83,975 page loads so far this year—and that’s without significant press coverage and only moderate blog exposure. That’s nearly six times more traffic than I had last year.

About the Survey

Before I delve into what I learned, here are details about the survey:

  • 37 respondents completed the survey between August 19 and August 23, 2010.
  • The survey was conducted and summarized via Google Documents.
  • There were 15 questions that were either multiple-choice or a rating, plus one open-ended question.
  • None of the questions were required, and some allowed more than one selection, thus responses do not necessarily add up to 37 or 100% for each question.

The survey was designed to gather feedback about the quality and type of content, post frequency, user experience, and the voice of the blog/blogger…me. I wanted to understand how important 100% original content was, and what people thought about my voice and views, essentially.

To view results in their entirety, see G&G Reader Survey Results.

What Feedback (and Constructive Criticism) Reaffirmed

Content Findings

Is 100% original content as important as everyone keeps saying it is? The resounding answer is yes! Make that a double yes! A big, emphatic, exaggerated YES! First, I know this to be true from my own experience as an avid blog reader—I rarely click though from Bloglovin’ to posts that are already-done rehashes of fashion shows, purely “inspirational” images, or otherwise ubiquitous content. I just don’t have time, and frankly, it’s not that interesting.

The survey found the same results. You, too, are also uninterested and uninspired by regurgitated content. I asked what readers thought of some theme-based posts on G&G; some include original, personally-authored content, others do not. The results speak volumes about the value readers place on compelling, original content:

  • Friend Friday Vlogs—personally-shot videos in which I respond to Friend Friday questions.
    73%, or the majority, said I love this!
  • WVW: What V Wore—outfit posts featuring me, original content and photography.
    62%, or the majority, said I love this!
  • Guest Posts—original content, but written by other bloggers and posted only on G&G.
    43%, or the majority, said It’s cool.
  • Sunday Coffee—original content that is my summary of the best of blogs/the Web in the last week.
    38%, or the majority, said I love this!
  • StyleShot—celebrity style spotlights, non-original content.
    24%, or the majority, said Not a huge fan.

Of the five major post types evaluated in the survey, only one—StyleShot posts—includes mostly non-original content. And it’s the only post type I was offering on G&G that the majority of respondents clearly disliked. The most personal posts, like my vlogs and outfit posts, were everyone’s favorites. And when I asked what readers would like to see more of, respondents again preferred to see more highly-personal posts that feature me:

The “other” responses yielded these verbatims: “I already enjoy the variety of all that you already offer,” and “It’s just right.” Needless to say, I’ve steered clear of StyleShot posts ever since, preferring not to post rather than to feature non-original content on a regular basis.

The bottom line on content is that original, personal content really is queen. People are coming to your blog to see and experience you. It’s that simple.

••

Post Frequency

In addition to the type of content bloggers post, the frequency of posts also heavily affects not only your blog traffic, but comments as well. The majority of my survey respondents, or 41%,  noted that the frequency of my posts—about four times per week—is ideal. I tend to post on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, because those days happen to work for my schedule and content strategy. The next highest response only reiterated this frequency: 24% of respondents thought 4-6 times a week is plenty.

Bloglovin’ lists my post frequency as eight posts per week, however, as this is an average over time it is no longer accurate. It wasn’t until this year that I learned that the best frequency for posting is about every other day. I noticed that I get a chunk of regular commenters on the first day, then another chunk on the second, then the occasional straggler thereafter. Every-other-day posting gives people time to catch up and absorb.

Avid blog readers may have dozens of posts to check out daily. You’re just one on the list. If you have nothing compelling and original to offer on a particular day, don’t! You will not lose your readers by not posting everyday. In fact, it’s more likely to have a positive effect on your blog. Cutting back on non-original content and posts-for-the-sake-of-posting means that when you do post, it will be meaningful, your readers will notice, and you are likely to garner more comments as a result. Plus, you know what they say about absence—a little bit really does make the heart grow fonder.

••

User Experience

Usability is a huge deal to me, mostly because designing content within a usable, aesthetically pleasing experience is what I do for a living, and what we all crave online. When a site is usable and well-structured, this fact is seamless and unnoticeable to users. But when it’s not, oy vey. We experience frustration and often just bail. That is the user of today. Even in the blogosphere, you have to make it interesting, easy, and fast, or your users really will not come back.

Because blogging is largely a DIY site experience, and most bloggers aren’t Web usability experts, unfortunately there are a lot of bad user experiences happening out there daily. In my Build a Better Blog Vlog, I cover some key points related to this topic, ways to improve your blog and your users’ experience. This vlog was also featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers, and there are some very helpful tips and links in the comments on that post. If you want to know more about blog layout and improvement, I strongly suggest you watch the Build a Better Blog Vlog and read comments in their entirety.

In terms of the user experience on G&G, 49% noted that the clean layout of my blog appealed to them. My blog is minimalist; I admit I’ve done little to customize my template, because I am not a coder and also because I like its simplicity. I also employ several Web/usability best-practices that aid in ease-of-use:

  • Sans-serif body text/font
  • Search capability
  • Intuitive, clearly-labeled navigation
  • Black type on a white background
  • Generous but balanced use of white space
  • Few extraneous graphics and imagery

Part of my readers’ experience on G&G also has to do with my level of interaction with them. 57% of respondents most liked that they “feel welcomed” on my blog. 49% noted their experience is enhanced by reading comments and interacting with other readers and me, the blogger.

I won’t belabor the point except to say that I believe strongly in interacting with my readers, and allowing comments on my blog makes me accessible to them. Of course, I comment on their blogs as well; it’s a dialogue. Commenting is part of what keeps readers engaged and turns them into regular visitors. We all know the majority of our daily traffic is users coming by to read the latest post. But 50% of my survey respondents also noted that they go back to see if I replied to their comments. That’s huge! It shows that at least half of the respondents are looking for this interaction, even if it isn’t in real-time. It also demonstrates, again, that readers are looking for a personal touch, for some sort of acknowledgment of their comments.

If you’re going to allow comments on your blog, to develop a meaningful and loyal connection with your readers, you must respond. Especially if you are a new blogger trying to build an audience. You don’t have to respond to every comment, but you should acknowledge your regular commenters on a frequent basis (on your blog and theirs, if possible) because that’s what keeps them coming back.

In closing out this subject, I leave you with this survey verbatim:

You seriously got a good, er GREAT thing going already, but it says a lot about you to inquire about readers opinions and to listen to what they have to say. Above all, your attentiveness to the audience and straight-forward/real personality and supported original content really make this blog very enjoyable. Kudos V.

What about advertising?
Advertising. Monetization. Getting paid to run your blog.

That’s another thing I really wanted to learn more about. Because other than the free Indie Style Media blog ad/exchange at the bottom of the right rail on G&G, I am ad-free. I have no paying sponsors or ads, and while I’d entertain the right partnership, this is by design. I don’t pursue ads because I really hate when blogs are so riddled with ads, I can barely see the content. Sure, ads pay the blogger, but they have to be managed lest they completely overtake the aesthetics of the blog.

My survey results reveal the truth about ads on blogs: most of us, on blogs and elsewhere on the Web, have banner blindness65% of survey respondents acknowledged that they are indifferent to advertising. They’re not really paying attention to it, and that is because blog readers are coming to your blog for your content, not your ads. Web users are conditioned to look in the middle for the “meat” of the page, so everything else is  basically ignored, hence the concept of banner blindness. We’ve become immune to a degree.

Sure, there is money to be made in blog advertising, but most of it is going to the company, not you.  That said, if you are contemplating blog monetization, I am not advocating against it. But before you start peppering your blog with ads based on monetary value alone, you should think very carefully about placement on your blog, as well as the relevance to you and your content. Blog advertising should be secondary to your original content; meaning, unless an advertiser is paying you serious money, the product is extremely reputable, and the ad is high-resolution, no ad should occupy your primary real estate: the top center portion of your template, well above the fold or scroll line. Remember, it’s the content that feeds your traffic, which feeds your advertising and sponsorships. Making two posts of every five a giveaway, or over-commercializing your blog kills your readership. People. Want. Original. Content. Front and center.

But don’t just take my word for it. This survey verbatim succinctly expresses the considerations you should make when putting advertising on your blog:

Advertising works if its curated. The ads need to be of brands/products that align with Grit and Glamour not just random google adsense/banners. The ads also need to look great but not get confused with the main real estate of the blog. I really like the way Glamourai uses her sponsors and in turn I view there products in a new way. I love ads that lead to the discovery of new independent makers/designers or brands that sell online.

••

Voice of the Blogger

If there were ever an argument to really be yourself, this is it. When asked what people like best about G&G, 80% of respondents most liked my voice/writing and personality, and 57% liked the variety of my topics/posts. Interestingly, actual outfit posts were not nearly as important as my voice and perspective of fashion, pop culture, life, and blogging tips. This continues to support the theory that original content is best: it showcases you.


Similarly, if you’re an arrogant, pompous braggart, even if you have the most brilliant outfit posts and content, people are less likely to be interested because they don’t like the personality behind the blog. Your readers are attracted to you. They can get pretty pictures anywhere, but they can’t get you anywhere else. About G&G, one survey respondent wrote:

G&G rapidly shot to the top of my list of fave blogs and the V-ster up there with my favorite bloggers. Why? Quality of content, quality of writer and the irresistible charm of Vahni. I actually have to keep myself from blurting “”i love you!!!”” in the comments. Oh I should mention integrity. The quality AND the integrity of the voice really cinch the deal for me. I trust V.

I trust V. Let’s repeat that.

I trust V.

That, my friends, is one of the biggest compliments one can be paid as a blogger. When you establish trust, when your voice is trustworthy and you have integrity, you not only grow a loyal audience, you grow your reputation and brand. As I’ve noted before, I blog as a hobby. But even if I had dreams of being the next big blog star, I’d want to be known for my integrity, and comments like this are exactly the kind of testimonial I’d use to establish lucrative partnerships with advertisers.

All You Need to Remember

I’ve thrown a lot of numbers and details your way today. It seems like a lot to absorb. But really, it isn’t.

Ultimately, blog readers will tolerate average templates, the occasional grammatical mistake, and a plethora of other Web publishing offenses. All you need to know to develop a better blog and loyal following is this:

  • Be you, be true to your voice.
  • Offer compelling, original content when possible—your own perspective, photos, and/or video.
  • If you have nothing compelling and unique to offer, or your photos are awful, or if you’re burned out, DON’T POST. Just take a break. Your readers will still be there.
  • If you allow comments, show your readers the same respect and courtesy they show you by responding to them.
  • Support readers by visiting their blogs and commenting, and by following them through Bloglovin’ and/or Twitter.
  • Make sure advertising aligns with your philosophy, products are relevant, and ads are high-resolution and not occupying your prime real estate.
  • Ensure your blog is RSS-enabled so readers can subscribe or follow via Bloglovin’.
  • Use Twitter to promote new posts and connect and converse with your readers and other bloggers.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new templates or blog hosting sites. The more you try new things, the more new things you will learn.

If any of you have questions about the survey, feel free to email me at gritandglamour@gmail.com.

Happy blogging, y’all!

111 comments

  1. WOW! What an absolutely fantastic post. This isn’t just getting retweeted, I’m going to bookmark it for future reference. This must have been quite a project to complete, and want you to know that I really do appreciate it. As a fairly new blogger it’s fantastic to have really good advice, and advice thats written English not in “computereze”. Thank you thank you!

    1. Heather, no, thank YOU! I am so thankful that you found this post informative and worth sharing. I really am so grateful for you and all my readers for not only visiting regularly, but sharing ideas and the spotlight on your blogs as well.

  2. This is very interesting, but not surprising. It sums up what I think a lot of us have always believed about blogging, but its good to see ‘proof’ of it.

  3. Madre mía!!!! that is what I call a post.
    I was wandering when you would give us the results of your survey.
    It is all so well done and clearly explain that it is a joy to read.
    I have been doing the right things following my instint, but it is great to know that one is in the path, and that I have someone like you to lean on if i need it.
    Thanks a lot my beautiful friend
    Un puñado de besos ( a fist full of kisses)
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    1. Madre mia….love that! Thank you Sacramento. Glad this is a helpful post…of COURSE you’re on the right path! You have so many readers who just adore you. It’s impossible not to.

  4. HI V.
    You didn’t have to write this, but you did. You could have kept all this important information to yourself but you didn’t. You took hours out of your very busy schedule and created this entire researched based post to help us and the blognation. What does that say about you? I know, it says what I have believed since we first began our blogging relationship, you are the number one biggest supporter of the blogoshere. You post to help and comment to support all of us. You see the potential and help it grow. You ask for nothing in return except common courtesy. You believe we each a voice, an important voice, and you want us to use it as best we can. Blogging is becoming a serious business and I know you recognize that. As bloggers, we need to be ready for this we all need to create something worth reading, worth looking at, and worth our time. Thank you V for supporting us the way you have. Thank you for taking our blogs seriously. And thanks V for being your thoughtful and TOTALLY STYLISH SELF.
    Love from the other coast,
    B

    1. Wow, B. That is an amazing comment. Thank you so much! I truly appreciate the time you took to write all this, and that you notice. I am deeply honored by your words and your friendship. Zinging that love back atcha, babe!

  5. i too, find re-caps of fashion shows boring and repetitive (and honestly never checks them on blogs now). thanks a lot for sharing this superb insights with us 🙂

  6. Fascinating post, and a brave decision to get feedback in this way. It’s uncanny, as I’ve just brought up the issue of feedback on the Friend Friday Group – it seems like quite a few people would appreciate other bloggers/blog readers telling them what they do well so they can develop their content. I also think it can be hard to ‘find your voice’ at first, and it’s helpful to hear when people really feel they’re getting ‘you’.

    You also made a great point about not blogging every day; it’s hard not to panic as a newbie when you’re trying to increase your readership, and it’s too easy to feel like people will stop reading you if you don’t post. Good to hear otherwise from one who knows! 🙂

    1. MrsB, thanks for your comment. It is coincidentally good timing…I was hard at work on this post about the time the convo came up in the FF Google group. I think the key to constructive criticism is to ask the right audience for it and make it easy for them to respond. Also, you have to prepare yourself for harshness. When you do, then when it happens, you are not surprised.

      I know exactly how you feel about the not-blogging-everyday panic. I used to have it too! It takes time to learn these things. But when you connect on places like IFB, you can literally put yourself YEARS ahead if you listen and study the seasoned and contributing bloggers there. It is a wealth of information.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  7. Wow, V, this post is really, really aces.

    “They’re not really paying attention to it, and that is because blog readers are coming to your blog for your content, not your ads. Web users are conditioned to look in the middle for the “meat” of the page, so everything else is basically ignored, hence the concept of banner blindness.” This is something I’ve been wondering a LOT about lately…. couple it with the fact that so many blog RSS reader’s show the content on site, I really think banner ads will die out in the future….

    1. Hey doll, thank you! As a lady who runs a tight blog (and a damn good one), that means a lot to me.

      You make a very, very interesting point: “…so many blog RSS readers show the content on site, I really think banner ads will die out in the future.” OK, I’m going to be revisiting that. That’s HUGE! If you ever have time, I’d love to have a chat with you about some blog ideas I have. Since you are well-versed in monetization, I’d so love to pick your brain. I need to email you soon.

  8. What a robust and detailed survey! As a blogger I really appreciate all the work that went into this V. A lot of these learnings can apply across blogs and I couldn’t agree more that oft-times the bottom line is “original content” Readers don’t want to see rehashed images or commentary. They come to a particular blog for a unique point of view and G & G certainly has one. Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Fajr, thank you honey! You are soooo incredible at putting out creative, original content. I’d be over more often, but it just occurred to me that your Bloglovin’ feed is corrupted. Have you tinkered with your RSS settings lately? Please check it out so I can be sure I don’t miss any of your posts…like the last one which I loved!

      And thanks for your kind words and support. I truly appreciate it!

  9. This is such an amazing resource V! I’m bookmarking it just like Heather and will definitely be referencing it on many an occassion. I’m still in the process of developing my voice, content and layout and this has provided me with such insight. I like that you shared your own personal blogging journey with us. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve been where I am before. I’ll definitely be watching your build a better blog vlog as well. I don’t know how I missed that the first time around but I won’t let it happen again!! xx

    1. Aha! I do remember that vlog! I got confused thinking that the one on IFB was something different. I remember I was still on my old blog at the time and changed my header immediately after watching it ha! Whenever I make changes to my blog I always have your list of do’s and don’ts on the front of my mind. xx

      1. Thank you Brooke! You are so generous with your compliments, and I am duly flattered. I do remember you changing your header very shortly after that vlog. I am so proud of you for always reaching, experimenting, and changing. I HAVE been exactly where you have been before. It’s a journey, you know?

        I wrote this in response to a comment above, but it makes sense to write it to you too:
        When you connect on places like IFB, you can literally put yourself YEARS ahead if you listen and study the seasoned and contributing bloggers there. It is a wealth of information.

        You already do this. Just keep on. One of the main things keeping people from making strides with their blogs is FEAR. Fear of change, fear of losing parts of the template, fear of learning a new platform, etc. The sooner they LISTEN to what pro bloggers are saying (me excluded), the sooner they’ll see improvement. I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just want you to know that as small as changing from Blogger to WP may seem, it is huge! It shows you are not afraid to go into unchartered territory. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Good for you for taking the bull by the horns.

  10. I really love the way you did that survey to gather true data about your blog. I use WordPress for my blog as well, however I haven’t made the transition to WordPress Pro to get my own website. After reading this, I think I need to do a survey to see what my readers like and don’t like. I started my blog as a senior project in my blogging class. One of the important things I learned is original content is always key.

    1. Paulette, thank you for your comment. Surveys are good when they are sporadic and carefully crafted to collect valuable information that is actionable.

      It’s OK that you’re on WP for now. Maybe you don’t need more functionality and your own domain name. Really, the first person you should poll is yourself. What do you want your blog to be? What’s your intention? Where are you going? Get some answers to these questions first. If your answers imply the need for more control over your template, if you want to monetize or gain more exposure, then maybe you should consider self-hosting.

      Thanks again, sweetie!

  11. I remember when I first found you it was on IFB with your vlog on building a better blog. I know I needed advice (and still do!) on taking my blog to the next level and I totally loved it. Then when I jumped into Friend Friday and came to y our website, I was like “OMG that’s her! How freakin cool is that!”. I have to say that you’re integrity, honesty, and how you give back to others is one of the top reasons why I always come back here!

    Your points are soo valid about content being Queen. I find myself gravitating more towards fashion bloggers because of that. Beauty is great and I absolutely love it, but it gets soo redundant with the same bloggers blogging about the same exact products at the same time, with no unique twist to it! Meeting and conversing with you and all the other fab bloggers I met has inspired me to up my content game!

    Ok, I know I wrote a novel! LOL. So I’ll end it with this – Thanks V! You’re awesome girl!

  12. “blog readers are coming to your blog for your content, not your ads” – I’ve considered taking anything flashy off my sidebar.. and really my sidebar is badges and then some squares that link to friends pages. But I know I don’t look at them on other blogs – so why should I have them on mine?

    And like Ashe mentioned, people read everything in Reader – so why have this extraneous content?

  13. wow V!! This is exactly the Kind of Post I come to G&G for! You have so much insight and you put so much thought into what you do. To be honest other blogger do on occasion put up posts about “how to make a better blog” and im always interested but find myself just skimming and scrolling not really reading. But you just have this way about your style of writing, that no matter the amount of words, or numbers and stats I cant help but get sucked in. And I want to thank you for pointing out that originality is key, because I have to say as much as I LOVE fashion shows, and fashion week, that whole week of every blogger posing runway looks was a bit much. There’s style.com for that. And also this made me take a step back and realize that my blog is MY BLOG. I do it for me, I don’t plan on making a living from it. I want to make people happy and I want to make people interested, and put my little mark on the fashion bloggosphere but in order for me to be the most original I can be, I have to put the “ME” back into the equation and not just post for the sake of posting, because I feel like I’m falling behind if I don’t. When we go back to the “I BLOG FOR ME” factor we are the most true to ourselves we can be and that is when the most original content comes through. As for the sponsored ad’s I haven’t figured out how I feel really. When I see a blogger wear something in a style post from a sponsor, I think is fab! When something can be personalized and a blogger really takes the time to take that item from said sponsor and make it “them” is great!. But To be honest I’ve had this thought recently after shopping (won’t say what store) with all these ads of those fabulously dressed bloggers and their “looks” (from said store). I read those blogs daily. I’m sure we all do, they are all fabulous and filled with great personal style, but the thought crossed my mind….I have never seen any of these bloggers actually wear something from “said store” in a blog post…like ever…. For some reason this just bugged me….I feel like on some level blogging turned into a serious business. What happened to blogging for fun and just out of interest. Real, true human opinion its starting to be taken out of the blogging world and it’s just sad to see that happening. That Tween Tavi is my prime example. OK sorry I’m done ranting! Sorry so long but I just had lot to say! hehe. Blogs need more posts like this V, real discussions that make people think! You inspire me!

    1. Monique, thanks for your detailed comment. I’m glad my readers feel like they can share their thoughts here. It makes me so happy to my posts resonate with my audience. I’m thankful for my readers, and as a writer who definitely had help along the way, I believe in paying it forward.

  14. Where to even begin except my usual blurt-out of my undying love for you (at least in my head, lol.) Crap this is good.
    This awesome, incredible post, along with your vlog on blogging should be part of a Blogger 101 kit, that I hand out to enyone who asks me how to start a blog. And after you write this, just like after you posted the vlog which said 1) no music 2) no overly large headers, I feel like there is no excuse to keep posting those insipid re-hashes of catalogues from UO/Anthropologie/Free People and/or Vogue’s editorials, that if people keep doing so, they are telling me they are not serious about blogging and I can NOT read them with a clean conscience.

    I especially love, Love, LOVE how you walk the walk. You didn’t just share the info, I could point out numerous of your blog posts, ones that I read and enjoyed, and were read by many others, that fit this description: we love and crave quality, original content.

    I look forward in seeing this in next week’s IFB Links ala Mode. I’m sure it will be there.

    GREAT article, V.

    1. You wrote insipid. I think I love you.

      Thank you, Bella, for your generous compliments and for sharing your take on this. Sharing knowledge is important…I wouldn’t be where I am today if someone hadn’t helped me out. Anyone who retains knowledge out of fear of being one-upped is clearly insecure and self-centered. As you know, I don’t believe in that.

      Even I face writer’s block on occasion, or I’m tired or spread too thin trying to do too much…that’s kind of typical for me. So when that happens, I take a step back. I’m learning along the way too, you know? We’re in this together.

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS

    I would say for every three comments I leave, I usually check back at least once to see if you responded. I was thinking about making the switch to WordPress, but I think I’m going to do what you did. If I’m still at this a year from now, I’ll probably do WP.org and get a domain.

    I started making websites in 2000. I kind of miss frames and part of me laments the fact that blogging software is so easy. The 15 year old inside me really very jealous of it all. The 24 year old? Well, I am very happy.

    1. Hi Courtney, thank you! I think your approach is a good one. Take your time, learn the ropes. When the time is right, if it comes, you will do exactly what you need to!

  16. Where the devil was I when this survey too place??? ok, i remember… Holy banana’s!!!
    This is so the kind of reason why I love this blog and you… what an awesome post girl, I clearly have a lot to learn (from this post) the research, feedback and stats are really interesting.
    I remember coming over to this blog earlier this year when i also started to blog properly, so many great posts, originality, great voice/writing (you write so bloody well!) and so many brilliant Vlogs (my faves!) and stunning outfit posts. Also love your interaction with everyone via the commenting, I also pop back to see what others/yourself have replied too.
    I’ve just read Monique’s comment too…and also want to thank you for sharing this post with us… On other blogs, I skim-read their ‘how to improve, blah blah blah, but this is something else. So Efharisto koritsia!
    x.o.x.o

    1. Hello love, thank you for your comment…erm…efharisto! You’re so sweet! I appreciate your enthusiasm and rock-solid support, and of course it always makes me happy that the time I spend writing for G&G is well-received and helpful to others.

      Glad you had a cracker of a time in England!

  17. As so many others have said – AMAZING! I’m such a data nerd so I loved the nitty-gritty but I love how well you summed up your findings and I loved how you made your points! I learned so much from this (especially the point about daily posts aren’t necessary).

    I’ve never followed your blog (sorry 🙁 ) but you’re definitely going on my list to read now! Great post and thanks for taking a stand!

    1. Rachael, thank you and welcome! I’m so glad you appreciated this post. It was a doozy to put together, but well worth it because I learned a lot, and it seems like others did too.

      Thanks for adding me to your list! Over to check you out as well!

  18. I had no idea you ran this survey and I visit your blog religiously – shows how banner blind I am jeez!! Fascinating post and fascinating results! As you say the proof is in the pudding, interesting and original content wins hands down. Interesting to learn about your very accomplished professional history too, no wonder your blog is so slick! How wonderful and generous of you to share all this with us.

    1. HAAAA! It was a tiny little blip at the top of a couple posts…I didn’t want to hit people over the head with TAKE MY SURVEY, TAKE MY SURVEY!

      Anyway, thank you for your comment…so glad at least a little of this enormous post was valuable for you!

  19. I mean wow. Not that I didn’t know it before…but you know your shiz lady! Meg and I have already discussed some changes based on your previous suggestions. Thank you again for sharing your know how with us!

    1. OK, I have to tell you, Kristin, that I was in my car driving when your comment came through my email notification on my iPhone (yes I am that much of a geek), and I laughed out loud at “you know your shiz lady!”! Cracked me up. Maybe, I might know some shiz about like two things. But really I’m learning along with all of you!

      Thanks for the comment, doll. I appreciate it!

  20. HOLY. WOW. in-freakin’-credible!

    i adore you for doing this. so incredibly informative and exactly the kind of thing i needed to read right now. i’ve been going through a bit of a blog evolution identity crisis and have been a bit down the past few days. but as always, you’ve been a huge inspiration and help. =)

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your survey results. I’ve assumed much of this information throughout my time blogging based on how I feel about other blogs, but it’s really good to see the stats behind it. In fact, I’d love to see you do more posts about better blogging!

  22. This is so impressive V! Extremely thorough + useful. This one is definitely getting the ol bookmark for sure!! Thank you for taking the time to compile AND share the information with the masses.

    By the way, survey verbatim #1 – that was me. HOLLA!! (lol)

  23. Hi V!
    What a fantabulisitc post!! Wow, tons of useful info here….I read it through, Im going to read it again later when I have more time to absorb your words:)

    I TOTALLY agree with you on the ads…I really shy away from pages that take forever to load or I cant see content because of so many ads………

  24. Wow. This was such a fascinating post. I like the idea that you did this. I think it was a wonderful idea. I hope this finds you doing well. I do really enjoy your blog.

  25. Very good points, in particular, about ad clutter, comment replies, and returning visits.

    Over time I get a sense of which bloggers are just tooooo popular/commercial to reply to their hundreds of comments, or too busy to return visits except to their most consistent and intriguing commenters (and I can understand all that). But I do really appreciate responses from those who are keeping things small and intimate yet, and I will check back from day to day to see if there are replies from bloggers who tend to leave them. In turn, I reply to comments on my own blog pretty religiously! It just takes a couple of days, as once I make a major post, I’ll often spend my free time after that visiting folks on my blog roll, or new commenters and followers.

    I’m not ready to make a jump from blogger/blogspot yet, but I do wish there were better ways to be notified of comment replies so my readers and I don’t have to keep visiting a post from day to day. I think that wordpress is better about this; I can subscribe to replies *just* to my comment, if I understand rightly.

    Ad clutter! Yes, offputting. I agree — it makes one’s content and one’s relationships with readers seem secondary to the few cents one might earn from click-throughs. In an ideal world, we’d see just a few attractive ads for companies that are truly dear to you.

    Thanks for bringing researched, well summarized attention to these issues!

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your perspective. I appreciate your comment and time!

      I take the same approach you described—it’s very sound. We seem to have a lot in common.

    1. MISH! I miss seeing your name here. Know you’ve been superbusy, so I’m flattered you popped over. Thanks for the sweet, sweet comment!

  26. Thank you so much for doing this post Vahni, I really took it to heart, the quality of this post and your blog is amazing. I love how you won`t compromize on the quality of what you put out, you set your standards high and I really take inspiration from that. You blow me away with your warmth, intelligence, intuition and generousity. I talked about this post in my latest, I hope it`s all right with you. I really want to meet you, I think our conversations could be seriously rewarding. lots of love, Anika

    http://sweetfacedstyle.blogspot.com/2010/10/for-love-of-it.html

    1. Aw, thank you so much Anika! Of course I don’t mind if you mentioned this post…I am so flattered. Actually, I was trying to leave the comment below on your post, but Blogger was acting strangely, so you either got three versions, or none! At any rate, here it is:

      Yikes! I HATE it when that happens. Blogger ate my first comment! Arrrgh! OK. Take 2.

      I am flattered into near speechlessness, Anika! Thank you so much for your kind words and for your references to my post. No matter how frequently you post, you know your readers will still be here. How could we not? How could we resist your positivity and sunshine?

      And that’s another frocktastic Anika creation. I don’t know how you juggle the work, home life, sewing, and blogging! It’s amazing. You look gorgeous as usual.

  27. Lady, I hope you copyrighted this, right? This is totally amazing and you come out (out of the genius closet once again!) as so passionate and dedicated to the blogosphere, I think you are my new Priestess 🙂

    When I started blogging, I spend ages trying to find some decent information, and when I found it, it was very sparse and not near as detailed and personalised as this.

    I am glad to hear that people do not like regurgitated content or endless pictures with nothing around – i see tons of those and cant see the appeal myself so always steered clear of those.

    I have also redesigned my blog so that it is white instead of black – your advice is 100% spot on 🙂

    Thanks – or I meant AMEN My Queen!!

    🙂

    xxxxxxxx

    1. OMG, you kill me. Queen. Priestess.

      Everything on my blog is copyrighted, courtesy of the big COPYRIGHT tab at the top, but thanks for thinking of me! And thanks for the kind comment. Um, wait. Thanks for the AMAZING, ego-inflating, fantastic-weekend-making comment! You’re a dear.

      And your blog is looking dy-no-mite…you are rockin’ it, Lady Noix, like you always do.

  28. Wow this is such an informative well thought out post, Kudos to you. I often find myself questioning myself about my blog and what I think people want to see more and less of. I feel like I get the best reactions out of outfit post BUT I also really enjoy writing and posting about random things. I feel like if a post a variety of things I will get a variety of different readers BUT I also don’t want to make that variety too big because then my blog might loose its roots lol does that makes sense? Thanks for sharing

    P.S you should enter my international giveaway. Win a 4GB Mimobot USB! They’re adorable http://tinyurl.com/2vyxcp2

    1. Hi Nubia, thanks for your comment. It’s OK to cover a variety of things…the common thread, however, must be your VOICE, your unique take. It takes a while to find your groove, though, I’ll admit. But on the flip side, being a little unpredictable is what keeps people clicking over to your blog.

  29. V. this advice is invaluable. You’ve mentioned several things I’ve pondered. I’ve worried I would lose readers to switch platforms now. I’ve worried that if I don’t post every day, the blog is doomed–so I’ve “scheduled” posts in the past. Perhaps i can relax a bit. And your thoughts about advertising reflect mine. I intend to avoid it, so as to protect the HONESTY of my voice.

    1. Hi Terri, glad you found some answers and value in this post.

      Blogging is a journey, and you do get better at it over time. Scheduled posts are fine. The most important thing is to make your content compelling. The great thing when you’re not driven by advertising and you don’t have to sustain certain numbers to maintain partnerships is you can post only when you have a good reason. So content is meaningful and interesting. I actually get aggravated by blogs that post 2-4 times a day. It’s just too much. It makes my Bloglovin’ list feel insurmountable and I just mark them all as “read” because I know there is nothing original when posts are being cranked out like toys on an assembly line. In fact, I’ve dropped a few from my list.

      Thanks for your comment!

  30. wow I just want to say this is the most informative post I think I have ever read! I love it and I just might have to print it and read it again. Thanks for sharing such insightful and useful information. naina

    1. Well, thank you honey! That makes my day. These kind of posts are such a labor of love, so when people appreciate them, it makes all the time in front of my PC totally worthwhile!

    1. Thank you Miss ED! You are very kind. I kind of wish I had had a resource like this about a year ago myself! But at least you all can learn from my mistakes and experiences.

  31. This is impressive: comprehensive, clear and so carefully considered, much like your blog, actually. Though I have to say, I really like your Style Shots. I don’t think of them as unoriginal because they are your opinion of celebrity style, and your blog demonstrates very clearly that your opinion on fashion is one that has some teeth.

  32. Hello! I just ran across your blog and go in to the rabbit hole of these posts – but – I love reading what other bloggers are saying about blogs – and just wanted to tell you that, thanks for posting these!

  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! This isn’t only useful to you, many of us can learn from these results. Excellent presentation, too.

  34. V – I was out of town for the week and am just catching up on posts… this one is SO interesting and helpful. It’s made me really think about how I am blogging and if it is as reader friendly as it could be. Hmm… some changes may be in order. I love when you (and other bloggers) do posts like this that help us bloggers out with practical advice and tips. The blogging world can be pretty intense at times so it is nice to have little ways to work on improving it. Thanks!
    – Katy

    1. Thanks Katy! I’m glad this is helpful for you. I emailed you about my new Build a Better Blog page too…I think that’s a good place to start if you decide to make some changes to your blog.

  35. I like that you combined the original content with the personal aspect. That can often separate a blog from other media. You can get to know a person and their story and at the same time gain knowledge about a topic that isn’t covered elsewhere.

  36. Wow! Really great content and suggestions. I like others “thank you” for sharing this information for us. Your sharing with us once again confirms what a great “community” blogging can be!

    Thanks again and all the best!

    Michael

    1. Thank you Sweet! This is an oldie, but really a goodie. I am so glad Kristy shared it because I think it has the capacity to be helpful for all bloggers.

  37. I love that I can revisit this post and still reap something useful from it every time! I remember mentioning about posting levels (mine was ridiculously low especially for a new blogger) on one of your blogging how to posts and I have to say that since I implemented your suggested directive of 4 p.w my comments have really picked up.

    It is easily applicable tips like these that make your tutorials a must read 🙂

  38. This is an extremely informatve post.
    I am still working on completely original content. I write all my own posts on style and body-image, but I do incorporate unoriginal content (i.e. photos). I am still getting into my groove. I plan on book marking this post for future reference.

    Thank you for @ me this piece on twitter!

  39. gosh thank you!!!!!!!!!! a lot of info here in your site i can’t possibly digest them all today! your post made me realize the things i’m doing wrong. I think I need to tweak my blog a lot to make it better! i’ll use all your tips! i hope i do you proud one day. 🙂

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