What I Learned From My First Reader Survey

...And What I Plan To Do With Your Input


I gathered your input through a short, 10 question survey. What I learned will focus my writing and other efforts on what you, my readers, need. Thank you.



During 2015, I published on my own site and on LinkedIn. Throughout the year, I grew my email list by a factor of six through a combination of download incentives that included PDFs of blog posts and specialized PDFs.

Rick Coplin Posts on LinkedInFor those of you who entrusted me with your email, thank you! For those of you who emailed me and engaged in conversations beyond the blog posts and PDFs, Thank YOU! I love interacting and learning with each of you.

At the beginning of this year, I surveyed everyone on my email list and received a surprising number of responses. I believe a survey is the best way to get useful insights for the audience I want to serve: you. What I learned will help me produce content in 2016 that will meet your needs.


Survey Overview

Pile of SurveysThe survey is not scientific, or highly designed. I simply asked questions that I wanted answers to and that I thought might help me improve for you. I sought to understand our community's demographics, what attracted you to my blog and how I can improve.

Here are the 10 questions I asked:

  1. What is your gender?
  2. Which of the following best describes you? (Check all that apply)
  3. In what country do you currently reside?
  4. Which of my subject categories do you enjoy most? (Check all that apply)
  5. What do you like most about my blog?
  6. How can I make my blog better?
  7. If you could have me create one blog post that would best meet your needs right now, what would that be?
  8. What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now?
  9. What books have you enjoyed reading in 2015 and why?
  10. Which Social Networks are you active on? (check all that apply)

Questions five through nine are free-form responses, and your comments are a gold mine of information.


Survey Insights

I learned more than I expected about you and how I can help you. Here are the highlights:

Your Demographics:

  • Over half of my readers are female – this came as a surprise, and I am grateful for a diverse & intelligent readership. In fact, responses from female readers were generally more detailed than those from the males (c'mon guys!).
  • Respondents classified themselves in two groups: Business Owner/Entrepreneur or Corporate Leader. Other choices included “Sales Leader”, “Ministry or other Leader”, “Educational Leader” and “Military Leader”. These responses are encouraging as my target reader is in the two groups that rose to the top. Why? Because this is the world I am most familiar with and the two groups I am passionate about reaching.
  • All of the respondents indicated they reside in the United States. I found this puzzling as I have readers in more than a dozen countries. I am hoping next year to get insights beyond the United States because it will help make this blog and my efforts to serve you richer.


Why You Read My Blog:

  • Readers selected a handful of categories they enjoy the most: Personal Development, Leadership, Productivity, Pitching, and Work-Life Balance. These all scored about the same and reflect most of what I wrote about in 2015. I plan to write more in some of these areas, and less in others. You'll see the tenor of my blog intentionally evolve this year.
  • In response to “What do you like most about my blog?“, I received encouraging responses, including¬† “The fun and interesting energy you put into each post.“; “The diversity of topics”; “Positive attitude“; And my favorite: “You right well buddy!


How You Suggest I Can Improve:

Several comments stood out in response to the question: “How can I make my blog better?” I've paraphrased the two most common insights:

  • The first is “how to prepare for a future to leverage the skills you talk about.” I love this! We have a duty to ourselves to be learners throughout our lives. Our challenge is to apply new knowledge pursuing positive change. So, yes, I will think more deeply and write with this in mind throughout the year.
  • The second and third hit me hard, because I know they are true and will require focused effort. “Publish more regularly/consistently” and “I want to hear from you more often“. Those two sentiments are a tremendous compliment, so, thank you! They also highlight an area I must improve on in 2016: consistency. Michael Hyatt frequently points out that consistency is more important than frequency, and that when you lack consistency, you are invisible. Through consistency, I show you that you can count on me to show up. I was inconsistent in 2015. I know from what you've told me, that I must be consistent in 2016. Here's my goal: to publish weekly from this point forward. It won't be easy, and I likely will fall short on occasion, but I owe it to you.


What You Are Asking Me to Communicate:

I asked two questions to draw out what is top of mind for you: “If you could have me create one blog post that would best meet your needs right now, what would that be?; and “What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now?” Your answers to these questions will have a significant impact on the topics I write about, and I've made changes to my editorial calendar to best meet your needs. Here's a sampling of the insights you provided:

      • De-cluttering your life and getting rid of unnecessary activities“, “Too much to do” and “stress” (if you could see my office now… well, I'm glad you can't!). I have an eBook nearing completion on outsourcing activities that I hope will benefit entrepreneurs as they navigate growing a business and letting go of doing everything themselves. I'll pen a few posts about this as well.
      • How to deal with the most difficult people to work with at work and in volunteer activities” and “dealing with a bully” – Who hasn't encountered these situations? All of us will again. It is never easy, and the payoff may not come for years, possibly never. I've roughed out a few post ideas on this topic and will do my best to address negative work environments in a way that we can all be more effective when encountering difficulty.
      • Blog about leaving your corporate life for a life of entrepreneurial adventure” – Funny you should ask… Yes, I have several planned on this very topic that will reflect my experiences leaving a large corporation to join a startup and leaving a job I love to answer the call to greater significance.
      • Fear of the unknown” – I'm living this right now. You might be as well. This will be a stretching topic to address with impact.
      • Making the most of a new year” – I think of this as “making the most of every day” as a year is too long and unpredictable for me. I can, however, determine every day that I will make the most of it. I'll definitely write about this; thank you for the suggestion!


What You Are Reading:

Essentialism by Greg McKeownThere were just a handful of responses to this question. In addition to finding out that you enjoy my short newsletter, I found out that at least one person is reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I recommended it several times in the newsletter; I hope you find it as valuable as I have to focus on what truly matters.

There was one response, which I have added to my planned reading list for 2016: Unbroken; with the comment “It helps to understand the desperate situations of fighter pilots in WWII, and how conditions were on the Japanese side of the fight.” OK, as a history buff, I'm definitely interested. In a similar vein, one of my all time favorite books is Pacific War Diary by James Fahey. It chronicles the USS Montpelier from launch through the end of World War II and is completely fascinating.


Where We Meet:

Social MediaFinally, I asked “Which Social Networks are you active on?” and learned that you invest most of your social media time on Twitter and Facebook. 80% of you utilize those two networks. I was surprised the number is so high. LinkedIn and Instagram were both about 50%.

I was also surprised the number for LinkedIn was at 50% and not 80%, like Facebook. It surprised me because personally, I pay attention to thought leaders on LinkedIn more than any place else.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the four networks I am most active on, and as a result of your answers, I've already stepped up my presence and activity on Twitter and will do the same on Facebook.


I Appreciate Your Input

If you took time out of your busy day to participate in the survey, thank you for the gift of your time & attention!

I've learned through this process that a survey, even a simple one, can be a powerful window into what interests and concerns you. I'm adjusting what I plan to write about and how I plan to communicate with you via social media as a result. I plan another survey at the end of 2016, and if my email list continues to grow as it has, I may do one in mid-year. I am grateful in advance for your valuable insights.

If you have additional thoughts, post them below and & we'll have a good conversation.

Download The Reader Survey PDF HERE

Rick Coplin






Photo Credits: Typewriter: Dennis Skley via Flikr; Pile of Surveys: The Bees

I work alongside emerging companies on business formation, commercialization strategies, and capital planning. My passion is to find, support, mentor, coach, incubate, & fund start-ups engaged in innovative technology businesses.

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