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Results of survey and planned changes to the blog

| 8 comments | Category: off topic

[No language/travel tips here; just a summary of the survey results and plans for the website next year]

Last week I requested that a few of you fill out a survey to help me improve this site for next year; I was expecting perhaps a few dozen responses at best, but I’ve actually gotten 130!! (That’s almost 20% of my subscribers) Thank you!!

There was so much information to get through, but I’ve analysed it and will definitely be applying lots of your suggestions! I’ve also learned a lot about the type of people who read my blog; knowing my audience better definitely helps :)

So, I thought that I would share my conclusions from the survey with you here; any further comments, be sure to write them at the end of this post!!

Content

Something that quite surprised me is that a huge amount of you said that what you most enjoy in my posts is the positivity and humour I convey in writing. This is funny to me, since I consider my posts rather factual, and any positivity and humour just comes naturally as my style of writing and thinking. Based on this feedback, I’ll think of more topics to discuss relevant to the attitude necessary to learning languages and travelling.

The huge amount of encouraging comments (a lot of which I’ve written personal thank-yous for) has made me feel great over the holidays! It’s amazing to see how my blog has inspired a lot of you to take on the task of learning a language or considering travelling as not-so-impossible and realistically reaching these goals by seeing me prove how it’s possible.

Some of you also listed your favourite posts. The one that stood out by far was the smartest decision you’ll ever make to achieve fluency. I’ve gone back to that post and edited it for readability by splitting up the extremely long paragraphs (great advice from Scott Young, an experienced blogger who has been helping me a lot lately). I agree that this is the most relevant post of the year, since not speaking English has been the deciding factor in achieving my language goals. I will expand on that concept more in the coming year.

The second most popular post was the more recent getting rid of your English accent, where I got more technical on specific aspects of speaking a language. A lot of you said that you like it when I get technical, so I will be going into more detail on such posts in future!

The third most popular post was the one telling you not to be scared to meet new people; this one surprised me somewhat since this post has much fewer comments than other ones, but it corresponds to what you said about attitude being an important aspect of this blog. I can only tell how much you like a post based on number of comments, as well as retweets and links from other blogs or shares on facebook (all of which I get notified of), so if you appreciate any post in particular, please do let me know so I can write more like it :)

People also mentioned that you would like me to go into more detail on mission updates. While I do not want to turn this into a travel blog (you can get my daily updates of what life is like in the country on my twitter account), I will try to give more regular updates on my thoughts on the language and culture that I’m currently immersed in!

Finally, a lot of you enjoy my clear way of writing, especially as a means of practising your English if you aren’t a native. While I do make the occasional mistake, I always carefully proofread my posts for quality and I agree with those who mentioned that a lot of blog posts out there are very sloppily written. If you see any mistake, feel free to contact me and I’ll correct it.

Post length

I’m glad to see that the length of my posts do not deter most of you, and some of you pointed out that going by “suggested standards” of snappy posts for an impatient general Internet user (or those with the “attention spans of hyperactive gnats! as one of you amusingly put it) is not always that great.

Some did point out that posts can go a bit too long, but going into detail is just my style. I believe I do not ramble and do give lots of information. This post for example is quite long, but I know that those who aren’t interested in this topic will simply skip the post, and that’s fine with me.

I’m interested in giving full details in all posts to anyone who may happen to enjoy that post and I’m fully aware that it’s impossible to write every post to be interesting to absolutely everyone. More people will read snappier posts, but they won’t give the same amount of information and will thus be lower quality in my opinion.

I’ll only spread it across several posts if I think it would enhance reading about the topic. I like one page (and hence one Internet link) to entirely discuss a message, so that I can refer to it later as just one link, or so that others may share the link too.

Nevertheless, I definitely do have some quick tips that I will share in posts that are much shorter, since they do not require in-depth explanations or much background information.

Post frequency

Quite a large number of you said that you would love to see more posts each week. I’m afraid that this depends entirely on pure availability. If I could, I would love to write in this blog full time and post daily, but I work full time (or am travelling) so it’s just not possible, since I do put several hours into each post and do research to make sure I provide the best links for those who want to find out more.

If I can start earning a little money from this blog, while not destroying the site with annoying advertisements, or sacrificing content, then this would allow me to write more frequently, so I will investigate this possibility in the coming year.

For example, I saw that 15% of you didn’t even notice that I have a “treat me to an Orange Juice if you liked this post” at the end of each post (and on the side of the blog). When I get enough OJs, I specifically take a break from work and devote that time to blogging (after going out for a nice cold one!), so feel free to click and send just a couple of euro my way if you’ve enjoyed any posts. I’d rather people think of it as treating me to a drink as a thank you for a helpful post, rather than it being a “donation” ;)

I’m not travelling the world because I’m rich (I put that response in as a joke, but sadly, a few of you actually think that it’s true). Last year I reached my credit card limit (i.e. several thousand euro in debt) twice, and had to work 80 hours a week for a month (that’s 30 consecutive days with no break each time) to pay it off. [Queue sad violin music]

I’m not trying to create a sob-story, since it is my own fault from bad financial management that got me into debt each time, but it’s important that my readers know that I actually do appreciate even tiny extra boosts, and that they do make a difference ;) Remember, you don’t have to be rich to travel the world!

One other issue with post frequency is Internet access. I had hoped to introduce the next mission before the end of the year, but there is no Internet in the room where I am staying this week (despite misleading advertisements…), so writing in public with lots of distractions slows me down and I won’t be able to introduce it until hopefully the weekend. I’ll try to not make a promise to make a post by a certain date again unless I’m absolutely sure that I can make it.

Otherwise, I will continue to write at least once a week (and sometimes up to 3 times, whenever possible). I have enough ideas for blog posts relevant to travel and languages for all of next year and always make a note of a good idea when it comes to me.

Site background theme

40% of you agreed on the use of the theme that I had suggested, while 6% of you pointed out that the colour style used with Black hat has more personality (while the rest of you don’t care either way since you read it through e-mail/RSS or see it as much less important than the content).

The different colour was one of the reasons that I chose this theme, but unfortunately it does make it a little harder to read some text, and the dark colour doesn’t go so well with the upbeat message I try to convey in posts.

However, I will edit the default theme that I’ll apply next, to my own style, so it will still be unique! I’ll change themes as soon as I get the chance to make the edits that I want (I am currently having an issue with compatibility with the Disqus commenting plugin. If anyone with WordPress/java familiarity could give me a hand, it would be great!!) Edit: the new theme is live! Hope you like it :)

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So let me say thanks again to all the amazingly positive feedback that you have all given me!! There are actually several other points that I haven’t discussed here that were brought up that I’ll also be applying. I always appreciate your comments and can honestly say that I feel like I’m going through these missions in good company thanks to all my readers :)

My next post will be some practical advice on the plan of action to take in order to achieve a New Year’s resolution of learning a language, since I imagine a lot of people will be making such a commitment to themselves.

Then I’ll finally start discussing the next mission (hopefully this weekend before I fly out on Monday); ooh, the suspense!! Those of you linked to my facebook page or twitter already know what that language is of course!

All the best for everyone in the new year!

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  • Janna

    Hi Benny!
    Thank you a lot for the e-mail. It made me very very very happy!
    It's amazing how you communicate with the readers of your blog.
    And as I wrote in the survey, I admire your positive attitude – it inspires me so much!

    I wish you all the best in 2010!

  • http://www.randem.net/ Randy

    An easy way for you to solve many of those issues at once is to use the post-dating feature of WordPress. Basically, after you write your one long post for the week, you just cut-and-paste each of the sections into separate posts and set the publish dates one day apart.

    The result is that we get to read shorter, easier-to-read updates, you have more frequent posts, and you're still not stuck at your computer writing every day. It's a win for everyone.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    As I said in this article: “I’ll only spread it across several posts if I think it would enhance reading about the topic. I like one page (and hence one Internet link) to entirely discuss a message, so that I can refer to it later as just one link, or so that others may share the link too.”
    It's not a win for everyone because your RSS feed / e-mail would be “spammed” by the same topic over several posts. Not everyone likes each post, I'd rather focus everything I need to say on a topic in one page. If someone were to get 3 consecutive posts about the same subject they dislike, they'd be more likely to unsubscribe.
    Also, “more frequent updates” is not a goal of mine if it's not discussing new interesting topics. I could easily post twice a day if I wanted, with the same content as I currently have, but that wouldn't count as “frequent posting” for me if it's just two topics per week. I'd personally find it very frustrating to read my posts like that, so putting my readers in that position is not something I plan on doing unless it really does enhance the discussion.
    Most of my readers agree with me according to the survey, so I'm going to stick with that way ;) If you find a post too long, you can always bookmark it and finish reading it later (I do this a lot when I'm in a hurry; use a plugin for firefox called “read it later”, it's excellent): If a post is too long for you entirely, then it just means that you aren't really that interested in it, which is fine :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks Janna!! I remember you were one of those that mentioned that you'd prefer more detail as I mentioned here. Best of luck in Italian and Slovak!! :)

  • http://www.babystepstofluency.com/ Fiona @ BSF

    Thanks for writing an analysis of all the comments you got.

    I really like reading these kinds of posts, it helps me not only figure out how I want to things on my blog, but I really feel like I get to know you and the blog better.

    Here's to a great 2010!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks Fiona!! I really appreciate that comment – I mostly wrote this post just to be completely transparent to my readers about changes I made on the blog and how their comments have helped me. I wasn't even aware that it could help other bloggers with suggestions :)
    Best of luck with your baby steps ;)
    Happy new decade!!! ;)

  • Sam

    Hi
    I have a couple of really, really important questions. Where do you stay in these countries ?lol – do you just find a cheap youth hostel etc (otherwise its really pricey) / what do you do – take classes in the specified language (more $$) / who do you hang around with – (walking alone in a city where you know no one can get a bit tedious ??? ….. Basically, what do u do within these 3 months ????

  • Sam

    + do you get a job ? how do you fund all this ?