Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my recent reader survey. This is only the second time I have undertaken such an exercise. I have found it a useful way to understand you, my readers. I think in the long run you will also benefit as it will help me improve my blog and writing. I intend to repeat it at least yearly so as to keep what I write about and present as relevant and helpful to you as possible.

 

In December 2015 we had 35 responses from the 368 email addresses in our database. Although these are relatively low numbers (9.5%) they do provide a baseline from which we can build on to develop an understanding of who is reading and how to improve content. Summarising the results gives the following ‘reader profile’:

My average reader is:
– male (but this is marginal at 57%),
– aged above 45 (76%). There are a further 14% who are aged 35-44 so it does seem that I am particularly relating to those who are approaching middle age and above!

(For further reflections on that see Podcast #012 On Turning 50).

Not surprisingly many of you (63%) found out about the blog at an event or through personal connection with me. What I have particularly appreciated about that is it has enabled me to keep in touch with many of you in ways that are normally just not possible. There have been some fascinating insights as well as much encouragement on-line and off-line which I have appreciated.
At this stage 37% has been through on-line sources such as Facebook, Twitter or another website. I would love to see that grow and develop so as to help more people.

In terms of where you live, I have statistics from my current number of 368 subscribers that shows 51% live in the UK, 20% in the US and 17% in India. The remaining 12% are from countries as diverse as and including (among many others) Germany to New Zealand and Brazil.

With regards to frequency of reading blog posts, 66% were able to say that you were able to read the posts every week or mostly every week. I think aiming for a weekly post is just about manageable to ensure not overwhelming you with further emails as well as maintaining quality. It is what I can realistically keep up with and I hope provides a welcome thought provoking and inspiring interlude to the usual emails you receive without being another unnecessary addition to your in-box.

In terms of content, many of you made comments about appreciating the variety of content and sharing my own life story highs and lows. Certainly by providing a variety of content and keeping it as personal as practically possible I am able to maintain a consistent output.

The blog posts initially started on the subject of depression and are an important area of interest to you. Closely related to that have been issues related to stress and challenges at work.
Some comments that particularly struck me:

“I’d like to know more about how I can move from a place of for years being defined by depression and anxiety to a place where I can accept myself for the unique person that I am and not be so tormented by guilt and fear all the time.”

“I have a teenager who is suffering from depression and self harming. As a strong Christian they find this weakness very difficult to understand.”

“Very many are relevant, mainly to do with everyday problems which can be daunting, such as when my husband was diagnosed with a huge brain tumour.”

“Stress that I cause myself by thinking so deeply about things that cause me to be anxious.”

“At 51 I’m too young to,retire and too old for a new career but the pressure of work and unrealistic expectations of the public and our political masters are making general practice, which I thought was my vocation, unsustainable.”

“Am unemployed again having been made redundant for the fifth time in seven years. This was not how it was supposed to be in my 40s-50s … my financial situation has gradually got worse and worse. I have often been fired for achieving excellent results at a senior level ie the Board above me doesn’t then want to keep me, or promote me. I wonder what the next 10 years will hold, and what type of retirement I will be able to afford? Not the glowing expectation I had when I was at business school … . So finding a secure income that uses my skills is my biggest challenge.”

Thank you to those anonymous readers for sharing so honestly (and apologies if I did not include your particular comments!). It is a reminder to me that many of you are going through some very tough situations. My prayer is that the resources and tools from the website can help make a real difference in your lives and personal challenges.

Issues around wanting help with the areas of stress, time management and overwhelm came up frequently. For more on these subjects see podcast and articles on resilience here.

There are also a  lot of resources on depression and mental health now on the website that can be accessed here. In particular the podcast on Combatting Depression, interviewing the author Jo Swinney has generated a lot of interest.

The other area that has developed over 2015 were the podcasts. This has opened up a whole new area of engagement with a new variety of people. To date we have had over 4000 downloads with almost 3000 unique visitors. I particularly have enjoyed working with Andrew Horton on this as well as interviewing a wide variety of book authors. I know for a number of blog readers dealing with podcasts is an unfamiliar technology. The podcasts can be accessed both from the blog and on iTunes under the title of “Making Sense of Life”.

92% of those of you who responded described yourself to be affiliated to the Christian faith in one form or another, while 84% of you described your faith as very important to you. That is an encouragement to me to continue to weave in my own spiritual journey and experiences into what I write about as well as providing a Biblical perspective.

One of the results of the survey is that I realised that I need to ask you more questions! My 10 questions were intriguing, but have made me hungry to know more about you and how I can best help you. I hope to send out another fuller survey later in the year. If you are interested in the previous survey you can access that here.

Do feel free to add any additional thoughts and comments here to this post.

Also if you have suggestions as to how to make the content and resources more helpful to others please do get in touch.