Last month when I did a little round up on my four years of blogging, and I put in a reader survey with 10 short questions about what you guys like and don’t like on Hippie in Heels. I hadn’t done a survey before so I was nervous, but in the end it was really cool to see your thoughts and luckily no internet trolls trashed me, haha. I thought it’d be fun to share the results with you guys!
There were over 100 people who answered questions. Thank you all for taking the time to do that! I did a giveaway for five people to get packing cubes and I’ve been in touch with all the winners – I hope to do another giveaway soon.
Reflections from the Reader Survey
1. You favorite types of articles
50% of people like articles about destinations the best then in order: personal posts, blogging posts, then general travel tips like booking tips and packing. A lot of people wrote in that their favorite is the “This is India” series.
That is something I have always gotten as feedback. When I first moved here it was really easy to write them because I saw India as this crazy place. This October marked 5 years since I came to India, so I don’t see India as I once did – making those articles difficult to write. Crazy things are happening but I don’t *see* them. But since a lot of you want these and also marked that you like personal posts, I think I’ll do more of the weekly roundups I used to do of just my “boring” week life and show you what we get up to in Goa.
People also wrote in that they like the hotel reviews – while an equal amount of people said they don’t on another question. So, not sure about that! haha!
2. What you guys have booked or bought after reading it on my blog
It’s a weird feeling to know that if I recommend something, a reader might buy it. Because of that, I really only recommend cool stuff that I actually use. If you could see my inbox for offers from companies who want to send me free things to promote – and how much money I turn down, you’d think I was crazy! But I want to keep the blog as real as I can. For me, it was better to ad the ads you see as you read through than to work with brands that didn’t align in order to make an income. I know the ads are distracting – which some of you mentioned later on.
But, moving on – 25% of you have booked many things from my blog, 25% of you have booked a few things, and the other 50% said you have things bookmarked to book when you travel to the places I wrote about. Awesome sauce!
Brands you like? You guys like Kiwi.com for flights and World Nomads travel insurance a lot which is great! I love them too. A handful of you also did my same Jordan itinerary staying at the Movenpick in Petra and the Kempinski at the Dead Sea. Three people said they never considered Israel until reading about how much I loved it and booked a trip! That is the coolest thing ever. A few of you followed the same path as me in Istanbul, too, taking the walking tour and staying at my cute hotel.
For products, a bunch of you have gotten the Panasonic camera that I use! I love this camera and am glad you guys do too. I recently got a new lens which I haven’t written about yet but it’s awesome. You guys also like Ebags luggage and packing cubes – can’t live without packing cubes, haha!
One thing a few girls mentioned is that they don’t buy the clothes I recommend as they don’t have similar body types and it’s online shipping. I get that and buying online is hard; having to deal with the hassle of returns. A lot of my dresses are Free People. If you ever want to try, you can find them at Macy’s, Nordstrom, and other department stores. I want to start showing more clothing like the Encircled multi-wear dress (you guys loved that!) so I’ll keep a lookout for brands like that to share.
3. What you DON’T like as much on the blog…
The question I was scared to ask but had to because I want to make the blog as good as it can be for you guys. So, I gave options of A) Sponsored posts/advertisement posts B) Guest posts C) Hotel reviews. 20% of you said you don’t like the sponsored posts, then 20% said they don’t like guest posts, and 17% skip the hotel reviews.
I won’t get into the guest posts now because I ask about them directly later on and will share those answers. The hotel reviews, I had some people write under what posts they like, that they love the hotel reviews. So, I think I’ll keep doing them and let the people who don’t like them skip over them in case the ones who do want it will read. Mostly, they are there for a resource when you are already thinking of booking just to see pictures and see if the hotel is worth the price.
But, let’s talk about sponsored posts! When I read other blogs, they are usually my least favorite, too. For the most part the brands I work with, I work with over and over like Ebags (who I review products for), and some apps. While some reviews I write for brands don’t get a lot of engagement, other ones have been amazing and so many of you have signed up for like Next Vacay or Service. I want to make sure I only review things that I know you guys are going to love.
For some reviews that I write, I do it because not only will it show you the pro’s and con’s of new websites that are coming up (I’m often not paid for these, like my Kiwi.com review) but for another reason: because that review shows up on google when people search “____ review” and that helps me get traffic to my website, which helps me make this a career. I do 1-2 sponsored posts on my blog per month, sometimes none at all and post new articles 4-5 times a week, so about 20-25 articles a month. I really try to only review relevant websites that will help you guys, and with your feedback, I will be even more careful about this in the future.
4. Do you like the new blog design I did last year?
87% of you do love new design! Yay! The others said they didn’t mostly because they were used to the old design and found that there were too many things to click on with the homepage – so they just go to the “blog” and stay there. That’s great because it gets you where you want to be and you can ignore the rest. I’m also looking now with my designer to see if there are any things we can change to make the homepage more organized and help you find things.
Only one person wrote in that they don’t like the ads I have on my site now. I was afraid of that! I hate that that one person doesn’t like them – but I am also glad only one person complained about them. There are usually 5 ads within a blog post on my site, something I started last February. Sometimes more show up in a long article. I went almost three years without these ads and now that I’ve added them, it almost kills me how much income I was missing out on those years. The ads are my primary source of income because I have now over 500,000 clicks to my blog each month. I have now almost 1,000 articles on my blog and maybe 50 of those are sponsored posts from brands who paid me – so I’m not making a lot of money from sponsored articles, it’s mostly from these ads.
Some articles have affiliate links where I earn a commission, but the vast majority are just free information I’ve posted that, without ads, I would never earn an income from. With half a million people on my blog each month – those ads make me a decent chunk that this year allowed me to relax a little and start thinking about my blog as a real career. Once January passes, which is when ads pay the most, I’ll be taking away some of the ads you see now to make it less cluttered for you!
These ads are annoying – I feel ya – but truly, I work on this blog day in and day out and they kind of are my reward for writing 5,000 word articles to help people book train tickets step by step or get a mail in visa step by step. Articles like that on my site get the most readers on them, but would have made me no income without the ads. I love this blog, but I definitely work too hard on it to not earn some cash. I hope you guys are cool with it and based on the survey, most are. Yesss!
5. This year, I’ve allowed more guest posts on my blog written by locals of the places they share about. Do you like these?
It’s about 50/50 whether or not you like these posts. I get that. When I read other bloggers there are some posts I might skip if they are a guest post because I’m either not interested in that destination (I mean why do you want to know the top 10 foods in Hong Kong if you’re never going to go there?) or because I am more interested in that blog for the bloggers personal journey.
I like to keep it as real as I can on the blog, so I”ll explain more about guest posts. There are a few reasons these are worth having. One is that new bloggers often email me asking for a feature on my blog – and the reason they want one is because they get to link back to their blog. Because my blog is older and has a lot of readers, that gives them this “Google juice” that helps their blog be recognized by Google when people search stuff they write about. When I was a new blogger, I wrote guest posts for every blogger who would let me. It’s part of what helped my blog grow and give me success in this career. So, I like do the same thing back for new bloggers who get in touch with me. I only let guest posts be written about places they are from or are a long-term expat in so that the information is really local.
The other posts are from the writers I added to the team to travel in my place, and overall there has been really good feedback on that so I’m really excited!
Another reason these guests posts are good is that, with the same example, if someone *is* going to Hong Kong and searches the top 10 foods in Hong Kong, that blog post might come up. The ads in the post help me earn money from the blog and that person might become a regular blog reader. It’s a way for my career to grow, which in the travel blogging industry is important when there are new blogs coming up every minute. Like I said, I want to be straight with you! I have 4 guest posts per month. I am planning on scaling that back since half of you aren’t as into them. I also will re-organize them into a category called “Guest Posts” so that you can see clearly my posts and other people’s posts.
6. Have you came to India because of my blog or considered a trip to India after reading about it on my blog?
24% came to india because of my blog! That’s 24 people surveyed – and that’s awesome! I am so glad that any of my articles could help someone see another side of India than what is in the media.
60% have considered coming to India because of the blog but haven’t due to personal reasons, lack of finances, or lack of buddy to go with.
7. What topics do you want me to write about MORE?
70% of you guys said that I currently cover what you want but 30% of you want more topics to be touched on in more detail. Here are some topics that were written in multiple times:
- My “boring” life in India – the food, tips for Goa, what I do all day, what the local people do
- Personal articles about me and Ben and my family
- How to move to India, make money here, set up a life here
- Carreer advice and blogging tips
- Beauty & hair recommendations
- My thoughts on my job, life in India, personal stuff, where I’ll be in a few years, if I’ll do another backpacking trip, get married, move again
- The crappy things I deal with and how I overcome them
- Itineraries for the places I go
Noted! It’s cool to see you guys write in about what you want to know more about. I am going to think of arictles I can write to start covering some of these topics so you can expect that coming soon!
8. Why do you follow Hippie in Heels?
I have always wondered if the people who read my blog are just coming to India and found me through Google then never read it again, or if they actually read my blog consistantly to see what I’m up to (not just for travel tips). So, I gave the option do you follow Hippie in Heels for travel tips, to see what I’m up to, or a mix of both and 70% of you said a mix of following my journey and travel tips. So, that’s nothing too shocking I guess. Based on the answers above, you guys want more personal stories and articles about my life, not just travel tips. I always feel like when I write personal stories, no one wants to read them haha but I’m going to try to write more like that.
I have some you can check out in my “Ask Me Anything” section. I think that I will try and write more of these based on the questions you guys asked in the survey.
9. What is your budget?
I am so happy that 72% of you are into boutique accomodation, mid-range travel expenses, have a budget but like a good deal, and have a little extra for tours and shopping. This is the type of travel style that I have and write about. When I first started, I was a budget backpacker. I have been traveling as a backpacker since 2009, but in the last few years (of not being totally broke), I travel in a much nicer way. I was afraid people wouldn’t like that and just want backpacking tips and hostel advice – but most of you are 24-35 years old with 35-45 following behind that. There are not as many 18-24 year olds reading the blog which are more the age for budget travel, so it kind of makes sense.
15% of you are all about luxury, high end, best of the best travel and 10% answered that they travel low-budget. Luckily, all my Europe travels on the blog from my backpacking days are there and all my travels around India were budget until my recent trip to Rajasthan which was still pretty low-key.
10. Where you guys are going next?
40% of you said Europe. This totally surprised me! I always feel like my articles about Europe lately (Latvia, England, Luxembourg, Ireland) are just going to be skipped over. I figured you guys weren’t into it! But, maybe you are!? I’ve actually turned down some trips in Europe because I thought you guys wouldn’t like the content as much. So, that’s something I need to re-think.
20% of you are coming to India next and 14% said SE Asia. Some other destinations that were written in were the Middle East, Morocco, Africa, Alaska, Japan, 7 wonders of the world (awesome goal!), and AUS.
So, thank you all again for taking the survey and helping me make being a travel blogger my actual job! It really means something to me! I will be writing up more posts with all your feedback in mind.
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