Results of My 2009 Reader Survey

Recently, I conducted my 2009 Reader Survey. So far, I have had 856 people complete the full survey. Since I posted it, I had numerous people write, asking me to summarize the results.

reader filling out a survey form

If I boiled the survey results down into a “reader profile,” it would look like this. My average reader is a male between the ages of 31–50. He has at least a college degree and household income of $70,000 or more. He lives in the U.S., most likely in the southeastern part of the country. He is an active Christian, attending church at least once a week, and his faith is very important to him.

He is extremely committed to personal growth and is a heavy reader. He reads most of my blog posts and is especially interested in those related to the topic of leadership—probably because he serves in a leadership capacity in his local church. He also avails himself of other forms of learning, such as conferences and webinars, and intends to pursue additional formal education.

He is very active in social media, including Facebook and Twitter. He has a need for self-expression, as evidenced by the fact that he has a blog and posts to it at least once a week. He also has a book idea that he hopes to write and get published.

Now for the specifics:

  • Slightly more than half my readers are male, between the ages of 31–50. More than 70% have a college degree. Almost 25% have a graduate degree. Approximately 60% have household income of more than $70,000 per year. Nearly 35% have household income in excess of $100,000 per year.
  • Some 88% of my readers live in the United States. Canadians are the next largest group at 4%. In the U.S., the biggest block of my readers come from Tennessee (13.7%), Texas (9.6%), California (8.3%), and Florida (5.4%), and Georgia (3.6%). I have readers from every state except Delaware, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
  • Almost 92% of my readers are Christians: 34% of these classify themselves as non-denominational; 18% Baptist; and 12% other. The vast majority—82%—attend church at least once a week. Almost 90% of these say that their faith is very important to their overall life.
  • Exactly 53% are in some kind of leadership role in their church; 27% are on a church staff. My readers belong to churches of all different sizes; however, 39% attend larger churches with 1,000 members or more.
  • About 29% of my readers discovered my blog through a link on another blog or website; 26% came from a link on Twitter; 20% came from the recommendation of a friend.
  • Almost half of my readers have been reading my blog for more than 6 months. However, 24% have just discovered it in the last month. Nearly 40% say that they read every single blog post and another 45% read nearly every blog post.
  • My most popular subject categories are leadership (65%), books (61%), productivity (56%), communication (54%), and publishing (51%). My readers’ least favorite subject category is fitness (15%).
  • My readers are very much into personal growth. Almost 78% of my readers read two or more books a month. Some 53% read three or more books a month. Almost 67% subscribe to two or more magazines. More than half read ten or more blogs a week. Over 75% attended one conference last year; more than 50% attended two conferences last year. Almost 62% have participated in a “webinar,” and half intend to pursue additional, formal education.
  • When it comes to social media, my readers are also extremely active. More than 67% are active on Twitter and 78% are active on Facebook. More than 70% have a blog with some 40% posting one a week or more.
  • And—perhaps the most surprising to me—almost 70% of my readers have either written a book or intend to write a book.

I also got several, open-ended reader comments that were particularly helpful. For example, several of my readers said that the new layout was too busy. As a result, I simplified and streamlined the design. I have a few other modest but important changes in the works.

I intend to conduct this Reader Survey annually. It will play a big role in helping me provide better, more relevant content. Thanks to each of you who participated.

By the way, if you are a survey geek and want to see the specific responses to each question, including the reader comments, you may do so by clicking here. All the responses are anonymous; I can’t tell how any one person voted.

Question: What questions should I have asked but didn’t? What additional insights do you see in the data?
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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/colleencoble colleencoble

    Fascinating! I'm not surprised such a high percentage are writers though. Your blog is constantly talked about among authors.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I knew quote a few writers read it, but I had no idea the percentage is so high. I wonder, though, how much this mirrors society at large. The self-publishing business is exploding. It seems like almost everyone wants to write a book!

  • http://lynnrush.wordpress.com/ Lynn Rush

    Nice!! I'm glad you shared the results, I was curious. :-)

    I'm with Colleen, I'm not surprised, either. Most writers I know come here. It's a great blog. Keep up the good work.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Lynn.

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com Ron Edmondson

    I learn so much from you Michael. Some day I hope we can have coffee or lunch. (I learn better in person.) Just today I had to go back to an old post because I couldn't remember where you got most of your stock photos. You are a great Kingdom builder.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ron. Let's do get together. Twitter me or email me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/tommylane tommylane

    I'm certainly not one of those in the $70,000 and above bracket, although mine is a single household. I do fit in right in with some of the other categories, though.

    Yours is a very informative blog and I enjoy reading it.

  • http://www.brianbaute.com Brian Baute

    I think I'm going to copy & paste the reader profile summary, change it to first person, and use it as my LinkedIn profile. Every single point is true of me.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Now I have a name to put with the stats. ;-)

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Now I have a name to put with the stats. I'll visualize you when I am writing! ;-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Beaconhillnw Jim

    I came here originally because of @human3rror mentioned your blog on Twitter. Now you are on my email subscription. Which puts you in the same priority level as some of the others. Thanks for keeping this place fluid.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    WOOHOO!!!! I'm not average!!!

    OK, so I fit into quite a few of the points which make up the profile of the 'average' reader but there's some that I miss by a long way, so I'm happy to be something other than average.

    Great analysis and I love the changes to the layout, it has really improved the blog experience.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. They are encouraging!

  • http://terripatrick.wordpress.com/ terri patrick

    Interesting. These survey results show the demographics of your audience, which mirrors you, because I assume you also fit the same demographics of the majority of your readership.

    You've already questioned how your audience reflects society at large. The next question to consider is if that needs to expand, and why. It's possible the demographics of your audience will change, even if little of your content, purpose or presentation changes in the next year. In the few months I've followed your blog, I've noticed it's pretty high speed. Leaders hold themselves to a certain level of action, followers develop at their own pace.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      These are great points. Thanks for the input.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DayleShockley Dayle Shockley

    Interesting survey. Were you surprised by the results?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I was. I especially surprised by how many books people read and how many of them intend to write a book.

  • http://billycoffey.blogspot.com Billy Coffey

    A post on Lynn Rush's blog nudged me over here last week, and I'm glad I didn't resist. There's such a wealth of information here.

    I loved your survey, and a few things were pleasantly surprising. One was that you have so many male readers. I've found that to be somewhat rare, at least as far as blogs go. And I actually thought it was great that there are about 8 percent of your readers who aren't Christian. Being able to draw in those whose beliefs are different than your own isn't an easy task.

    As for aspiring or established writers, though, I actually thought that would be more than 70 percent. That actually gives me some hope!

  • Laura Knoerr

    If self-publishing is an exploding industry and the desire by more people to write a book seems to be increasing, as a publishing company, how can you capitalize on this? And, what is driving this desire? Hard times causing people to be more reflective? More people with a story to tell and no one to personally tell it to? Or the reverse, that these new writers have a unique audience of their own?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'm not sure I can answer all your questions, but I do think self-publishing i growing. We are looking at various options at Thomas Nelson. I think there is a growing interest in self-expression. In fact, some have described this trend as a movement from producer to consumer to creator. Certainly, Apple saw this coming and capitalized on it with their iLife suite of software, including iPhoto.

      I spoke with the head of one self-publishing company who said that unemployment was actually helping them. Many people who are out of work had always thought about writing a book. Now they have the time.

  • http://www.marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    Fascinating. Are you still looking for survey-takers?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome to take it, but I have more than enough to be statistically accurate. The percentages haven't changed much since the first 250 responses.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    I'm apparently average. I fit the profile but I also took the survey so I contributed to it. :) Love that you shared the open link to see results and comments. Good stuff.

    I'm not surprised about the high % of future and current authors. A lot of people probably look to your insights to help them get started and certainly many probably hope that a relationship with you will help them in their quest. Then there's others, like me, who like to learn from your general insights + updates from a publishers perspective. I wish more "C" level publishers were as transparent as you… interacting more with their following and customers.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Daniel. I hesitated about posting the link to the actual survey details, but I thought, why not? I thought it would be helpful to those who want to dive deeper.

  • http://geronimo.typad.fr Marion Chapsal

    I am very grateful for all the great insights you share with us. I seldom take surveys, but since you asked so kindly and clearly, I did. I am glad I did, because the way you also shared the results collectively and answer personally to each of your reader is just amazing. Thank you for being so professional and simple at the same time. You are a great source of inspiration, although I don't exactly fit with the average reader (in terms of gender, geography and church commitment).

    "Male living in USA atending church at least once a week"
    I am a French woman, divorced and re married, at the head with my husband of a "re constructed" large happy family of 7 children , 4 living 100% time with us. I read several books a week and I started a blog in november (http://geronimo.typepad.fr I write in English). In this blog, I wrote an article about presentation tools, inspired by yours, and applied almost every advice you gave us, THANK YOU)

    READING HABBITS
    I tend to be reading more and more online blogs, articles, newsletters, the same way I used to read books. That is very surprising for me, given my passionate and almost physical attachment and fondness towards books, paper flagrance…

    SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS
    I am also very active on LinkedIn and , very recently on Twitter (I posted about it yesterday).A little on facebook, mainly for my children and their friends, and friends scattered all over the world.

    RELATIONSHIP WITH TIME AND SELF EXPRESSION, REFLECTION
    The truth is that my executive coaching business, which I started in appropriately in september 2008(bad timing !), after 15 years of lecturing and teaching in Business Schools for MBA's, (this phrase is too long, sorry!)
    Well, to be honnest, the business has been very slow! As a consequence, I have more time to take after my family, my home and also to reflect on my own goals and vision.
    Again, I thank you for giving me such a brilliant example of Leadership and Communication with generosity and a big heart. It makes me want to connect with my church again, and awaken my spirituality, with simplicity

    One more thing before I go back to my To Do List for this morning : I appreciate the balance between your deep commitment to your values and believes, and the modernity and high tech, top professional business updates you so generously share with us.

    PS I also have a project of a book, which would be my biggest dreams come true!
    Bravo for your superb work!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Marion. I also just visited your blog for the first time. It is very well done! I have added it to my daily blog reading list. Keep up the good work!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/matthewdbenson matthewdbenson

    I think the answers to Q7 to "My Blog" page (readers thoughts on how you can make the blog better), which you didn't comment on above, are very interesting. Having scanned through them, it seems there are some common themes:

    - no new ideas/appreciation comment
    - content requests (various)
    - style/formatting (less cluttered, which you already responded to)
    - add photos/videos
    - search (esp. chronological)
    - shorter posts (I don't agree – twitter caters for this)
    - add links
    - have regular frequency/schedule to posts
    - add/involve guest comments

    I find this last one very interesting. In particular it appeared in various guises (comments 138, 164, 263, 273, 291) covering "guest blogs", "mike talks to …", "TN staff comments", "visit the TN trenches", "superblog / blog-of-blogs concept". (here, TN=Thomas Nelson)

    Thanks for sharing the results with us. We can all learn from this.

  • Felicia K. Fredlund

    Hi Michael!
    I'm new to your blog since about Februari, and for the first 3 days I was caught up, if I ever wanted to accuse someone of having too much good content you are on the top of the list. Each post brought me to three new ones I wanted to read and they in turn showed me to another two, and so on. But I don't regret reading through all that, because there is so much wisdom.

    I can't say I fit into your average reader much; since I'm a soon-to-be 20 year old female, Swedish and still living in Sweden. I'm no christian, nor do I blog, facebook or twitter. Some other the other aspects fit and some more didn't.
    So even if I'm not your average reader I enjoy it greatly!

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom,
    Felicia