Two concepts I think every blogger should clearly define; do you want to preach on your blog and hope to get converts or do you want to understand your audience and write to connect with them? For me the later is a lot easier. Who would want to take the time to write interesting posts that readers would rather be resistant to? You might have clearly defined the course of your blog from start; you choose a narrow niche and want to be the best there is. If you are like me, as your blog grows in the sub-niche, you’d be tempted to explore other related departments. Like If you succeed in building a blog on job interview and resume writing, you’ll naturally want to introduce related topics like career tips, how to change your job and such. That’s like stretching your blog beyond limit. But what if your current readers don’t care about you expansion? What if they prefer to have you as the expert on resume writing and job interviews? Would you try to convert them or start it over with an entirely new audience? On the other hand what if they’ll welcome the idea?
Before I started this blog, [blogerian.com] I had been contemplating on whether to start a second blog or incorporate new topics to my one blog. I don’t believe in creating several blogs and hoping to get $3.56 on Adsense from each blog daily to sum up to a few hundred dollars monthly. I’m more interesting in building a great blog for now, and numbers doesn’t matter much for now. So the question was, should I start a second blog so I can extend my writing skill on subjects other than what I was stuck with? Or should I creatively diversify on the subject of my blog?
Making a wrong decision can make or break a blogging career.
1. If I ignorantly bring in an entirely new topic to my blog, readers might feel manipulated. On the other hand, they may think of me as being creative to introduce new topics and broaden the scope of my blog. How could I know what they will think?
2. I may decide to not take the risk of losing my readers and go ahead with creating a new blog, then have divided attention. Seriously, one blog is work enough. I wonder how Darren Rowse could build three great blogs (Problogger.net, Digital-Photography-School and TwiTip) simultaneously and now working on a forth blog (there could even be other undercover blogs, you know. Hey, I’m just saying). I would rather have one successful blog than 10 mediocre dollar starving blogs. So am I willing to risk divided attentions?
How I used a poll to decide the course of my blog
All the while I was thinking through this I forgot there was such thing as taking polls on ones blog. What was I thinking? I could collect feedbacks from my blog readers and save myself the trouble of trying to be genius.
I set a poll on my blog asking readers the question and options:
What do you want more from afterschoolafrica.com?
1. Scholarship Notification
2. Study Abroad tips
3. Online business tips
4. Random educational articles
5. Recommend useful educational products
6. Tell me about yourself
I set the poll to allow multiple entries. Why? So everyone gets the chance to select multiple interests. I set the poll to run for 5 months. That seemed like a pretty long time but in a little over a month I got what I needed to know from over one hundred votes. I still let the poll run for the entire duration and it was so reviling with 1616 votes from 628 voters. Click Here to view the poll result.
What I learnt from the Poll result
May be I could have used a better polling application other than the blogger built-in poll gadget, but it still provided me with very useful data. The blog in-view is a student blog where I research and publish ongoing scholarship programmes, study abroad information and self written student-help blog posts. With the blog theme I thought I could include more topics and simply relate it to students and graduates. I’ve always made it clear from start that there is someone behind the blog and not some educational institution like most blogs in my niche. So it’s more of a personal research blog. The poll proved me wrong. Off course I can be creative about it and write for sub-audience on the same blog. Someone will love it but its likely majority won’t. From the poll, a greater number of my audience (87%) has accepted my blog as a resource for discount education. So teaching entrepreneurship will be quite contradicting, though as much as 28% would care. That is also a good sign that a second blog is the better choice. And really, starting a second blog (less than a month old) wasn’t a bad idea on my part.
A new blog was definitely the right choice for me, thank to readers feedback. Also I was able to see my blog from a reader’s perspective. This is pretty much better than guess-work.
When to use polls on your blog
If your blog is still young with few regular readers, you’ll only receive few votes which wouldn’t give you usable feedback. It works better when you have a considerable amount of regular readers who can give their honest feedbacks.
Some possible reasons to set up polls
You want to know what kind of product (in your niche) they use.
What topic do they want you to cover more?
Where do they fit in the society (their demography?)
This isn’t a perfect list but you just have to figure what it is you would like to know about your readers. As bloggers, we often want to get off stage and join the audience to get a feel of the drama. Whenever you get that feeling of wanting to get to your readers head, a poll is the right step to take.
Have you used polls to shape the course of your blog? I’ll love to know how it turned out for you.