The results are in!
I’ve just completed my 2017 reader survey, which I created as a chance to get to know you all better and see what you were looking for here on Bren On The Road. Over 250 of you took the time to write in and tell me your thoughts (thank you so much!) and it gave me a lot of interesting reading for a few days.
I decided it would be nice to share some of the insights with you – as with most things like this, I’m sure some of you are curious.
First, some stats:
Who is reading? Let’s break down the respondents:
The majority of you are female:
Of you crazy people, most are in their twenties, and thirties, but there are readers in all age groups:
And this is where you’re all from:
I also had responses from Brunei, Colombia, Denmark, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Wales and Hong Kong. Shout out to all of you!
Onto the questions. I won’t be sharing every single question in the survey, but these are the more interesting ones:
Question 1: If you had a time machine, and you could either go 100 years into the future or 100 years into the past, which would you choose?
That was unrelated to the blog, just a fun question to get things started. The result was interesting on its own, but I decided to spend a little time (actually ended up being like 4 hours) nerding out and digging a bit deeper. Here’s what I came up with:
Males were much more likely to go to the future. Females also favoured the future, but at a much more even split. I had actually expected the opposite: Wouldn’t women want to fast forward to when they ruled the world, and men go back to before skinny jeans? I was wrong:
Age groups were interesting. People in their fifties were the only age group that preferred the past (I guess fifty year olds are fed up with skinny jeans too). Every other age group wanted to go to the future. People in their thirties were most favoured to the future at 67%:
Looking at it by region was more interesting. People in India weren’t interested in the future. 83% of them wanted to go to the past. I’m assuming there is something amazing about 1917 India that I’m unaware of. Conversely, Europeans weren’t too interested in the past. 71% of them wanted to go to the future (I get it). Filipinos were next, at 63%. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA were all a pretty even split:
Anyway, enough of the nerd stuff. Here are the “real” questions.
Why did you start following Bren On The Road?
A few of you wrote comments with some other reasons, but most of them could be slotted into one of the four categories. It was interesting seeing that 43% of you wanted to read stories, even though my story posts definitely get the least traffic. And only 10% wanted making money posts, and those ones generally get the most traffic. I presume this is because the making money posts rank in search engines and get Google traffic, and the stories don’t. So don’t worry, I’ll keep writing both. 30% of you were after budget travel tips, which is great, I’ll definitely continue writing those!
How did you find Bren On The Road?
The Google and social media referrals are in line with my traffic stats, but I didn’t expect my features to be bringing so many readers over. I’ll try and do more of them. Also, a shout-out to the 4% who met me in real life – I actually couldn’t figure out who any of you were while reading your answers, unless you gave me an obvious hint somewhere in the comments.
How long have you been reading Bren On The Road?
Majority of you have been reading at least a year, which was super cool to see. I never wanted to be a “Google blog” where people just find you, get what they need, and leave. I wanted to give people a message and a journey to follow. So thanks to everyone that’s joined me for this wild ride. Big welcome to those of you who have just started reading too! I guess we haven’t met yet, I’m Brendan, I like noodles, procrastinating, making smoothies. Nice to meet you. To the readers that have been with me from Day 1: I love you all (and I won’t forget you when I get to Bloggywood).
What is the main thing stopping you from travelling more in your life right now?
Not too many surprises here. Money is a problem for most, which is why I write a lot about affordability and budget travel here. 18% of you already have the travel lives you want, which is awesome. 18% of you can’t travel because of work, which is a harder problem to solve. I’ve talked a bit about finding mobile jobs and incomes, but money isn’t always the primary factor in those decisions. Family is a more complicated aspect too. Those are mostly personal decisions that I can’t help you decide on, but I have written about my own decisions which hopefully gives some perspective.
How do you usually travel?
Two things stood out here. 40% of you usually travel alone: That’s awesome. I didn’t expect so many of you to be solo travellers, and I also didn’t expect so many families. But it was cool to see there’s such a diverse mix, especially because the people you share your journey with determines so much of what type of trip you have.
Think about your travels over the last 2-3 years. What was the longest trip you took?
I was surprised 1-2 weeks was the longest trip for many people, I expected it to be longer. That’s important for me to know because travel of 1-2 weeks is vastly different from longer trips, especially from a budgetary perspective.
Around 20% of you have taken a trip of 3 months or more, which motivated me. I encourage long term travel a lot, as I think it’s hugely beneficial to every aspect of life (except maybe the bank account). Rock on. 15% took a trip lasting six months or more, which is really challenging in a lot of ways, and 99% of people will never do that in their lifetime. Freakin awesome. Be proud of that.
Imagine you made a full time income online allowing you travel as much as you want. How much of the year would you spend travelling?
80% of you would travel for at least three months per year. 25% of you would travel indefinitely (you crazy people).
But most telling was that 98% of you would travel at least one month per year if you could, but (according to the previous question) only 37% of you had taken a trip lasting longer than a month. We need to close that gap!
Why haven’t you quit your job to travel, or pursue some other dream?
First of all, triple fist bump to the 13% of you in your dream job, and to the other 13% currently chasing your dream job (or dream whatever). I didn’t expect those numbers to be that high. Respect.
The other answers were diverse. In fact, over 100 people selected “Other” and wrote their own reason, but I managed to fit them all into the categories above (after creating a couple of new ones). The “Fear of something” answers usually consisted of either loneliness, running out of money, or missing family. Again, money was the main problem; around 45% of you cited lack of money/savings or unpaid debt as the obstacle stopping you from starting something new.
What new content do you want to see on Bren On The Road?
If these results look confusing it’s because readers were allowed to tick 3 options, so the percentages are inflated.
Half of you ticked “personal stories and narratives” which, again, is interesting as those are easily the least trafficked posts on the site, but I know regular readers really enjoy them (I also enjoy writing them, even though they take a stupid long time).
Almost half of you wanted more tips about making money online. There is a lot for me to write about this subject, but I’ve resisted writing too much about that topic as (1) That’s not really what the blog is about and (2) There is already a crapload of stuff out there. I do already have a couple of posts about blogging, freelancing and making money while travelling, and also building niche sites, but you obviously want more.
Lastly, travel tips. 42% of you wanted them. I feel like I’ve covered pretty much all aspects of the game, or at least the main ones, with my various posts of travel tips and within my premium guide Triple Your Travel. Of course there is still more to write, especially destination specific stuff, so I’ll keep pumping those out.
The rest had a pretty even spread, so I’ll keep those subjects simmering and write whenever something topical comes to mind.
What do you like about Bren On The Road? Why are you a reader?
This was an open ended question so I can’t post all the answers, plus there were around 200 responses to read through, but these five things definitely came up more than anything else:
- You read the blog because it inspires you to travel or pursue something in life.
- You like the quality and style of the writing.
- You like that my budget tips are full of detail and are practical.
- Many of you used words like authentic, honest, down to earth, relatable. Quite a few of you said it was like reading the blog of a good friend.
- Many of you mentioned the “real experiences” I write about, and not just listicles or tourist attractions that you find on most blogs.
These were all huge compliments for me (especially number four) and describes what I’ve envisioned for this blog over the last couple of years. Thank you. Sheds a tear.
Other things that came up quite often:
- You like that it offers a male perspective as most travel bloggers are female.
- You like that it offers a New Zealand perspective.
- A handful of you said you followed me because it was “super rare” to see an Asian male in travel blogging, which I thought was funny (and true too I guess).
- You like that it is non-commercial and there are no ads.
- You like that I talk about the negatives of travelling.
- Many of you love the email newsletter!
What do you dislike about Bren On The Road? What annoys you? What could I do better?
There are two things that were by far the most common in this section:
- Post more often.
- Post more photos.
A few other things that came up:
- Many of you want videos.
- A handful of you didn’t like the artwork on the site.
- Some of you said the site navigation could be improved, as it was hard to find things sometimes.
- Some of you followed me for my “making money” posts and have been disappointed I haven’t written more of them.
- A couple of people said I tend to come off as arrogant or egocentric.
In regards to posting more, I do actually write every day and have several hundred posts sitting in my drafts that are either just rambles, half finished, or I just don’t think they’re worth posting. I try to keep the quality of the posts as high as possible and therefore only publish stuff I think is 100% worth publishing, and it takes me a long time to edit a post to get to that point (at least a week). But this year I did resolve to write even more and publish more. I published 27 posts last year, which is only once every two weeks (that’s not much).
As for photos, I don’t consider myself much of a photographer, and during my trip to Europe I did try and keep an active Instagram for most of the time. Improving my photography was a goal of mine this year, so just know that I’m working on it!
As for the navigation on the blog, that was actually one of the weaknesses in my site that came up in a blogging course I’m currently doing. I’ve revamped it a little on both the menu up top, the Start Here page and the blog homepage. I’m tweaking a lot of things around the site as we speak, so keep an eye out.
Is there a particular blog post of mine that really helped or inspired you? Which one was it?
These were the top 10 (in order):
The reasons you gave varied, from being hugely practical to inspiring you to travel more to just being relatable to your own life and giving you comfort/motivation/perspective. Quite a few stories came up here, I suppose because they tend to be more memorable than the tips/guides, but overall a good mix.
I believe all things in our life influence each other. So IF you’re willing to share, what is the one thing you are struggling with most in your life right now? It can be related to absolutely anything.
I actually expected most of you to skip this one, but it was the most answered (by far) out of all the open ended questions.
In the spirit of sharing, here are the things that came up most often (in order):
- Money, by a million country miles, was the most common answer. Either not earning enough, too much debt, struggling with saving, buying stupid things. Probably every third answer was money related.
- Work-related problems was next. Either working too hard, hating “that bitch” that sits next to you at work, not loving your job – things along those lines.
- Third most common was purpose. Many of you felt like you were floating through life, not really doing anything meaningful, wasting your life doing pointless things. A lot of you expressed you were looking for something to believe in and dedicate your life to.
- The fourth was problems relating to depression, feeling inadequate, lacking self confidence to chase your dreams, fear of failure, or lacking motivation.
Equally common was problems with relationships. Many of you were unhappy in relationships, or dealing with a serious problem in a marriage, dealing with divorce, or conversely, dealing with loneliness.
- The last categories with frequent answers were health and family. Either dealing with a condition of your own or of a loved one. Also family problems in general, such as caring for elderly parents, struggling with parenting, and some of you were dealing with recent deaths of loved ones.
Also, for those of you that took the time to respond, please don’t let this seem like I’m just slotting you into boxes; I did my best to read all of your answers as individual answers and was actually really honoured that many of you shared such personal things with me. This was easily the most helpful question of the whole survey and I’ll be printing your answers out and reading through them regularly to see what I can do to really help you push forward in your lives. I might even frame them and carry them around the world with me (okay I’m kidding).
The things I’ll be changing
This was a lot of data, and I’m still sorting through it, but here are the concrete things I’ll be looking to change in light of your responses.
- Creating a posting schedule and sticking to it. I don’t post as regularly as most blogs, but I definitely know I can post more. I’ll aim for 50 posts this year.
- Taking better photos. I actually have quite a good camera, so I just need to learn to use it, which I will do.
- Writing more posts about money. I’ve resisted writing about this topic because I never wanted this to become a money-oriented blog, but just seeing the huge amount of people who struggle with this aspect of their life was quite revelatory. Because of my finance background I’m very read and familiar with this topic too, so there’s actually a lot for me to write about. Expect more content around this subject this year.
- Writing more about non-travel topics and my own journey with purpose/motivation/fear – I felt like I had already written everything I could say about a lot of these things, but there is always more. As was clear in the responses many people struggle with purpose and motivation, as do I every single day. It’s not an easy topic to write about but I will aim to share more thoughts around this.
- Writing more features/guest posts for other sites.
Thank you SO MUCH (high five, high five, woop) for everyone who took the time to answer the survey, I was really flattered to receive so many responses, and as you can see they’ve given me a lot of reading and things to think about. I like to think this blog is as much about you as it is about me, so your answers have given me the perfect resource to take things forward. I’ll make sure 2017 is the best year yet.
Lastly, if you didn’t get a chance to answer the survey but would like to, you’re still welcome to leave any contribution in the comments below, I’ll make sure it gets added to the mix.
See you all in “the future” (ha ha)