A Lot Of Things To A Lot Of People.

Note: It's kind of weird when you fill out an online survey and then it disappears into the abyss of the Internet, never to be heard of again, right? I hate that. Consider this to be a survey recap, a letter from the Editor, a State Of The Blog Address, all of the above....

I'm just going to be honest about this. I had a great deal of anxiety last week collecting responses from our reader survey. It felt like I was getting a report card coming off the tails of an especially exhausting month, both work-wise and personally. My son needed minor surgery in December, somewhat unexpectedly, and my husband quit the job he's had for nine years to pursue a new opportunity. Throw a few Christmas parties in the mix, twelve essays to edit, 200 calendars to sell, a workshop to plan, a couple of head colds, and, well, December was nothing short of chaos in our house. 

January is one of my favorite months, certainly not because of the weather (is anyone else going insane in their house all day with young kids?), but because of the hope and promise it holds for the year. I love a new beginning, a fresh start, a blank canvas to cast my dreams upon. 

In that sense, no matter what went down in December, January is actually the best time to do a reader survey. 

As I read through each and every comment, these survey results were basically one giant pep talk. To those of you who left sweet and encouraging notes at the end, I cannot thank you enough. 

Because I believe in transparency for this space, I wanted to share the survey results with our readers. If this interests you, I hope you enjoy it. If it doesn't, we'll be back to regular programming tomorrow.  

So, here we go! 

Most of you found Coffee + Crumbs through a blog or Facebook. I was a bit surprised to learn that 14% of you found our site through word of mouth, which is super flattering and also made me think that maybe my husband is onto something when he tells random moms at the park about us (he really does this -- it's adorable and weird). 

42% of you never listen to podcasts, whaaaaat? Don't worry, that's not going to stop us. A lot of you are listening to Serial, The Longest Shortest Time, This American Life, and Dear Sugar. Your favorite items in our shop are the greeting cards and printables, and some of you would love to see Mama t-shirts, coffee mugs, and journals added. 43% of you might be interested in signing up for a future writing workshop, which is great news because we are hoping to do more of those this year!

When we asked you what sets Coffee + Crumbs apart from other parenting sites on the Internet, almost all of you said the high quality of writing and the types of stories we tell. 84% of you would prefer a once-a-year pledge drive over us putting ads on the site, and we're really happy about that because that's what we prefer, too. Your favorite topics written about on Coffee + Crumbs are general thoughts on motherhood, new mom encouragement, and marriage. 

MANY of you left comments under topic suggestions -- some ideas were general, some were incredibly specific. The most repeated requests were for essays on step-parenting, a father's perspective, having a child with special needs, how to know when you're ready for kids, and how to know if you want to be a mother at all. Some of you asked us to write about our in-laws (you guys know the Internet is public, right?), and some of you asked for essays about older kids. I want to address that request specifically for a minute, if you'll let me. The oldest Coffee + Crumbs kid is eleven years old. The youngest is seven weeks old. The difference between writing about a seven week-old baby and an eleven year-old boy is substantial -- one involves boundaries and possible permission, the other does not. Truthfully, there is a lot about that line that I don't even understand yet, because my oldest child is three. But I do know this: as our children grow older, we are not always going to be able to write about them in the same way we do now. At some point, their lives and stories become more their own; they have their own feelings and their own right to privacy. I don't know when this shift happens exactly; I would guess it's different for every mom, for every kid, for every story. I guess what I'm trying to say is: writing about older kids can be.....complicated. That's not to say it cannot be done, that is only to say: our writing team is mostly made up of mothers to young children, and we can only write from where we are. We are figuring it out as we go along, and we are doing our best to honor our children and honor our stories, in that order. 

I would also like to say with encouragement: if you feel a story is lacking on Coffee + Crumbs, by all means, I hope you write it (and write it well) and submit to us. Our biggest takeaway from the topic suggestions was to actively pursue essays on step-parenting, special needs, and the time/anxiety/decisions that occur before becoming a mother (or deciding not to). We have a list of male writers that we'll be reaching out to this year, and plan to do a "Father Series" in the month of June in celebration of Father's Day. Husbands, get excited. 

75% of you are happy with our posting frequency of three times a week (which is great news for me because I cannot handle any more than that!). 89% of you don't care if an essay is written by the writing team or a guest writer, as long as the story is well-written. 

As for our Instagram feed, you want to see more about our writers, fun hashtag projects, writing prompts, more guest takeovers, and more real life mom moments. I think we can handle that!

When we asked about starting a newsletter, 60% of you said you'd like to see top secret content only available for subscribers (and boy do we have fun plans for this, wink wink), followed by an inspiring thought or quote to focus on for the month, and links to other blog posts about motherhood from around the web. Consider this newsletter a work in progress. We'll let you know when it's ready, and we'll give you another chance to subscribe to it. 

Demographics! 100% of you are women (I know that's not true, I just don't think any men filled out the survey, ha). 81% of you are in the 25-34 age range and 88% of you are parents. 72% of you have children ages 0-1, and 51% of you have children ages 2-4. AKA: the vast majority of readers on this site are mothers of young children. 

16% of you are pregnant (congrats!), and 11% of you are trying to get pregnant (good luck!). 68% of you have plans to become pregnant or adopt a child in the future. Note: we later realized we didn't put a "maybe" option for this question, and we're sorry for that oversight!

At the very end of the survey, we left it open-ended for comments. 95% of you wrote wonderful praise, that you love us and that we're your favorite mom blog on the Internet. 5% of you wrote that you think we are too depressing/too heavy/too whiny/too serious. And I want you to know that I can take that criticism (or at least, with a grain of salt). 

We would love to add more humor to our site, more quirky and upbeat and celebratory pieces. One of the things I really love about our writing team is that we all write from where we are. Some of us are not in seasons of sunshine and rainbows. Some of us just had our second and third babies. Some of us are in the trenches, as they say. Writing from where we are keeps us raw, grounded, vulnerable, and truthful. And to be honest, I think that is the one of the very best qualities of Coffee + Crumbs. 

As a whole, we are seeking more balance and diversity in our content this year, and appreciate your grace and patience while we work towards a more well-rounded discussion of motherhood. 

Overall, my dear friend Anna summed it up quite nicely when she said this:

We will never be all things to all people, but we can be a lot of things to a lot of people. 

I think that's a really good place to land. Thank you for letting us be a lot of things to you. I wake up every single morning grateful for this job, and I hope you always know that. The magic of this space is not lost on me. I am doing my very best to steward it well. 

In love and friendship, 
Ashlee Gadd