Survey results are in: you guys are opinionated. In a good way. Mostly.

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Hey Y'all

Friends, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts last month in our big survey. It’s helped us plan out these next few months, as we anticipate major changes on the horizon. If anything, your answers have confirmed many of the things I’ve felt were true, and I agree with much of what you said. You’re awesome!

I also learned this: some of you are crazy opinionated. That’s not bad, of course—I appreciate your sincere feedback and your genuine heart that cares about this site. I’m honored that you want the work we do to work even better.

So here are a few things I’ve learned from the survey, and also through wisdom from others in my life recently about how I’m made and what I’m passionate about—stuff about you guys, about me, and about how I can best play on the Internet to tap into my strengths.

1. I can’t please everyone.

Of course, I already knew this was true. But it was REALLY evident when I read through all your feedback. It was funny, actually, how many of you all prefer different things. One reader would say one thing, followed by another reader saying the exact opposite.

Some of you feel like the posts are too long. Others of you feel like they’re too short.

Some of you felt like the posts are too much about working and running a business from home. Others of you feel like this site doesn’t have much for you, since you work and most of the content isn’t about working.

Some of you think we post too frequently. Others of you wished we posted every day.

Some of you wish we talked more about raising older kids. Others of you wished we wrote more about babies.

Some of you feel like the content has too much a religious bent. Others of you prefer that the writers and I be more open about what we believe.

Some of you wished the site was more just about me and my life. Others of you want me to write about myself less, and just to stick to the broad topic of living simply.

See what I mean? Impossible to please the masses. This discouraged me at first, but it doesn’t now, because I know the direction this site needs to take, and I’m excited about it. Your feedback has validated that—even the totally contradictory feedback. I’m taking it to heart. More on that soon.

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2. LOTS of you didn’t know about the other sites.

This completely and utterly blindsided me and the editors of the other sites. Apparently the slider at the top, the links in the navbar, and the latest post links on the other sites aren’t enough to remind you.

No worries at all. In fact, this is good to know, because it validates the direction we’re headed. The readers of the other sites don’t know about Simple Mom, either. This means we don’t share traffic as much as we thought we did. Interesting.

3. Some of you wish we had fewer ads and giveaways.

I get that—I do. Believe me. It’s a continual struggle for us as we are passionate about the benefits behind living simply, and yet this blog is our full-time job and puts food on the table for the kids. I understand that it sometimes looks contradictory to have ads on a site that’s about not having too much stuff.

Here are a few thoughts on that:

• We are picky about our ads.

Kyle spends a lot of every work day declining and approving ads. One of the conditions we gave our ad network when we joined three years ago was that we had to be given control about which ads land on our site. They made a special case for us, when we joined, and handed us the controls to approve and decline.

We turn down a lot of ads that don’t line up with our overall message. Believe me.

• We’re going to have fewer ads and giveaways.

I want you to know—the ads and giveaways tire me, too. So we’re going to have a bit fewer. There will still be some, because that’s how we keep the lights on this site, pay all our writers, and have some left over for us to put gas in the minivan. But yeah… fewer ads and giveaways sound really nice to me, too.

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Amazing artwork by Katie Daisy

• Living simply isn’t about having nothing.

I get that lots of people want more of a message about a minimalist lifestyle when they come to a site about living simply. But frankly, we’re not going to talk about that much, because that’s not how we actually live. We’d rather be honest. We’re real men and women around these parts, most of us parents, who live normal lives and are on a journey to make our lives simpler and richer with meaning.

I’m all about not having many toys in the house. But we still buy toys. I’m a big believer in not watching much TV. But we still watch it sometimes. I’d rather have ten items in my closet that fit perfectly than a hundred that fit so-so. But I still buy clothes.

Living simply is about living holistically with your life’s purpose. It’s not a backwards race to see who can survive on the least amount of stuff. At least, that’s what it means here on this site.

4. You guys are amazing.

Really. You are. The far majority of our feedback was positive, and it was a refreshing drink after reading some feedback that—well, wasn’t as much. I loved hearing how some of our words have changed your life for the better. It encouraged me so much to hear that many of you look forward to a new post in your inbox. I loved hearing that many of you who don’t share my faith feel completely welcome here, no matter what you believe (and you ARE—always welcome).

I hear that you’d like more community here, that you love hearing stories from everyday families finding ways to make their families function, and that you want more encouragement about making your life simpler. You got it—we’ll do our best over the coming months to bring you those things.

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So thank you, readers. During my book-writing time, and during this survey, Simple Mom’s five year anniversary quietly came and went. FIVE. YEARS. I can hardly believe it. I started this blog around the same time that many other bloggers who I now consider dear friends started theirs. My greatest blessings in blogging has been the people I’ve met—both other bloggers and the readers. You all have made my life so much better. I’m forever grateful.

Soon, I’ll share what this site will look like in the near future. I’m stoked.

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Comments

  1. Happy five years! :) Isn’t it crazy how this internet has changed in five years?

    I did a blog survey last year and was totally laughing at the conflicting answers you got, because ME TOO. “Talk more about breastfeeding!” was one comment literally followed by, “Don’t talk about breastfeeding at all. It’s creepy.” Ha. You can’t please everyone, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that or at least not strive after that.

    Count me as one person who’d love to hear more about running a business! I work from home as a web designer and love those kind of posts. Balancing work and family is a huge topic. So maybe if your readers on this site don’t like them, maybe new branch called Simple Business?? ;)

  2. avatar
    Megan Mattinson says:

    Congrats on 5 years! I have enjoyed your blog for about 2 of those! You do a lovely job! I see the link at the bottom that says “Top Image Credit” but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I LOVE that sign. Do you know where it’s from?

  3. Congratulations on the five year birthday. . .wow! I don’t see any of the other “Simple” sites because I always read Simple Mom on my Google Reader. I skim my reader in the morning before school, so I rarely take the time to click hyperlinks on any post. I don’t know if there’s a way to create a list of links at the bottom of an RSS feed showing the titles of the current posts on the other blogs in the Simple family, but that would be the most likely way to get cross traffic from those of us using readers.

    • Oh, we’ve got major changes on the horizon. You’ll see! :)

    • Same with me, Rebecca! I subscribe through a reader and rarely click through the links. But, the survey made me realize and I’ve added new subscriptions!

      Thanks for all of your hard work, Tsh and all!

  4. I want you to know that I think you’re great! You have spunk, real ingenuity and you’re a straight shooter with grace. I thought I’d let you know. And I would love for someday to cross paths again and sit to a good meal with red wine with you.

  5. Thanks, Tsh.
    Love the site, love the podcast, love what you are doing in your family, even if it is much different than my own. Thanks for asking for feedback ~ that took guts! & it took guts to work through your (sometimes emotional) responses to the feedback, take some steps to look at the big picture. Great post summing up the “stuff” that remained.
    Can’t wait to see the plans for the site as you unwrap it! Keep up the work, keep intentionally being who you are, before God & as an encouragement to those of us who hang out here with you :)

  6. I’m excited to see the changes and what’s on the horizon for you and the whole SLM network.
    You can’t please everyone and I appreciate your graciousness in how you respond. I love all the simple blogs! Sometimes I need to be reminded that there are other blogs out there. ;-)
    And I so appreciate the message you’re sending here, through your words, pictures, ads and life. =)

  7. Wow! Sounds like this is all going really well for you! SO glad to hear! I just recently launched my blog January 1st. I had been praying about what I could do to bring in more income for my daughter and I without being away from her anymore than I already have to be. As crazy as it sounds, God led me to starting my food blog! So funny because I had NO idea you could even make money off a blog, which I’m not at that point, but just through being obedient so far in what I am able to do it’s been AWESOME seeing God come through, meet me and take me to the next step. That being said, I am a TOTAL newbie at all the internet stuff so I would appreciaty any tips or advice you might have. :)

    Love your honesty in all that you share!

  8. I typically only read in my feed reader, so unless I already subscribe to your sister blogs, or mention it specifically in a post, I won’t likely see it.

  9. That is so awesome that so many different people with so many opposing opinions come to your sites. Good work, Tsh! In a way you are pleasing everyone. Giving each set of opinions what they need want at times, just not all the time. Raising kids in NYC has taught me to politely respond to opinionated people on the street by saying, “thank you for your concern,” when they tell me what I’m doing wrong as a mother. There are a lot of very opinionated people.

  10. your response to the survey reminds me of what i’ve come to love about you- you are a person of grace! thanks for making that clear through all of your posts.

  11. Hi,
    I remember stumbling upon your blog, probably about five years ago, when it was only simple mom. I never commented much ( I was internet shy then ) I know this because my son was a baby then, and now he is in kindergarten. And I think you were just having your second child and living in the middle east. Amazing how I know this, and how amazing it is for me to follow your journey and watch your blog grow! I actually enjoy the variety of posts. I don’t read the other sites too much, mostly because they do not all apply to me. I do not homeschool , and I was feeling depressed reading about homeschooling because currently I am not in a situation where I can, and we have special diets so I mainly read “special diet” blogs. Anyway, sorry for all the chatter, just felt like sharing! I look forward to following this blog in whichever direction God decides to take you.
    Kate
    Ps. While I am a Christian also, I really appreciate your attitude of welcoming everyone. That really sets a peaceful and welcoming tone to your space. I get very turned off by Christian blogs who are close minded and are not welcoming to those of other beliefs.
    “Jesus loves me, so I can love others”. :)

  12. Ah, it’s funny to do reader surveys. I came to the same conclusion after doing one last fall — you can’t please everyone! But overall themes do emerge and that’s what is valuable. So fun to think about strategic direction and new projects! :)

  13. I didnt’ do the survery, but I read your site nearly everyday! Actually, finding your book, Organized Simplicity, free on my Kindle is what introduced me to you and the world of blogs (love the book, BTW). I am a stay at home mommy now, but I used to teach and I totally get what you mean by never pleasing everyone. I was told I was too strict, not strict enough, gave too much homework, didn’t give enough homework…you get the idea. I learned early on I just had to do what in my heart I felt was right. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see what changes you have in store for us! :-)

  14. Love you much, Tsh!!!! Thanks for everything.

  15. As for #2, for those of us who read the blog in an RSS reader we don’t see anything but the post. I’ve never traveled to the site except to leave this comment. Even now, it isn’t obvious. Don’t worry too much about survey outlier responses.

  16. I really felt stupid that “the slider at the top, the links in the navbar, and the latest post links on the other sites” weren’t enough to remind me. But, if you are reading on Google Reader or RSS those things don’t show up.

  17. what Susan said. I subscribed after I saw your daily docket download on another blog and have only followed through google reader since then. Now I’m excited to check out the other sites!

  18. Just speaking as an experienced marketing person: You’re going to get conflicting feedback, but you have to pick a direction. You do that by selecting a direction that’s either most aligned with what you want to do or the direction that’s most aligned with the greatest profit, or some combination. Generally that means associating a type of feedback with a type of user, and deciding which type of user you want most to address. When you try to please everyone, as you see, you end up pleasing no one. I’m sure you know that already; I am one who could use less religious content, but it doesn’t bother me at all, and yet I may not be in your most-profitable demographic!

  19. Hey everyone – Yep, I know you don’t see the “extra” stuff that shows you the other sites—that’s okay! You don’t need to confess or anything. :) Thanks, though.

  20. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    My 3rd child was born in March 2008, a few months after Simple Mom began, and I discovered it when she was a few months old. That was a hard, hard time in my life, and I remember reading post after post here trying to create some order to those crazy days. It was a blessing then and it’s a blessing now! Thank you for all you do to make it such a special place. I remember reading an interview you did and you talked about why you blogged anonymously. I’m so glad to know the “real” you, and the editors at the other sites, a little better now!

  21. Congratulations on the 5-year anniversary! You’re about as old as my daughter:-) which is also when I started reading you.. I have been inspired, amazed, touched and humbled by everything you do and the grace with which you do it.. Here’s to many more amazing years to come for the SLM community:-)

  22. Funny that you started just before I started reading. You have been and remain my favorite blog and a constant source of inspiration. Thank you for how you contribute to my life, Tsh. Please keep it up!

  23. Tsh,
    I didn’t get around to the survey though I had really planned on it! Just want to send a hug your way and say that you are all doing a fantastic job! Really, truly. Great work. You encourage my heart often.

  24. avatar
    claire sitting at the kitchen table in the UK says:

    Happy Birthday Simple Mom, I’ve only been following you on/off for 6 months but I really enjoy the articles and podcasts. Thanks for being a great source of inspiration. I love the fact your articles are so thought provoking and I’ve learned LOADS about technology from your podcasts.

  25. Can’t wait!

  26. I’ve been a reader for several years now, although I rarely comment. Your posts very often encourage and inspire me. I also read Incourage, and have come to recognize your writing voice before I even know whose post I am reading =)
    Thanks for being honest and genuine!

  27. Regarding #2. I meant to mention this in the comments when I took the survery. I don’t read the other sites anymore because they are not on your sidebar with the titles of recent posts. When the titles are there staring at me, I am prompted to go read the ones that interest me. When the site links and their titles are not there I just can’t be bothered to go find them. All to say, put them back up and I think many of us would be prompted to visit them.

  28. I so appreciate that you let us know the feelings from the survey. Every survey I have ever tallied had the opposites you received. Always found that funny. And I am thrilled you recognize that living simply doesn’t mean living with mattresses and two plates; there are other sites for the”bare bones” approach. I have learned so much from your sites, and this year I plan to check our the ones I’m not as familiar with!

    Thank you for your writings, for sharing yourself and your family.

    Happy Anniversary!

  29. avatar
    Loretta S. says:

    EXCITED to see the new changes coming here! I trust your direction for the site and will be excited to see where the next paths lead….

  30. Wow… That was a good read… so interesting to see all the different readers you have and one thing in common… they all love it!!! It feels like five years was when a whole load of my favourite bloggers began… well done on five brilliant years, gotta say I’ve loved them all!!!

  31. Have really enjoyed reading Simple Mom for a couple years now. I started with your cloth diaper series (which I tell everyone considering cloth diaps to read) and have come back for the practical and informative articles with a gracious and witty voice. Thanks for doing what you do with excellence.

  32. Hi Tsh,
    I’ve never left feedback before, but I want you to know I APPRECIATE YOU, your ideas, your service to women, and your encouragement. I try to visit once a week and catch up on everything in the Simple community. You’re doing great work and most of us grateful readers do what any responsible consumer does: we absorb what we need when we need it and we acknowledge that if something doesn’t apply, someone else probably needed that message today and we can feel grateful for that. Because every woman who walks away from SimpleMom feeling nourished is going to bless this earth and we can all be grateful for that whether we’re stay at home moms, business owners, people who keep Bounty papertowels in business or people who have paperless homes. None of the differences matter as long as each take what they need and nourish their homes with it. So thank you and I’m glad you’re able to see feedback objectively and be gentle with yourself…and others. You’re a gem and I appreciate you.

  33. This was a really interesting read. Thank you very much for sharing a summary of the results and looking forward to any changes it has promoted.

  34. I used to see the most current posts from the other sites in the sidebar but noticed a few months ago they weren’t showing up. I have to go to the “simple living” at the top and actually go to the site. However, I do see the posts for the remaining sites (including Simple Mom) after clicking over, to Simple Kids for instance. This makes it much less obvious to a newcomer that there are sister sites but I assumed this was an intentional change.

  35. This was a really interesting read. Thank you very much for sharing a summary of the results and looking forward to any changes it has promoted.

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