Colorado Gal Survey: Analyzed

Happy Monday y’all! Now that I’m actually back at work, I’m totally remembering the value of a weekend. I was lucky enough to fill my Saturday with CrossFit and rock climbing, and head out for beers and friends on Sunday. Not too shabby!

PicMonkey Collage

I also took the time last night to sit down and analyze the results of my survey on Friday. For those of you that haven’t taken it, don’t worry – it’s still open and I’d love to receive more responses. However, for those that filled it out, thank you! I was fortunate enough to get a couple hundred responses, and I read through each and every one. Some answer were informative and helpful, some made me crack up with laughter, and others left me in a bit of a quandary. Let’s discuss, shall we?

(And for the record, the survey is completely anonymous, except for the few of you that chose to identify yourself.)

What do you like most about my blog?

Hands down, y’all clearly like hearing about my outdoor adventures! In fact, 92% of you said that was your favorite part of my blog, which made me totally happy. I guessed it would be up there, but I never thought it would almost unanimously be the favorite topic. Luckily, I like to play outside so I’m happy to offer up more outdoor adventures for everyone! (In fact, stay tuned—our Alaskan backpacking adventure is coming together nicely and I have lots of details to share!)

However, not all of the outdoor-related responses were positive:

Dangerous

Out of all the comments I received, this one probably bothered me the most, and for a couple reasons. First of all, I honestly don’t feel that I find myself in too many dangerous situations. My recent snowmobiling debacle is the only one that comes to mind, but in reality, we weren’t in that much trouble. Perhaps I have a different qualification in regards to what is or is not dangerous? Likewise, I don’t feel like I act irresponsibly in the outdoors. In fact, I believe that I am the opposite. I took my Avi course before getting involved in backcountry skiing, I took multiple bike maintenance courses before my bike trip in 2005, and I have taken some entry-level medical courses (CPR, AED, First Aid, etc.) just to be on the safe side. I’m even looking at a Mountaineering School this summer, even though I have years of experience under my belt. I’ve been out of that realm for a few years and realize that my tech skills with pointy objects may be a bit rusty. So, in order to be safe, Will and I are looking at a mountaineering intensive.

Do I participate in outdoor sports that are inherently dangerous? Yes, I do, and I know that. However, there is a reason that neither me or my outdoor partners have ever been seriously injured or harmed: we are careful and take the necessary precautions. I’m 31 years old and I’ve never even broken a bone. As much as I love the outdoors, I am not willing to die for it! Perhaps I don’t convey this enough because of my typical light-hearted style of writing. If that’s the case, then I suppose an apology is in order. However, I am curious about this comment on my survey and I wish I could better understand the thought process behind it. I know this was anonymous, but if the writer is willing to discuss it further, I’d love an email! If not, no worries—I understand that too 🙂

What do you like least about my blog?

For most of y’all, CrossFit seems to be the least favorite topic! However, this one was a bit mixed and the results were hard to interpret. For example, 25% of you said CrossFit was your least favorite but then 23% said it was your favorite. Tricky, tricky. However, a few of you requested tips on how to do CrossFit at home:

CrossFit How To's

Guys, this is something I’m not comfortable with because I am not a certified coach, or even out of the “beginner” category of CrossFit. Even more, I’m not a personal trainer, so in reality, I’m not qualified to be telling anyone what to do! I’m a qualified ski instructor, an experienced dance teacher, and a confident outdoor guide, but that’s about it 🙂

How long have you been reading my blog?

I don’t imagine most of you care about this answer but in case you do, it turns out 40% of you have read my stories for over a year! That made me so happy that so many of you have stuck around for that long. Thanks, friends!

What would you like to see more of on my blog/Any tips for improvement?

Y’all, thank you so much for taking the time to fill these questions out! I wondered if most of you would skip these since they weren’t multiple choice (I know we’ve all done that!), but almost all of you took the time to respond. Seriously, I really appreciate it.

Looking at your answers really made me think. In certain instances, your responses completely canceled each other out. For example, here are two responses I received when I asked what you’d like to see more of:

Personal Bits

Kinda funny, huh? These answers actually came through back to back, which is why I noticed them so quickly. For the most part, however, it seems like most of you want to hear more about my personal life. I had a few suggestions for a “day in the life” post…. Would you be interested in that? I’d be happy to write one occasionally! However, on the personal level, I’d like to explain a couple of things.

job

I realize I don’t talk about my job on the blog a lot, but that is completely intentional. As most of you know, my family owns a landscaping business of which I am the manager. However, I deal with a lot of personnel stuff (i.e. our staff), as well as a litany of other things that come along with a small business. Often times, I don’t mention anything at work because of legalities: I can’t really discuss personnel stuff because they haven’t agreed to that. Plus, I like to respect the privacy of my staff. Even if I don’t mention names (obviously), it’s not very cool for me to tell stories about them online, you know? However, I also do a lot of designs for our company (specifically annuals), and I’m happy to show off some of those if you’re interested.

viola

I also received a couple comments (albeit less than I expected) about all of the free stuff that I receive in regards to paid reviews:

Spoiled

Obviously, comments like this aren’t fun to read but I sincerely appreciate the honest feedback, and I’d like to address as much of it as I can. First of all, I completely understand on the spoiled aspect. In fact, I tend to agree. I do receive a lot of stuff for free and for this, I do feel very spoiled. I may not show it or write about it enough, but I feel so incredibly fortunate to have made the connections that I have made through my blog and my other freelance writing stuff. And sometimes, yes, it is downright absurd to look at how much gear I receive. And for that, I do think that I am spoiled, and I apologize if I don’t express that enough.

However, I disagree that working with multiple companies is disingenuous. In fact, I believe the exact opposite. In my opinion, it is fake when bloggers or writers talk about how they only wear one brand of outdoor clothing (for example). I love Columbia Sportswear and have a great deal of clothing by them, but it would be a complete lie to say that they are my only outdoor gear provider. I love their stuff for more mellow adventures like day hiking, but I use a completely different arsenal of gear when I go on my high alpine mountaineering excursions. Additionally, I play in a lot of different areas: road biking, running, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing…. the list goes on. Each one of those categories taps into at least a dozen different companies, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t use a lot of them. Actually, feel free to check out my My Gear list to see an insanely old and outdated list of my outdoor gear. Although it’s not updated (at all!), you’ll get a feel for what I’m saying; there are at least two dozen companies listed on there.

Annnnnd last but not least on this topic, the sponsored posts. As ridiculous as this sounds, I’d estimate that I only say yes to a quarter of the opportunities I’m presented with. However, I talked to Will about this the other day, and I definitely agree that the past few months have been insane with product-related posts. I think it all snuck up on me during my off months from work, but I have to uphold my end of the bargain with companies. Fair is far, right? However, I made this realization a month ago and have been shutting it down, so to speak. Does that mean there won’t be any more sponsored posts? Nope. In fact, I have another sponsor-related giveaway this week. However, it does mean that I turned down every single opportunity that I received over the past three weeks. Literally. So while there are a still sponsored posts coming, it will definitely be an infinite fraction of what you have recently seen.

Tals and me

Other than that, I gathered that y’all want lots more of photos and Tally! Naturally, I’m happy to oblige.

Oh, and someone did mention this:

Will Dreamy

Can’t say that I disagree!

********************

How do you feel about the personal details questions: would you like to see more or less?

Thoughts on any of the topics I mentioned above?

53 Comments

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    I like the personal details, I think they make it more interesting. I don’t mind the sponsored posts either, I like reading about new products and other peoples opinions about things. and I like lots of Tals to!

    • Reply heather at

      I thought it was funny that so many of y’all said to add more Tals! Naturally, I’m happy to oblige 🙂 I think she is itching to write another guest post anyway!

  • Reply Miz at

    Id love more crossfit posts.

    • Reply heather at

      Point taken! I’d love for my CrossFit coach to do a guest video at some point like a reader suggested below, but that’s totally up to them 🙂

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    Love hearing all of the feedback. I’m all for more personal stuff since it’s more like we’re together than a couple states apart and keeps me up to date on what’s going on in your life. Then again, with all of our emails and texts how can we not stay up to date?!

    • Reply heather at

      I did, too. Although not all of it easy to hear, I think it’s good to gather opinions like that. Sometimes you get so myopic (with anything) that it takes outside responses to allow you to see the bigger picture, you know?

      And this is true 🙂 Have we emailed lately? Tell me a story!

  • Reply Shelly at

    I love personal details but not personal drama. ( haven’t read that kind of stuff here) it’s nice to see the whole person who gets you have such amazing adventurers. and everyone loves photos don’t they?!!

    • Reply heather at

      I’m a pretty miserable photographer which definitely shows up with all my iPhone photos 🙂 But Will is obviously great at it and he doesn’t mind shooting for my blog, so I suspect I’ll have some wonderful photos of all my adventures this summer.

  • Reply Christina at

    I don’t mind the personal details either … it allows us to know you as a person aside from your outdoor adventures, gear reviews, and sponsored posts 🙂 As for the crossfit posts, would one of the coaches from your box be willing to do a guest post/video perhaps since you mentioned you didn’t feel comfortable doing it yourself at this time?

    • Reply heather at

      That’s a really good idea! I’ll have to check with them, obviously, but that would be great. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply Kaitlyn at

    I don’t do sponsored posts (I’m not big enough to even get proposals or get paid for my blog) but I do do a lot of gear reviews and I did a post on my opinion of them last summer.Personally, I am always googling gear reviews before I buy gear. It’s expensive and I want to know what people say about it. Blogs are the best to read because you usually get people who really use it and will give you an honest opinion. So, with all the gear buying and gear reading I do, I think it’s good to give back.

    • Reply heather at

      I agree with you on the gear reviews– I do it too! I think outdoor gear, in particular, can be tricky and blogs are the best way to investigate before throwing down the cash. You just have to make sure you trust the blogger and that it isn’t a “paid opinion.” I realized the other day that I enjoy video gear reviews because you can see how to use things/how they work, which is a lot easier to convey via video than writing. How do you feel about those?

      • Reply lynne @ lgsmash at

        i agree with both of you – alex (my husband) wants to hijack my blog on fridays going forward to share gear reviews too. like you both said, it’s exactly how we research what we want to buy and, truthfully, alex watches product videos and demos ALL. THE. TIME. so he wants us to start doing it too – it’s so helpful!

        • Reply Heidi Nicole at

          I’m really hesitant to trust any gear review I see online – mostly because a lot of them end up being sponsored, which usually means even if the writer highly disliked the product they won’t flat out say it. I get that from the company/relationship stand point but it doesn’t help me. For this reason I harass people I know IRL for gear info. That being said – I’d totally read Alex’s reviews! 😉

          • heather at

            See, that’s no bueno! If I dislike something, I won’t lie. I’m not willing to lie for anyone, regardless of the hook-up. If I truly hate something or really just think it’s not something I’m willing to advocate for, I’ll contact the company and tell them. Usually they pull the review if it’s sponsored. If it’s something I bought, then I have no problems saying that it sucks 🙂

        • Reply heather at

          I think most people do! I do some testing for Backpacker and we’re now asked to submit a video review of our products in addition to the written review. It’s for the iPad version of the magazine, but I’ve had so many people tell me that they love the videos. I definitely think it’s a growing market.

      • Reply Kaitlyn at

        I keep thinking that I should start doing videos. I just bought some new snowshoes and the reviews talked about tricky bindings.seeing them on a video would have been helpful. Heather is right- they should be honest- good and the bad

  • Reply Kammie @ Sensual Appeal at

    Awesome. I just did a survey bout my own blog too and I’ve found a lot of great responses too. Many of which cancelled each other out too but it’s still really interesting to see what people say!

    • Reply heather at

      Agreed. But I guess everyone has different opinions, so lots of conflict is bound to happen! 🙂

  • Reply Ed at

    cool i am glad the survey worked out for ya! And I say too bad to whoever made the comment about your oops moments…they make outdoor adventure fun! And hey I survived Alaska with waaaayyy too many of those moments, I am sure your doing okay 😉

    • Reply heather at

      I see both sides of it 🙂 Oops moments definitely make for great stories later, but I also don’t want anyone to think I’m enabling dangerous or irresponsible outdoor behavior. If that’s a comment opinion, than I definitely need to be aware of it, you know?

  • Reply Ingunn at

    Hah, the more personal bits comment is mine – there are sooo many blogs to choose from on the intertubes that the only ones I end up reading consistently are the ones I feel like I have a “personal connection” with.

    • Reply Ingunn at

      Oh, and the danger comment left me puzzled. I guess people have very different comfort- and experience levels. Some of my friends used to think that our night hikes were reckless, but once they tried it themselves, they realized how straightforward it is (and saw that we were well-prepared).

      • Reply heather at

        I definitely think you’re onto something because my mom used to be terrified at some of the stuff I do, but the more I’ve done it, the more comfortable she is. So many people even told me I should be terrified to go to Haiti or South America, and I strongly disagree with those opinions. So, you’re right… it’s relative.

  • Reply Carly D. @ CarlyBananas at

    I think it’s really great you posted the responses to the survey, even ones that you didn’t love. You’re never going to be able to make everyone happy but taking the feedback is a great way to maximize your readers’ experience. 🙂

    • Reply heather at

      I knew there would be stuff I didn’t like, but it’s part of the game, you know? And I hate when blogs purposely moderate comments or surveys or whatever to hide the negative and act like everything is rainbows and sunshine. That’s not real and we all know it! 🙂

  • Reply Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie at

    I love the idea of taking inventory like this and conducting a survey. I may have to steal this, thank you!

    • Reply heather at

      Of course! I actually thought of it after reading The Sweet Life of Ericka, because she did one not so long ago. Survey Monkey is pretty user friendly too!

  • Reply Tori at

    I love the personal bits. It makes you more real. Too many bloggers try to make their lives sound perfect, and it can get a little discouraging. It’s cool that you used a survey to see what people love/hate about the site, but it makes me a little ticked off that people used it as a way to show their jelousy and hate. I hope you don’t take it to heart. Also, I love the sponsored posts. I am SO a review-reader before I buy anything, and I have purchased a lot of stuff you have shown and loved! Keep doing what you do, girl. It’s perfect!

    • Reply heather at

      The majority of y’all like the personal bits, so I’ll try to include them more often. I recently did a post re: the perfection concept in blog world because I’ve had a lot of people tell me the same thing. I don’t like to dwell on the negative but it is part of life, you know? https://www.justacoloradogal.com/2013/03/im-not-perfect.html

      I”m glad my reviews have worked out for you! Any purchases in particular that you’ve loved?

      • Reply Tori at

        OMGosh, I could go on for awhile about all the stuff I have loved! My favie so far (which is super random, and maybe surprising) is the REI slipper-boots. Holy moly, I have worn those so much since I got them, and everytime I wear them, I get comments about how amazing they look! (That made it sound like I rock them in public- nope, just have a lot of friends popping in on the weekends…) All my friends want them! I also like the food ideas you have done, and have been able to incorporate more flax and chia into my diet because of the cool ideas you show.

        • Reply heather at

          Those slippers are awesome!! So darn cozy and warm, and so perfect for cold-weather camping or hut trips. The hard sole is clutch!

  • Reply Kayla at

    Wow! There are some strong opinions out there!! Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen your blog change so much; I just enjoy reading about what’s going on in your life since we only hang out like every 6 months! 🙂

    • Reply heather at

      Well, there were plenty that were far more mellow but those don’t warrant a whole post 🙂 And yeah, it’s crazy to see all the changes! Have you ever seen my first-ever post back in 2005 before my bike trip?! https://www.justacoloradogal.com/2005/08/first-one-ever.html It’s so ridiculous that it’s almost embarrassing, but I like to look back. It’s almost like a dairy, you know?

      • Reply heather at

        And by dairy, I clearly meant diary. Geesh.

  • Reply eric at

    Sweet – my comment made it here… now….. which onnnneeee was it 😉

    • Reply heather at

      Hmmm, tricky tricky! Do you find Will dreamy?! I’m telling Sheila! 🙂

  • Reply Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning at

    I took the survey (as you know), but will tell you anything I wrote to your face! 🙂
    I love hearing about your outdoor adventures the most. It’s how I found your blog in the first place, and what made me initially fall in love with it so much! I’d love to hear more personal details, because I know that you are a fantastic person.
    I probably said that Crossfit is my least favorite topic, but I really don’t feel like you talk about it that much (I think the majority of your Crossfit promotion/discussion is via Instagram). It’s nothing against YOU- I am kind of just sick of hearing about it everywhere I go. I get that it’s a great workout, but I get burnt on anything that is the big hot trend of the moment and hear about over and over. (Then again, I talk about Bodypump and Spinning a lot- because I love it and it’s my job!). I must say that I am glad that you haven’t been posting all about Paleo- which a lot of Crossfitters seem to do.
    Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re great!

    Also- I love that comment about Will. I didn’t write it- but I agree! 😉

    • Reply heather at

      I can see that– I feel that way about anything that gets hammered into my face. I feel like running went through that phase, yoga went through that phase, spinning definitely did, and now it’s CrossFit. It’ll simmer eventually but I can also see where it’s mind numbing for those that don’t like it. Lots of numbers and acronyms that don’t mean anything to you!

      And I’ll pass your compliment onto Will…he is totally going to blush when he sees this!

  • Reply Andrea at

    I’m a little confused– this might sound like a stupid question, but what exactly is a sponsored post? Do the companies pay you to review their product/how much do they pay? How do they find you/blogs?

    • Reply heather at

      That’s a good point. In my experience, sponsored posts are one of two types: first of all, companies or brand names will send you gear for free in exchange for an honest review. This type happens more frequently. The second type is when a company agrees on a set payment amount in exchange for posts, tweets, etc. This is less common, but quite a few bloggers do make money this way. I make some money on my blog (not enough to live on, but enough to pay my student loan payment!), but the majority of my sponsored posts fall into the first category. And as for how they find me…not sure! I’ve had a lot of companies tell me that they find me on Twitter and that leads them to my blog 🙂 If you have any other questions, feel free to email me!

  • Reply Dave Sandel at

    Love your idea of having a gear list. Though, now that I’ve put more than 0.2 sec. of thought into it, it could just seem like bragging. I’d be totally guilty of that. :-p

    As a fellow blogger that gets some free stuff (though, not nearly as much as you), I can relate to how difficult it is to say no. It’s not just a desire to get free gear (cuz let’s face it, gear is awesome), it’s also a desire to make connections. There is an unspoken amount of pressure that goes into accepting anything. “What if you say no or give them a poor review? Would they contact you again?” If they don’t, have you just severed a future contact or potential business relationship? As someone that has rang the death tolls on a free product review, never to be contacted by that company again, free stuff is not always fun ‘n games, and I needed to be conscious of the potential consequences before pushing “publish”.

    Good for you for being more selective. And in a way, it just speaks to the success you’ve had.

    • Reply heather at

      Ha, my gear list is totally outdated– I need to overhaul it, but that involves finding the time!

      And yeah, it can be hard to say no, especially at first when it’s new and exciting to receive boxes in the mail. After awhile though, I’ve learned to really only accept stuff that I was honestly interested in and/or needed. Most of the time, I’ve researched the product beforehand. That way, the review is honest and I’m not having to deal with the possibility of thinking it’s the worst item on the face of the planet…because you’re right, that sucks!

  • Reply Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections at

    Wow! The way that you’ve handled all these responses is amazing.

    It’s amazing what people will say when they’re anonymous, huh? I feel so sad for some of the people who posted some comments because they are so one-sided. Thanks for opening up about your side of the story in such a tasteful and pleasant way.

    Life as a blogger is SO not easy, and people think we all have to be perfect… It’s so annoying. you’re doing a great job, though. And I really enjoy your blog 🙂

    • Reply heather at

      Thanks Melissa 🙂 Sometimes anonymous means nasty, but I think sometimes it just allows people to say what they want without fear of being embarrassed or accused of something. Sooooo, I get it even if I don’t like it, you know? And glad you like my blog!

  • Reply Alyssa at

    I’m very disappointed that my comment didn’t make the post. Can you do another survey so I can anonymously complain?

    • Reply heather at

      Yes, please do. Then I’ll try to guess which one you are!

  • Reply Suzanne at

    I completely missed this whole survey thing so I’ll just say that I always enjoy seeing what’s going on with Tals and as long as I’ve been reading your blog you could talk about anything and it wouldn’t matter to me. I just enjoy whatever you have to say about what’s going on in your life.

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