I’ve been running a survey of food blog readers as part of my master’s research project. I’ve just closed the survey, and thought I’d share some of the responses. My research looks specifically at recipe blogs (rather than restaurant review blogs), so the questions are more focused around recipes.
In the end, I surveyed 130 people who read food blogs. Of these readers, 71 (55%) had their own food blog, and 59 (45%) were non-bloggers. I’ve filtered the results to look at some of the differences, when it comes to reading blogs, between bloggers and non-bloggers. In my project, I have considered readers as important community members, although they can be invisible and difficult to access at times (unlike bloggers, who are obviously more prominent).
So, first, some things about food blog readers that showed up in the survey that probably won’t surprise anyone:
- the majority (86%) of blog readers surveyed were women
- they were most commonly (47%) 25-34 years old, with the second most common age bracket being 35-44 (26%)
- bloggers seemed to follow more blogs than non-bloggers
- bloggers were more likely to comment on blogs than non-bloggers
- more bloggers have attended a blogging event than non-bloggers.
Using food blogs
Most of the respondents (83%) said that they read food blogs for inspiration and recipe ideas. For bloggers, the second most popular reason (79%) was to keep up to date with particular bloggers. For non-bloggers, the second most popular reason (73%) was to find recipes.
I was impressed that of the 130 participants, only one (1%) said they never cooked from blogs. Overall, 33 (25%) said they often cooked from blogs, 75 (58%) said they did sometimes and 21 (16%) said they rarely cooked from blogs. These figures were pretty similar for bloggers and non-bloggers.
Overall, people were more likely to trust the recipes on blogs, at least to some degree, than to not trust them.
Finding food blogs
Ninety per cent of readers (both bloggers and non-bloggers) said that they found new food blogs through links on other blogs. Internet searches and word-of-mouth were the second and third most common ways of finding blogs. Bloggers were more likely to use aggregator sites such as TasteSpotting to find blogs than non-bloggers were.
Using other food media
Both bloggers and non-bloggers were similar in their use of other food media. Cookbooks are evidently still popular, with 93% of respondents saying they use them, while 76.15% of respondents said they used food magazines, and 75% used other food-related websites.
About the blogger
Overall, most respondents (67%) said they were interested in knowing about the person writing the blog. Still, this leaves almost a third (33%) of readers saying it isn’t important for them to know about the blogger, which is perhaps surprising.
Non-bloggers were most interested in where the blogger lived (74%), while bloggers were most interested in what the blogger was like as a person (85%).
In the free text ‘other’ field, respondents commented that they were also interested in health issues, food politics, experience and credentials, food preferences, cultural background and their reason for blogging.
Comments and community
Almost all the bloggers surveyed read comments on blogs, with 46% saying they often did and 48% saying they sometimes did. Only 6% of bloggers said they only read comments rarely, and no bloggers said they never read comments.
Of non-bloggers, 27% said they often read comments, 51% said they did sometimes, and 20% said they rarely read comments. Only one respondent (1%) said they never read comments.
Perceptions as to why people commented on blogs varied between bloggers and non-bloggers. Most bloggers (94%) thought that people commented to interact with the community, while most non-bloggers (93%) thought it was to give feedback to the blogger.
When it comes to commenting themselves, 41% of bloggers commented often and another 55% said they commented occasionally, while no non-bloggers commented often and 58% did occasionally. Almost half (42%) of the non-bloggers never commented. Most non-bloggers (44%) said they didn’t comment because they didn’t have comments to make, and in the ‘other’ free text field some said that they didn’t comment because they were too lazy or couldn’t be bothered, didn’t have time, didn’t see the point seeing as the blogger didn’t know them, or didn’t think their input mattered.
Of the respondents who did make comments, bloggers were more likely to do so to engage with the blogger (88%), while non-bloggers were more likely to comment to give general feedback (70%).
Overall, the comments respondents had left on blogs were positive, with 98% saying they had left positive comments, while 44% had left neutral comments and only 18.63% had left negative comments.
Food bloggers, again perhaps obviously, were more likely to have attended a food blogging event, with 56% of the respondents saying they had and 27% saying they would like to. However, perhaps surprisingly as food blogging events are often exclusively for bloggers, 10% non-bloggers had attended an event, while 25% said they would like to.
What does this all mean? Well, I’m still working through that, but thought I’d share the results now for people to read without too much interpretation. This survey will be incorporated into my master’s thesis, which hopefully will be finished soon.