Welcome to the CMBA Newsletter!
In this issue of our monthly newsletter, you will find an overview of the CMBA Members’ Forum, some things to think about when using surveys, and a behind-the-scenes look at Paul and Lori Byerly.
The following blogs joined CMBA since our last issue. Do visit their sites and share an encouraging word.
From the Forum
The CMBA Member’s Forum is a safe place for us, away from the eyes of our readers, where we can gain insight, encouragement, practical help, and prayers.
Have you visited the forum recently? Come by and take a look. Update your profile, post a question, and see if there are questions from others you can weigh in on.
If you’re new to the forum, you might find it helpful to start in the Getting Started area. You’ll find information about how to use the forum.
How Do I . . . ?
Using Surveys in your Blogging Ministry
By Chris Taylor, The Forgiven Wife
Surveys are a great way to learn about your readers’ experiences and ideas—but if you haven’t done one before, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some tips to get you started.
Decide what you want to learn.
Let’s say you have a vague idea that you’d like to learn about how married couples deal with in-laws. That’s a good subject, but it may not be enough to help you write clear questions that yield interesting and useful information. It helps to have a clearly defined subject or question. Asking about general issues with in-laws will give you a broad overview of information. Asking specifically about how to respond when in-laws offer unsolicited advice will give you more depth. Both the general and the specific have value, but it helps to know what you want.
Know what you plan to do with the survey results.
CMBA members have used surveys in different ways—to report on marriage-related subjects, to identify patterns of thought or behavior that can be used to encourage readers, help develop a sense of direction for the blog and blog topics, and to gather information that will be used for a planned blog post. Are you looking for data that can give you percentages or a ranking of some kind? Do you want people to write comments to give you some insight? If you have an idea what you want to do with the results, it will help you write a more effective survey.
Write your questions.
Consider the types of questions you want to ask, the order in which they appear, and the number of questions. The following links can guide you in writing your survey questions.
Choose your survey tool.
Two popular survey instruments are Survey Monkey and Google Forms. Survey Monkey can do some neat things with data analysis and is pretty easy for casual users. The free version limits you to ten questions and 100 responses. The user interface for Google Forms isn’t as slick, but you can export the results into a spreadsheet and do your own analysis.
A search for survey tools will show you quite a few other options as well. Look around until you find something that looks usable and meets your needs.
If your blog is a self-hosted WordPress site, you can find a number of plug-ins for surveys as well.
Work with your results.
For many of us, this is the fun part! It’s where we find out what our readers are thinking. You may find that some responses are just what you expected, whereas others are surprising in some way. The results can show you patterns and commonalities as well as interesting new information and insight.
Readers who responded to your survey will want to see the results. If you do a lot of surveys, consider having a category on your blog just for surveys. (See The Marriage Bed for an example.) You may want to write a few blog posts in which you discuss the results in depth.
A Couple Examples
The Forgiven Wife and Sex Within Marriage have both done recent surveys on premarital sex. While there is some overlap, they illustrate how surveys about the same subject for different purposes can look quite different.
The Sex Within Marriage survey asks primarily yes/no questions, with some open-ended questions where respondents can share a bit more if they like. Because yes/no questions are fairly quick to answer, Jay Dee can get away with asking a lot of questions. The questions ask about the kinds of premarital sexual activity as well as some general questions about contentment in the marriage. He uses the results to do some in-depth data analysis, which he shares here.
My survey, however, asks fewer questions. I want to gain some insight into women’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences to help me with an upcoming blog post. The emphasis is on the open-ended questions. Because these take a little more time and thought to answer than yes/no or multiple choice questions, I was careful to limit how many questions I asked. I am asking specifically about how women deal with any negative effects of premarital sex on their married sex life. While I’m interested in many of the things that Jay Dee asked about, I limited my survey to questions specifically related to the blog post I plan to write.
Are you on social media? Follow CMBA!
- Pinterest (If you would like to be added to CMBA’s collaborative Christian Marriage and Sex board, email Bonny at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Do you have an e-book, devotional, printable, or other resource that you’ve developed? Let us send a little love your way. If you have a resource that you’d like help promoting, send an email to Chris at email@example.com. A list will be included in a future newletter. It’s a great way to help us encourage each other and see what we’re all up to.
Behind the Blog
It’s fun to get to know the person (or people) behind a blog. The plan is that each newsletter will feature one blog. We will provide a list of questions; it’s up to the blogger which questions (or how many) to answer.
Meet Paul and Lori Byerly from The Marriage Bed (and The Generous Husband, The Generous Wife, and The XY Code)!!
Who we are and what we do: We are Paul and Lori Byerly, married 30 years and counting. Still being married is not amazing, but being ridiculously in love and happy is! We have three children, one of each (girl, boy, and imaginary). Between them they have given us three grand-babies… so far! Yes, what they say is true, grandchildren are God’s reward for having children.
Right now we’re all about hitting the road full time. God gave us an RV and our spare time is spent fixing and customising it to our wants and needs. God willing, we start driving the highways and byways of the US starting this fall. Hope to meet many of you!
To relax Lori does Zentangle and Paul tries new recipes – so far without poisoning anyone. We enjoy watching Sci-Fi and hanging with friends.
Blogs: First, yes, we’ve been doing this forever. We started in 1997 with a web site intended to be about marriage in general. Thing is, we were among the few Christians crazy enough to talk about sex and that’s all anyone wanted to hear from us. The Generous Wife and The Generous Husband blogs were started in 2001, in large part, to give us a place to write about more than just sex. In 2013 Paul started The XY Code because it’s not good for Paul to have too much free time on his hands.
I wish I’d Known – Paul: Someone will always show up to tell you you’re wrong. Putting more than a bit of time and energy into those people eats at you while doing nothing to help them. Offer help to those who want it, and be polite and short to those who don’t.
I wish I’d Known – Lori: It’s OK to do what you feel you are supposed to do (give yourself permission). People who want you to do differently are basically asking you to use your life to do their work. Politely say no and move on. Love all. Please One.
How I Write – Paul: Between the two blogs I do ten posts a week. Most weeks I do all ten on Sunday afternoon. I find I do much better work when I get into the flow and stay there. Images and editing come later.
How I Write – Lori: I try to carve out blocks of time to do the actual writing (usually a couple of times a week). My goal is to be a week or two ahead, especially as we start traveling.
Advice for New Marriage Bloggers – Paul: Just keep at it. Decide how often you want to publish and stick to it, if at all possible. Do a few extra articles so you can use them when life gets crazy. Don’t be a perfectionist. You get better by doing it over and over. (Thank God our early posts are not still online – we have gotten much better!) The second year is usually the worst, so keep going, knowing it will get easier again.
Advice for New Marriage Bloggers – Lori: Find your voice (what do you feel passionate about?). Stay true to that voice. Don’t do anything on your blog that you find annoying when you go to others’ blogs.
Final Thought: We thank God regularly for all of you! Going from feeling like a voice crying in the wilderness to one of many voices is a huge blessing. Keep up the great work and encourage others to join in!
Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net