2012 Reader Survey Results and More by Donna Talarico

As a lit mag editor (and a marketer/PR person by trade), I was curious to know more about our audience. So between January and March 2012, Hippocampus Magazine surveyed its readers; seventy-three people responded to the anonymous survey. As promised, I’m sharing the results with our community. (view PDF of all charts here)

Before delving into the survey results, though, I thought we’d share some of our analytics recorded between May 1, 2011 and May 1, 2012:

  • 29,117 visits
  • 17,708 unique visits
  • 71,503 total page views
  • 2.46 average number of pages per visit
  • 59.94 – new visitors
  • 40.06 – returning visitors

Top Referrals to our website:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter – shortened URLs (t.co/)
  • NewPages.com
  • Twitter.com
  • Google searches
  • Poets & Writers


 Who are our readers?

The survey results show Hippocampus readers are from several generations. The largest age group falls in the 30-39 age range, followed by those 60 or older. While the number of submissions from women seems to outnumber those from men, I was a bit surprised at the gap in readership between men and woman. (Ladies, share Hippo with your male friends!) Literary magazines are often said to be read largely by other writers and our survey results prove that, as when polled about educational background, the largest percentage of our readers have an advanced degree in writing. Most work in the writing field, part-time or full-time.

Here is a chart to show more of these results:


More results from the survey, including publishing credits and professions can be found here.

How do our readers interact?

Hippocampus readers are loyal, as shown by our survey results. Of those polled, most have been visiting the site for more than six months. A monthly magazine, it is expected that the highest percentage of readers only visit once per month, so I was pleasantly surprised that 37% of readers visit between two to three times per month, followed very closely by the 36% that visit once per month. And our readers are pretty active with the magazine. Facebook interaction is most popular among readers, followed by Twitter.

Here are some charts to illustrate our audience interaction:

graph of how often hippo readers visit 37 percent 2 to 5 times per month

chart showing social media interact most popular is facebook

What do our readers want?

When asked what type of content readers preferred (and they could choose more than one answer), personal essays took the lead, followed by memoir excerpts. In the articles side of things, The Writing Life was the most sought-after content.

I was most pleased with the responses to the rating scale questions, where readers rated us Excellent, Very Good, Good or Fair (or NA) in nine areas. Our highest marks came in “Professionalism of Presentation”, something that makes me very proud. You can see the results below.

chart showing results of what readers want for content essay highest

Candid Responses

Finally, what warmed my heart the most were the answers to the open-ended question:

 “Take a moment to think about what you like about Hippocampus, as well as how we can improve our publication. Please take a moment to share some thoughts, ideas or other feedback.”

Here are the results of the 25 people who wrote in a response, overwhelmingly positive (note: pasting these verbatim from results; forgive any errors):

  • Since Hippocampus is growing by leaps and bounds and submissions are pouring in, perhaps the monthly published content – the regular submissions (memoir excerpts, personal essays, etc.) – can be increased. It would be great if Hippocampus could publish one or more PRINT editions per year.
  •  The look of the magazine is great. I love the images accompanying each piece and the most memorable component seems to increase engagement between readers and authors. The content I’ve read is strong and I like that it focuses on CNF. I like the newer columns on craft and the writing life as well. Keep up the great work!
  • To be perfectly honest, I acquired a bit of an attitude about your publication shortly after you began, and I have not read all that much of it. I would like to give it another try however. I think I missed receiving a few of your editions.
  • I like the variety of writing in the magazine, but I wish you would continue to consider poetry as a vehicle for memoir.
  • I like the clean, business-like look of the magazine and the contents are fabulous as well. It is a good publication for beginning writers like myself and opens the door to becoming more proficient in our chosen art.
  • As I get into it more, I can speak with more conviction, but it does look like an above-average quality publication.
  • I like that Hippocampus showcases varied types of nonfiction writing. I think the variety of ways material is presented creates its appeal. The prompts section offers a way for writers to share short writing samples and styles. Hippocampus nourishes the interests of many to write true stories. Thanks for what you do!
  • I think you’ve had a great first year. I think you don’t even need as much content per issue as you have. The quality is excellent. Keep up your good work!
  • The growth of this magazine has been impressive. The quality of content and writing has continually improved since I first ‘tuned in’ to Hippocampus. An amazing first year!
  • Especially enjoyed “Debbie Did” by Deborah Thompson, Playing Poohsticks by Anika Fajardo, Searching by Angela Fan, Scarcity by Kim Liao, and Doors that Open Shut by Lydie Raschka, among others.
  • I really like your mag! I like the content and I like what seems to be your inclusive attitude towards the term “creative nonfiction.” I like the term, “creative nonfiction….” It seems to me there aren’t enough journals devoted to it. So I’m glad you’re there for that reason as well! Keep up the great work! I will keep reading…and writing! 🙂 Oh and I like the title and the logo and the layout too. I am a fan. 🙂
  • Overall, I think it’s quirky and quiet and is poised for some greatness.
  • I was instantly captivated, the day i came across Hippocampus via Writers Digest. I love to write, people tell me i’m good and at this point i accept that the urge in me to write has come to stay. What in my estimation would move Hippocampus from good to best is to have a column where people like me could have their works featured. Not necessarily in juxtaposition to the breathtaking writings by the pros, but rather, for them to identify the flaws in amateur writing and offer solutions to how these mere writings could possibly walk the aisle of a Pulitzer gathering. Just a thought!
  • Make sure you reach out to baby boomers as well as millennials. Memoirs from an older author can be informative and rich. Also reach into the prison population. Inmates who can write do so in a powerful voice. Problem is, most won’t have much access to the Internet.
  • Your submission guidelines are direct and easy to understand, which is not the case with many online publications. I was thrilled when Hippocampus was created because of the low number of outlets available for nonfiction and so far I’ve been impressed by how the site is handled. Keep up the good work.
  • I read a lot of nonfiction essays, memoir, etc. and I enjoy learning, critiquing, and studying other writers’ styles.
  • I really love this magazine. I’m an editor at a lit mag and although ours is pretty cool I wish we did half the things your publication does. I also love the email updates. I travel around the world and the email updates help remind me to check out the mag.
  • You’re running a great magazine. I’ve contributed before and hope to contribute again. Thanks for your hard work! 🙂 – TM
  • Good platform. Good message. Good readership. Would love to have my book featured with you.
  • Simply love it 🙂
  • It’s an online journal that feels like a print journal. I enjoy my reading time when I visit Hippocampus.
  • I think the focus on non-fiction is important and valuable
  • I like the look and navigation of the site, the voice and diversity of the writers and the interesting and thoughtful selection of what is published.
  • I like the variety of items I have read and think you are doing wonderful just as you are. Only thing that could make it better is to publish more each time you publish..I love to read so the more the better I love it.
  • An annual Best-Of in print?

Overall, I am thrilled with the warm response Hippocampus Magazine has received since we came onto the scene. If interested, you can see the full PDF of charts here. Here’s hoping Year 2 is even more fantastic!

-Donna Talarico

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  • An annual “best-of” in print, as per the final comment, would be great! Interesting to see that my own responses to your survey fell right in with the average here. Thanks for publishing the results, and keep up the good work!

  • Thanks for publishing these results. It’s really interesting! Keep up the great work, and happy birthday!