The 2009 State of the Blogosphere (SotB) was published at Technorati in 5 parts (+ an introduction) between October 19th and 23th. The study is the most comprehensive study of the current trends and demographics among the bloggers and because of this, it gives us a great opportunity to learn more about blogging.
It also gives us information about the future of blogging, something we all can build on to improve our own blogs and blogging to achieve whatever level of success each of us is shooting for.
I've picked up statistics and results from the survey and included my own insights on the subject. I have not included all the diagrams, results and statistics, but instead I hand-picked the things I found most interesting and facts that can have the most impact for our blogs and blogging activities.
I've always been a bit of a stat-geek, so I love digging in to the graphs and demographics, and I wanted to write this article for all who don't share the same enthusiasm towards numbers and also to have a place where we all can share our views of the survey.
So read on what I have to say about the State of the Blogosphere, read the whole feature at Technorati if you like, and join the discussion on the comments for this article!
2009 State of the Blogosphere Methodology
Before we go in the statistics and analysis, let's briefly go through what the 2009 SotB survey is about. Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, conducted an Internet survey from September 4-23, 2009. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 1.84% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups.
Among the 2828 respondents for the 2009 SotB, the following audiences are included:
- 72% hobbyists, who "blog for fun"
- 15% part-timers, who "blog to supplement their income, but don’t consider it a full time job"
- 9 % self-employed, who "blog full time for their own company or organization"
- 10% do report blogging 40 hours per week or more.
- 22% say that their blog is their company, while
- 70% say they own a company and blog about their business
- 4% corporate pros, who "blog full-time for a company or organization"
The numbers above mean that from the survey respondents, 72% of the bloggers are not making money from their blogs and are thus considered "hobbyists". The rest, 28% are making some money from their blogs and can be considered blogging professional, probloggers if you will. However, only 13% are blogging full-time, either for themselves, their company or other organization.
68% of the respondents have been blogging for at 2 years or more. Survey was only administered in English, but bloggers responded from 50 countries, with nearly half (48%) from the United States. 26% of the respondents were from EU, 10% from APAC and 16% from other areas of the world.
For more detailed explanation of the 2009 SotB methodology, consult the 2009 SotB introduction page at Technorati.
Blogging Is About Sharing Expertise and Experiences
According to the State of the Blogosphere survey, people blog mainly because they want to:
- speak their mind on areas of interest (71%)
- share their expertise and experiences with others (68%)
- meet and connect with like-minded people (49%)
Personally, I blog because I want to share my expertise and experiences with others and help them like that. I enjoy blogging about things I'm passionate and interested in, so speaking my mind on those areas is equally important reason why I'm blogging.
I didn't start blogging to connect to other people, but over time, that has become more and more important as I've learned what a lovely place the blogosphere is and today meeting, connecting and collaborating with other bloggers and blog readers is becoming more and more important to me.
In addition to these reasons, for the part-time and self-employed bloggers, attracting new clients for their business (72% of the self-employed bloggers) and making money or supplementing their income (61% of the part-time bloggers) are one of the primary reasons for blogging.
If you are already blogging, you can probably relate to those figures, as opening a channel for self-expression and the need for recognition are powerful drivers to start a blog. And as the results the bloggers have gained through their blogs show, it's not just a reason to blog, but blogs have proven to bring in results as well.
Blogs Have a High Impact on Our Lives
70% of the respondents look at their personal satisfaction, when measuring the success of their blogs. Approximately half of the bloggers, also look at the number of unique visitors (51%), the number of posts or comments on their blog (49%) and the number of backlinks to their blog from other sites (43%).
For the professional bloggers (part-time, self-employed and corporate pros), the number of visitors (61%/63%/69%) is the highest measurement of success, with other factors mentioned above following closely behind.
With the measurements, blogging has had significant impact on the businesses of the bloggers.
By blogging, the bloggers reported to have:
- Greater visibility in their industry (71%)
- More clients who have purchased products or services because of their blogging (63%)
- Increased their reputation as a thought leader within their industry (56%)
And on a more individual level, blogging has impacted both the personal and the professional lives of the bloggers, as they have:
- Become more involved with the things they're passionate about (63%)
- Made new online friends through the blog (60%), or new friends who they also have also met in person (42%)
- Become better known in the industry as a result of the blog (58%)
Small percentage of the respondents have experienced some negative effects as a result of blogging, like family or friends getting angry because of the personal things they've blogged about (7%), and some even reported that their relationships have suffered (6%) or they even got fired or put on a probation because of something they blogged about (1%). This is probably the reason, why some bloggers choose to conceal their true identity on their blog, something you can consider if you're afraid of such consequences.
Looking at the results, and also speaking from personal experience, blogging is and has become an important part of both business and personal branding. Especially on a professional level, if you or your business don't have a blog yet, you're missing out some great rewards those who are blogging are already enjoying.
For businesses or the self-employed bloggers, gaining visibility and just becoming better known in the industry will most likely translate to making money, as the survey shows (63% of ALL respondents reported that they have more clients who have purchased products or services because of their blogging).
People Are Making Money Blogging
For businesses, blogging and blogs are an opportunity they just can't pass. In other words, if you say no to more visibility in your industry and don't want to make more sales, perhaps you should consider not running a business.
On the other hand, if you're just blogging for fun, that's cool too, as shown, it's the personal satisfaction that drives most bloggers, not money.
However, for an individuals looking to start or grow a business, blogs and blogging is even bigger opportunity as anyone can start a blog and start growing an audience for that blog with minimal investment (starting and running a blog can be done with no or minimal investment, unlike self-publishing a paper magazine for example). The 28% of the bloggers who have monetized their blogs are making serious income from their blogs.
The respondents of the study are making average revenues of $42,548 annually from advertising alone. The number is of course significantly higher for the (full-time) self-employed bloggers than for the part-time bloggers. But even the part-time bloggers reported gaining over thousand dollars a month from advertising ($14,447 annually).
Of course, individual mileage may wary, but taken that those numbers are from advertising alone, the amount of money people are making from blogs is very impressive. The advertising does include things like affiliate promotions, paid postings and giving speeches too, but as I understood that they do not include income from products or services.
With all that talk about making money blogging, still note that only 17% of the bloggers consider their blog their primary income source and as noted before, 72% of the bloggers are not making any money from their blogs. 34% say that they just blog for fun and 38% say they blog for fun, but would like to make money some day. So having a blog does not automatically result in massive amounts of money, but with hard work, the results can be amazing.
Blogging Will Continue to Grow
Because of the great results bloggers have experienced with their blogs, their future plans include such things as...
- Adding video to their site (20%)
- Begin guest blogging for a friend or colleague's blog (23%)
- Adding advertising on their site (24%)
- Blogging more frequently (57%)
- Expanding some of the topics they blog about (53%)
- Publishing a book (35%, 46% for the self-employed)
When looking at the figures, these future plans cover both blog promotion and possibly monetizing the blog as well. And the numbers also show that nearly half of the bloggers are planning to publish a book, most likely an eBook, a trend which has already grown during the last couple of years. In certain niches, it's very common to see majority of the blogs offering free eBook as an incentive to join their email list and/or selling an eBook.
Surprisingly small percentage of the bloggers have plans to add video to their blogs, an information one could use when thinking how to make a blog stand out in the crowd. On the other hand, many bloggers are already using video, audio and at minimum, pictures on their blogs, so that might explain why not too many are planning to add video (as they already using video on their blog).
But as everyone is writing and publishing eBooks, perhaps publishing a podcast and adding more video to the blog will become even more important success-factor in the future. Even that the study didn't exactly cover the importance of video and audio for the blogs, I believe this is something we're gonna see more and more in the future and "old-school" blogs relying fully on text might have harder time attracting an audience.
The bloggers who have plans to blog more frequently in the future (57%) want to blog more, because...
- blogging has proven to be valuable for promoting their business (74% of the self-employed, 35% of all)
- they enjoy interacting with their audience (59%)
- they enjoy interacting with other bloggers (46%)
- they are more comfortable with the technology (44%)
- blogging has positively impacted their social life (33%)
- they enjoy the attention blogging brings them (34%)
Also, as more and more people are starting blogs and the existing blogs are gaining more authority, blogs have become very important source of information, which nearly 70% of the bloggers agree on, as they feel that blogs are taken more seriously as source of information. 52% of the bloggers also believe that people will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs than from traditional media in the next 5 years.
State of the Blogosphere is Strong
Blogosphere survey demonstrates, the growth of the blogosphere's influence on subjects ranging from business to politics to the way information travels through communities continues to flourish. In a year when revolutions and elections were organized by blogs, bloggers are blogging more than ever, and the State of the Blogosphere is strong. - SotB 2009
Making a quick summary of what the SotB proved us about blogs, blogging and why blogs have become so popular:
- Blogging is about sharing ideas, thoughts, expertise and experiences
- Blogs have positive impact on our personal and professional lives
- People are making money blogging
- People enjoy interacting with each other
- Blogging is fun!
When reading the survey report and results, I felt proud to be part of the blogosphere. We (the bloggers) are making a serious impact on people with all the information we're sharing and blogosphere will continue to grow in the future too!
I was also happy to see that the one-fourth of the bloggers who have decided to monetize their blogs are making as much money as they are and even a majority of those who are not making money directly have seen their personal and professional lives improve.
For me, the results and statistics of the 2009 SotB were very inspirational. Seeing such a large percentages of positive impacts people have had on their personal and business lives, I'm even more motivated to continue spreading the word about the joy of blogging and giving back to the blogosphere with my contribution.
What can I say, it feels good to be a blogger :)
With all that, and the fact that the survey proved that blogging is far from dead, it's easy to agree with the survey, the state of the blogosphere is indeed, very strong!
With this article, I just scratched the surface of the 2009 SotB survey. Also note that the SotB is not just about the survey results and statistics I went through on this article, but there are plenty of interviews with the most successful bloggers out there. You can go and read all the features of it at Technorati: 2009 State of the Blogosphere.
Thanks for reading the article, I enjoyed the research and writing this and I hope you found it useful. Feel free to leave your comments below and if you're really feeling kind, share the post with your fellow bloggers...