Welcome to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 report. Since 2004, our annual study has followed growth and trends in the blogosphere. For 2010, we took a deeper dive into the entire blogosphere, with a focus on female bloggers. This year’s topics include: brands embracing social media, traditional media vs. social media, brands working with bloggers, monetization, smartphone and tablet usage, importance of Twitter and Facebook, niche blogging, and changes within the blogosphere over 2010.
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
The 2010 edition of State of the Blogosphere finds blogs in transition—no longer an upstart community, now with influence on mainstream narratives firmly entrenched, with bloggers still searching for the next steps forward. Bloggers’ use of and engagement with various social media tools is expanding, and the lines between blogs, micro-blogs, and social networks are disappearing. As the blogosphere converges with social media, sharing of blog posts is increasingly done through social networks—even while blogs remain significantly more influential on blog content than social networks are.
The significant growth of mobile blogging is a key trend this year. Though the smartphone and tablet markets are still relatively new and most analysts expect them to grow much larger, 25% of all bloggers are already engaged in mobile blogging. And 40% of bloggers who report blogging from their smartphone or tablet say that it has changed the way they blog, encouraging shorter and more spontaneous posts.
Another important trend is the influence of women and mom bloggers on the blogosphere, mainstream media, and brands. Their impact is perhaps felt most strongly by brands, as the women and mom blogger segment is the most likely of all to blog about brands. In addition to conducting our blogger survey, we interviewed 15 of the most influential women in social media and the blogosphere.
These changes are occurring in the context of great optimism about the medium: over half of respondents plan on blogging more frequently in the future, and 43% plan on expanding the topics that they blog about. Bloggers who get revenue from blogging are generally blogging more this year than they were last year. And 48% of all bloggers believe that more people will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs in the next five years than from the traditional media. We’ve also asked consumers about their trust and attitudes toward blogs and other media: 40% agree with bloggers’ views, and their trust in mainstream media is dropping.
7,200 bloggers responded to our survey this year, our largest response ever. As with our report last year, we have chosen to display our results in terms of four different types of bloggers.
Hobbyists – Hobbyists remain the backbone of the blogosphere, representing 64% of respondents. Hobbyists say they blog for fun, and do not report any income from their blog. It’s not surprising, therefore, that 51% say they blog to express their personal musings, and 74% say they measure the success of their blog according to their level of personal satisfaction.
Part-Timers – Although blogging is not their full time job, Part-Timers (13% of the blogosphere) devote significant time to their blogs, with 61% saying they spend more than three hours blogging each week, and 33% saying they update their blog at least once a day. Part-Timers “blog to supplement their income” or “blog as part of their full time job,” but only report a mean annual non-salary income of $6,333. The fact that their personal and business motives for blogging are deeply entwined is not shocking: 63% say they measure the success of their blog by the number of unique visitors, while 56% say they also value personal satisfaction.
Corporates – The smallest cohort, representing just 1% of respondents, Corporates are the only bloggers who say they “blog full-time for a company or organization”—however, only 24% of them report spending a full 40 hours per week blogging, and only half report that they receive a salary. The mean annual non-salary income that Corporates report is $17,101, while 54% report an annual household income of $50,000 or more, indicating that this blogger type is supplementing his or her household income by blogging, rather than making a living off of it. 57% blog to share their expertise and experiences with others, while 39% blog to get published or featured in traditional media. Corporates are the most likely to have worked in traditional media prior to blogging.
Self-Employeds – After Hobbyists, Self-Employeds make up the largest cohort, representing 21% of bloggers. Such bloggers say they “blog full time or occasionally for their own company or organization.” 57% say they own a company and have a blog related to their business, while 19% report that their blog is their company. 65% say they manage their blog by themselves. Reflecting their professional nature, Self-Employeds are the most likely to blog about business, with 62% saying they have much greater visibility in their industry because of their blog.
Although our survey was administered only in English, bloggers responded from 24 countries, with nearly half from the United States.
Geographically, bloggers in the US are pretty evenly distributed across the country. The states with the highest concentrations of bloggers are:
New York: 8%
New Jersey: 3%
Over the past several years, we’ve seen blogging move firmly into the mainstream. Half of bloggers who responded are working on at least their second blog, and 81% have been blogging for two years or more. 96% have been blogging for at least a year.
About half of respondents have written blogs before the one they write now.
Among Corporate and Self-Employed bloggers taken together, 11% of respondents derive their primary income from blogging. Half of Corporate bloggers derive their primary income from blogging.
There is a 60/40 split between respondents who blog up to three hours per week and those who blog more than three hours per week. Part Timers and Corporates are more likely to blog more than three hours each week; 61% and 77% reported doing so, respectively. 13% of all respondents say they blog more than ten hours a week—as do 24% of Part Timers and 56% of Corporates.
Only 3% of respondents overall report updating their blog five or more times a day. The most common rate of updating is two to three times per week. On the whole, Corporate bloggers tend to update their blog more frequently than other types of bloggers, with 29% reporting that they updated their blog at least five times a day. Additionally, 54% of Corporate bloggers report blogging more now than they did when they first launched their blog.
As compared with 2009, Part Timer, Corporate, and Self Employed bloggers are blogging more, but hobbyist bloggers are updating their blogs less frequently. The number of bloggers updating once or twice per day significantly decreased, while the number updating once every few weeks significantly increased.
A large number of respondents who are blogging more are driven to do so by both personal and professional benefits. Along with their interactions with their audience, many Part Timers (49%) and Self Employed bloggers (62%) say they are blogging more because it has proven to be valuable for promoting their business.
The key driver of decreased blogging is an increase in work and family commitments, which is reported as a factor by 63% of respondents who are blogging less. Compared with last year’s findings, slightly fewer of those who are blogging less said that their devotion to microblogging (30%) and social networks (28%) has curtailed their blogging.
Blogging frequency is clearly rewarded. When looking at average posts per month and per day by Technorati Authority, the Top 100 bloggers generate almost 500 times the articles as all bloggers.
While most respondents agree that the blogging medium is on the rise, the numbers differ by blogger segment. In comparison to 2009, slightly fewer Hobbyists feel that blogs are getting taken more seriously. However, more Professional bloggers say that more people will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs than traditional media in the next five years and that they themselves get more of their news and information from blogs than other sources.
What Influences the Influencers?
Respondents say that the most common thing that influences the topics they blog about are conversations with friends. However, when asked about the primary influence on their topics, across the board, bloggers say that other blogs they read are the most influential. Of all bloggers, Corporates are most likely to be influenced by other blogs that they read and TV shows they watch. Although bloggers are using social media to market their blog and distribute their posts, only 15% say these sites influence what they blog about; the same number of bloggers say they are influenced by web portals.
Brands and the Blogosphere
42% of respondents say they blog about brands they love or hate, while 34% say they never talk about brands on their blog. Among respondents who do blog about brands, 51% said they rarely review products, services, brands, or companies. Among Corporates who talk about brands on their blog, 48% say they post reviews on a weekly basis.
Around a third of bloggers (33%) and almost a third of Hobbyists (28%) have been approached by a brand to write about or review products on their blog, and 41% say that a brand’s overall reputation affects their willingness to write about it. Among respondents who are influenced by a brand’s reputation, 13% say they boycott products and 71% say they write only about brands whose reputation they approve of.
64% of respondents believe that brand representatives treat bloggers less professionally than they treat traditional media—a view that is strongest among Hobbyists.
A little over half (55%) of respondents who have been approached by a brand were aware at the time they took our survey of the FTC ruling on disclosure of endorsements for bloggers. Among those aware of the ruling, 59% said it had not had any effect on their blogging activities.
42% of bloggers overall, and 39% of Hobbyists, use social media to follow brands. Among those who use social media to follow brands, 50% are blogging about brands occasionally (once every few weeks or less), while another 27% never blog about brands.
Across audiences, bloggers were more likely to share blog posts with their social media followers than with their blog readership, indicating that social networks are seen as a marketing tool by each group. Consistent with the fact that Corporate bloggers were the most likely to have a separate Facebook page for their blog, this disparity was the largest among that group of bloggers.
Consumers in the Blogosphere
For the first time, we surveyed consumers on their trust of and attitudes toward the media they consume. While the blogosphere has not replaced traditional media, it is becoming more firmly entrenched as an information source, and consumer trust in traditional media is dropping.
Compared with other media, blogs outpace other social media and many traditional media in terms of generating consumer recommendations and purchases. This is reflected by the steadily increasing levels of brands engaging with the blogosphere.
Now you know who’s blogging. Coming up on Day 2: Topics and Trends in the Blogosphere.
Motivations and Consequences of Blogging
While self-expression and sharing expertise lead as bloggers’ primary motivations, 39% of Corporate bloggers say they blog to get published or get features in traditional media, compared to 19% of respondents overall. 57% of Self-Employeds say they blog to attract new clients to their business, compared to 21% of respondents overall. Similarly, Hobbyists measure their success by personal satisfaction, while the Professional segments are more practical by necessity, measuring success by unique visitors.
47% of respondents say it is not important at all to them to conceal their real identity on their blog. Among those who are concerned with protecting their identity, 35% are concerned their family and friends will not be exposed or harassed because of the respondents’ blogging.
74% of Hobbyist bloggers say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog, compared to 45% of Corporate bloggers and 50% of Self-Employed bloggers. Among Part-Timers, Corporates, and Self-Employeds, the leading metric of success is the number of unique visitors. 32% of Part Timers and of 31% Corporates cited revenue, compared to 11% of respondents overall.
Over half of respondents plan on blogging more frequently in the future, and 43% plan on expanding the topics that they blog about. 39% of Corporate bloggers have plans to begin using their blog to get speaking opportunities.
In contrast, over half of Professionals (52%) write for a blog that they do not own. While their motivations for blogging are slightly different than other bloggers’, they, like the other segments, report significant benefits to blogging. Blogging seems to be positively impacting respondents’ professional lives; among respondents who own their own company, 64% say they have greater visibility in their industry because of their blog and 58% say they have had prospective clients read their blog and purchase products or services.
Among Part-Time, Corporate, and Self-Employed bloggers, who are all paid for their blogging services, the most popular topics to blog about are technology and business. Among Hobbyist bloggers, who make up 64% of the total sample, the most popular topics to blog about are personal musings and technology. The diversity of the blogosphere, and the passion for sometimes very niche topics, is also reflected in this question—even given 23 choices, including most broad fields of inquiry, nearly half of respondents say that their primary subject is “Other.”
Almost three quarters (74%) of all respondents describe their blogging style as “sincere,” and 64% describe their style as conversational. 74% of Corporates and Self-Employeds describe their style as “expert,” in comparison to 44% of Hobbyists. Additionally, Corporates were most likely to describe their blogging style as “journalistic.”
Only 16% of respondents say that the economic downturn has changed the topics or themes that they blog about, although 30% of Corporates say it has. Among bloggers who have altered their topics due to the economic downturn, 46% say they blog about the economy much more, and 36% say they focus more on value. Among Corporates who have altered their content in reaction to the economic downturn, 45% say they’ve been blogging more about how our institutions are set up and work together.
2010 Trends: The Impact of Social Media on the Blogosphere
78% of bloggers surveyed are using Twitter, with even more Part-Timers (88%) and Corporates (88%) using the microblogging service. Those who use Twitter say they do so to promote their blog, bring interesting links to light, keep up with news and events, and understand what people are buzzing about. A majority of Self-Employed bloggers (63%) responded that they use Twitter to market their business.
Almost 9 out of 10 (87%) bloggers surveyed use Facebook, and the majority (66%) do not have a page for their blog separate from their personal account. By contrast, the majority of Corporate and Self-Employed bloggers, 62% and 52%, respectively, do report having a separate page for their blog, indicating that these blogger types are using social media to market their blogs in ways other bloggers are not. Among respondents who have only a personal Facebook page, 60% are not linking their page to their blog in any way.
Among bloggers who have a separate Facebook page for their blog, the most common reason for using the social network is to promote one’s blog. 45% of these bloggers found the social network to be more effective at driving traffic to their site than it was a year ago.
Other than Facebook and Twitter, the most popular social networking platforms among respondents are LinkedIn and YouTube. Not surprisingly, respondents found Facebook and Twitter to be the most effective social networking tools to market their blogs and drive traffic.
39% of respondents who blog with a mobile device report that it has changed their blogging style. Among these respondents, the most common changes are increases in short and more spontaneous posts: 24% and 18% respectively report that they are writing shorter posts or using more photos to make their blog more appealing to mobile users.
Of all the blogger types, Corporates are the most engaged with online media via their mobile devices.
Trends: Moms Who Blog
“Mom bloggers” have become an influential blogger subgroup, and their topics range widely—from parenting and family updates to religion, health, technology, and business.
Mom bloggers are interested in making and keeping connections—they are significantly more likely than other bloggers to say that they blog in order to meet and connect with like-minded people and to keep friends and family updated on their lives.
Mom bloggers are strikingly connected to their communities: they are significantly more likely to comment on others’ blogs in hope of reciprocity and to link to other blogs than are bloggers at large, and those who are blogging more this year are much more likely to say that it’s because they enjoy interacting with audiences and peers.
Mom bloggers who use Twitter are more likely to say that they do so in order to promote their blogs, and much more likely to use Twitter to interact with others than are all bloggers. Conversely, mom bloggers who’ve stayed off of Twitter are more likely to say they have done so because they don’t have enough time to devote to the new medium, and they’re more likely to prefer to use Facebook. Indeed, Facebook is even more entrenched among Mom bloggers than it is among bloggers at large, perhaps because parents are incented to join social networks to keep track of their kids.
Mom bloggers are significantly more likely to follow brands through social media than bloggers are generally, and more than half have been approached by brands.
13% of mom bloggers are primarily writing about parenting, and another 9% are focused on family updates; moms are also blogging about many other topics.
Mom bloggers are connected to their communities: they are significantly more likely to comment on others’ blogs in hope of reciprocity and link to other blogs they read in their blog roll than are bloggers at large.
In keeping with the connection Mom bloggers feel with their communities, those of them who are blogging more this year are much more likely to say that it’s because they enjoy interacting with their audiences and peers than are all other bloggers.
Where past moms might have pulled out their wallets to show off pictures of their families, mom bloggers are—perhaps—moving their wallet photos online. At the very least, mom bloggers are significantly more likely to regularly post photos, and more likely to post photos they created.
75% of Mom bloggers report that they use Twitter. Those who use Twitter are more likely to say that they do so in order to promote their blogs. And in keeping with their tendency to maintain tight connections with their community, they’re also much more likely to use Twitter to interact with readers and keep up with events in their friends’ lives.
Mom bloggers who’ve stayed off of Twitter are more likely to say they have done so because they don’t have enough time to devote to the new medium; they’re also more likely to not see the point of Twitter—and strikingly more likely to prefer to use Facebook for short updates and posting links.
Indeed, Facebook is even more entrenched among Mom bloggers than it is among bloggers at large—perhaps because parents are incented to join social networks to keep track of their kids. And Mom bloggers who promote their blogs on the service are more likely to say that it has been a more effective driver of traffic over the past year.
58% of mom bloggers say Facebook is a more effective traffic driver than it was a year ago.
Mom bloggers are significantly more likely to follow brands through social media than bloggers are generally. Nearly 60% of Mom bloggers say they blog about brands they love or hate, outpacing bloggers generally by more than 10%. More than half have been approached by brands who want themselves or their products to be written about. And 77% say that a brand’s reputation affects their willingness to write about it.
Mom bloggers are interested in making and keeping connections—they are significantly more likely to say that they blog in order to meet and connect with like-minded people, as well as to keep friends and family updated on their lives. They’re also much more likely to say that conversations with friends and family are the most significant influences on their choice of topics for blogging.
Mom bloggers are much more likely to identify their tones as sincere, conversational, and confessional than bloggers as a whole. They’re less likely to see their tones as journalistic or confrontational.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mom bloggers are significantly more likely to choose Parenting as one of the fields that blogging has had the greatest impact on—44% say so, the same proportion as those who say Politics, which led among bloggers as a whole.
Now you know who’s blogging and what they’re blogging about. Coming up on Day 3: Technology, Traffic, and Revenue.
Part-Timers, Corporate, and Self-Employed bloggers were more likely to have used a paid third-party hosting service, while Hobbyists were more likely to have used a free hosting service. 10% of bloggers overall reported building their blog themselves in HTML from scratch.
WordPress is the most popular blog hosting service, used by 40% of all respondents, and almost half of Part-Timer and Self-Employed bloggers (49% and 50% respectively). Blogger and Blogspot are also popular, although significantly more popular with Hobbyists than with other bloggers.
Consistent with the finding that a majority of bloggers use a free third-party service, respondents who do so reported that the most important factor in their decision-making process was cost (78%). In contrast, Part-Timer and Self-Employed bloggers are more concerned with features and customization. Only a third of respondents across audiences (31%) said that the community offered by a particular hosting service was extremely or very important in their decision-making process.
90% of bloggers are using some form of multimedia on their blogs. Photos are the most popular form of multimedia used by bloggers. Half of all bloggers surveyed use video on their blog, while 10% do not use any multimedia. Among respondents who use multimedia on their blog, 74% create the content themselves.
Use of particular blogging tools appears to be very widespread among bloggers. These tools include commenting systems (81%), archiving posts by date or category (79%), and built-in syndication (77%). Among bloggers who use built-in syndication, the majority (74%) support full content, although among Corporate bloggers significantly fewer do so (55%).
Traffic and Analytics
Over half of respondents (55%) say that they list their blog on Technorati in order to attract more visitors. Other audience-building methods include tagging blog posts, using Twitter and Facebook, commenting on other blogs, and listing one’s blog on Google. Social media sites are greatly outpacing search engine optimization (SEO) as widely-used marketing tools, as only 38% of bloggers use SEO.
Bloggers continue to pay close attention to their readership. 71% use a third-party service to track their blog’s traffic. Across bloggers, Google Analytics is by far the most popular service.
48% of respondents receive fewer than 1,000 unique visitors per month, and just 2% receive more than 100,000 visitors per month. Corporate bloggers receive the most unique visitors per month: 312,783 on average.
Part-Timers and Self-Employed bloggers seem to have the most repeat visitors. Part-Timers have a mean number of 58,867 unique visitors to their blog every month, and over twice as many views per month (119,485); Self-Employeds have 58,432 visitors every month and 113,067 views.
Overall, 18% of bloggers reported a non-salary income from their blog in 2010, and the mean income reported was $9,985. Even among full-time blogging Corporates, the mean income was well below $20,000, indicating that very few bloggers are making a living in the industry, but may instead view it as a slightly subsidized hobby.
53% of Self-Employed bloggers do not generate any revenue from their blogs, compared to 30% of Part-Timers. Among both bloggers, the most common ways of generating revenue from their blogs are display ads, affiliate marketing links and search ads. Despite the fact that Hobbyists do not report any income related to blogging, only 67% said they do not have any advertising on their blog.
Among bloggers, Corporates are the most likely to be invited to speak at an event or write outside of their blog. Bloggers who did attend an event or write for another source as a result of their blog were not likely to be paid, as 67% reported they did not receive compensation for their outside work.
Among Hobbyists, Part-Timers and Self-Employeds who do not have advertising on their blogs, 55% say they do not have advertising because they did not want their blogs to be cluttered with ads, while 39% said they were not interested in making money on their blog.
Among Corporates, Part-Timers, and Self-Employeds with advertising on their blogs, 68% use self-serve tools, while 47% have affiliate advertising links on their site. 31% of Corporate bloggers blog for an organization with a dedicated ad sales team, compared to 7% of respondents overall. Among respondents who use blog ad networks, the most commonly used networks are Feedburner and Technorati, and among those that use multiple networks, Technorati is seen as the most effective.
Site search provider Lijit collected and analyzed ad tag data from thousands of blogs, and found that the number of publications with an ad tag of one type or another increased 54% in the last year. Google’s percent as the installed tag percentage of those sites dropped from 47% to 44%.
As with last year, it’s important to note that this number accounts for the first ad call only. Google probably isn’t losing share, but rather getting pushed down in the ad chain by smaller, more nimble companies that grab the first position, then pass back to Google for the remnant. Google still has the number one slot overall.
Of the top 10 ad-related tags by percentage in 2009:
This indicates that this is still a very transient space and highly competitive for the first ad call.
18% of the total sample reported a non-salary income, and in this group the mean annual income reported was $9,985. Not surprisingly, the mean income was higher for Pros, but still very low considering Corporates are blogging full time. It appears that many Corporate bloggers, while making money, are not making a majority of their income from blogging.
Nine in ten bloggers say it is important that the advertising on their blogs align with their values, and 38% said that standard, rotating display ads perform best on their blogs and make them the most money.”
The Future of Blogging
Respondents believe that blogging has had the greatest impact so far on the subjects of politics, technology, and celebrity/gossip. Looking forward, they believe blogging will have the greatest impact on politics, technology, and business. Reflecting the fact that they own their own businesses, 27% of Self-Employed bloggers said that blogging has had the greatest impact on business.
This being said, significantly fewer bloggers believe that blogging has had, and will have, the greatest impact on politics this year than did last year. This may speak to the fact that in 2009 the blogosphere was still feeling a residual impact from President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Despite the spread of Justin Bieber fever, President Barack Obama was seen as the most blogged-about person in 2010. 53% of respondents said they read about Obama on a blog, while 19% wrote about him on their own blogs. Perhaps reflecting partisan persuasions, Obama is seen as the public figure who is both most positively and most negatively affected by blogs in 2010.
We’ve seen several main themes emerge across the blogosphere in 2010:
Bloggers’ use of and engagement with various social media tools is expanding and becoming more sophisticated. Promoting their blogs remains their central purpose. And the blogs of others remain the primary influence on bloggers, far more than social networks or other media.
We saw significant growth of mobile blogging, with 25% of all bloggers already engaged in mobile blogging and 40% reporting that mobile blogging has changed the way they blog.
The influence of women and mom bloggers on the blogosphere, mainstream media, and especially brands has never been higher.
More than half of bloggers plan on blogging even more, and 43% plan on expanding the topics that they blog about. All professional blogger segments are generally blogging more this year than they were last year. And 48% of all bloggers believe that more people will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs in the next five years than from the traditional media. As consumers’ trust in mainstream media is dropping, they definitely share bloggers’ optimism for the blogosphere’s future.
Penn Schoen Berland conducted an Internet survey from September 21-October 8, 2010 among 7,205 bloggers around the world. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 1.2% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. The following audiences are included throughout this report:
Respondents were recruited by Crowd Science across the Technorati Media network. Randomly selected network site visitors over the age of 18 participated in the survey. Data collection took place from September 5 to October 22, 2010. A total of 1,091 respondents took part in the survey.
Lijit-collected data for the 2010 State of the Blogosphere report was from two primary sources. The first is the 13,000 active Lijit publishers that have the Lijit Search Widget installed on their blog. The second is the network of 3.8 million blogs that those 13,000 blogs connect to via their Blogroll and other social network connections tracked by Lijit.
Technorati Index Data
Technorati collected blog and post data from the Technorati search index. Technorati Authority is Technorati’s measurement of a blog’s standing and influence in the blogosphere.