05 October 2010

Are blogs as important as bloggers think they are?

This post is part of of the biweekly Blogoff, a now legendary event where bloggers of all stripes weight in on the same topic. This week's theme is the title of this post: Are bloggers as important as bloggers think they are?

I like to think of myself as an influential blogger and by some measures I am. To remind myself that the qualifier some measures definitely applies to me, I keep this New Yorker cartoon by Alex Gregory on hand. It helps to keep me from putting too much stock in my own PR.

When Mr. Gregory drew that cartoon and The New Yorker ran it in September 2005, there were 70 million blogs in the world* and I really didn't know what a blog was. The blog indexer Technorati issues an annual report on the state of the Blogosphere and by 2009, the latest figures they have, there were 133,000,000 million blogs indexed**.

All statistics relating to blogs and blogging are hard to pin down because they deal with such an anarchic subject. Blog activity and blog traffic numbers are generally reported by bloggers themselves and even if you take that into account, there are a whole lot of blogs out there. Technorati paints a really interesting profile of what bloggers looked like as of 2009.

  • 77% of Internet users read blogs according to Universal McCann
  • Two-thirds of Bloggers are male  (c’mon ladies, start Blogging!)
  • More than half are married and more than half are parents
  • 60% are 18-44
  • 75% have college degrees and 40% have graduate degrees
  • One in four has an annual household income of $100K+
  • Around half of Bloggers are working on at least their second blog
  • 68% have been blogging for two years or more
  • 86% have been blogging for at least a year

But of course I find statistics like this interesting, I'm part of the cohort in question. What's interesting too is a glimpse into why people blog.

  • 72% of respondents are classified as Hobbyists, meaning that they report no income related to blogging
  • Of those who have monetized their blogging to at least some extent:
  • 54% are Part-Timers
  • 32% are Self-Employed Bloggers
  • 14% are Corporate Bloggers (defined as someone who draws a salary as a blogger for a company)

While I don't support myself from this blog's ad revenue, I derive all of my income from it and the projects having a blog leads to. That puts me in the 32% category, self-employed bloggers. There are more of us than I thought and that's a good thing.

Out of all of those statistics though, the most interesting and most important one is the first stat I listed, 77% of Internet users read blogs. When you stop to consider that web sites like The Huffington Post and Apartment Therapy are blogs with monthly traffic numbers in the millions, that 77% figure isn't very surprising.

Blogs, like newspapers, magazines or any other media form come in all shapes sizes and levels of influence. The question "Are blogs important?" gets asked all the time and it's as difficult a question to answer as "Are newspapers important?" The answer depends on which blogs, and which newspapers you're talking about. There's a pretty clear difference between The New York Times and The Dayton Daily News. According to those Technorati statistics, only 15% of Bloggers spend 10 or more hours each week blogging. That means there are a whole lot of hobbyist bloggers out there. Not that there's a thing wrong with being a hobbyist blogger but you can't lump a blog that documents the comings and going of a young family to an audience made up of that young family's grandparents with The Huffington Post.

Everybody who writes a blog thinks his or her blog is important and influential. Including me. But numbers don't lie and they don't grow in relation to wishes and dreams. So are blogs important? Yes some are.

If the question is turned to "Is blogging important?" the answer's a resounding yes and that importance only grows every day. As a social phenomenon its importance can't be overstated. With that said, there's a world of difference between blogging as a whole and an individual blog.

Old media isn't going anywhere and it's only a matter of time until "new" media gets absorbed by it. But blogging itself is changing the landscape. It's a lot of fun to be something of a pioneer (at least within my niche) and to have found myself a player in my industry (even if it's a bit part). But what's most amazing to me is that I can derive an income from it.

If you ask me how influential Kitchen and Residential Design is I wouldn't know how to answer that question. If you ask me how influential blogging is in the kitchen and bath industry, I'd say that it's a growing influence. But that's my niche and my industry. All niches and all industries will answer that question differently.

So if the question is Are blogs as important as bloggers think they are? My answer would be Ask a better question.

All of the participating bloggers in today's Blog Off will be listed here and updated as the day goes on. Give 'em all a look-see.

BloggerTwitterBlog Post Link
Veronika Miller@modenusModenus Community
Paul Anater@paul_anaterKitchen and Residential Design
Rufus Dogg@dogwalkblogDogWalkBlog
Becky Shankle@ecomodEco-Modernism
Bob Borson@bobborsonLife of an Architect
Nick Lovelady@cupboardsCupboards Kitchen and Bath
Sean Lintow, Sr.@SLSconstructionSLS-Construction.com
Hollie Holcombe@GreenRascalGreen Rascal Design
Saxon Henry@saxonhenryRoaming by Design
Betsy De Maio@egrgirlEgrgirl's Blog
Ami@beackamiMultifarious Miscellany


  1. You went into more depth than I would have. Loved the use of statistics, which further validated your position. Great job!

  2. Thanks! This was definitely a topic where I had a lot more enthusiasm before I sat down to write.

  3. I'm a bloggin' rock star!

    (in my own mind)

  4. You are a blogging rock star in my mind too.

  5. Great stats Paul! Blog readers are much more sophisticated than I thought. I think I read somewhere that a lot of people don't even know they are reading blogs when they actually are.

    (As a side note, thanks for the link to the Universal McCann Web site - it's really a cool one.)

  6. PS I just started a new blog & am going to quote your post if that's OK!

  7. Wow, the Dayton Daily News being compared to the New York Times! You know that really isn't fair to the Times; they never had me working there :-)

  8. Welcome to the blogosphere Erika and you can quote me any time you'd like.

    Rufus: I used the Dayton Daily News for your benefit.

  9. "When you stop to consider that web sites like The Huffington Post and Apartment Therapy are blogs with monthly traffic numbers in the millions, that 77% figure isn't very surprising."

    This might not be surprising.. but considering the crap that you find on both these sites, it is a little disconcerting. I'd prefer to find more blogs out there like yours that don't post (or extol the virtues of) bullshit.

  10. I'm with you sister. I used those two sites as examples only. I can't bear reading either one of them.

  11. 4 of those first stats you listed apply to me! Now if only I could join the ranks of 1 in 4 with a household income of $100k... :)

    As important as Twitter and Facebook are to social media, I believe that blogging remains its heart, because without original content to spread those platforms lose much of their usefulness!

  12. Paul: I actually read AT on a semi-regular basic because it's like a satire of itself... I feel like I've just admitted to secretly liking Twinkies.. haha

  13. Well, as I said on Saxon Henry's blog, I don't know how important my blog site is to others, but it is certainly important to me. My webmaster partner and I have put in a ton of work on it for almost three years now. A tiny part of me is willing to sell out and do whatever Huffington Post did to get so damned successful. But I keep beating down that outrageously negative thought! No, my thought is to succeed with something I'm proud of, and catering to the lowest common denominator is just not something I’m willing to do. I looked at AT a couple of times, but have no interest at all in it. And Huffington Post… yow! As in how the hell can anyone want to put his name on crap like that!

  14. Paul: I want to be you when I grow up. except my target is cities, same thing, bigger scale! I suppose now that I've experimented for a year, my goal should be to change out to wordpress = a "real" blog. I always love stats, huge numbers, thanks for the research.

    re: women bloggers: there's a group called BlogHers that is fantastic, have a few friends involved.

    Cindy @urbanverse

  15. Lauren: I agree with you whole heartedly, a blog is the anchor to any social media presence.

    Nim: You're right, it is a satire of itself.

    Joe: I know mine's certainly important to me. It's kind of like my land grant on the frontier of the internet.

    Cindy: Oh stop. But it's great that you want to take this on in a more substantial way. It's a lot of work but I can't think of anything that's been as rewarding as finding my way in the blogosphere.

  16. As a 'commentor' (not just 'a reader') I have to agree with Nim's sentiments.

    Excellent post Paul! -Brenda-

  17. You are the queen of the commentators Brenda.

  18. Why thank you Paul and I am going to add, I am probably one of the oldest. Ha!

    On a more serious note, I have the highest respect for those who independently blog.

    HAVE A GREAT DAY. -Brenda-

  19. I'm sorry I missed this one when you first posted it. Great analysis. And love the cartoon.

    I wonder if they asked a similar question decades ago - is television as important as people on television think it is? The people ON television were only important to certain niches of society. But television itself had a huge impact on society and the world at large.

    I think blogging is the same way. Like you said, it is most definitely "changing the landscape."



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