Blogging, or “weblogging”, as it the Victorians once called it (they didn't), is the process of writing an online journal where the blogger provides us with information, advice, personal experiences and more often than not, their opinions on issues ranging from lifestyle choices to parenting.
The internet has given the literate a platform to speak from, meaning huge sections of our population can now carve out small chunks of digital webspace for themselves and their opinions, a far cry from those bygone times spent side-lined as anonymous bystanders to the voice of professional journalism. Nowadays there are so many bloggers out there that finding an audience is proving to be more difficult then ever.
More than 2 million blog posts were published worldwide in 2018, amounting to roughly 5.8 million hitting the internet every single day throughout the course of last year. If you are particularly bored you can always head over to internetlivestats to see how many have been published today and watch as each new entry adds to the spiraling total.
Most bloggers will set aside roughly 4 hours to them to complete a blog post. This is a rise of over an hour and half from 2014, which indicates that bloggers now need to spend more time honing their work that ever before.
A recent survey suggests that the more time a blogger spends on each post the more likely they are to be successful, with 38% of bloggers who take 6 or more hours to write each piece claiming that they see “strong results” from their work. This, no doubt lends itself to the increased average amount of time spent writing blog posts and also makes sense of the fact that 19% of bloggers will now spend 6 or more hours on a single piece.
That added time has clearly had an impact on the length of articles being written as we have seen a consistent rise in the average number of words found in the articles being published. In 2014 that number was only 808, compared to 1236 in 2019. That is an increase in content of roughly 35% in just 5 years, highlighting the growing pressures that bloggers face to make to make an impact.
For a small percentage, who I would imagine blog for a living, blog post are made on a daily basis, with the average blogger committing to one blog per week, closely followed by those who release a few each month. Only 3% of bloggers have the time to publish each day and only 1% can manage more than one post in 24 hours.
Again, like the importance placed on the length of the articles the number of articles being published appears to have a significant impact on the success of the blogger. 67% report “strong results” when they manage to get more than one article out there in a day.
There are 5 “super sectors” that have ruled over the blogging landscape in the last 3 years: Fashion & Beauty, Lifestyle, Parenting, Food & Drink and Travel. That is apparently what people are most interested in reading about and subsequently what most bloggers gain the greatest success from.
Recently, Fashion and Beauty would have been found at the top of that tree, but recent trends suggest this could be about to change. A fall of 14% in the number of blogs being posted within 2 years has seen our interest in makeup and skincare nosedive and level the playing field for the rest of the big 5. Despite a drop of 4% between 2017-2018, lifestyle is now the most common topic of blogging content, with a significant rise for Food and Drink and Travel blogs. However, it is worth pointing out the data we have takes just 2 years into account and within that time there has have been significant fluctuations between all 5 of the “super sectors”, making long-term trends difficult to predict.
Throughout 2019 the most popular content formats being published have been “How To” articles, with 77% of blogging content falling into that category. A long way off in second place you’ll find “News and Trends” with 49%, then “Guides and Books” and then “Opinions”, all within a few percent of each other.
However, it would appear that of those formats, the one most likely to generate “strong results” is the “Guides and Books” category, whilst “News and Trends” wallow some way off, languishing at the bottom, deemed least successful.
Top of the tree for most effective format within these blogs is the video, with 41% claiming strong results when they are included in a blog post. Other important factors that have derived strong results are contributor quotes, audio, stats, lists and images.
What is particularly interesting about this statistic is that 26% of bloggers actually include videos in their posts. A natural conclusion could be drawn then that if you want to get ahead in the blogging world you need to start using more video. Alternatively, given the relatively small numbers of bloggers using video, it could be argued if more were to start using it the impact could be less significant.
What cannot be argued with is the importance of using images. 93% of bloggers include them and 30% claim that this provides them with “strong results”. That 30% may be lower than any other on the list but the 93% who use them is significantly higher than those who do not, which tells us that bloggers need images if they are going to be successful. For those that do, 47% include between 2 and 3 images in each of their posts.
Irrefutable evidence of the power of pictures comes from the fact that 75% of bloggers who include 10 images or more in an article report strong results as a result, which makes sense, as you are unlikely to go to all that effort if the results were not significant.
Along with visual content, a solid, eye-catching headline is one of the most important elements of any blog post, important enough that most bloggers (58%) claim rewrite their headlines between 2-3 times before they feel as if they have covered the bases for success.
67% of bloggers state that if they draft up to 20 or more headlines for each article they are much more likely to see strong results. Compare this to the 30% who see success from only 2-3 drafts and it is clear that time and energy needs to be spent on headlines if a blog post is going to be a success.
Once all the hard work has been done all a blogger needs to do is find a way to get their content out there. It is all fine and well spending you days writing content but if no one is likely to read that content then what exactly is the point? 97% of bloggers say that they use social media to find an audience, with most of that 97% opting to use either Facebook or Twitter. 69% and 66% use an SEO or email marketing respectively.
Along with the use of social media, bloggers appear to be quite aware of the impact that keyword searches can have in Google. A recent survey suggests that 87% of bloggers spend some time researching the placement of key words in their work, with 53% of those claiming that this always yields strong results for them.
Any blogger looking to gain the most from their work needs to be referring to analytics to allow them to understand where they have been successful. Analytics will tell a blogger where their readers come from, providing information on physical locations and what sites have helped them find your articles.
It is hardly surprising then that most bloggers check the performance of their work and most believe that this helps them to generate “strong results”, allowing them to understand which posts have been a success and which ones have not, which can influence future writing.
All of this suggests that the most successful bloggers are those who provide how-to information on Lifestyle choices, with added video content and that not including images in blog posts is almost unheard of. Add to this time spent considering the title of the piece, researching key words and an awareness of the performance of a piece through the study of analytics and you can see the amount of work, time and consideration that needs to be applied to each and every blog post if that writer wants to make their work a success.
What exactly does success look like? And how much money should bloggers be expecting to take home once after all that work?
A recent survey suggests that 18% of bloggers in the UK use blogging as a main source of income, which would indicate that there is money to be made in this particular market. In the same set of figures it was revealed that 30% of bloggers can expect to earn between £101 and £250 for each article that they publish. However, 27% only earn between £1 and £100, with a sizable 8% of bloggers still failing to pull in any money for their work at all.
At the upper end of the scale you will find 6% of bloggers earning between £500 and £1000 and just 2% earning more than £1000 for a blog entry. Interestingly, once bloggers begin to earn more than £250 for their work they are also much more likely to have been provided with a paid commission working collaboratively with someone else.
Of the super sectors mentioned above there is a similar spread of payment for the blogs written. However, if you are writing about parenting you are 40% most likely to earn between £100 and £250 per entry and almost guaranteed to never receive a payment greater than £1000.
The super sector where you are most likely to earn that sort of money is the Fashion and Beauty sector, whereas more modest earnings of £500 - £1000 per blog are most likely to be found in the Food and Drink sector.
In 2017, 50% of the bloggers surveyed believed that they should be paid for any brands that they provided coverage for. In 2018, this rose to 58%, which would indicate that there is a growing belief amongst bloggers that they should receive compensation for drawing attention to certain brands and that this is, for many, a primary means to make money.
Difficulties naturally arise when you take for showcasing particular brands, as integrity could be called into question and the focus of blog message could be compromised, which could have impact negatively on traffic, and without traffic, bloggers have nothing.>
Bloggers also believe that in order to maintain integrity any sponsorship they have been given should be disclosed, with 87% stating so in 2017, a number that rose to 88% in 2018.
For anyone who thinks blogging is an easy way to make money, remember if it really was easy then everyone would be doing it. Being literate, lucid and having something to write about is just half the battle amongst a growing swell of writers all tussling to have their voices heard within the din.
All of our data comes from the following publications:
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