One of the most curious recent trends in internet communication is blogs. These weblogs are where people let their hair down and reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings to the world, or whoever happens to chance upon their words.
Technorati (www.technorati.com), an internet search engine for blogs, may be the best site out there for tracking the state of the blogosphere, the world of blogs in the aggregate. It recently released its latest "State of the Blogosphere" report, revealing some interesting, and surprising, findings. Among the most interesting tidbits are the following:
- Bloggers are educated and affluent. Three out of four U.S. bloggers are college graduates, 42% have attended graduate school, and more than half have a household income of $75,000 or more.
- Bloggers skew toward males, singles, and the self-employed. While 50% of internet users in the U.S. are male, 57% of bloggers are male. While 19% of internet users are single, 26% of bloggers are single. While only 8% of internet users are self-employed, 20% of bloggers are self-employed.
- Most bloggers write about multiple topics, with personal and professional issues being equally popular. The average number of topics covered in a blog is five, with the five most popular being personal/lifestyle, technology, "other," news, and politics.
- The top reason for blogging is "speaking my mind on areas of interest." This is followed by "sharing my expertise and experiences with others" and "meeting and connecting with like-minded people."
- Most bloggers don't hide their identity. Two-thirds of bloggers openly reveal who they are on their blogs, while one-third are worried about their privacy. The two biggest reasons for hiding their identities are concern about family and friends being harassed and possible disapproval from friends, family, or employers about the views they express.
- Among professional and corporate bloggers, the most frequently cited benefit is becoming better-known in their industry. A small minority reported negative results. Nine percent of those bloggers said as a result, they weren't as focused at work, and 2% said they were fired or put on probation because of something they blogged about.
- The majority of bloggers don't make money from their blogs. But 15% of bloggers report that their blog is a source of supplemental income, and 4% say that they consider their blog to be their full-time job. For those who reach lots of people, 100,000 or more unique visitors per month, the average annual revenue is more than $75,000.
For many veteran bloggers, the above $75,000 statistic leaves them scratching their heads. In his own popular Practical Technology blog (http://practical-tech.com), Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols maintains that because the Technorati numbers are self-reported, they're likely inflated.
Blogging is not an easy way to get rich, he says. "You can easily make more money by working at the fast-food joint of your choice." On the other hand, he says, "If you love writing about a subject that you love, go for it."
It's clear, though, that if you want to make money from blogging, you need to attract readers in terms of both quantity and quality. Sponsors will pay a lot more for reaching the same number of Fortune 500 executives than college students or mixed martial arts fans.
There's also no escaping blogging as a societal phenomenon. Newspapers, which see the blogosphere as competition, have taken to blogging in a big way. According to the Bivings Group (www.bivings.com), an internet communications firm, 95% of the top 100 U.S. newspapers supplement their commentary with reporter blogs.
The marketing and political worlds have also jumped on the bandwagon, using blogs, sometimes surreptitiously, to spread the word about their product, service, or candidate.
Blogs, whether earnestly homespun or slyly promotional, have never enjoyed a great reputation for reliable information. In one conversation about blogging in an online discussion group run by the Internet Press Guild (www.netpress.org), one participant remarked that he thought people were supposed to know something about a subject to blog about it.
A second participant said, "I don't know about that. I think the great thing about blogging is that it puts publishing in everyone's reach. You can blog about whatever you want. Expertise is not required."
A third agreed: "You think bloggers should actually know something? That would take all the fun out of it."
And a fourth participant piped in: "I'm living proof of that."
Along with Technorati, another good source for learning more about the blogosphere is BlogScope (www.blogscope.net).
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated
columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About
the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at