Survey of 1000+ Bloggers: How to Be in the Top 5%

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Andy Crestodina
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UPDATE: This research project has been updated for 2017, with new data and analysis.

Show me the latest blogger trends >

 


After seven years of working hard at content, we had a few questions about the process of blogging.

How much time does it take to write a typical blog post? Do most bloggers use an editor? How do bloggers find time to write? How do bloggers promote their work?

So we decided to look for some answers. Right away, we knew that the only way to find out was to ask people. A lot of people. Soon the Department of Blogger Labor Survey was born.

UPDATE: This research project has been updated for 2016, with new data and analysis. View the 2016 Blogger Research Survey >

  • What did we ask?
    Our goal was to learn about the effort and approach to blogging. So we asked 11 simple questions about the time, place, and process.

  • Who Responded?
    1033 bloggers completed the survey, from all 50 US states and 37 countries. Assuming a total population of 1 million bloggers, this gives us a 3% margin of error.


Data, Key Findings, and Analysis

Here is the full report. Some of the answers are surprising. Others, less so. We’ve also added the perspective of an expert blogger for each question.

1. How long does it take to write a typical blog post?

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Key Findings:
  • Most bloggers (54%) spend 2 hours or less on a blog post.

  • About 5% of bloggers spend a lot more time on each post (6+ hours).

  • The typical blog post takes about 2.5 hours to create.

Note: To discover the length of time spent on a typical blog post, we assumed those who spend less than an hour spend 30 minutes, those who spend one to two hours spend 90 minutes, continuing the assumed averages up to the last group of bloggers who spend 6+ hours. Let’s say they spend 8 hours per post on average. Thus, the average post takes 144 minutes to create, or 2 hours 24 minutes.

Analysis: A lot spend a few hours; a few spend a lot of hours.

The time invested by bloggers can be represented on a bell curve, peaking in the 1 to 2 hour range, and then trailing off to the small percentage of bloggers investing an increasing amount of time.

The bloggers who are putting in much more time skew the average amount of time spent on a typical post. These appear to be the bloggers who prefer quality to quantity, publishing less frequently. More about publishing frequency below.

Here’s the input of an expert who puts in the extra time…

Expert Insight: Barry Feldman, Feldman Creative

“I NEVER conceive, research, rough-out, write, and edit a post in one fell-swoop. 

My process is very iterative. I usually dump an idea into a document and shelf it. If it feels right at a later date (and it often doesn’t), I research it and rough it out. I tend to do a first draft in 1, maybe 2 hours. Then, I ALWAYS let the thing incubate. I’ll return to first drafts one or two times and edit, improve, read it aloud…

I don’t want to make it sound like a blog post is a book or poem, but I take them very seriously. URLs are forever. If it has my name on it, I want it to be informative and big time fun, so I take my sweet time.”


2. When do bloggers blog?

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Key Findings:
  • Bloggers write at many different times of day, and on weekends.

  • 4 out of 5 of bloggers write outside of work hours.

  • 8% of bloggers write all the time! They selected every option: before, during, and after work, as well as on nights and weekends.

Analysis: Bloggers are ‘always on’

Blogging invades the brain. There is no off switch. Of all the respondents, only 22% answered “during business hours” and gave no other answer. That means 78% of bloggers are writing outside of work. 47% of respondents gave more than one answer.

Notice that there is a relatively equal distribution among the answers. The lowest answer (31% blog in the early mornings) varied only 29% from the highest answer (50% during business hours). As an activity, blogging knows no time boundaries.

blog/125-circle-gini-dietrich/
Expert Insight: Gini Dietrich, Spin Sucks

“When you blog fairly consistently, you find there are blog post topics in your every day life. Watching the news, while exercising, or even out to dinner with friends conjure up blog post ideas. Many bloggers keep a notebook where they jot down ideas as they’re out and about. Others dictate voice notes and others simply send themselves emails.

It’s no surprise bloggers don’t have an off switch. The next time you’re socializing with a prolific blogger, remember the topic of conversation could become a blog post!”


3. Where do bloggers blog?

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Key Findings:
  • A huge percentage of bloggers create content from home, 81.4%.

  • Bloggers create content everywhere.

Analysis: Blogging isn’t a job. It’s a lifestyle.

Beyond the general lack of time boundaries we’ve already seen, here we see a lack of space boundaries. The mobile megatrend is not just about where we consume content. It’s about where we create it too.

The answers provided in “other, please specify” included trains, planes, and libraries, but also some other answers that help tell the story…

  • …anywhere I have my laptop: in bed, in my mechanic’s lobby, etc.

  • …friend’s houses, pretty much anywhere I can write – I will write

  • …I’ll write drafts on my phone while on the bus, then edit on a computer later

  • …on the [train], in the office, at lunch, in the kitchen, everywhere

  • …at the bar with a pint

  • …yesterday? My son’s basketball practice

  • …igloo in winter

  • …in the car as an audio recording

Anywhere, everywhere, anytime, all the time. The lack of limits on either space or time suggests that for many bloggers, creating content is more than a job. Blogging is a lifestyle. Andrew Davis is an example of a blogger who is productive in off hours…

Expert Insight: Andrew Davis

“One of the best places to write is on an airplane. Put on some noise canceling headphones. Don’t sign on to the wifi and immerse yourself. You’ll bang out three or four posts in a three hour flight. It’s amazing. (And a good reason to go on a trip).”


4. How frequently are bloggers publishing?

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Key Findings:
  • Most bloggers (54%) are publishing at least weekly.

  • Almost 14% of bloggers are not consistent in their publishing frequency.

  • Quantity is at odds with quality. Only 4.3% of bloggers who publish weekly or more are spending 6+ hours per post.

Analysis: Consistency beats frequency.

Here we see another rough bell curve shape, with a peak somewhere between daily and weekly. This shows that the survey respondents were mostly dedicated bloggers.

If you ask a blogger about frequency, many of them are disappointed with their own output, giving answers like “I should write more.” But the survey results indicate real consistency: 83% publish monthly or more often. Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.

There is a inverse correlation between time invested per post and publishing frequency. Unsurprisingly, bloggers who spend more time on posts don’t publish as often.

Still, roughly 1 in 6 publish less than monthly or irregularly, reflecting the general challenge associated with producing quality content. There seems to be a trend away from quantity and toward quality. Experts like Brian Dean certainly make a good case…

Expert Insight: Brian Dean, Backlinko

“Most bloggers publish WAY too often. The fact is, no one cares how often or how consistently you publish blog posts. The only consistency that matters is quality: if you bat 1.000 with quality, you don’t need to worry about frequency.”

Brian practices what he preaches. His blog is updated monthly.


5. Do bloggers use editors?

blogGraph5

Key Findings:
  • The vast majority of bloggers (73%) act as their own editors.

  • Only a small minority of bloggers (15%) use a formal editorial process.

Analysis: Very few bloggers have editors.

Most bloggers aren’t perfectionists. 90.6% of survey respondents either edit their own work or use an informal process. It’s safe to say that most blog posts have never been seen by anyone but the author before they go live.

But self-editing doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy. Henneke is her own editor and she polishes her work to perfection…

Expert Insight: Henneke Duistermaat, Enchanting Marketing

“I spend quite a lot of time editing my own posts, in several rounds. First, I check whether I have not missed anything important, whether I can scrap sentences or redundant paragraphs, and whether the flow is logical.

Next, I look for bland sentences and try to make them sparkle. I also look whether the content is engaging. Have I included questions that address the reader directly? Before I publish, I read my text aloud and I add some white space if needed.”


6. What percentage of bloggers’ posts are written for clients? (posts written to promote businesses other than their own)

blogGraph6

Key Findings:
  • Most of the respondents (53%) are service providers, blogging for others at least some of the time.

  • Only 14% produce most of their content for other businesses.

Analysis: Blogging is often outsourced

Most bloggers are doing at least some writing for client companies. They are service providers in the business of blogging. But bloggers who write for others also write for themselves. Only 14% of respondents do most of their writing for clients.

Knowing that so many bloggers are writing for more than one business, we can better understand the job of blogging and the skills required. Writing for multiple companies requires the ability to do research, client service, and possibly sales.

Expert Insights: Mana Ionescu, Lightspan Digital

Bloggers who write for themselves and for clients over time gain the most skills because they train themselves to constantly change voice, focus, and approach.

Writing from someone else’s perspective is a great way for any content marketer to improve their skills. It’s a great way to come up with new ideas and new angles. You’ll get better at writing content that is smart, customer centric, and compelling.


7. What percentage of bloggers’ posts are guest posts? (posts published on websites that are not their own)

blogGraph7

Key Findings:
  • The majority of bloggers are writing for more than one blog.

  • Fewer than 5% of bloggers publish most of their content on sites other than their own.

Analysis: Most Bloggers Write for Multiple Blogs

Bloggers know that content isn’t limited to their own website. The majority of bloggers publish on others’ websites at least some of the time. But the survey doesn’t show what kind of websites these are. These may be clients’ sites, press or media outlets, or guest posts for other blogs.

For most bloggers, their posts are predominantly for one site. Only around 1 in 20 bloggers publish on others’ websites most of the time. Still, the majority of bloggers (58%) produce content for more than one site, highlighting the importance of Google Authorship and digital signatures.

Expert Insight: Danny Iny, Mirasee

“I definitely do a lot of guest posting, but not nearly as much as I used to back when I got started. The thing about guest posting is that the return tends to be quite linear, so it’s a lot smaller as a percentage of your total audience growth when your audience is a lot larger. It’s great when you’re just getting started, though, or want some extra traction on something important that you’re working on – but it’s important not to adopt any strategy blindly, no matter how effective it is!”


8. How are bloggers driving traffic to their posts?

blogGraph8

“Other” answers included personal email outreach, live presentations, press releases, automated co-sharing (Triberr), and links from other pages.

Key Findings:
  • Social media is by far the most common promotion tactic, typically used by 94% of bloggers.

  • The popularity of promotional tactics are proportional to their difficulty.

  • Only 1 in 20 bloggers are paying to drive traffic to their posts.

Analysis: The Promotion Path of Least Resistance

Sharing content through social media is fast and easy and therefore used by almost all bloggers. At times, blogging and posting on social networks is almost indistinguishable. Some marketers consider blogging itself to be a form of social media.

Basic search engine optimization can also be relatively easy, especially through the basic guidance offered by CMS plugins. Best practices for SEO are so well known that most bloggers now produce search optimized content.

Email marketing is more difficult and time consuming, requiring a bit more writing, design, and list management. This may explain why only a third of bloggers are using these tactics.

Although social sharing is used almost universally, influencer outreach tactics, another more difficult form of social media, is less popular. Only 1 in 6 bloggers who use social media are reaching out to influencers.

Only a tiny percentage of bloggers are using paid sources of traffic.

Expert Insight: Ian Cleary, Razor Social

“If you produce a great piece of content, you will not get the true value from that content unless you promote it. You start off with the audience you have and then you try to reach new audiences. There is a strong correlation between content promotion and audience growth so promote if you want to grow!”


9. How often do bloggers check their Analytics?

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Key Findings:
  • 1 in 5 bloggers rarely or never checks the Analytics of their blog.

  • Almost half of all bloggers (49%) do not typically check Analytics.

Analysis: Driving without headlights…

Half of all bloggers are not using Analytics to measure the success of blog posts. Some don’t even have access to Analytics. This may indicate a skill gap in the blogger population and the need for a more strategic approach in the industry.

On the other hand, a solid 27% of bloggers always check Analytics. Writing is creative, but marketing requires analytical skills. A good percentage of bloggers have skill sets diverse enough to include analysis. Great bloggers (or at least one fourth of bloggers) use both halves of their brains.

Expert Insight: Heidi Cohen

“Pay attention to your blog metrics to achieve your goals. When it comes to blogging, analytics is your BFF. It will tell you the things about your blog that no one else will, including your mother.

First, determine your goals. “What do you want to achieve with your blog?” Next, build in the ability to track the performance of each post. That means having a contextually relevant call-to-action (CTA). Finally, monitor your blog results. Check your blog metrics regularly. This doesn’t mean every 5 minutes. The frequency depends on your publishing and distribution schedule.”


10. How long is a typical blog post?

blogGraph10

Key Findings:
  • 80% of bloggers create content that is 1000 words or less on average.

  • 5% of bloggers write 1500+ words per post on average.

  • On average, bloggers are writing around 800 words per post.

Note: To discover the average length of a bloggers typical post, we assume that those writing less than 500 words write 400 words, those writing 500 to 1000 words write 750 words, continuing the assumed averages up to the last group who write 2000+ words. Let’s say they write 3000 words per post. Thus, the average length for the surveyed bloggers is around 800 words.

Analysis: The giant majority of bloggers have created a standard length.

Here the bell curve looks more like a spike, with a giant drop off. A solid majority of bloggers (61%) are writing posts of the same length: 500 – 1000 words. The average length among surveyed bloggers was around 800 words. This makes 800 words seem like some unstated, but agreed-upon standard length for blog posts.

Although research shows that the ideal blog post length for SEO is more like 1500 words, only 1 in 20 bloggers produce content that long. A tiny percentage (only 14 respondents) write epic length content as a general rule.

Expert Insight: Ann Handley

“You know, I just had to eyeball this. Most of my stuff on AnnHandley.com is about 1,000 words, give or take. And my monthly Entrepreneur magazine columns are the same.

That’s probably a little long for most bloggers, but it works for me and my readers. I try to make them fun reads: I obsess over the words and their economy. There’s no word obesity in my posts.”


11. What media are bloggers including in their content?

blogGraph11

“Other” answers included links, recipes, soundcloud / music, illustrations, and quotes.

Key Findings:
  • 3 in 4 bloggers put images in their posts. Close to half of all bloggers are now using more than one image per post.

  • Lists posts are a typical format for almost a third of bloggers.

Analysis: Lists and Images rule.

A full 25% of bloggers aren’t adding images to their blog posts. They’re just using text. Although research shows that blog posts with images attract more visitors, one in four bloggers isn’t taking the time. Close to half of all bloggers are creating content with multiple images.

List posts are popular. More than 30% of bloggers use lists.

Almost 15% of bloggers are now using video. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that the blogger produced the video themselves (it may be any video embedded from YouTube). This number is surprisingly high. On the other hand, very few bloggers are using audio. This looks like an opportunity.

Expert Insight: Melonie Dodaro, Top Dog Social Media

“Having a mix of multimedia in your blog posts allows for you to appeal to a wider range of readers. Adding visuals including images, infographics, and videos make your post more likely to be shared increasing your audience.”


FINAL ANALYSIS
Introducing… Scriptus Typicam, the typical blogger

The typical blogger publishes several posts per week of around 800 words each. They write both in the office and at home after work. They spend a few hours on a typical post, and they are largely independent, publishing without the help of an editor.

Scriptus Typicam is fast, flexible, prolific, and independent.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Want to put yourself in the top 5% of bloggers?

Two million blog posts are published every day. If you want to stand out from that crowd, this survey holds some enlightening clues. Using any of the following techniques will put you in the top 5% of all bloggers:

  1. Put in the Time
    Just 5.5% of bloggers spend 6+ hours on a typical post.

  2. Go Deep
    Only 4.9% of bloggers write 1500+ words per post on average.

  3. Flood the Zone
    Only 4.7% of bloggers publish daily.

  4. Build a Team and a Process for Perfection
    Just 2.8% of bloggers use more than one editor in their process.

  5. Add Audio
    Only 2.6% of bloggers are producing audio content.

Thank You!!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the survey. If you’re curious, here you can learn more about the methodology and marketing of the survey. If you have your own insights, suggestions or critiques, please let us know with a comment.

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What are your thoughts?

Comments (121)
  • Dear Andy, Amanda, and others:
    Thanks for sharing the results of your survey. I was looking forward to it, and it exceeded my expectations!

    Highly recommended for bloggers at all levels of accomplishment.
    Roger

    • Thanks for your input as always, Roger! I know you’re in that 5.5% who put in the extra effort…

    • Thank you to you, Roger, for sharing it and contributing!

  • Andy thanks for some valuable research and a lot of useful lessons for new bloggers and good reminders for the old dogs.

    • One question we should have asked is “how long have you been blogging?” I would like to have seen correlations between this data and whether the respondents were “old dogs” like us. 🙂

      • Yes, that would be interesting. I’d say that my time spent on a blog post probably halved in less than two years of regular blogging.

        The other thing that would be interesting (for another time?) is how writing a guest post differs from writing for your own blog. My guest posts tend to be 1,500 – 2,000 words, while my own posts are “only” 1,000.

        Interesting survey. Thank you for sharing!

  • Great summary!

    • Thanks, Oz. Good to see you here. But sad not to see you at Wine & Web!

  • Wow, amazing work Andy. I didn’t realize how extensive this study was going to be. Awesome actionable data that bloggers can use to step their game up.

    • Thanks, Brian. We kinda went all out. There are probably more insights we could pull out of the data…

      Are the bloggers who write guest posts also spending more time per post?
      Are the bloggers who write from home publishing more often?

      There are other correlations we could still look up. We have all the raw data. Let me know if we can run any numbers for you.

  • Thanks for this! I can’t believe how quickly you guys turned this around AND how thorough it is. It’s always nice to actually see the results of a survey you take part in. This would be a good case study!

    • Haha thanks, Rob! We put some serious man hours into this one. Loads of fun and got to reconnect with a bunch of people during our outreach. Win win! Thanks for sharing and being a part of it 🙂

  • Excellent work with this, Andy! This research confirmed some things I would have suspected, but there are some interesting nuggets in here too. And the thoughts from expert bloggers was an interesting touch too! Thanks for sharing this research! Now, off to test and tweak some things based off of this! 🙂

  • Great info Andy! I’m quite surprised by one number, only 4.9% surveyed are writing 1500 + word posts. I’ve seen an increase in post lengths the past few months. Seems more writers are hitting that 1500 + mark and with more regularity. But writing a 1500 word piece for the sake of rankings can eventually lead to trouble. I say forget the 1500 word rule (remember when 500 words was the sweet spot) and produce content for your readers not Google. If you can convey your message in 700 words do it, if it takes 3000 than so be it. Trying to stick to numbers will only hurt the content because the focus of the writer will the on the numbers of words in the content and not the actual content itself.

    • I completely agree, Dana. I try to write short words, sentences and paragraphs, but the length of the post is determined by the size of the topic. This one is something like 2800 words, but that’s what it took.

      For people who want to write long, epic posts, I hope they’re choosing big, epic topics. My rule for length is at the bottom of this post:
      https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/ideal-blog-post-length/

      Thanks for dropping by and for the comment. It’s appreciated…

  • You and Amanda did an awesome job on this survey Andy! I particularly like your “expert insight” element on each question. I was surprised only 49% use analytics? While I don’t visit my GA account on every blog post, I routinely check my Alexa for Duration, Page Views and Bounce Rate to see if my content is sticky or sucky?

    • Thank you, Neil!

      Yes, the half-of-all-bloggers-don’t-check-their-stats was the worst discovery. I think it’s an even bigger issue than the lack of editors. Imagine if 50% of drivers did’t look at the dashboard. That’d be a problem, right?

    • Thanks, Neil! This was a really fun project.

      I was surprised by the analytics discovery as well. Aren’t you curious to know what’s working?

  • Wow, Andy, this was the most important finding, for me: “Consistency beats frequency.” And the most surprising was how many bloggers never check analytics! As always, your data and analysis were eye-opening and helpful. (Now, back to that blog post I’ve got to write….)

    • Thanks, Becky. A lot of us have been advocating for consistency instead of frequency and now we have a little data to help frame that conversation. Thanks for you input and good luck with that post. 🙂

  • Hey there, Andy! Huge fan of this post. It’s great to be able to compare yourself to others – hmmm, where am I on that bell curve 😉

    I’m not to sure about your conclusion and advice on how to be in the top 5 %, though.

    Your suggest that if I position myself on one of the narrow ends of the bell curve, that’ll put me in the top 5 %. But the results you presented doesn’t suggest that.

    Results simply show what bloggers have answered to your questions, and as in any other area of life, their answers are laid out in that neat bell shape. Being a minority, fx spending more time than average on a post or using an editor isn’t the same as being better than average.

    It would be very interesting to have the, say, 50 most succesful bloggers answer the same questionaire. Then we’d know what the top 5 percentile looks like 🙂

    • You’re making an important point, Rikke.

      These statistics show you how to be in the top 5% of bloggers in terms of behavior, but not results. Once we know how much time people spend blogging, and therefore how much time is required to go beyond 95% of your peers, we can put ourselves in the top 5% for time. But we can’t say for sure that we’ll get better results. Does that address your concern?

      We’ve only measured activity, not impact. Thank you for pointing that out, Rikke! It’s a very important distinction…

      • I think Rikke makes a critical point that you should consider when designing the next survey. What are we trying to learn? How can this information benefit us as bloggers?

        The survey provides insight into the behavior of 1033 bloggers. But this information is not valuable in and of itself. As a blogger eager to improve, I need to be able to infer a correlation between specific behaviors and “success” as an author. Then the data becomes a valuable signpost on the road to improvement.

  • Excellent job Andy! Thanks for this great data.

    • Thank you, Michael! I had no idea how much work it would be to do a survey…

  • I love the data! The only question I have is around the recommendations. Sometimes, I delete overly prolific bloggers from my feed because quantity is not better than quantity. It might be preferable to only post 3-5 a week. Secondly, I love blogs with great photos, not the ones with tons of written content. So maybe if you have a fashion blog or cooking blog, you might not want to write 1500+ words because readers may tune out if they can’t read the post during their work break or while their kid is napping.

    I’d love to see more research about blog readers, so you can use their reading behavior to determine the optimal length of posts, frequency, etc.

    • I agree Aubrey. I stop following bloggers who post daily because most of what is written isn’t valuable at all.

      This is an excellent, insightful post but I too wonder about those recommendations.

    • Thanks for the comment, Aubrey. I wouldn’t feel bad about ruthlessly unsubscribing from blogs that publish more content than you can handle. If you usually delete, it’s probably time to unsubscribe. But I put these blogs into Feedly so I can still browse the headlines. I don’t want to miss anything good!

      Research about how people read blogs would be amazing. Great idea…

  • Andy–

    Thank you for wrangling this highly useful blogger information (and including my 2 cents!!!)

    Can we ask that you make this an annual blogging report?

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

    • Absolutely, Heidi! A follow up survey would be great for tracking trends…

      And for all the readers, Heidi’s response to this post offers more good insights:
      http://heidicohen.com/state-of-blogging-2014/

  • Andy, I have only recently discovered your blog and I look forward to it each time. Great stuff and thanks for sharing the results!

  • Great insights! Particularly excited about the data on the use of videos and audio. Am noticing more people doing audio versions of their blog posts too. Definitely plan on using them more in future to reach people who like consuming content in different ways. Thanks for all the hard work that went into this! 🙂

    • Hi there, Shuling! Yes, I think we should do this again next year and measure the increase in those numbers. I think video and audio are trending up…

  • Always great reading Andy. Very much appreciated the expert opinions.

  • Great job Andy. I think, it is a starter guide for newcomer bloggers about “When to do”, “How to do”, “What to do”. Thanks.

  • Interesting survey! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who takes longer than 6 hours to perfect my blog posts. My approach is very similar to Barry Feldman which is also pleasing to know 🙂

    • You, me and Barry. We’re all in that 5.5%

  • Delightful insights. Thanks for this info, Mr. Andy.

  • Great information – Thank you.
    Blogging often seems like working in a bubble without really knowing if there is something you should be doing different. It is nice to know that I fit generally with the crowd and therefore I am at least sort of on track.

    • I’m with you, Phil. Comparing yourself to the other respondents is half the fun!

  • Andy,

    This is incredibly useful. Great work.

    Curious… Did you survey marketing bloggers specifically?

    On the editing topic, it could be a great idea for bloggers to find 2-3 other bloggers they know and trust to form an editing circle. Bloggers in the circle submit “finished” posts to the group, and get valuable feedback before posting. Higher quality content for readers, and potential for deeper blogger collaboration.

    Just a thought. 🙂

  • This is impressive job Andy. I have just gone through the first 3 questions and I’m hooked. I bookmarked this post for a closer read later on today.

    Do have a wonderful weekend

  • Thanks Andy! It was fun taking the survey and even better to see the results and know I am not alone…! God Bless.

  • Great work, Andy. I always learn so much from you!

    • Thank you for taking (and sharing) the survey, Carmen! Always nice to see you here in the comments. 🙂

  • Wow, wonderfull work… thanks for sharing

  • Hi Andy and Amanda.

    Great post. Most posts about surveys talk about the numbers and maybe a little bit of analysis and key findings. I love the format of yours – numbers, represented in a very visually appealing way, key findings, analysis and insight from one individual in each section. So, Bravo! The only thing I would consider adding is more insight into guest blogging – ie #7. For instance, many people guest blog, how many guest blog posts do they do in a month, are what they do with guest blog posts in line with what they are doing with their own blog, do they provide original content when they guest blog or are they repurposing existing content, etc. Also, as blogging evolves, so will this survey, I hope, so I hope you will do this annually. Again, great post.

  • Genuinely nifty stuff! We’ll be looking at this in more depth, you always have such interesting things to say, Andy. 🙂

    • That means so much coming from you, Sonia! Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment.

      …and for all the readers here, take a look at Copyblogger’s insight into this data, where Sonia goes one step deeper into recommendations. You can find it here: http://www.copyblogger.com/blogger-research/

  • Spot on Andy, from the very first featured insight by Barry Feldman.

    Blogging is something that cannot be rushed if it’s done well.

    I typically have 6-8 articles in the oven. The one that is fully baked (and fits the editorial calendar) gets published next.

    Given that the majority publish articles in excess of 500 words, I’m confident they have a similar process.

    Nicely done. Looking forward to sharing with my communities. 🙂

  • That 1 to 2 hour number sounds about right Andy. Anything more and you’re getting a bit too attached to your work unless you’re doing a 4000 to 5000 word pillar style post. Thanks for sharing the advice of the experts!

  • An epic post, I must comment! The survey is readily impressive and detailed. The expert insights are motivating. I particularly picked out the insight shared by Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks:

    “When you blog fairly consistently, you find there are blog post topics in your every day life. Watching the news, while exercising, or even out to dinner with friends conjure up blog post ideas.

    Many bloggers keep a notebook where they jot down ideas as they’re out and about. Others dictate voice notes and others simply send themselves emails.

    It’s no surprise bloggers don’t have an off switch. The next time you’re socializing with a prolific blogger, remember the topic of conversation could become a blog post!”

    The recommended techniques to put on in the top 5% of bloggers are revealing. At least, based on the study, applying them will help one stand out from the crowd!

    I have shared this same comment in kingged where this post was shared and “kingged” for internet marketers.

    Sunday

  • Wow! This is absolutely FANTASTIC! Thanks so much for doing this survey and reporting the results. As someone who has recently started blogging, the information you provided comes at exactly the right time. I’m so glad to see that quality still matters!

    • I agree, Michele. It’s fun to compare yourself to other bloggers and see where you fall on the bell curve. I can see how it would be especially useful in the beginning.

      BTW, I think it’s the more experienced bloggers who are spending more time writing and publishing longer posts less frequently. Interesting…

      • I have read this 5x now Andy, and going on my 6th time…..GREAT STUFF!

  • Thanks for the effort in putting up the results of your survey. That’s a lot of information in one article. I’m still in the process of starting out a blog and this is quiet helpful.

  • Great read and nice set of stats for bloggers alike. Need to sit in a coffee shop more often!!

  • Great data analysis indeed. What can i say: I SEE My Self HERE, my self from past and present as a blogger. Got better way to improve myself in blogging activity.

  • Love this, but my girlfriend doesn’t!: “It’s no surprise bloggers don’t have an off switch. The next time you’re socializing with a prolific blogger, remember the topic of conversation could become a blog post!” Thank you for the survey work!

    • Ha! I’m with you, Leo. Someone should do some research on bloggers’ relationships…

  • Were there no questions on how popular these bloggers were? Any way to correlate which actions were being done by *successful* bloggers and which ones were being done by hobbyists?

    Why no questions on income?

    • Several people have asked this question. The original purpose of the survey was to learn how much work people are putting into the content. When it showed that a tiny percentage of bloggers was putting in much more time and effort, the analysis focused on that.

      I’m not sure that I could have gotten 1000 bloggers to tell me how much money they make or if we could have correlated that to effort. For a lot of us, blogging has a huge but indirect effect on income. Other measures of success (quality, traffic) are equally difficult to measure or correlated to time/effort.

      But I know where you’re coming from. Thanks for the comment, Chris!

  • You are an inspiration, Andy. I’m going back to that draft post I’m working on and adding more.

  • Good stuff Andy. Thanks for including our Bloghouse Chicago group in your survey. It seems like so much of blogging is trial and error and not an exact science. Good to see the comparisons here and I look forward to the next one!

    • Thank you so much for letting me invite the Bloghouse bloggers to take it. It was a ton of work to get 1000 respondents and your team helped a lot. Thanks again, Lisa!

  • Thanks for this research and the input from experts. I have a personal blog. We minister in Africa and I see the blog as a way to share both spiritual truth and a real slice of life from around the world.
    I didn’t see any information on the breakdown of hosted and self-hosted blogs. I wonder if the top blogs are all self-hosted blogs?
    Regards,
    Kelly

  • Great article. I highly recommend this article to all companies that are thinking of hiring bloggers. You’ve provided a realistic summation of the long and winding road to the final draft.

  • Hi, Andy!
    I wonder how well you researched the affair and how generously you shared it with us all. Let alone the implementation of your recommendations, these insights are themselves so provoking that I’m feeling like at least rethinking how I should blog.
    This is highly influential. I’ve been in the blogosphere for almost two years now, and honestly, I never saw such a piece of direct value to bloggers like me.
    As for your recommendations, I believe I personally need to consider No. 2. As for frequency, I liked the opinion put forward by Brian Dean. Public is more valuable than search engines. And fortunately or unfortunately, search engines too seem to realize it!
    Thank you so much for inspiring me today. 🙂

  • Awesome data! Feeling nice after reading the habits and views of the most popular bloggers.

  • Hi, Andy!

    As for me, it is really intriguing to know the answer behind how much does it really takes to create a good content.

    Well, I believe that every blogger or content writer has different styles in writing. I’ve read an article before saying that creating great content is just easy, as long as you know how and as long as you have that passion to do it.

    However, I know that it takes a lot of time to create content, whether that will be typical or an epic content.

    Based on the survey conducted and shared above, the majority of bloggers who respond said they write typical content for an hour to two during business hours and or at night. Also, according to the survey conducted, most bloggers write content at their home or at their office, and they publish posts either daily or bi-weekly.

    I’ve indeed learned a lot here. Thanks a lot for this post. Much informative indeed! 🙂

    -Pauleen
    P.S. I’ve found this post shared on Kingged.com, and leave this comment there.

    • Thanks, Pauleen. A lot of people have said that reading the results was encouraging, because they can see how much time and energy other bloggers are putting in. One thing is for sure, we’re not alone…

      Thanks again for the comment and for sharing!

  • Thanks for the data, but there’s nothing here that actually says that the 5% of bloggers who write more than 1500+ words, spend 6 hours per post, etc are actually the top ranked bloggers. Just because less than 5% of bloggers do this does not automatically mean they are the top 5% of bloggers based on their reach/audience/rank.
    There’s no correlation that bloggers that use editors get more readers. Again, I appreciate you sharing the data, but your recommendations at the end are based on unproven assumptions.

    • Agreed. Yes, Fiona. Although I’ve always believe that people who work harder reap greater rewards, the survey doesn’t prove that to be true. A survey like this can’t really show who has the best quality, gets the most traffic, captures the most market share or makes the most money. It only shows that some of us work harder.

      Take a look at the comments below to see my response to similar feedback.

      Thank you for the comment! Sorry if the insights we’re what you were hoping for…

  • Hi Andy,
    What an interesting post! I must be missing something, though, because I didn’t see anywhere that the bloggers surveyed were in the top 5% of bloggers. I read your methodology link and I still didn’t see anything saying that everyone who completed the survey was a top blogger (by traffic, I’m assuming). It looked like you just reached out to a bunch of folks you know.

    So the data actually points to what these 1k bloggers are doing – not what the top 5% of bloggers are doing.

    I also didn’t understand some of your conclusions. Just because only 5.5% of bloggers spend 6+ hours on a post doesn’t mean those posts are getting more engagement, more clicks, more comments, etc. It just means they spent a lot longer on their content.

    I must be missing something. You said you spent 90+ hours on this post, but all the conclusions seem to be correlations…

    • I don’t think you’re missing anything, Bargain Babe. The questions led to data about the time and energy that bloggers put into their work. This data shows that a very small percentage of bloggers are putting in much more time and energy.

      So we were able to show how you can put yourself in the top 5% of bloggers in terms of activity. Other have commented on this above. Similar to you, they want data about the top 5% of results: quality, traffic or income. BUT, I cannot show how to put yourself in the top 5% against those metrics …because I have no idea how to do that survey!

      There is no quantitative way to measure quality (that I know of) and the tools that measure traffic on blogs only give estimates. And I’m not comfortable asking bloggers how much money they make, or if that number would even be meaningful, many bloggers have income from several sources. So the top 5% we discovered here are at the top in activity and effort only…

      Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry if you didn’t find this useful!

  • Hi Andy,

    I was wondering if you could provide the survey date of this survey? Also was there an age range for the bloggers? Thanks!

    • The survey was conducted during the first two weeks in June of this year. Sorry, but we didn’t ask the bloggers age. We really wanted to keep it short…

      One thing I learned is how difficult it is to get people to get people to complete surveys. We thought 11 questions was a good length. But there are so many other interesting questions we could have asked!

      • Great, thanks a bunch Andy! If we use this information for our eMarketer newsletter or reports, it will carry full and clear attribution to Orbit Media Studios.

        • Thank you, Corey! If you use the data somehow, be sure to let me know. I’ll share it everywhere…

          • Hi Andy,

            We wrote about some of your survey results in today’s eMarketer Daily, which you can find here: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Bloggers-Beautify-Posts/1011031

            Thanks again for the methodology info!

          • Great post, Corey! I appreciate the additional insights. I’ll be sharing this shortly!

  • This is really interesting and thanks for putting it all together – I have to say, though, the way you have defined “top” confuses me – but this was probably a tactic to get readers to click 🙂 I think most of us would assume that by “top” you mean most successful/highest readership/greatest engagement – not behaviour as you have clarified below in one of the comments. Spending 6 hours on a post doesn’t guarantee enhanced quality, readership, engagement or any other metrics we typically associate with being at the “top” – and I’d be willing to bet some of the best bloggers are those who can write a great post quickly and effortlessly. It’s difficult to encourage all bloggers to do what the “top 5% does” when we all have such different objectives and audiences. I agree with you that bloggers should take the time to create useful content and not just rehash what’s already out there – quality over quantity and all that. Some links to these “top 5” would be great too, because it’s always nice to benchmark. If we really want to improve the standard of blogging at a global level (as implied in a related Copyblogger piece) we should identify who the best are and then try and be better!

    • Thanks for the comment, Michelle. Yes, I addressed this in a comment above. “Top 5%” only shows effort, not outcome. It’s doesn’t necessarily indicate engagement, traffic, quality or income. But it’s interesting that some of us are putting in a LOT more work. Although we can’t measure the benefits, it’s interesting how much more some people put into their content!

      If it’s any indication, Sonia and Copyblogger spend 5-7 hours on each post. In most any field, outcomes are proportional to effort!

  • Thanks for the excellent survey and comments, Andy. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. I especially relate to the “quantity versus quality” issue, being a fairly new (18 months) blogger. My feeling of accomplishment after publishing a post is all too often replaced by anxiety regarding the next one. Another area that would be good to explore is the relationship between a “high-quality blog” and a “successful blog” and the role promotion plays in it. I see a fair number of blogs with high levels of participation (one of my benchmarks for success) that have poor lay-out and content as well as the opposite.

    • I know exactly what you mean about anxiety. The thrill of publishing is quickly replaced by the urgency to promote the post, which is followed shortly thereafter by the pressure to create the next piece of content. Two tips that might help:

      • The best articles have the promotion built into them somehow.
      • Create a series of posts which make creating subsequent articles easier.

      Our last article here was about email interviews, which help solve both of these problems. https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/email-interviews/

      Hope this is useful, Fred. And it’s so great to see you here in the comments! Cheers!

      • Andy hi,
        Is this an article in it’s own right? “The best articles have the promotion built into them somehow”

        Found your site today after your talk yesterday at #SMSS14 and the interview by @RussellAllert

        Head exploding I have so many ideas / questions now.
        Thanks
        Jane

        • Hello, Jane. Yes, I do consider this to be an article, and it has several promotion techniques built in. First, it was shared with the survey respondents! So that helped. 🙂

          It also uses another of my favorite tricks, which is all about collaboration. When you invite others (influencers and experts) to contribute to an article, they are highly likely to share it with their networks once it’s live.

          Getting contributions and quotes increases both quality and visibility! And it’s more fun than blogging alone.

          I’m glad if you found this useful, Jane. If you’d ever like a contributor quote to one of your articles, just say the word!

  • Thanks for your input as always

  • Hello Andy,
    It’s great to read wonderful experiences of bloggers thanks to you. I am sure all of these would work for all. I especially agree with Ian Cleary, since everyone needs traffic. It’s a fact that masterpieces are always attracting and doing everything for you.
    I usually read Neil Patel, he is an example of successful blogger. I have noticed that he puts a lot of time into his post, then shares with consistency. He loves his work.
    I am sure this can be key for everyone to be successful. Am I right?

  • Wow, amazing work. I didn’t realize how extensive this study was going to be. Awesome actionable data that bloggers can use to step their game up.

  • Andy, thank you so much for sharing this survey with me via Twitter. I found it surprising that many posts were not over 1500 words and that many posts did NOT take over 2 hours to complete. When you mention audio do you mean video as well? Only 2.6% seems like such a small number.

    • Thanks, Lisa. Yes, it’s amazing how blogging is still very short form, quick posts for a lot of writers. Those of us who go big are definitely in the minority. I take it you spend more time writing longer posts?

      The use of video was a separate answer and as you guessed, it was higher: 14.7%. The audio number is interesting. I once heard someone say that podcasts are the only format where demand exceeds supply. I don’t think that’s measurable but I suppose it’s possible!

  • Thanks for valuable articles. I learn many things from you.

  • Hi Andy,
    I must give you a kudos for this great article. I’ve gone through it and i have bookmark this page for a close and thorough reading later. Thanks

  • This is impressive job Andy. I have just gone through the first 3 questions and I’m hooked. I bookmarked this post for a closer read later on today.

    Do have a wonderful weekend

  • Super research and so happy to have contributed…I had the following comments when Andy sent me the results a few months ago. He asked me to share them in the comments and it seemed to have slipped my mind until now 🙂 Better late than never, hey?

    In a previous life, and as a Senior Content Marketer with a Digital Agency here in Ireland, I had the pleasure of strategising and writing content for clients within a vast array of industries. I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this brilliant survey 🙂

    When it came to writing content, we wrote content for many different blogs; let’s compare dental and travel blogs for sake of it! The dental stuff needed to be all very thoroughly researched meaning a blog post could take up to 4 or 5 hours. When it comes to travel, the time goes into thinking up something that is truly original – writing it is the quick part. So I think that some of the stats should come with the caveat that they are very much dependent on what industry you are in. It’s a (very costly) mistake we made at the agency when we were developing our content packages – just because our first few clients were “fluffier” B2C clients, it didn’t even cross our minds that it would take is double or triple the time to pen an article on dental or cosmetic surgery (try cosmetic gynecology – I kid you not!).

    Ah hindsight…. 🙂

    Nevertheless, great work 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Siobhan! Yes, I can imagine how it might be easy to underestimate the time. Predicting how long something will take to do is the trick to any service business.

      Blogging might get a bit easier and faster over time, but not if you switch industries and do it for a variety of clients, “fluffy” or not!

  • Andy thank for this study and research. I’ll not expect more.

  • Hi Andy,
    I appreciate you creating and sharing this useful survey.
    The results confirmed what I was thinking.

    Publishing less, but in depth, relevant and interesting content, makes your readers happy.

    Thanks for the data.

  • Cool. Excellent job Andy, it’s never been easy to research deeply like you.

  • Very insightful. Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
    I’m curious. What’s one question you wish you had asked?

    • Hi, Dave. I wish there was a way to quantify “top bloggers” As you can see from some of the comments, people really want to distinguish bloggers based on results. That wasn’t the goal for the survey, but ideally, this would have somehow been included!

  • You always give me new insight.

    I just wonder how 1500 words will attract people to read carefully…

    • Yes, I agree with Gina. Famous Bloggers like as Neil always write around more than 3000-4000 words and that they don’t need any Back links.

  • Great report! Really enjoyed reading this, i’m new to blogging for a company and this is great advice – thanks for doing the research! 😀

  • It would have also been interesting to see the correlation between effort put in and success. Do people who edit their own 500-word posts that they wrote in an hour get the same results in terms of visits/shares-leads/signups as those who are putting in more time, working with editors, and creating longer articles?

    These are some interesting stats, though. I think if more (marketing) people put in a little more time, SERPs wouldn’t be so crammed with results that promise answers and do little more than explain that some aspect of marketing exists. There is a lot of white noise in the world of content marketing. It’s not all that hard to stand out from the crowd.

    • And now having gone through the comments, I see that I’m not the first with a similar question. 😛

      • Yes, that was the most common feedback. But it’s hard to ask a survey question that gets to success. I still think about that.

        Did you have a chance to take the new survey? We’d be grateful for your input, Mark. Here’s the link:

        https://surveyplanet.com/5539637b533ba8d30b71f287

        Thanks, Mark!

  • This is great information and data! Thanks. Compliments, Karel Koes Hiranjgarbh Missier Paragh

  • Hi Andy
    It’s fun to compare yourself to other bloggers and see where you fall on the bell curve. I found it very interesting. I can see how it would be especially useful in the beginning.
    I think it’s the more experienced bloggers who are spending more time writing and publishing longer posts less frequently.

    Regards,
    Baibhav Tiwari

  • It’s interesting results 🙂 Maybe it’s my problem but write post during 2 hours and only under 1000 for me still a challenge 😀 I spend more time on writing and share more than 1000 words 🙂

  • woow… thanks for sharing, good job Andy..

  • A great post which I have enjoyed ever! Nice post Andy
    Just digg it and share over there! Keep this up

  • Great piece, this is a huge and very valuable resource guide for bloggers. It gave good insight on how bloggers do their stuff, a hugely commendable work, please keep up the good work. Thanks

  • Thanks for sharing these results! I’m absolutely going to try to post more consistently on my blog, maybe weekly!

    Xoxo
    Christina

  • Wow! I’ve been blogging from last 5 years and I’m pretty amazed to see the analysis you did.

    I agree with you that consistency is the key.

  • am I the only one who is commenting here in 2016? This is a good read indeed!

  • great insight , it was a good read and a fine summary.

  • This is a classy piece of research and I totally agree with the findings if i consider it for myself because I am a blogger myself at researchsnipers.com

  • Thank you for sharing these… I’ve just stumbled upon it now but it still seems quite relevant. Thanks!

  • Andy!

    Thank you for putting this together.

    My name is Tim Usher and you’ve never heard of me before. But you will.

 
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