Blogging Statistics and Trends: The 2017 Survey of 1000+ Bloggers

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Andy Crestodina
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It started with a simple question: How long does it take to write a blog post? To find the answer, we reached out to 1000 bloggers. We asked a few other questions at the same time, and the responses gave us insight into the business of blogging.

Each year since, we’ve repeated this research. Over time, the data tells the story of a changing industry.

Welcome to the 4th Annual Blogger Survey.

A multi-year survey is the only way to discover these blogging statistics and trends. Each year, we have new questions, more data, and a few unexpected insights into the changing world of content.

First, a huge thanks to the 1377 bloggers who completed the survey and the experts who contributed their insights. You made this possible. This is your work!

The survey breaks down into 11 questions in three broad categories:

1. Changes In The Blogging Process


2. Trends on Blog Content


3. Blogging Promotion and Measurement

For each question, we’ll present the survey data along with analysis showing which types of bloggers are reporting the best results. And finally, we’ll share the insights of experts and friends.

Don’t have time to read through all of the analysis? Here’s the short version:

TL;DR

  • How long does it take to write a blog post? The average blog post takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to write.
  • How frequently do bloggers publish? Several times per month.
  • Are bloggers using editors? 52% of bloggers use an editor.
  • Where do bloggers blog? 81% of bloggers write at home or their home office.
  • When do bloggers blog? 61% of bloggers writer during business hours.
  • What’s the average length of a typical blog post? 1142 words is the average length of a typical blog post.
  • What do bloggers include in their content? 30% more bloggers are using multiple images compared to years ago.
  • Is guest posting still a popular practice? Two-thirds of bloggers are guest posting at least sometimes.
  • Are bloggers updating older articles? 55% of bloggers update articles at least sometimes.
  • How is your content promoted? Over 20% of bloggers are now using paid promotion.
  • How often do bloggers check analytics? Only 32% of bloggers always check their analytics.
  • Are bloggers driving results? 30% of bloggers are reporting “strong results” from blogging.

If you want to dive in, let’s jump into the statistics and analysis!


1. Changes in The Blogging Process

This section tracks changes in the process of creating blog content. Here we see the biggest trend in blogging: more effort going into content creation. More time and more resources are going into the typical post.

How long does it take to write a blog post?

In 2014, the average blog post took 2.5 hours to create. That number has increased ever since. Here we chart the increase in the amount of time spent per blog post.

Breaking that number down, you can see a sharp decline in the percentage of bloggers who write posts in less than an hour. And a dramatic rise in the percentage of bloggers who spend 6+ hours on a typical post.

Key findings:

  • The average blog post takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to write.
  • In 2017, bloggers spent 39% more time on a typical blog post than in 2014
  • Three years ago, 1 in 20 bloggers spent 6+ hours on a typical blog post.
    Today that number is 1 in 8.

Analysis: Bloggers are working harder, and it’s paying off.

49% of bloggers who spend 6+ hours on each article report “strong results” from blogging. That’s a big increase over last year. Those who put the greatest investment into their content see the greatest returns.


Expert insight: Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

“The bigger themes here are two. One: quality matters. And two: We don’t need more content. We need more relevant content.

Good writing takes time. Crafting relevance for your audience takes time. Inspired content takes time.

I have yet to meet a writer who can pull something beautiful fully formed out of their head — like Athena out of the head of Zeus.

To me this survey signals that writers are recognizing that less truly is more… it’s better to spend the time to create a beautiful one thing than less time creating a bunch of meh.” 

Personal Recommendation: Ann Handley is the best keynote speaker in the world. If you need an opener for your event, reach out to Ann!


How frequently do bloggers publish?

Most bloggers are in the several-per-week to several-per-month range. But the survey shows that as we spend more time on each post, our publishing frequency slows down. A lot of brands are increasing their publishing frequency, but individual bloggers are not.

Here you can see the current breakdown and the trends over time:

Key findings:

  • Publishing frequency for individual bloggers is down. The most common answer is “several per month.” Two years ago it was “2-6 times per week.”
  • Daily and monthly are unusual. Most bloggers are somewhere in between.
  • Consistency remains steady! Around 85% of bloggers publish regularly.

Analysis: A slight drop in blogging frequency. But higher frequency correlates with better results.

More time is spent on each post but with a slightly reduced frequency. This doesn’t settle the debate over quality and quantity, though. Far from it.

When we look at the connection between publishing frequency and bloggers who report strong results, we see that quantity correlates with better results right down the line. Bloggers who publish more often are far more likely to get results.

But bloggers who publish frequently are often good at all the related work, such as promoting content and measuring results. These people are dedicated. Who would maintain that kind of output without getting great results?


Expert Insight: Gini Dietrich, Spinsucks.com

“It’s not surprising blogging has slowed. On our blog, we’ve seen comments decrease in favor of ‘dark’ social media. Combine that with a good majority of bloggers who can’t measure results effectively, and you can see how it’s easy for blogging to become a slog.

On the flip side, it’s good to see that long-form content is continuing to increase [data below]. After 11 years of blogging, I can vouch for longer form content, smart SEO, and consistency as the keys to success. These key findings definitely support that.”


Are bloggers using editors?

Originally, blogging was just journaling online. “Logging the web” was shortened to “weblog” in 1997, which became “blog” in 1999 (you can read the history here). It was once very informal, but today a majority of bloggers work with an editor (or at least have someone informally review their work) before hitting the publish button.

Key findings:

  • In 2017, twice as many bloggers work with editors compared to 2014.
  • About half of all bloggers edit their own work. This hasn’t changed much.
  • 1 in 5 bloggers has a formal editing process.

Analysis: Editors make a difference.

Editors improve results. Bloggers who have a formal process for edits are 43% more likely to report strong results. This is another example where the data shows bigger payoffs for bigger investment.


Expert Insight: Brian Clark, Copyblogger

“Copyblogger was one of the earliest sites to accept guest posts back in 2006-2007, and I personally edited every submission, just as if it were a traditional magazine (and that’s the way I thought of it). Then Sonia Simone joined me and took over that role. And now years later, Stefanie Flaxman edits every article that appears on the site.

In short, it’s in the editing that good content becomes excellent. It can be tough to objectively edit your own writing, plus an outside perspective can help your work go to the next level. If you’re serious about making a living with your content, you should aim to work with an editor as soon as it’s feasible.”


Where and when do bloggers write?

It’s portable work. It can be done any time of day from any place. When we ask questions about time and place, we learn that the work is done at all times in all places.

Key findings:

  • Bloggers are a totally mobile workforce. We work everywhere and all the time.
  • 4 in 5 bloggers take their work home.
  • 1 in 3 bloggers work on nights and on weekends.

Expert Insight: Heidi Cohen, Actionable Marketing Guide

“Blogging no longer fits the work-in-your-pajamas stereotype. It’s evolved into serious business.

But it’s also a creative business. It’s not surprising that a fifth of respondents create content in coffee shops. They actively seek environments for creativity’s sake. One third of respondents blog early in the morning; they use this quiet period for creativity.

Although we aspire to get most of our blogging work done before the evening, we still have more work than we can handle, especially if we’re creating 10X content. Personally, I use my mornings for creative content development and try to let it sit overnight before I edit into a polished version the next day.”


2. Trends in Blog Content

Here we chart the changes in the content itself. We can see all kinds of blogging statistics and trends in blog post length, media and placement.

How long is your typical blog post?

There’s no agreement about the ideal length for content. But the survey tells us the average length.

So how long is the average blog post? Has that changed?

Here the trend is toward longer articles. This is not surprising considering the increased time spent on each article.

The breakdown shows us that while far fewer bloggers are writing short posts, there is a huge increase in the percentage of bloggers writing longer posts.

After averaging the length in each answer, we can estimate the average length of a blog post and compare it to years past.

Key findings:

  • The average blog post is 1142 words long.
  • That’s 41% more words than the average post three years ago!
  • Half as many bloggers are writing shorties (<500 word posts).
  • Six times as many bloggers are writing long (2000+ word posts).

Analysis: Bloggers going big are far more likely to get results.

The difference here is huge. Bloggers who write big posts are twice as likely to report strong results.

Careful with this data. This doesn’t say that long posts are always better. But it does show that greater investment correlates with higher ROI. More bloggers are going deep into the subject matter, answering questions from every angle, and making a sincere effort at producing the best page for the topic.

And they’re winning.


Expert Insight: Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

“Well, so much for the short attention span of audiences today. When we started the CMI blog back in 2007, we rarely had a post over 1000 words. Today, our posts are getting increasingly longer, some nearing 3000 words. It’s not necessarily that longer is better, but our job is to deliver truly useful and complete information to our audience.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how long the articles are to get us to that point, but the trend continues to be more words in each post. In 2007, a blogger could “take off” on a post and not deliver truly remarkable content. Today, you can’t afford to miss out on even one article if you want to keep your audience loyal and engaged.”


What do bloggers include in their content?

A featured image? More than one? A list?

When we ask what kind of formatting and media bloggers add to a typical post, we begin to see how the shape of posts evolves. Blogging is an increasingly visual medium.

Key findings:

  • Most bloggers are adding more images. 30% more bloggers are using multiple images compared to years ago.
  • Video is more popular in social media, but not more popular on blogs.
  • Lists are hard to resist. About half all bloggers add bulleted or numbered lists to their content.

Analysis: More visuals = better results.

The uptick in visuals is paying off. Content with more images and video gets better results, as reported by the bloggers who use them. Multiple images are better than a single image. Videos are better than pictures.

Here’s a surprise: bloggers who use audio in their blog content (presumably podcasts) are the most likely to report strong results. Listen to the data. It’s trying to tell us something!


Expert Insight: Ian Cleary, RazorSocial

“My typical blog post contains images and screenshots. I include images that describe the post for social media sharing. But I also add images that describe what I’m talking about. Some people need the visuals to back it up.

Recently I’ve started a YouTube channel so if there’s a relevant video I’ll add this in also. I love writing long detailed posts but I need to break this up into smaller sections and visuals/videos help with this.”


Is guest posting still a popular practice?

Bylined articles, digital PR, or off-site SEO. Whatever you call it, guest blogging is still a popular practice. More bloggers are pitching to and writing for external blogs. Most bloggers are involved in guest blogging at least sometimes. There is no sign of a decline.

Key findings:

  • Two-thirds of bloggers do guest posting at least sometimes.
  • Every year, a greater percentage of bloggers are doing at least some guest blogging.

Analysis: Guest posting is popular, fun and not always effective.

Results are mixed. There is no correlation between bloggers who guest post and bloggers who get strong results. This may be because results are often indirect and difficult to measure.

The benefits of guest blogging include networking, personal branding, improved writing skills and making new friends. There’s also an SEO/linking/authority benefit which is tough to measure. These aren’t things that can be quantified.

Let’s let a guest blogging pro explain.


Expert Insight: Aaron Orendorff, Founder iconiContent

“Guest posting has never helped drive traffic to my site, build my email list, or sell products. However, guest posting did help build my career as a freelance writer. This happens in two ways. First, authority. Few things engender social proof — and thereby open the door to new clients at higher rates — than a big, beautiful logo bar.

Second, SEO. While most sites give you a default link in your author bio, the ‘greatest gift a guest blogger can give themselves’ is a link to one of their articles in the body of a post. It’s unwise to do this with initial pitches. But once you’ve established a solid relationship with an editor, it’s gold.”


Are bloggers updating older articles?

Digital ink is never dry. Often, bringing an older post up-to-date is faster and easier than creating a new post. We’ve embraced this tactic at Orbit, and we wondered if others are doing it, too. So this year we added the question to the survey. What percentage of bloggers go back and update old content?

Key finding: Most bloggers are updating old posts at least sometimes.

Analysis: Most bloggers go back and make updates.

Bloggers are learning that freshening up an old post may be better than writing something new. Bloggers who update older content are 74% more likely to report strong results. As the body of work behind a blogger grows, it’s gets easier to look back and find opportunities to update, rewrite and republish.


Expert Insight: Lisa Jenkins, Editor Social Media Examiner

“I’ve found that it’s best to begin with dated articles that continue to bring in high rates of traffic but are now seeing increased bounce rates. Articles that fit this description are often performing well in search and clearly address a pain point for your audience but might not have the up-to-date insight readers are looking for. It’s important to remember that while you can update the text and should include a date stamp at the top of the article to show readers when the last update occurred, you should never change the original URL or you’ll lose all that search juice.”


3. Blogging Promotion and Measurement

It’s not the best content that wins. It’s the best promoted content that wins. So let’s take a look at how bloggers are driving traffic and measuring results.

How is your content typically promoted?

Content promotion is often more important than content quality in driving traffic. How is content promotion changing for bloggers? The data here has some surprises.

The most dramatic trend in this year’s survey: the rise of paid promotion. There are all kinds of ways to promote an article and more bloggers are using more channels. All content promotion tactics are rising in popularity. But bloggers are buying traffic in greater numbers than ever before.

If we remove social media (which is nearly ubiquitous) and plot the other channels from the same starting point, we can see that the relative increase in paid promotion is even more dramatic.

Key findings:

  • There is almost a 5x increase in paid content promotion since 2014.
  • 1 in 4 bloggers are now collaborating with influencers.
  • Almost two-thirds of bloggers pay attention to SEO.
  • 42% of bloggers are still not using email marketing.

Analysis: More difficult (less common) promotion channels are more effective.

Less popular tactics are getting better results. There’s an inverse correlation between popularity and effectiveness. That suggests that counter-competitive actions work well.

Harder tactics also get better results. Promoting on social can be as easy as sharing on Facebook. Email marketing and SEO require a bit more work. And getting influencers on board (or pulling out your wallet) can be hard. Here again, we see that greater investment leads to better results.

Influencer marketing is winning. Almost half of bloggers who collaborate with influencers report strong results. It works. There are people out there who have already built the audience with which you’d like to connect. Collaboration is a fast, effective way to reach that audience.

Paid is winning. Only 3% of bloggers who use paid promotion reported disappointing results. This might be because paid promotion also provides its own set of reports, helping to justify ROI. At this pace, half of all bloggers will be buying traffic in four years.


Expert Insight: Lee Odden, Top Rank Marketing

“Lowering organic social visibility, elusive SEO, and dramatic increases in competition have created new challenges for marketers using blogs to attract, engage, and retain customers.

Beyond meeting quantitative blog traffic goals is qualitative engagement. More than ever, buyers trust industry experts and peers to engage in meaningful ways. Influencer engagement that goes beyond ‘please look at my post’ outreach and makes content collaboration part of an ongoing relationship pays dividends.” 


How often do bloggers check Analytics?

We’re happy to report a slight increase here. More bloggers are paying attention to the data. I was hoping for a larger increase, considering the increase in paid promotion. If bloggers buy traffic, they should measure traffic. Right?

Key findings:

  • Most bloggers check Analytics most of the time. There has been a slight year-to-year increase.
  • 42% of bloggers don’t use Analytics or use it only occasionally.
  • 1 in 20 bloggers doesn’t even have access to Analytics.

Analysis:

Well, if you’re not checking Analytics, how would you know if you’re getting strong results? So this one isn’t surprising. Bloggers who measure results get better results.


Expert Insight: Annie Cushing, Founder Annielytics

“As a blogger, I get the hesitancy to look at data. You pour so much of your heart and soul into your work, and data can be so harsh and unforgiving. I can analyze someone else’s site data no problem. But it’s difficult to look at my own.

If I see a drop in pretty much anything (sans bounce rate), I feel like the data is telling me my baby is ugly. That said, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. So we must put on our big girl/boy pants and stare down that data, no matter how insecure and fragile it makes us feel!”


Are bloggers driving results?

For dessert, we are serving a pie chart.

We’re ending with some good news. We are spending more time creating content and more money promoting it, and the investment is paying off. Bloggers are reporting stronger results from content marketing.

When asked to report on the effectiveness of their efforts, almost 30% of respondents reported “strong results.” The vast majority of bloggers are seeing rewards from their efforts and meeting their goals, whatever they might be.

Less than 1 in 5 bloggers answered “I don’t know” or reported disappointing results.

You can see the change since last year. There is a 20% increase in the number of bloggers who report strong results.

Thank you!

We are grateful to everyone who helped with this effort, starting with the 1377 of you who took a minute out of your day to answer the questions. Also, a huge thanks to our contributors, Amanda Gant, Marketing Director Extraordinaire, Jason Quey, our friend and outreach expert, Barry Feldman for his expert input and feedback, Joe Daleo for his pivot table magic and Jantzen Loza for designing the graphics. Thank you all!

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What are your thoughts?

Comments (35)
  • As always your post are very thorough and interesting. Thank you Andy :-)). A big fan from Italy.

  • A really thorough and clear analysis – as data shows us, most bloggers feel the Web is somewhat close to a “content-saturation”: therefore, striving to make oneself unique has become a top priority.

  • Andy–

    Thank you and the Orbit Media team for doing the hard work of creating this useful blog data. I always refer back to it.

    I agree with Ann Handley that bloggers are focusing on more in-depth, focused content. Joe Pulizzi’s comment about 3,000 word posts supports this point. As a result, I wonder why blog post creation time isn’t longer.

    While organic social media reach diminishes, it makes sense that Influencer Outreach continues to gain traction as Lee Odden points out. But beyond influencers, bloggers should reach out to their peers and colleagues using personal emailings.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi

    Heidi Cohen
    Actionable Marketing Guide

  • Thanks for putting all the time, effort and analysis into this. Your team has always stood out to me as people who are willing to do the legwork where others only theorize.

  • Did you collect data on what analytics bloggers are using?

    • We didn’t ask what analytics tools people use, but the question in the survey spelled analytics with a lower case ‘a’ so it wasn’t specific to Google Analytics.

      The typical blogger has at least three places to check results: the social platforms, the email service provider and website analytics (probably GA). Considering the rise in paid promotion, a lot of bloggers have a fourth source of analytics. Lots of sources of data out there!

  • What an amazing piece of work, thank you a lot Andy and all the people involved!

    I was really impressed with the less common promotional channels results.

    Thanks again!

  • I wish I had been ablt to take part in the survey. I do find the results encouraging. I have never been a fan of multiple posts per day (unless the site is managed by multiple people). Where the are many posts per day the value of the blog is usually poor. Quality is more important than frequency.

    The increasing length of posts is interesting. I have always said posts shoule be as long as necessary to explain the issue. My posts are typically 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. The longest was just over 2,500.

  • Thanks, Andy. Fascinating report on the evolution of blogging. Best, CB

    • Thanks, Christine! It’s a lot of work to produce this one …but the data suggests that hard work pays off. 🙂

  • Great insights from an excellent analysis – thank you
    Interesting to see the lower result for social media in comparison to SEO and email marketing – email is not dead 🙂
    The benefits of leveraging influencer networks continues to show good results
    Cheers
    Mark

    • You zero-ed in on some of the most important insights here, Mark. What kind of promotion works best? The percentage of bloggers who use social media and get strong results is about the same as the percentage of all bloggers who report strong results. Basically, everyone uses at least some social promotion! So there really isn’t a super meaningful correlation there.

      But yes, the data about the success of bloggers who use influencer marketing really stood out for me. There’s definitely something to that!

      • As soon as I saw that influencer marketing part, I immediately went to one of the websites in my niche and sent them an email about collaborating or their policy on guest posts. Had to jump on that right away! 🙂

  • Great insights Andy! The audio format findings were surprising indeed, but it makes me happy I experimented with audio tracks for some of my blogs earlier this year. Back to the recorder! 🙂 Happy to participate in this year’s survey!

    • Hi Matt, what do you mean by “audio tracks”? Do you have an audio version of your posts? What tech do you use for this? TIA!

  • Such a great report and super helpful for planning purposes. Gives me something to stand on! One question, “strong results,” that is subjective to the responder, right? When asking the questions, you didn’t define what strong results meant, e.g., drove X% increase in traffic, revenue, etc..

  • Thanks for this Andy. Clients often don’t understand the challenge of creating quality content. It takes time, and that means money. I will definitely use this information in client meetings. I’m always trying to convince them that a 1,500-word post that is well researched is better than 500 words of non-quality content.

  • Two remaining questions, for me
    1. How long does a typical blogger blog? How many bloggers in 2014 are still blogging?
    2. How to people handle the technical aspects of blogging?

    I ask because I blogged consistently for about 5 years, and then WordPress got too difficult to deal with. The number of templates got overwhelming; configuration was too much; because it’s open source, authors of plugins would disappear and things on the website would break. It’s no longer the commoners’ tool it used to be.

    Eventually, I reached a point where blogging meant knowing more about CSS and HTML than I wanted to know.

    I miss writing, but after almost 2 years of not blogging, I don’t miss HTML and CSS.
    When I blogged, a post could easily take 5+ hours–most of that spent resizing pictures, getting them lined up, trying to figure out things like, “why all of a sudden are my bullet-points on top of my image?”

    One thing I’ve learned is with any activity, there’s the activity itself, and there’s what it takes to do that thing successfully. Like playing an instrument in a band. A person can be a good drummer, but what if that person hates hauling their drum set to gigs and being out until 3am? OOPS!

    Today I focus on video. The time commitment is HUGE! Easily, a 7-min video can take 10 hours. But those 10 hours feel more straightforward than blogging in WordPress. And the writing I’ve done has been on Medium.

    • Hi there, have you considered blogging on Medium?

  • 1377 bloggers were only from USA?

    • The respondents are mostly from my network, which is mostly USA with many people from Chicago. But we have respondents from around the world. I estimate that it is 85% of the respondents are North American. Thanks for asking, Marcin.

  • Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to conduct the survey and share the findings.

    Q. What is an example of an effective way to work with influencers?

    Best, Kevin

    • Great question, Kevin. There are a lot of ways to do this. Tactics range from paying influencers to create content on behalf of a brand to just gently nudging influencers to share something. The term “influencer marketing” is very broad.

      This piece itself is an example of my favorite influencer marketing tactic. To make sure that my favorite thought leaders know about this research, I simply asked them to contribute to it.

      Contributor quotes, round ups and interviews are some of the best ways to do influencer marketing (I think) because it’s collaborative and creative. It can lead to real friendships! What could be better than that?

  • well done Andy – thanks for sharing back – cheers to a great week. FERG @FergDevins

  • This post will be featured in our weekly newsletter. Terrific job. Congratulations!

  • Great article and great findings – I have use some of your diagrams with copyright notice and reference to you in my article on our blog stating, that it is a myth that we do not want to read long texts on the net. I hope it is OK, else tell me otherwise

  • Hi Andy,

    Thanks for sharing your interesting and insightful findings. Do you know what your respondents meant by “paid promotion”? Does that include paid ads on social platforms such as Facebook?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey, Lexi! Paid services included native advertising, PPC, social ads, etc…

  • I’m writing about this (again this year) and I have a question on the percentage of bloggers who report strong results: Are we also showing who does not see strong results? For example, if we look at just daily (x-axis), is that saying 53% *do not* see strong results?

  • Very Interesting results. I’ve been blogging for 11 years now and made sure I update my blog atleast once a week or max once in two weeks, with proper SEO guidelines and make sure the post is 1000+ words long.

  • These trends clearly Indicate that blogging is getting more and more competitive. And bloggers are striving hard to keep them up in this competitive world.

  • 1) Planning the writing should take longer than the writing itself.
    2) Quality over quantity.
    3) You don’t read what you wrote. You read what you think you wrote. Please, let SOMEONE else read it before you publish it.

  • Indeed a very insightful survey. Besides the business data points, I was searching for some data point on Bloggers’ Profiles. It would have been good to understand and link the profile of bloggers to the data you have presented.

    I kind of now getting concerned with content rewriting done by Bloggers across same topic. I would call it Blog-Spamming. Which is usually done when a brand hires a set of bloggers (aka. Influencers) to blog about their product or service.

    I read this survey 1st time, quite impressed to get the data points. Quite a revelation for me. Humble Beginnings!!!

    Cheers! Please keep doping us with such great insights.

  • Thank you Andy for this thorough well-conducted survey.

 
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