Blogging Statistics and Trends: The 2018 Survey of 1000+ Bloggers

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Andy Crestodina
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Why are some bloggers so much more successful than others? What do top bloggers do differently? How can I be more like them?

Millions of bloggers each spend hundreds of hours every year creating content. It’s a big job that a lot of us are trying to do well. And there’s only one way to find out what we’re all doing: ask a few questions, get some answers and look at the data.

For the fifth straight year, we asked 1000+ bloggers to take a short survey. Each year, the trends and statistics tell the story of the evolution of content.

We’ve grouped this into three sections. Scan through and discover what a small minority of bloggers does differently, what correlates with “strong results”, and how blogging is changing over time.

1. Length, Time and Frequency

  • How long is the average blog post?
  • How much time are bloggers spending on a typical article?
  • How often are bloggers publishing?

2. Process and Measurement

  • Are bloggers working with editors?
  • What percentage of bloggers are using Analytics?
  • Do bloggers update past articles?

3. Content Formats, Original Research and Promotion

  • What are bloggers including in the content? (video, audio, original research)
  • Where and when do bloggers write?
  • What percentage of bloggers write guest posts?
  • How are bloggers driving traffic to their content?

At the end of this post, you’ll find a chart that shows which actions correlate with results. You’ll discover that one in five bloggers, the most successful bloggers, do things differently.


1. Length, Time and Frequency

We’ll start with the blogging basics: the length of the typical blog post and the time it takes to write it. Together that data shows the trends in the effort goes into content creation. Next, we’ll look at the trends in publishing frequency.

How long does it take to write a blog post?

In 2014, the average blog post took about 2.5 hours to write. Today, bloggers are spending a lot more time on a typical article; time spent per post has risen 44%. The average blog post now takes 3.5 hours to write.

But the time invested per article varies widely among bloggers. Half of all bloggers spend less than three hours per post, while one in eight bloggers spend 6+ hours on an article.

Here we see the drop in bloggers who invest just a little time and the jump in bloggers who spend a lot of time. Bloggers are working much harder on each piece.

And that additional time pays off. We asked each survey respondent if they are getting results. Here is the relationship between time invested and self-reported “strong results.” This explains the additional effort. Bloggers working harder are generally seeing the returns on the time invested.

How long is the typical blog post?

As with time spent per post, the length per post climbed year after year since 2014. At that time, the average post was just over 800 words. Today the average blog post is 1151 words. That’s a 42% increase over the last five years.

Again, there is a wide range of responses. Most bloggers (55%) write less than 1000 words per post. But a small percentage write long-form content. One in five bloggers write 1500+ words per article. That number has held steady for several years.

But the correlation between length and success is even stronger here. More than half of the bloggers who write 2000+ word articles report “strong results.” Bloggers who write longer posts are far more likely to report strong results.

How frequently do bloggers publish?

Most bloggers publish consistently, but blogging frequency has been in gradual decline for five years. In 2014, “several per week” was the most popular answer. Today “several per month” is more common. The percentage of bloggers who publish daily is half of what it once was.

As an individual blogger, this makes sense. Spend more time writing fewer articles. You only have so many hours in a day. But nothing in the data suggests any benefit to publishing less often. Quite the opposite: greater frequency correlates with “strong results.”

Let’s see what the experts have to say about these blogging statistics and trends:


Expert insight: jay baer, convince and convert

“To succeed with blogging (or just about any written word online) you must provide definitive content. Not just some half-baked flotsam and jetsam that is 85% the same as the other 5,237 posts on the topic, but real meaty stuff. This is why bloggers who succeed are creating longer content that requires more time to produce.

But all of this long form opining demands the one thing that is a finite resource for bloggers: time. Which is why the zeal to publish daily has diminished precipitously, in favor of more infrequent, chunkier content.” 

 


Expert insight: Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider group

We spend more time on our content because that extra time is delivering results. But the data is mixed on frequency. Most of us are publishing less frequently but those who publish more often are getting better results (similar research has shown this correlation for years). The bottom line is that we all need to pick a schedule that works for us and then spend as much time as we can making that content great!” 

 


2. Process and Measurement

The next set of questions is about the process for editing, the use of Analytics and whether or not bloggers are going back and updating older content.

Are bloggers using editors?

Blogging evolved from online journaling (web +  log = blog) which never really involved editors. Today, blogging is a profession and content marketing is big business. Nearly one in four bloggers have a formal editing process. That percentage has doubled over the last five years.

 

Although the trend toward editors has leveled off, the correlation with results is high. Most bloggers don’t have a formal process, but those that do are much more likely to report strong results.

Are bloggers updating older articles?

This is partly a content strategy question. Bloggers who publish news are less likely to go back to an article and update it. Their content is date stamped and has a short lifespan of relevance.

But so much of content marketing is how-to advice covering “evergreen” topics. So the question about updating is important. And the data shows that about a third of bloggers do go back and update older articles.

Those who do are seeing the impact. Once more, we see that the majority of bloggers fail to take the actions that correlate with results. Two-thirds of bloggers don’t update old articles, but those that do are far more likely to report strong results.

How often do bloggers check Analytics?

Year after year, we’ve seen an increase in the percentage of bloggers who measure the results. More bloggers are using Analytics more consistently. One-third of bloggers “always” measure results.

One thing that hasn’t changed: around 5% of bloggers don’t even have access to Analytics!

It’s not surprising that bloggers who measure results are more likely to report results. This part of the survey has always confused me. How can 15% of bloggers who don’t use Analytics report strong results? How are they measuring results?

Let’s check in with the experts for their take on the process and measurement blogging stats and trends:


cathy-mcphillips
Expert insight: cathy mcphillips, Content Marketing Institute

“We repurpose old top-performing posts at CMI. If we have a post from 2013 that is still generating strong numbers, not only is it good for SEO to update and re-publish, but it’s also a way to make sure we’re providing accurate information to our readers.

Our Analytics show that updated posts have the same or stronger metrics than our newer content. We’re always checking analytics to see trends by day, author, and topic so we can continue to improve.” 

 


Expert insight: John Hall, calendar.com

“This data is extremely interesting, but not surprising. I’ve seen a lot of clients and even my own writing really benefit from the influence of a strong editor and analytics. Even good writers should use an editorial process.

And the analytics helps you understand more what your audience truly values instead of relying on your own biased opinion of what’s good content. Higher quality content combined with a better understanding of what your audience values is the key to improving performance.”

 


Expert insight: Brian dean, Backlinko

“What stood out to me is that only 38% of bloggers go back and update their content. This is a top priority with my blog, and one of the reasons that my Google rankings stick for YEARS.

Plus, if your changes are significant enough you can republish your content as a brand new post (I call this “The Content Relaunch”). Which is about 100x easier than cranking out an entirely new post.”

 


3. Content Formats, Original Research and Promotion

This final section goes into the what, where and when of blog content. What are bloggers including in their articles? Are they blogging at work? At home? Where is the content being publishing? And how common is original research?

What are bloggers including in their content?

Just over half of bloggers include multiple images in each article and about half are incorporating lists in some way. Those numbers have held steady for the last few years.

Video is still on the rise. One in five bloggers are embedding video into the blog content. And 4% of bloggers report adding audio. Podcasters are also included in this data.

Bloggers who add the more compelling media formats (video and audio) are more likely to report “strong results.” Again, the less common the practice, the more likely it is to drive results.

What percentage of bloggers conduct original research?

A new question in the survey this year was about conducting original research as a format for content. We’ve found it so successful for Orbit, that we wanted to see how common it is among other bloggers and if it correlates with success.

The impact is huge. 58% of bloggers who conduct original research report “strong results.” But only one in four bloggers do it. This is the best example of how a small minority uses an uncommon approach to beat the odds in a big way.

Considering adding research to your content mix? Here is our quick guide for conducting research.

Where and when do bloggers write?

The survey asks both where content is created (home, office, coffee shops, etc.) and when (early mornings, during work hours, weekends, etc.) When you combine the answers into one chart, you can see a trend appear.

How popular is guest blogging?

Some bloggers stick to their own site or blog only for clients, never pitching bylined articles to publications. But most bloggers (60%) guest post at least sometimes. And a small minority (7%) are PR-focused bloggers, publishing on external sites most of the time. These may be regular contributors to media websites.

Here again, the less common practice was the more successful. Bloggers who never guest post are the least likely to report “strong results.” Bloggers who guest post a lot are the most likely to report strong results.

How is your content typically promoted?

The best content doesn’t win. The best promoted content wins!

So how are bloggers driving traffic? Close to 100% of bloggers promote their content on social media. That hasn’t changed over time.

But year after year, more bloggers are more focused on SEO and email marketing. Since 2014 the popularity of those promotion channels has increased 34% and 76% respectively.

Influencer marketing and paid promotion are both way more common than in 2014, but they have leveled off. The biggest change is the rise in popularity of paid promotion. The percentage of bloggers who pay for traffic has increased 322% since 2014.

This next chart is one of the most important. It shows which promotion channels correlate with “strong results” and as we keep discovering, the least common activities were the most likely to be successful.


Expert insight: Gini dietrich, Spin sucks

“Research, people! Research! Andy has been beating this drum for a few years now (as is evidenced by this survey), and I’m ashamed to say we don’t do much of it at Spin Sucks. But look at the results you get when you publish original research!

It doesn’t have to be large and expensive. Start small with a SurveyMonkey or Google survey questionnaire and grow from there. And listen to Andy. He knows what he’s talking about (there’s even a link to an article on how to get started on this very page!).”

 


Expert insight: Carol Tice, makealivingwriting.com

“Blogging is big business now, and this data reflects that. We bloggers aren’t writing in our spare time, because content is too important! We understand how great content = money.

You also see far more people writing from a home office than ‘in the office.’ This tracks the trend of creative work being increasingly outsourced. The surprise is the strongest results from multimedia are in audio, which the fewest bloggers use. I smell an opportunity!”

 


Expert insight: Sean callahan, linkedin

“I’m intrigued by the enduring power of lists. You can see that the inclusion of lists has surged from 31% to 49%, even though many blogging experts scoff at listicles. But readers love lists — they’ve always loved lists.

I made this case back in 1999 in a piece for the Chicago Tribune. Readers want useful, memorable information that makes them more effective at their jobs or gives them a better understanding of trends. And lists — for better or for worse — accomplish those two tasks extremely well.”

 


Results, Success and the Final Analysis

The final question in the survey is the results question. We’ve referred to it throughout the analysis, but here is the straight answer. Most bloggers are getting results.

  • 13% of bloggers do not know if blogging drives results.
  • 80% of bloggers report “some” or “strong” results from their blog content. That number is down slightly from last year.

We’ll let a few of the pros have the last word on the big question of ROI:


Expert insight: mark schaefer, Social media speaker & author

“One of the important lessons I learned while researching my book KNOWN is that consistency is more important than genius. Most people fail because they quit too soon.”

 


Expert insight: barry feldman, Feldmancreative.com

“I liked seeing substantiation that guest blogging is clearly helpful for realizing stronger results. I’ve been an advocate from the start and credit the growth of my blog in large part to getting published on highly trafficked sites—and I help my clients do the same. Of course, guest blogging takes extra effort and persistence, but this year’s findings once again demonstrate going the extra mile is what separates accomplished bloggers from the rest.”

 


Final Analysis: 1 in 5 Bloggers Does Things Differently.

In each category, for each question, there is a minority of bloggers who do things differently. About one in five bloggers use tactics that are both uncommon and uncommonly effective.

Here is a combined breakdown showing what that one-in-five blogger does and how much more likely they are to report success.

These uncommon actions are difficult, time-consuming and even expensive. Imagine a content strategy that combined them all: spending 6+ hours per article, publishing 2000+ words three times per week, conducting research, pitching media websites, collaborating with influencers, etc.

That’d be a huge challenge, right? But just imagine the outcome. Imagine the reach and the results!

The article you’re reading now took 150+ hours to create. That’s 10x the effort of a typical article on this blog, but it’s worth it. It’s important and rewarding to make something new, something useful.

The world is not waiting for another medium-quality blog post. To me, this data is a call to action to strive and produce better content with better results.

 

It’s the ultimate reminder that that lesson we all learned as kids: greater effort leads to greater rewards.

About the data: The bloggers in this survey are from around the world, but most are from my personal network and the Orbit email list, so they skew toward North America and LinkedIn users. They were not incentivized or paid to take the survey. Most responses are from Aug / Sept 2018. The term “strong results” is subjective.

Gratitude: Huge thanks to the 1096 bloggers who took and shared the survey, the contributors who provided insights, Jantzen Loza for all the awesome charts, Joe Daleo for the pivot tables, Morgan Molnar at the team at SurveyMonkey for making data collection a cinch and Amanda Gant for leading the project.

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Comments (22)
  • The term “strong results” is not only subjective, it’s opaque.

    Downloading an E-book vs getting on online product order are two very different conversions.

    One factor I didn’t see was the influence of the blogger him or her’s self.

    I’ll read Andy Crestodina, I’ll read Neil Patel, Gini Dietrich and those above the fold.

    But as Barry said “Tell me something I don’t already” know is the biggest barrier facing bloggers.

    My new tact is finding worthy adversaries to debate with.

    • Barry would be a worthy adversary. But you two would probably agree on everything!

    • meanful answer

  • This is a lot of insights from the data you collected Andy. This report came in handy to push me towards taking my content marketing and content creation more professional and intense.

    Readers are craving for useful and timely information more than ever before, a wake up call for bloggers and writers to meet this demand and solve this problem.

  • Great post! I especially love the last graph. My largest success has come from embedding a lengthy and original YouTube video covering the same content and “video optimized” for the same keywords.

    No doubt whatsoever that, all else equal, longer content wins.

    Next steps for me and my team are to guest blog and start learning to use influencers.

    • Thanks, Eagan. Guest blogging can be extremely effective. And it works beautifully with influencer marketing. The editor of that relevant blog is the influencer, and rather than just pitch them, build a relationship on social and invite them to contribute quotes to your content first.

      Effective and fun. Let me know how it goes!

  • Great research, Andy! Congrats to you and your team!

    The term “strong results” is subjective indeed; It would be really interesting to know if you have some insights of the actual metrics that stay behind the “strong results” answer of the respondents. I’ve also seen that about 20% don’t use or don’t have access to Analytics.

    Also, do you, by any chance know the business field the bloggers you questioned are working in?

    Thanks a lot!

  • It’s a nicely put together report,
    but it’s a report of anecdotes and correlations.

    Further – it’s 1K bloggers … but no details on audience, target terms, level of competition etc.
    Blog posts for 20-somethings looking for food ideas is completely different to blog posts looking to generate leads for an investment firm.

    There’s no real “factors” there.
    What there is though is a list of things that now need to be tested,
    properly, to identify if there is any relation between the “item” and “influence”.

    So – will there be a followup … or is this going to simply be another SEO Correlation piece that gets referenced a ton and leads thousands of people down the wrong path?

    • Thanks for the note, Lyndon. At the bottom of the report, you’ll find a bit about the dataset. And despite the fact that there is no agreed upon definition for “strong results” (or even “blogger”) we feel that data is useful. Of course, there are tons of different kinds of blogs and bloggers and goals for blogging.

      It is meant to be a snapshot of simple trends over time for people who blog, and an illustration of what people who report results do differently. If you conduct a study that supports or rejects any of the hypotheses or trends here, please let us know!

      • 😀 Thanks for the response.

        I’m not refuting the reports usefulness.
        My concern is the sheer volume of people that leap to conclusions.

        Just look at “long form content” as an example. Hundreds of posts/articles advising people to produce longer posts because they rank higher.
        That’s not what happens.
        But it doesn’t stop a bunch of people blogging about it misinforming thousands of their readers.
        The same issue occured with G+ and their +1 button. Even though that had already been explained – it didn’t stop someone jumping to incorrect conclusions, and the SEO Community lapping it up.

        So this will be seen, shared … and there is a strong chance that people will assume that slapping in a Youtube vid will boost their rankings 🙁
        (I know that’s not what you said – but because it’s not stated against, it will likely be taken as that)

        As for contrary studies … I can get an immediate head-start there 😀

        Content Length:
        G have already nuked that – that’s a causative correlation, not a factor.

        Publish Frequency:
        G have nuked that one at least once as well.

        So there’s 2 facets that we know aren’t direct factors.

        Rather than the word-count being a factor, it’s more often due to the quality, the number of terms the content is relevant for, and the tiny technical gains of repeated word usage.
        Publish frequency is more to do with exposure, more content, more terms, more traffic – and half decent pieces will accrue links etc.

        The rest are more to do with Quality (which is awesome),
        and some cannot be mis-used (unless someone wants to start saying Google knows how long it takes you to write content? No? Good! :D).

        • Thanks for the additional thoughts, Lyndon! Yes, correlation is the goal. I’m not able to show a prescriptive, causal connection. I don’t think that’s ever possible.

          One other note, this survey doesn’t show any connection between content length and strong results in search. It’s just length and self-reported strong results in general. This isn’t an SEO study.

          Again, thanks for the input! I appreciate it and your POV.

  • It’s good to see that bloggers seem to be investing more time per post. One would hope that this trend would lead to higher quality writing. Still, 27% at 2 hours or less indicates some room for improvement, IMHO. Thanks for putting this together.

  • I would like to see the split (if available) between US and UK bloggers / markets. My experience between clients is that there are variations.

  • Awesome insights, Andy! I appreciate all your time, care and trouble spent on this survey.

    I thought this was intriguing…

    “More than half of the bloggers who write 2000+ word articles report “strong results.” Bloggers who write longer posts are far more likely to report strong results.”

    Yet… “One in five bloggers write 1500+ words per article. That number has held steady for several years.”

    We’ve committed to 1,500 words minimum and zero fluff on the Write Blog. That might mean we skip a week if we can’t produce that level of quality and need to spend more time on original concepts, thoughts, etc. It’s getting harder than ever to stand out in the sea of content, but there is still room! I hope more bloggers take advantage of the opportunity of creating long-form, comprehensive content.

    Also, the time spent on blogging is SO MUCH (3.5 hours on one blog). No wonder our agency is filling up with expert-level blog orders and blogging clients this year!

  • Thanks for doing this, and sharing, Andy. I am getting this to my team and we’ll have a discussion on it next time we meet. Best, P.

  • Andy,

    Thanks a lot for compiling this useful information. All of it makes sense.

    My guess is that companies like Facebook and OutBrain are benefiting the most, since a good number of bloggers are going the paid route to spread their messages.

    Now, I’m not saying that it’s a good thing for bloggers. It’s just the way it is now in our very noisy world.

    And I for one, am not happy about having to invest money in paid reach.

    The Franchise King®
    Joel Libava
    The Franchise King Blog

  • Excellent overview — and cool to see some trends and clarity within this entire body of research. I have been getting better at reviewing, updating and in some cases re-purposing old blog posts. Also, it’s remarkable how many links get broken over time. I have added “Related Posts” at the bottom of each post, and have backfilled that for many of the posts over the past 11 years or so. It’s a continual process and I chip away at it, little by little in 10 to 30 minute pockets of time. Thank you, Andy & Team, and glad to be 1 of the 1,096!

  • These statisctics is awesome. The most clear and informative research I’ve seen on that topic. Thank you for the insights!

  • What the study shows is how professional blogging became. Some people identified their revenue streams from blogging and can invest into becoming more professional with more content, real editors and even and advertising budget. But some still blog as a hobby and just can’t compete with those who are Superprofessional and full-time bloggers. For me its all based in monetisation and willingness/opportunity to invest more into the blog.

  • This is a great and insightful research. Would be anyhow great to know even more detailed what kinds of blogs were analyzed in this, e.g. travel blogs, scientific blogs, lifestyle blogs, enterprise blogs.

  • It’s something I’ve been researching. Thank you so much. 🙂

  • My, how blogging has changed since the early days. (I’m referring to business blogging specifically.) In the old days, blogging was more “shoot from the hip, speak from the heart,” which lent itself to more frequent, but less wordy updates. Now, much more research, thought, and grammatical correctness goes into it.

    I do a lot of ghost-blogging for members of the leadership team in my company and find that it’s not unusual to spend eight or more hours constructing a post. But even in my own blogging, I spend much more time than I used to.

    Also, I think part of the reason for the shift (and I suspect there are several) is that after about six months of blogging regularly, you simply run out of things to say! That, and you reach the limit of your expertise.

    Regardless, business blogging has certainly grown up from its more boisterous adolescent days — and, for the most part, I’m glad to see it.

 
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