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Six Grand: Ten Takeaways from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008

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Last week, Blogcritics' benevolent overlords at Technorati filed their State of the Blogosphere 2008 report.

It's a massive compilation of information, based not just on Technorati's own indexing data but on an extensive survey of bloggers across subjects, geographies, and demographics.

Anyone who blogs, or who enjoys reading blogs, or who just wants to stay on top of the latest trends online should spend a bit of time with the study — it's impressive stuff.

As a longtime blogger myself, I thought I'd give the study a close look and pull out ten takeaways I'll be carrying with me from the report. (Okay, seven takeaways, one of which I repeat a few times. But the one I repeat is, like, TOTALLY IMPORTANT.)

1. Defining "blog"

There's the definition of a blog, "a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video," and it makes me think of all the people I encounter on a daily basis in the marketing world who STILL don't understand what "blogging" really is.

They'll define "blogging" as commenting on the blogs of others, or of just going to a message board and posting. And these aren't low-rent underlings; these are executives and leaders at companies. Scary.

2. Money talks

"Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month."

So what's interesting here is…hold on.

Hold the crap ON.

$6,000 a YEAR?! For BLOGGING?!

The most I've ever earned is a free copy of an Abba autobiography and some CDs, and only then when I started writing for these fine folks. Before that, I'd never made a DIME off blogging.

(Okay, so I did meet my wife. But I can't use her to pay for comic books and consumer electronics.)

And $75K comes with 100,000 unique visitors per month. So that's basically my target, right there — I just need 100,000 people to become interested in reading my thoughts on One Tree Hill, my iPod, and Dora the Explorer, and I'm all set. The dream is alive.

3. Where're the teens?

The introductory demographic report starts at age 18, and doesn't touch on the percentage of teens with their own blogs. Oddly enough, the Pew Internet & American Life Project put the percentage of teens blogging at 28% in December 2007, up from 2004. That number seems small…could the blog already be going the way of the mimeographed newsletter and the ham radio as a means of communication? Another quote from the Technorati report: "Half of bloggers are on their second blog, and 59% have been blogging for more than two years."

That's a pretty greying populace of bloggers, especially when you consider how fast technologies move. So you have to wonder: Where's the next generation of bloggers?

4. Blogging is for the poor

In terms of how income correlates with blogging, there's a decent spike of bloggers earning between $20K and $50K a year, which I assume to be the young and entry-level types (I know that's when I started hardcore blogging). Then there's a SHARP dropoff amongst those who make more than $150K a year, which could line up with the age numbers, where blogging is mostly a young person's game.

Or it could mean what I've suspected all along: Money really CAN buy happiness, and the happy do not blog.

5. Identity isn't a crisis

I personally try to keep my blogs as separate from my name as possible, although my work for BC is a notable exception to that. I'm just not 100% comfortable with associating my name with what I blog about — I prefer the (relative) freedom of that extra inch or two of distance to the ability to attach my writings to my name.

Apparently, I've been wrong:

"The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era."

I knew there had to be a reason CNBC wasn't calling.

At the same time, the report indicates that one-third of bloggers do conceal their identity, and 44% want to make sure their friends and family are not harassed for it, while 22% worry about the reaction of friends and family, and another 22% worry about the reactions of their employer to their blogging.

I fit square into the 17% who responded, "My employer might disapprove of my blogging while at work."

6. Six freaking grand

Seriously, SIX GRAND a year?! That's part of a car. That's tuition at some high-falutin' private preschool. That's about 600 CDs.

I'm an idiot.

7. Satisfaction

Seventy-five percent of bloggers cite "personal satisfaction" as a measurement of success for their blog. That's reassuring — I can only speak for myself but I certainly am driven to blog primarily to satisfy myself (not like THAT — get yer head outta da gutter!). In other words, it's fun. If it weren't, I wouldn't — and on the occasions when it isn't, I don't.

8. Which comes first…the money or the blog?

"Overall, the high revenue bloggers are more sophisticated in terms of the tools that they use, their usage of readership events, and advertising platforms. They also invest far more resources (both time and money) in their blogs."

This begs the question: Did the hits and the money come, which inspired them to put more time into their blogs? Or did the time put in eventually pay off with larger revenue? The Technorati survey doesn't necessarily point toward an answer, but it may be an interesting arena of investigation for next year's survey — some kind of correlation between the amount of time spent on a blog and how much is made off the blog, tracked over time.

9. Blogging Brands

So the final day of coverage in the State of the Blogosphere 2008 discusses the communication of brands through blogs, and it's not exactly Earth-shattering in terms of its findings — almost half of those surveyed post product reviews, talk about brands they love, and blog about their everyday experiences in stores or with customer care.

The reason it's not Earth-shattering to me is that talking about brands seems like a no-brainer for most blogs. I'm also relatively unsure what exactly they're specifying by "brands" — the obvious thought is stuff like Coke or Nintendo or Nike, but are there certain levels of brands that are more discussed than others? One might assume based on the general perception of blogs as covering under-the-radar media, but it would be interesting to know.

The other side of the "blogging on brands" coin is "brands that have blogs," which is another area of great interest, since it indicates just how much blogging is being co-opted by corporations to communicate their own brand messages. That's probably its own survey, and there are statistics scattered throughout the survey that suggest that blogging for corporate means is gaining traction, but that will be one of the more interesting areas to observe as blogs continue to become a commonplace method of communication. Haven't seen a truly cringe-worthy example of blogging a brand yet, but I'm just waiting for cokeiskewl.blogspot.com or something to nauseate me with news of all the "hottest Coke products and news!"

10. Can I have six grand for this? Please?

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About Matt Springer