According to a new report issued today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2004 was the year blogs took off, with readership up 58%:
- By the end of 2004 blogs had established themselves as a key part of online culture. Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere and its popularity:
• 7% of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary. That represents more than 8 million people.
• 27% of internet users say they read blogs, a 58% jump from the 17% who told us they were blog readers in February. This means that by the end of 2004, 32 million Americans were blog readers. Much of the attention to blogs focused on those that covered the recent political campaign and the media. And at least some of the overall growth in blog readership is attributable to political blogs. Some 9% of internet users said they read political blogs “frequently” or “sometimes” during the campaign.
• 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online. This is a first-time measurement from our surveys and is an indicator that this application is gaining an impressive foothold.
• The interactive features of many blogs are also catching on: 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs.
• At the same time, for all the excitement about blogs and the media coverage of them, blogs have not yet become recognized by a majority of internet users. Only 38% of all internet users know what a blog is. The rest are not sure what the term “blog” means.
That’s okay, no one really knows what the word means.
2004 was a great year for us at Blogcritics, with our readership approximately doubling in ’04 over ’03, which is of particular note because though we cover politics vigorously, politics is only one of five main categories we cover, and anecdotally, I know we are not known as a primarily political site. Therefore our gains were not as slavishly tied to the election as the purely political sites, nor have we seen much of a drop-off in the aftermath of the election: i.e., we rule.
The study has detailed information on blog creators:
- The Pew Internet & American Life Project began asking about blog creation in the spring of 2002. In June of that year, 3% of internet users said they had created a blog or web diary that others could read. By the beginning of 2004, the figure had grown to 5% of internet users. Our survey in late November showed that the number grew to 7%, which represents more than 8 million people. Blog creators are more likely to be:
• Men: 57% are male
• Young: 48% are under age 30
• Broadband users: 70% have broadband at home
• Internet veterans: 82% have been online for six years or more
• Relatively well off financially: 42% live in households earning over $50,000
• Well educated: 39% have college or graduate degrees
And blog readers:
- An even more dramatic story emerges in blog readership. We began asking about this in the spring of 2003 and found that about 11% of internet users at that time had read blogs. The figure jumped to 17% this past February and leapt to 27% in November. The growth in 2004 alone amounts to 58%. Blog readers are somewhat more of a mainstream group than bloggers themselves. Like bloggers, blog readers are more likely to be young, male, well educated, internet veterans. Still, since our survey February, there has been greater-than-average growth in blog readership among women, minorities, those between the ages of 30 and 49, and those with home dialup connections.
We have seen these trends reflected here as well, with both members and readers diversifying pleasingly over the last year, a trend I hope continues as we grow and penetrate further into the inner sanctum, or perhaps the bowels, of the Internet.