Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

10 Insights on Blogs from PEW

Notable insights from the PEW Internet study on blogging:

1. “The most popular topic among bloggers is their life and experiences.”

I knew this and you knew this, but it’s nice to see the numbers back it up. What do bloggers write about? Life, baby. Same as it ever was for anyone with a pen and a notepad.

2. “The blogging population is evenly split between women and men, and racially diverse.”

See? Anyone who says there are no (fill in the blank)’s blogging is just not looking hard enough. We’re ALL in here. Now can we please get over what color we are and what’s in our shorts and focus on what we all have to say?

3. “87% of bloggers allow comments on their blog.”

With the ever-increasing onslaught of comment spam, I was surprised at how high this number was.

4. “For most, blogging is a hobby, not an activity that consumes their lives.”

I see this as a reminder to all those Web 2.0 companies that expect their users to always be there, powering their sites, living every second online. Don’t count on it. For most of us, blogs are just one part of life. Recognize that we still live a lot of our lives away from the computer. If you build a site that’s dependent on the always-on blogger, then it will only be interesting to always-on bloggers, and they’re the minority. Only 13% post every day.

5. “54% of bloggers had not published their writing or media creations anywhere else.”

I love this. The web, and specifically blogging, is making writers out of people who never thought they could write.

I’ve always suspected that blogs were an evil plot propagated by English teachers. Sneaky!

6. “Nearly two-thirds of bloggers (64%) say they blog on a lot of different topics.”

A note to all those misguided pundits who say that a blog should have a topic: that’s not what the numbers show. Our blogs are for us to express ourselves, and most people are not so one-dimensional that they only ever think about one topic. Our blogs are like webcams pointed at our brains – you never know what might come up. And that’s what’s so fun about them.

7. “More than half of bloggers use a pseudonym.”

This one really surprised me. I’ve always used my own name online, and I even required it of people who wrote for Fray.

I see this coming with the growing awareness of the public nature of the internet and of search engines’ ability to reveal personal information to employers and peers.

It’s smart that so many of my fellow bloggers have taken measures to protect themselves, but I’m slightly sad that we have to. I’d love to see more systems like LiveJournal and the upcoming Vox that allow people to use their real names, but set posts to be viewable only to friends or family.

8. “Seven in ten bloggers post when inspiration strikes, not on a set schedule.”

Another hardy “piss off” to the babbling bobbleheads who think that people should post on a schedule. Bah! Blogs are not television shows. Post when you want, read when you care. It’s about immediacy, not arbitrary scheduling.

Also, sentences like this are why I love PEW reports so much: “A lucky 4% of bloggers say that both options are true: Inspiration strikes on schedule.”

9. “The typical blogger spends about two hours per week on their blog.”

Another warning shot to anyone with their head buried too deep in the blogosphere: This is not a huge part of most bloggers’ lives. Compare the two hours a week the average blogger spends on blogging with the 20 or 30 hours the average American spends watching television.

10. “Most blog from home.”

This one really surprised me. While early blogging may have been powered by the bored-at-work set, the majority (83%) now takes place at home. Fascinating.

Thanks, PEW, for another bubble-popping report.


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Hi, I’m Derek. I make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Flickr and Twitter. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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