The State Of Blogging 2014 [Research - Charts]

Blogging Fame: 5 Easy Fixes

The State of Blogging 2014 Do you ever look at the top 25 blogs and wonder whether you’re doing something wrong?

They make blogging look easy.

Without seeming to work very hard, their blog posts acquire tons of social activity and comments.

You wonder how they do it. You read all you can about blogging and employ the recommendations, yet your results are less than stellar.

The good news: It’s not just you!!!

Here’s a real life story to illustrate the point:

When I created promotions at Columbia House, they’d perform gangbusters the first few times. As we continued to use the exact same promotion, its performance declined. The more times we flogged the offer, the faster it declined.

Why?

The promotion was no longer new. As a result, it didn’t stand out and attract attention.

The same logic holds for blogging advice. As more and more bloggers implement experts’ suggestions, outcomes diminish over time.

Instead of comparing yourself to the stars, examine what your peers are doing and figure out what you need to do to stand out from the pack.

To your rescue—Andy Crestodina and Orbit Media’s “Blogger Survey”!!! It should be dubbed: The State of Blogging 2014. Orbit Media uncovered what average bloggers actually do when they blog based on 1,033 responses to 11 simple questions.

The State of Blogging 2014

Based on Orbit Media research, here’s the State of Blogging 2014. You can break away from the pack by examining the answers to the 3 top questions every blogger has. The State of Blogging 2014

1. How long is the average blog post?

  • 82% of bloggers write 1,000 words or less. Orbit Media found the average was 800 words.
  • 5% of bloggers writer 1,500 words or more.

Note: The ideal length of a search optimized blog post is 1,500 words.

How to break away from the blogging pack:

  • Add more red meat content to each post. I’m not talking about extra words to reach 1,500.
  • Cut the extraneous words! Instead provide valuable facts and analysis your audience seeks.

2. How long do bloggers take to write a typical blog post?

  • 54% of bloggers spend 2 hours or less crafting a blog post.
  • 5% of bloggers spend 6+ hours crafting a blog post.

How to break away from the blogging pack:

  • Invest more time in each post. This means research, ideation and editing. You’d be surprised to find out that the higher profile bloggers spend longer crafting each piece of content.

3. When do bloggers blog?

  • 50% of bloggers blog during business hours. (Of these, 22% only blog during work time.) These are people who write for business—either it’s their job or supports their business (such as a solopreneur.)
  • 78% of bloggers blog during “me” time (outside of business hours). The take-away from this is that blogging is a personal activity that’s a passion, in addition to another job, and/or requires more time than is available between 9 am and 5 pm.

How to break away from the blogging pack:

  • Experiment by writing at different times of the day. Find what works best for your writing.
  • Train yourself to write under a variety of different circumstances. You never know where you’ll find yourself with the inspiration and opportunity to produce another blog post.

Blogging fame:  5 Easy fixes

To stand out from the blogging pack, requires that you do more than the average blogger.

1. Post frequently enough to be on your audience’s radar.

“How often should I publish? is a frequent blogging question.

Here’s what the State of Blogging 2014 found:

  • 54% of bloggers publish at least weekly.
  • 26% of bloggers publish monthly or less. (NOTE: This includes 14% of bloggers who publish whenever the spirit moves them.)

To generate leads from your blog, the sweet spot for is 2-3 times per week according to Hubspot.  Easy Blogging Fixes - publishing frequency

Over time, I’ve changed my blogging frequency on Actionable Marketing Guide. I first increased my posts per week but now I’ve slowly pulled back from 7 posts to 3 posts.

While greater posting frequently yielded additional traffic, I found the time required for quality blog content was difficult to maintain as a solo blogger with other work commitments.

Easy Blogging Fix:

Post at least once per week on the same day at the same time. You need to be invested in blogging to build a following.

Since your blog is a media platform, show readers you’re serious by making a commitment to publish on a regular basis. BUT make sure you can stick to your self imposed schedule!

Even the boringest business in the world should be able to achieve this hurdle. Offer the 5 basic content formats. At a minimum, collect your customers’ questions, show them how to use your product, and spotlight your customers.

Assess other publishing outlets for your writing if you’re unable to publish once per week. Write guest blog posts and featured articles. Alternatively, try another format such as SlideShare.

2. Get an editor for your blog.

Many bloggers think, “It’s a blog so who needs an editor. My audience doesn’t care.”

Or do they?

Here’s what the State of Blogging 2014 found:

  • 73% of bloggers don’t have an editor. While you may be in the majority your readers may not agree that it’s a good thing.
  • 14% of bloggers have a formal editor. It’s safe to assume that these are professional blogs, either media entities or business blogs, with sufficient resources to pay for copyediting.

Despite your blog editing views, 43% of readers DO care about grammar and usage in the content they read, based on research by Disruptive Communications in 2013. Another 25% thought that content was TOO salesy. Disruptive Communications-Grammar-2013

Copyediting separates the blog amateurs from the blog professionals.

As Henneke Duistermaat’s comment on the blogger survey reveals, some bloggers can edit their own blog content very well. But understand that this requires both skill and time.

Social Media Examiner puts posts through a multi-person review that spans about 4 weeks. No surprise–it’s one of the top blogs!

Easy Blogging Fix:

Implement a copyediting process into your blog pre-publication process.

With the increased texting and other shorthand communications, there’s a good chance that you’ve made at least 1 grammatical mistake. (BTW—My webmaster proofs my blog content. He’s a published author.)

Further, while everyone has access to a spelling and grammar checker, they’re not foolproof. The errors they leave detract from your content and your image

Another pair of eyes reviewing your content will catch these mistakes as well as providing a sanity check that your content makes sense and doesn’t say anything that’s not aligned with your brand.

Given the overwhelming proportion of bloggers who don’t have anyone check their posts, this tip has to be the hands down easiest way for you to stand out from the blogging pack.

Getting someone to copyedit your blog doesn’t have to cost a bundle! Here are 4 low budget copyediting sources.

  • Ask your spouse, partner or child to review your content.
  • Check whether someone within your organization has the skills to help.
  • Trade services with a fellow blogger. I think that a blog buddy is useful for brainstorming ideas as well.
  • Get an English or Journalism college student to do it for a small fee.

3. Step up your blog promotion.

Many bloggers put so much work into writing their blog posts that they don’t have the energy to distribute them as fully as they could.

Here’s what the State of Blogging 2014 found:

  • 94% of bloggers share their content via social media. (I’m surprised this isn’t 100%.)
  • 51% of bloggers use search optimization. (Check what 15 SEO experts recommend for improving blog SEO.)
  • 35% of bloggers use email.
  • 15% of bloggers use influencer outreach.
  • 5% of bloggers pay for advertising (including native advertising like Facebook ads).

Bottom line: Most bloggers do at least 1 form of post distribution.

It’s a good bet not all bloggers use each of these methods equally well.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers is the poster child for blog post promotion. Halpern believes in spending 80% of your time promoting content and 20% of your time creating content.

Easy Blogging Fix:

Promote each blog post to its fullest. Since you’ve invested a piece of yourself in lovingly crafting each piece of content, why not show it off? This may translate into lower frequency, but better promoted content.

While you don’t want to flog your blog shouting ME, ME, ME, you need a balanced blog post distribution plan.

Here are 7 easy blog distribution tips. (For a fuller list, please check these 64 blog tips inspired by The Beatles.)

  1. Add social sharing buttons to each blog post. Include email-a-friend. (Here are 23 ways to promote your blog via social media.)
  2. Remove roadblocks to social sharing. Incorporate social sharing within each post, such as ClickToTweet and PinThis.
  3. Install an SEO plug-in like Yoast. You don’t need to be an SEO genius to get the basics right.
  4. Leverage email. While it takes work to craft a tailored email for each blog post, which has associated costs, you can use a free option like Feedburner to send out mailings.
  5. Offer feeds. Yes I know that RSS is going the way of the dodo bird, but a portion of dedicated readers like it.
  6. Reach out to everyone you mention in a specific post. There’s nothing like the personal touch. Don’t assume that they’re following you on a specific social media platform.
  7. Have a small budget to support your blogging. Use this for special plug-ins, Facebook ads, and PR. (BTW–Here’s how to promote your blog without social media–it’s got 34 tips.)

4. Add other content formats to your blog posts.

Diversify your blog content offering. Blogs are a great way to distribute a wide range of content formats.

Here’s what the State of Blogging 2014 found:

  • 75% of bloggers use 1 image. Here’s another case where I’m surprised that the number isn’t 100%. People are visual beings. Images attract attention.
  • 45% of bloggers use more than 1 image.
  • 31% of bloggers use a list. They’re blogging gold.
  • 15% of bloggers use a video.
  • 3% of bloggers use audio.

The State of Blogging 2014 is consistent with Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

State of Blogging 2014

Easy Blogging Fix:

Enhance your blog posts with other formats than text.

Images are simple. Most bloggers at least use an image to pull readers in. This is just table stakes in the blogging world. At a minimum, show screenshots and spotlight text with a graphic presentation. Readers like to see what to do.

Want your blog to really stand out?

Talk to your audience. Literally! While this may sound like what you’re already doing on your blog, start a podcast. Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner has been saying this for years. Others like Copyblogger are starting to join him.

Derek Halpern [of Social Triggers] heard Pat [Flynn of Smart Passive Income] say: “~20% of my readers said they first found me on iTunes.”

Halpern’s podcast came out in early January… By January 27th,  Social Triggers had already grown over December’s full month of traffic by 43%…

5. Extend your platform with guest blogging.

Guest blogging (i.e. publishing a post on someone else’s blog) gets your name in front of other people’s audiences. (BTW—AMG doesn’t accept guest blog posts.)

Here’s what the State of Blogging 2014 found: (Doesn’t add to 100% due to rounding.)

  • 42% of bloggers never guest post.
  • 32% of bloggers guest posting accounts for less than 5% of their blogging.
  • 16% of bloggers guest post 5% – 25% of their blogging
  • 6% of bloggers guest post 25% – 50% of their blogging
  • 5% of bloggers guest post 50% – 100% of their blogging 

Face it–quality blogging takes time and hard work. Who has time to work for other people for FREE?

That said, it’s a key element for bloggers like Andy Crestodina who gained blogging cred by writing a post a week for other websites. Leo Widrich took his BufferApp from 0 to 100,000 customers through the use of guest blogging.

Easy Blogging Fix:

Write for quality blogs to gain traction on your own blog.

While this sounds difficult, it’s not as much work as you think. Here are the numbers based on some easy math.

Let’s say you publish posts 3 times a week as recommended by Hubspot. You craft 156 posts per year on average.

  • To guest post over 5% of your blogging, you must write an additional 8 posts. That’s less than an extra post a month.
  • To guest post over 25% of your blogging, you must write an additional 40 posts. That’s less than an extra post a week. This can be tough to accomplish. It’s a 33% increase in blogging.

Let’s say you publish posts once a week. You craft 52 posts per year on average.

  • To guest post over 5% of your blogging, you must write an additional 3 posts. That’s less than an extra post a quarter.
  • To guest post over 25% of your blogging, you must write an additional 14 posts. That’s slightly more than an extra post a month.

It takes work to get prime guest blog posts accepted. Spend some time analyzing writers who do a good job of it, like Jon Morrow.

You can reduce the work associated with guest blogging by building relationships with bloggers you admire.

 

Want your blog to stand out for the mass of blogs?

True –it’ll take additional effort.

BUT  if you target your efforts to the aspects of blogging to which other bloggers aren’t paying attention, you can achieve this goal more effectively.

By testing different aspects of your blog you’ll discover what works best for it.

The one thing you’ll know for certain: You’ll continuously need to modify it and change with the times.

What other blogging suggestions would you recommend and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • http://davidboozer.com/ David Boozer

    Great post Heidi … I have been following Orbit for some time and actually had a chance to take that quiz….it was fun!

  • http://www.prconversations.com Judy Gombita

    Heidi, I always tell people (at the front end) to spend a lot of time on their “About” section (as well as blog categories)–this gives you the opportunity to always blog with a focus AND a differentiation from the more general interest blogs. I think that’s why PR Conversations from the very beginning has been the #1 blog in terms of Relevance on The Inky Bee’s “60 of the best Public Relations blogs in the world” list. http://ow.ly/yzTrf

  • Aki Libo-on

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m glad I was able to read this post right on time! :D I’m actually working on my Content Development blog, and everything on this post gave me insight on how craft an effective content.

    Guilty with #2 though, as I don’t have an editor to check my blog. I’ll definitely work on this one.