2017 Blogging Research That Will Make You A Better Blogger

Blogging researchDo you still blog in your pajamas?

Personally I never have!

You may wonder why I ask.

Because Orbit Media’s 2017 Annual Blogger Survey reveals that blogs have evolved into full-fledged professional media entities.


As such, business attire is required at least if you work in an office!

To remain competitive with your peers, your blogging skills must meet or exceed average blogger performance.

Based 1,377 bloggers completing the 2017 survey, these blogging research results help you assess and improve your performance. For extra help, we’ve included actionable blogging tips.

Blogging research


1. Blog Post Creation: 2017 Blogging Research Results


Blog post creation time increases

Bloggers spend an average of 3 hours 20 minutes per post, an increase of 39% since 2014.

49% of blogger who spend 6+ hours creating each post report strong blogging results.

Blogging Research-TIme to create a blog post chart

Time to create a blog post over time-Chart

Blog posts require an investment of time and budget in content development. Beyond your initial draft, you need non-text content, optimization and editing.

As a result, many bloggers have reduced their publishing frequency or invited others to join their blog team.

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Create blog posts over time. Capture ideas, data and images before you start writing.
  • Incorporate blog posts into major content efforts. Use resources dedicated to the project to write posts for publication over a longer period of time.
  • Get help from your coworkers. Ask your customer service and sales teams to blind-copy you on their answers to customer questions. I call this FAQ content.


Blog Post Frequency Declines

Blog post frequency requires a balance between:

  • Publishing consistency: To build reader expectations by offering blog posts on a regular schedule.
  • Resources: To create and distribute blog posts.
  • Content transformation: To develop related blog content for different distribution platforms and to support your major content efforts.

Average Blog Post Frequency – Chart

  • 2% of blog research respondents publish less than once a week. As a result, their posts can’t become part of their audience’s regular reading routine. No weekly blog content means you’re off your reader’s content radar!
  • The percentage of bloggers publishing multiple times per week has fallen off the most since 2014.


Blogging requires consistency to yield results.

Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month receive almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 4 or less monthly posts. (HubSpot 2015) 

Blog Post Frequency-Chart

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Create regular columns. Use interviews or outside columnists for cyclical content to establish a regular cadence for readers.
  • Curate the news in your niche. The key to useful curation is to add value. Scott Monty and Christopher Penn send curated must-read emailings.
  • Add another content format. Use video and audio content for posts. Even better, outsource transcription to add text. For example, Spin Sucks’s Gini Dietrich hosts a “Fireside Chat”.
  • Take advantage of your prolific periods. Write evergreen blog posts you can publish when you don’t have time. Mark Schaefer always has extra blog posts ready to publish.


Blog Posts Get Longer: Blog post length

To stand out, your blog posts need meaty content to compete for reader attention and long-term visibility.

  • Blog posts average 1,142 words, up 41% from 2014.
  • 500 words or less blogs have declined significantly.


Average Length of a Blog Post – Orbit Media Blogging Research- Chart


75% of articles have zero referring domain links and 39 or less shares according to BuzzSumo. Translation: Other bloggers don’t consider empty, me-too blog content worth linking to. 

75% of articles have zero referring domain links and 39 or less shares according to @BuzzSumo.Click To Tweet


BuzzSumo analysis reveals 75% of articles get zero backlinks & less than 39 shares

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Incorporate relevant research and data where appropriate. Cite the information source.
  • Show and explain examples for each major point. Use visuals to aid readers.
  • Get influencer input. It adds credibility and authority to your blog post.

Include non-text content in every blog post

Bloggers are increasing the amount of non-text content in their posts with images, infographics, charts, videos and audio to aid readability and consumption.

Include at least one image per blog section to aid post consumption. @HeidiCohenClick To Tweet


Non-text content included blog posta – Chart

Include a non-text format in your cyclical content offering to structure and fill your editorial calendar. It also expands your audience since not everyone reads! For example, Moz’s Rand Fishkin produces his Whiteboard Fridays.

According to Orbit Media’s blog research, audio content drives blog results.

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Add captions to blog post images except your header image to attract attention.
  • Incorporate your logo and blog URL in your images. Allow readers who find your images elsewhere to get the full story on your blog.

    Example of how to brand and include your URL in images

  • Add text to audio and video content. Allow different consumption types and support search optimization.
  • Post audio and video to appropriate platforms to extend distribution. Use iTunes for podcasts and YouTube for video.
  • Make images Pinterest-friendly. Curate relevant images on targeted Pin Boards to expand reach.


Update your best performing blog posts

55% of bloggers update their older blog posts according to Orbit Media’s blogging research.

Update your older posts – Chart shows opportunities

I’m surprised all bloggers don’t update their evergreen posts. Updated posts not only support your blog and search rankings, they also require less work!

In 2014, Vox tested and showed that improving existing content increased traffic to these articles. (Here’s the full story on reposting blog content.)


According to Content Marketing Institute’s Michele Linn, updating their highest trafficked posts kept the content strong for the month following the update publication. In addition to changing the content, the post creative spotlighted them as “Back By Popular Demand”.

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Audit your blog posts quarterly or annually to update top performing content. Use your analytics.
  • Allocate budget to improve existing blog content since it needs resources.
  • Curate related blog content to keep it visible. Add links to related content to keep visitors on your blog.



2. Behind the Blog: 2017 Blogging Research Results

Blogging no longer fits the work-in-your-pajamas stereotype. Instead blogging has evolved into serious business, especially for marketing to build brands, increase owned audience and support sales.

Put your blog at the core of your content marketing, social media and search optimization strategy. To this end, integrate your blog strategy into your overall marketing plans!

Blog creation time: When bloggers create content

Bloggers create content throughout the day.

3 out 5 bloggers write during business hours. Blogging is work.

One third of bloggers create content early in the morning. Like many writers, they use this quiet period for creativity.

When Blogger Blog – Chart


Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Determine what time of day you write your best content. Look beyond the quantity of words.
  • Build chunks of time into your schedule for writing. Cal Newport calls this Deep Work. (Amazon link)

Blog workspaces: Where bloggers work

Blogging requires focus and skills. It can’t be a nice-to-have part of someone’s job or it won’t get done!

Blog posts are work product so most posts get produced where bloggers work.

  • 2 out of 5 people craft blog posts in their office.
  • 4 out of 5 people draft blog content in their home office. This makes sense since 43% of employed Americans spend at least some time working from home according to a Gallup Survey.

As a form of writing, bloggers have rituals such as going somewhere to be creative. As a result, 1 out 5 bloggers create content in coffee shops.

Where bloggers blog- Chart

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Test writing in different locations. Figure out what gives you the best inspiration. Adapt to different environments since you can’t always get the perfect writing space.
  • Build rituals around your blogging. Create habits to get into the blogging mindset.
  • Write your headline and post outline the night before. Allow your mind to work before you sit down to write.
  • Break blog creation into smaller tasks. Blog posts take time to create. Often it’s much easier to do in small chunks. For example, brainstorm post ideas, research data points, write the first ugly draft, and edit your draft.


Blog editing gets professional

As blogging matures, bloggers are increasing their editorial rigor.

Roughly half of bloggers edit their own work. This blog research result probably underestimates how many bloggers edit their work because you need a variety of editorial techniques.

Use of a formal editor underscores blogging’s evolution into a professional media. @HeidiCohenClick To Tweet


Blogging research results show that bloggers with a formal editorial process are 43% more likely to yield better results.


Use of editors by bloggers – Chart

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  1. Edit your own work. At a minimum, go for a walk and get a cup of coffee. Then read the piece out loud to hear how it sounds.
  2. Use editing tools. Among the top tools for editing your writing are: Grammarly, Hemingway App and Yoast. (I recommend reading Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes (Amazon Link))
  3. Have another person check your content. If you don’t have an editor, pair up with a colleague and check each other’s work. If MarketingProfs staff does this, it’s worth trying. (Hat tip: Ann Handley) Alternatively, get a blogging buddy.


3. Blog Post Distribution: 2017 Blogging Research Results

Blog content distributing shouldn’t be an afterthought.
To maximize each post’s measurable results, plan your blog post distribution.

Promote your blog posts actively

On average B2B content marketers use 5 methods to distribute their content. Distribute your blog posts across multiple owned, social and third party media.

Build distribution into your blog posts. Craft related emails and social shares at the same time you write the post.

Blog Post Distribution Methods- Blogging Research Chart


Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Send a weekly newsletter including all of your recent blog posts. (BTW, I used AWeber (affiliate link) to distribute my email newsletters. I’d be thrilled if you signed up!)
  • Distribute your blog posts as feeds (aka:RSS) when you publish them.
  • Install technology like Optin Monster (affiliate link) to capture visitor’s email addresses.
  • Use Facebook advertising to boost reach. Test titles and ads with a $50 or less investment like Larry Kim and Priceonomics. Then promote the best one. For example BuzzSumo spent $650 on Facebook ads that directly yielded 3 sales!
  • Keep promoting your posts regularly. Think beyond once and done.
  • Participate on aggregator sites like Inbound.org, Growth Hacker and Reddit.
  • Overlook smaller social media sites at your peril. Pinterest, Google+ and Slideshare expand your reach.
  • Participate in LinkedIn and Facebook Groups. But be active first.
  • Incorporate social sharing into your blog posts. Include Click-to-Tweet, social sharing buttons and Pin This.



Tap into the power of guest blogging

34.5% of bloggers never guest post according to blogging research.


Because quality guest blogging takes time, especially for high visibility blogs and websites! For example, writing for Social Media Examiner requires following their guidelines to create in-depth content creation and related images.

Add guest blogging to your blogging plans to stand out – Chart


Laser-focusing on backlinks as your rationale for guest blog posting is short sighted! Guest posting may not support your link building strategy since blogs limit your backlinks. You have to earn the privilege.

The real gold of guest blog posting is building thought leadership and reach! @HeidiCohen Click To Tweet


Before sending a mass emailing to place guest posts, do your homework.

  • Determine if blogs accept guest posts. Check if they have multiple writers and their guidelines. (Actionable Marketing Guide does NOT accept guest posts!)
  • Engage on the blog and share their content. Pay-it-forward. Show you’re interested in their content.
  • Make sure your request is relevant and complements their content offering. Don’t waste their time. For example, I get requests from people who can’t write or focus or who want to rewrite my posts.


    Example of how not to do guest blog posting outreach

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Plan your guest posts ahead of time. Create related but not the same content. Aaron Orendorff is a master at this.
  • Build real life relationships first. While I guest post less than I did, I always start by getting to know the people behind the blog.
  • Make time to create one guest post per month. Beyond the reach and recognition benefits, it’s useful for stretching your writing skills.



4. Blogging Metrics: 2017 Blogging Research Results

Define your blog goals to effectively measure your blogging results. Align your blog goals with your business and marketing goals.

Blogging Research Chart

Orbit Media Blogging Research Chart-Blog Yields Results

Outline your intended outcomes in your blog objectives. Integrate these metrics into your content with appropriate calls-to-action.

While you can measure many blogging elements, choose a few key indicators your can easily track to determine your blog’s contribution to your business.

  • Email address acquisition. Joe Pulizzi laser focuses on this as an early indicator. Also monitor your churn rate, the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your list.
  • Leads and sales. For most marketers, blog posts are top to middle of the funnel content. Further, visitors need to see between 7 and 20 pieces of content before they buy. As a result, sales are a bonus.
  • Search optimization. Focus every post on a keyword phrase.
  • Build influencer relationships. Ask relevant experts to contribute to your blog posts. Don’t randomly email them—build relationships first.

Orbit Media Blogging Research Chart-Blog Metrics

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Include at least one call-to-action above the fold. Get visitors to act as soon as possible.


The 2017 Blogging Research Results Conclusion

Based on Orbit Media’s blogging research, blogs have evolved into professional media platforms. Hence it’s no longer work you do in your PJs.

Blogs remain a key element in a well-rounded marketing strategy to support content marketing, social media and search optimization. Therefore, assess your blog against your peers using this blogging research.

Find where you’re performing below average and create a plan to improve your blog.

At a minimum, develop an editorial calendar to ensure that you blog at least once a week, widely distribute your posts, and track results

Get help writing, editing and/or distributing your content if necessary to build a relationship with your readers.

You can become an above average blogger!

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/XTzo1d6N5II

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