The Online Journalism Handbook: A simpleguide to professional blogging

Posted on February 19, 2009 By newswala Topic: Media, Onlinejournalismhandbook, Simpleguide, Blogging

An average blog in the Technorati Top 100 blog list is at least 33 months old. This guide to professional blogging is based on Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2008, a result of a survey of over 1000 bloggers in 66 countries. At start, I should make it clear that the Technorati survey is skewed towards monetarily successful bloggers and I guess their motive might be to convince more people to try out blogging.

The Technorati survey says that the average annual blogger revenue is more than $6,000. The survey further says that blogs with traffic of 100,000 per month make $75000 in a year, which is unbelievable. Moreover, the survey says that bloggers are enjoying CPMs on parity with large publishers. That may be true for some top blogs but in truth, the average Adsense CPM rates are around the $2 mark.

However, the Technorati sample of 1000 bloggers is useful from an education perspective because it becomes more credible when 1000-odd successful bloggers inform us about what works and what doesn't in blogging.

So, what is a blog? Definition ver 2.0
The traditional definition of a blog, as per Technorati, is "A Blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order."

As more people around discover the easy-to-express-oneself power of blog, Seth Godin has a different take on blogs:
“The word blog is irrelevant, what's important is that it is now common, and will soon be expected, that every intelligent person (and quite a few unintelligent ones) will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.

How Many?

According to Universal McCann, in March 2008, there were 184 million WW have started a blog | 26.4 US, 346 million worldwide read blogs, 60.3million in the U.S. read blogs and overall 77% of active Internet users read blogs.
Technorati is tracking blogs in 81 languages.
In the Technorati index, people have been blogging on an average of three years, collectively creating almost one million posts every day.
43% of blogger respondents live in the U.S.
72% publish their blog in English

Reach.
Blogs have representation in top-10 web site lists across all key categories.

Bloggers are bullish about the importance of new media outlets
This is important because bloggers tend to spend more time with various types of media than the average U.S. consumer. For example, U.S. bloggers spend almost 3.5 times as long on the Internet as they do watching television. This demographic is also open to non-blog content, as long as it is online.

50% of bloggers believe that blogs will be a primary source for news and entertainment in the next five years.
Less bullish on the prospects for traditional media — 20% bloggers don't think that newspapers will survive the next ten years.

Why blog?
Personal bloggers blog about topics of personal interest not associated with their work.
Professional bloggers blog about their industry and profession but not in an official capacity for their company.
Corporate bloggers blog for their company in an official capacity.

Both personal and professional blogging are equally popular.

Self expression and sharing expertise are the top reasons for blogging followed by networking and gaining entry into the traditional media world.
Career advancement and monetary reasons are cited by 25% of the bloggers as their motivations for blogging.

“Other” reasons to blog include: activism, book publicity, personal satisfaction, self promotion, share my passion, to become known as an expert.
And there were some who said in the survey that they blogged “to bake half-baked ideas.”

Blogging style
50% of bloggers surveyed consider their style to be sincere, conversational, humorous, and expert in nature.
Many people think blogging as a way to gossip or write revelatory content, those blogging styles along with snarky and confessional are at the bottom of the list among the bloggers Technorati surveyed.

Revealing their identity
Two-thirds of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs.
One-third are concerned for their privacy.

The biggest reasons for blogging anonymously are: fear of family and friends being harassed, disapproval from friends, family, or employers on views expressed in the blog.

Time spent blogging, frequency...

25% of the bloggers spend ten hours or more blogging each week.
The most influential bloggers are even more prolific.
25% bloggers spends ten hours or more blogging each week.
50% spend more than five hours weekly on their blog.
Only 15% of active bloggers spend less than one hour per week on their blog.

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority.
Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to post ten or more time daily compared to the next 500, and 14 times as likely than the next 5000.

Tagging smartly
Technorati's tracking data shows that the Technorati Top 100 bloggers use tags much more frequently than the next 500 and the next 5000 bloggers.

Top topics: In the Technorati Index (as of June 2008). “News” was the #1 most-used tag by bloggers, appearing close to 200,000 times over the course of the month. The top list of topics in order of frequency are: News, Music, Video, Internet, Blog, Politics, Life, Business, Videos, Movies, Technology, Family, Travel, Sport, Sports, Entertainment, Software, Diary, Humor, Art

General categories such as news, music, video, politics, and business tend to be the most popular tags.

The hot topics in 2008 were: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Blog features:
More than eight in ten bloggers have a commenting system, archived posts, and have built-in syndication.
Other bloggers use video and photos on their blog, or update their blog via a mobile device.
Among those with widgets, the majority of bloggers use at least four widgets on their site and two-thirds would include a widget with an ad on their blog.
Among those blogs with RSS feeds, three in four support full-content feeds.

Traffic strategies:


Listing their blogs on Technorati and Google.
Commenting on or linking to other blogs.
Participating in a blogroll or blog directory.
Tagging blog posts so that they are more easily searchable.
Linking to and from other sites — bloggers have an average of 29 links from their blog to other web sites.
To build loyalty with readers, bloggers create events for their readership

50% of blogs that were surveyed attract more than 1000 monthly visitors.

Bloggers are advised by the professionals to do Keyword Research. But today, everyone is doing that using free tools like Google Adwords Selector tool. In a scenario, where everyone is writing about the same keywords, it is better to revert back to the basics, go back to the earth, so to speak:
The basics of keyword research is this: "what words will you be using when you are searching for the topic?"

Analyzing traffic
95% of bloggers surveyed analyze their site visitors and monthly pageviews.
Google Analytics (free) is the most common tracking tool (used by 2/3 of bloggers).
Sitemeter (free) and Statcounter (free) are used by one in five bloggers
42% bloggers use more than one site analysts service/provider for their analytics.

Measuring the success of blog

82% look to more than one means to measure the success of their blog, with the average blogger looking at four distinct metrics.
The measures of success are: 1. no. of comments, 2. no. of links from other sites, 3. No. of RSS subscribers, 4. praise from other media, 5. no. and quality of business leads and money.

Investing like a Publisher in their properties
10% of all the blogs surveyed pay staff to contribute to their blogs.

Some top blogs in the Index (e.g. Techcrunch, Treehugger etc.) are investing serious money in their blogs - hosting, marketing, staff, and paid contributors.
20% of the corporate bloggers have paid full-time or part-time staff.

However, the average investment in a blog is only $50. The value of time spent blogging is not in consideration.
For savvy bloggers, other blogs are the most influential form of brand messaging

Making money through Advertising on blogs
Professional and corporate bloggers are more likely to include search ads, display ads, and affiliate marketing.
20% of blogs in the technorati survey are currently making some money blogging. Another 42% hope to make money on their blog in the future.

25% of bloggers use three or more means of advertising.
Two out of three blogs with ads have contextual ads (such as Google AdSense).
33% of bloggers have affiliate advertising on their blog.
20% negotiate directly with advertisers and one in ten sell advertising through a blog ad network.

Reasons for not having advertising

48% of bloggers have no ads. The most common reason given by bloggers is lack of interest.
Other reasons why some blogs do not have ads - Ad clutter, lack of interest, and low traffic numbers.
25% bloggers don’t feel like they have a critical mass of traffic to their blog.

The importance of product and brand reviews

Product and brand reviews have a better chance of customer seeing an ad or clicking through an ad. The results from the Technorati survey are a proof of the fact that savvy bloggers understand the importance of product and brand reviews.

More than 80% of the bloggers post product or brand reviews, and blog about brands they love or hate.
Bloggers often write about their day-to-day experiences with customer care or in a retail store are fodder for blog posts.
More than 80% bloggers post product or brand reviews, and almost90% blog about brands that they love (or hate).

Not surprisingly, one-third of these top bloggers have been approached by companies to be brand advocates.

Other benefits of blogging
Bloggers don't have to make money from blogging. Blogging pioneer, Dave Winer has recently written about how he made $2 million through his blog. He was referring to his income from software sales, from consulting, among other things.
37% of bloggers have been quoted in traditional media based on a blog post.
Most of corporate and professional bloggers have seen a positive impact as a result of their blog.
50% of corporate and professional bloggers are better known in their industry.
25% have used their blog as a resume enhancement.
25% have been invited to participate in an event as a result of their blog.
20% have contributed to a print publication as a result of their blog.
20% have found themselves on TV and/or on the radio.

One third of bloggers have received free products. The top categories include: DVD, music, books and video, Computers, Electronics. One more reason why you should blog about them.


Less than 10% of the bloggers have seen a negative impact from blogging.
One-third have yet to see an impact.

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