The REAL State of The Blogosphere 2008
A few weeks ago Technorati came out with their annual State of the Blogosphere 2008 numbers. They revealed that 133 million blogs have been setup since January 2002. That means, on average, over 72,000 blogs have been setup every day since the blogging phenomena started. Staggering numbers!
However these top level numbers hide the full picture. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a lot of changes going on in the blogosphere.
- Out of those 133 million blogs only 1.1% or 1.5 million of them had been updated in the last 7 days.
- 16 million or 12% had been updated in the last 120 days
- In 2007 there were 1.5 million blog posts a day. In 2008 this number had fallen to 900,000
These figures suggest that blogging is slowing down. This is a natural, inevitable and healthy process as the sector matures. The web is clogged up with neglected and poor quality websites. It is in everyone’s interest that they are weeded out and closed down.
This de-cluttering of the blogosphere will continue for sometime and websites with good quality content will benefit as a result.
The maturing and evolution of the sector is leading to fragmentation as bloggers focus on the kind of content they want to create, what audience they want to build and their personal (or company) goals.
There is a perception that all blogs follow the same format and operate in the same way; namely publishing journal style posts in strict chronological order.
This is now an outdated view.
Today blogging is much more fragmented, sophisticated and can be broken down both by content type and blog objectives.
There are four types of blog when segmented by objectives
- Hobby Blogs – if a blog is not making money or marketing other products, services or events, it is a hobby blog
- Campaign Blogs – some blogs are created to build awareness of an issue, situation or cause. These range from charities to terrorist groups
- Marketing Blogs – many blogs are used to promote products, services, events, celebrities or businesses. Their goal is to build visibility and credibility, ultimately leading to a commercial outcome
- Profit-Driven Blogs – more and more bloggers are looking at ways of monetising their content and audience through advertising, paid reviews, affiliate marketing, subscription, sale of products (courses, research, ebooks, etc), events, etc. They see their blog as a profit centre
Then it is possible to segment blogs by the type of content they create ranging from Twitter comments (microblogging) which come and go in seconds to ebooks and courses which have value and relevance for many years.
As you can see from the above chart, blogging is fragmenting. Indeed many blogs have evolved so much they no longer fall within the definition of blogging.
Successful online publishers are finding the style that suits them and sticking with it.
To illustrate this segmentation here are examples of each of these type of websites:
- Kevin Rose (CEO of Digg.com) – http://twitter.com/kevinrose
Guy Kawasaki – http://twitter.com/guykawasaki
Social Media Websites
Many bloggers who struggled to keep their blogs up to date have migrated to the social networking sites way they share the thoughts, hobbies and plans. More of a blogging substitute than blogging.
- TechCrunch – blog about internet and technology industry – www.techcrunch.co
- Copyblogger – blog about writing for the web – www.copyblogger.com
Gizmodo – gadget news blog – www.gizmodo.com
- Postsecret – postcards with personal thoughts - www.postsecret.com
Skull-a-Day – about a guy who creates a skull a day! Don’t ask. www.skulladay.blogspot.com/
- Southwest Airlines - http://www.blogsouthwest.com/
- Matt Cutts – senior engineer at Google - http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
- Huffington Post – the most read ‘blog’ in the world is an online newspaper – www.huffingtonpost.com
- Gawker – more newspaper than blog with a team of journalists covering media, marketing politics, etc – www.gawker.com
- Smashing Magazine – one of the fastest growing ‘blogs’. Covers web design – www.smashingmagazine.com
Problogger – making money from blogging. Now more like a magazine than blog – www.problogger.com
- SEOBook – Aaaron Wall sold over $1m worth of his ebook SEOBook. Now he has turned into an online membership website and online SEO course – www.seobook.com
- SEOMoz – Blog turned membership site for SEO marketers – www.seomoz.com
As more content moves online so this fragmentation will continue and we will see lots of hybrid publishing business models emerge. Many will be driven by the increasing desire and need for publishers to make money from the time and effort that they put into their sites.
I predict that there will be a general shift towards creating content that has a longer shelf life so that more pages can be monetised for a longer period of time. We will also see many sites introduce multiple revenue streams rather than being dependent on advertising and sponsorship.
Here’s a summary of how I predict the blogging world will continue to evolve:
- The leading blogs will become more dominant
- There will be room for three blogs in each niche. Those not making the grade will wither on the vine or shift focus (Ed: see gadget blogs)
- Big niche’s will be divided up into sub-niches
- Many successful blogs will move to a more online newspaper and magazine formats
- The best blogs will compete with established newspaper and magazine titles
- Monetising blogs will be a dominant theme as more content moves online, recession sets in and audiences grow
- The growth in the number of new blogs in the west will rapidly slow. Growth will continue in developing markets
- Blog networks will continue to emerge to improve publisher’s bargaining power with advertisers
- The use of multimedia and interactive tools will accelerate making content creation more challenging
- Traditional publishers will start to finally get their act together. Some will go on to own their space. Others will go out of business because they do too little too late
- Musicians and bands will be one of the fastest growing segments as they disintermediate the big record companies
Blogging is maturing which means the number of active blogs is likely to fall, but the number of successful blogs is likely to rapidly rise.
The original blog format has moved on along way and will continue to evolve to meet many different needs including marketing support, promotion of causes, personal diaries and off course the creation of online publishing businesses.
All content that can be digitised will be digitised and distributed over the net. Some will find its way onto blogs, whilst most will require more sophisticated content publishing solutions which include password protection, community building features and the ability to create multiple revenue streams.
These are exciting times and despite the fact that over 133 million blogs and millions of other content websites have been launched over the last five years, it’s a sector that is still in its infancy.
Anyone, anywhere in the world still has the opportunity to become a successful online publisher. All you need to do is be driven by the passion and determination to run of the top three sites in your chosen niche.
Power to the people!