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4% of Bloggers Generated $100,000+ in 12 Month Period: Study

James at everyhuman emailed me to day to let me know about a thesis that he’s just published on Blogging. He describes his research as follows:

To give a brief over view of the paper, it was written for people who have a basic understanding of Blogs. I looked at how Blogs have impacted business and communication, how some Blogs create revenue, how some companies are using Blogs, how Blogs greatly boost the spread of information, how Blogs add richness to the media landscape, how Blogs work in the Long Tail, how some companies are tracking the Blogosphere and what the future of Blogging may be.

I carried out quantitative research by twice sending out a survey via email to 750 Bloggers who are ranked by Technorati. A total 174 Bloggers filled out the survey.

Some of his key findings included:

  • 49% of survey participants use RSS readers to collect information for their Blogs
  • 5% allow commenting on their Blogs
  • 33% of the Blogs use Google AdSense for advertising
  • 22% use BlogAds

In a 12 month period:

  • 45% of bloggers did not generate any revenue at all from their blogs
  • 40% generated under $5,000
  • 4% generated over $100,000.

Of course it’s worth keeping in mind that the sample size was 174 so 4% is around 7 bloggers. One might argue both for or against whether this is a true representation of what all bloggers earn. I can’t see a breakdown of the types of bloggers surveyed so far in the paper but it would be interesting to see what type of spread of respondents there were in terms of topic, location and other demographics.

You can download the full thesis here (PDF)

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Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Abe Olandres says:

    The sample size is too small to make the 4% conclusive. I think the 4% will shrink considerably once you increase the sample size in the thousands.

  2. Have been going over this thesis for a few hours now, you’re slow to post this ;-) seriously, no mater what the sample size this looks like the real deal – a good insight.

    About the 45% who did not earn revenue – I would like to know how many of them where actively seeking to earn revenue – that’s a big deal, because many have no intention of earning revenue from their blogs, so the survey could be good or bad in tbis regard.

    The high use of BlogAds surprises me a lot – against the figures of AdSense – I would have thought AdSense would have a much larger gap between itself and BlogAds.

    4% earning six figures, ha! (smart headline, Darren!) – I guess that’s why you’re so popular – people want to be in that 4%

    This is a good survey but I would like to know more about the breakdown as you say.

  3. Darren Rowse says:

    I don’t know for sure – but it sounds like quite a few of those who responded might have belonged to the political blogging circles.

    The Blogads.com stats rememind me of the post I did back in April on how the top bloggers earn their money where I found BlogAds was the most popular way of monetising blogs among some of the most visited blogs on Truth Laid Bear.

    I would suspect that as you go down the ‘rankings’ of blogs that you’d find less used Blogads and more used Adsense.

  4. ChrisH says:

    Yeah, what Martin said. 45% didn’t earn any income and 45% didn’t have AdSense or BlogAds… I know there’s more ways of advertising than that, but it does raise the question Martin did. I guess I better read the report!

    The other surprise is the discrepancy between “rich” and “poor”. In business and life, it’d be surprising to find that 4% isn’t the norm for people being highly successful, but 85% being highly unsuccessful is surprising.

    Anyway, I better go read the whole thing!

  5. Thomas says:

    I’m on my way to join the 4% ;)

  6. ChrisH says:

    4%? I’d be happy just to replace my income!

  7. Dave says:

    I’d be happy to cover 4% of my income ….

  8. hatem says:

    Original study !! I’ll take some time to read it before giving opinion. Since most scientific papers are probably wrong, it could be at least a good experience to learn from.

  9. Yeah I think I would be happy to get 4% of my income too. Or IN the 4%, either’s good :)

  10. Self-selection bias — many unprofitable bloggers will not choose to take the survey and therefore the result is skewed toward the high end. Or, even worse, the original sampling of 750 bloggers are biased.

    If the thesis’ conclusion is correct, every million bloggers will earn $4.5 billion in income at the least. Isn’t the number out of whack?

    (Based on the data, 11% of the bloggers earn $5,000 to $100,000 — let’s assume $5,000. Let’s also assume 4% earn exactly $100,000, so the minimal total revenue of the one million bloggers is: 1,000,000 * (11% * 5,000 + 4% * 100,000) = $4,550,000,000)

  11. ~dawn says:

    Pick it apart as we may, I think it’s cool he took initiative to put together SOMETHING on blogging… perhaps it will inspire others. That way we CAN get a better picture as a whole of the revenue and breakdown on bloggers.

  12. It’s cool, yes, but I wouldn’t call it that scientific. With so many blogs out there, 750 isn’t much of a sample size. 750 customers for a business with 20,000 customers? That’s a decent sample size. But there are a lot more than 20,000 blogs out there.

    I’d absolutely love to see a better designed survey on this subject. And props for trying — but I wouldn’t call this data particularly useful, outside of to say that there are a good number of bloggers doing well, and a lot of bloggers doing not so well. Which we already knew. I think this could be pointing toward there being more bloggers doing well than we originally thought, but it’s hard to find anything conclusive, even extremely broad conclusions.

  13. Mac says:

    Warning: Nitpicking Ahead …

    It’s late on a Friday afternon, but I believe the report says “85%” allow commenting on their blogs.

  14. Gerald says:

    in germany we have a saying that goes like “traue keiner statistik, die du nicht selber gefälscht hast.” in english that should correspond to “don’t trust any statistics, that you have not falsified yourself”. i wonder that there is no more contradiction. i would even wonder if it were 0,4% that make the big money. given 20.000.000 blogs, 10 blogs per user, that are 2.000.000 blogger, do you believe there are 80.000 bloggers earning so much money? i don’t think so.

  15. Kyle says:

    From a mathematical perspective, a sample size of 174 is more than adequate to be conclusive and accurate. This is simple statistics. However, I agree that self-selection bias is probably also at work, as are other forms of sample bias.

    But the perceived “small” sample size isn’t a problem. Just my two cents.

  16. Jon says:

    I’m curious to know what it means by “revenue.” I find it hard to believe that only 7/174 people pulled in money from their blog if that’s what it’s implying. I’ve been blogging for only two or so months and have made a couple hundred, albeit indirectly.

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