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What 60% of ProBlogger Readers Don’t Do that’s Central to My Blogging Success

A couple of weeks ago I ran a census of ProBlogger readers to help us work out how to serve you better in 2012. Thousands of people participated (thanks to everyone!), so I thought I’d share a few of the results that stood out to me. Some of them are based upon comparisons we made to last time we ran a similar survey, around two years ago.

  • How many active blogs? 45.2% of ProBlogger readers have one active blog, 24.3% of you have two, and 11.6% of you have three blogs. Interestingly 8.7% of ProBlogger readers don’t yet have a blog and 1.6% have more than 10!
  • How long have you been blogging? There’s a real spread here. The most common response was 1-2 years (17% of responses) with the next most common responses being 2-3 years (15%), and over 5 years (15%). As you’d expect, the numbers of people who’ve been at it a while have increased as ProBlogger has been going longer.
  • How old are you? The most common age range of ProBlogger readers is 31-40 years of age (29%). Next most common was 41-50 (24%), and 21-30 (19%). I hear a lot of people say that blogging is a young person’s thing. Not necessarily: among our readers, only 2.5% of respondents indicated that they are 20 or under.
  • Gender. We’ve seen a shift here. While previously just over half of readers were male, this time we saw 56% of readers indicating that they were female. What I did find particularly interesting was that we were able to track responses based on where people were referred to the survey from (email, Twitter, G+, etc.). G+ referrers were almost 70% men and blog readers were 60% men. All other referrals were 60-70% women so there were some real discrepancies there in terms of gender.
  • Blog platforms you use. Just over half of those surveyed use WordPress.org. 21% use WordPress.com and 17% use Blogger. The other 12 or so percent were spread out considerably. Interestingly both MovableType and TypePad usage had declined since the last survey.
  • Challenges and problems faced. The biggest challenges readers identified as having were finding readers, monetization, and finding time to blog. Not a lot of change here from last time although the “finding time” response was a bit higher.
  • Monetization methods. 65% of respondents are trying to monetize their blog (a little lower than last time). Interestingly, the methods of monetization have changed a little. More people are selling their own products, more are doing paid reviews, and less are using ad networks and affiliate marketing, and selling ads directly to sponsors. The most common form of monetization, though, was affiliate marketing (35% of responses).
  • Blog design. There was a real spread of types of blog designs being used by ProBlogger readers – but the most common type was buying premium templates. This was one of the big shifts from the last survey to this one—with more and more quality services now existing to design and sell you a great blog template (like my friends at Studio Press, who do all my own blog design) I guess it’s an option that will only grow over time.
  • Email marketing. Perhaps the most surprising result for me in this census were the responses to a question asking readers if they have an email newsletter or do any type of email marketing. Around 60% of you don’t collect any email addresses from readers, or do anything with email. As I’ve written on many occasions, email and newsletters are central to my own approach. Email not only drives traffic to my blogs, it helps me make money. I cannot imagine my own blogs without email. If there was one tip I’d give on how to grow a blog it’d be to get serious about this in 2012!

Thanks to everyone for participating in this year’s census. The above info, plus your thousands of suggestions, have given me (and the team behind ProBlogger) a lot of great ideas.

In fact in the coming months, you’ll see a shift in how we run ProBlogger that’s based upon what we heard in this survey. It will impact the topics of posts you’ll see here on ProBlogger, as well as our approach on numerous other levels. Thanks for making ProBlogger more useful!

About Darren Rowse

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. Jason Scott says:

    I’m guilty of the anaemic email activity, only using email to notify my few subscribers of posts. I could do so much more to make my readers feel important. I tell others to take good advice, so I’m going to practice what I preach and follow your tip. That was a much needed elbow to the ribs. Thanks Darren.

    • kenneth says:

      I agree with you Jason. Most of the time, my issue is not a lack of knowledge but the determination to act on that knowledge. Darren has really encouraged me as well to be more intentional and take action!

  2. Denys Yeo says:

    I am 61!; guess that makes me an outlier?

    Would be interesting to see some of the results noted as a function of age: for example do older people tend to favour a particular Blog platform? do they have more Blogs on the go? – knowing some of these trends might be helpful in encouraging more “oldies” to blog, after all we do have quite a lot to say and, if retired, maybe more time to spend saying it?

    • Kathy says:

      I’m 57 and feel left out!

      • Denys Yeo says:

        I spend some of my time trying to encourage people in our age range to have a go at Blogging. I think older people have a lot of worthwhile and interesting things to write about; they often just need some confidence to give it a go. Usually I am impressed at how good these Blogs are. So hope you are either giving Blogging a go, or will give it a go – and then won’t feel so left out.

  3. Terry Prince says:

    Great Survey Darren! Wonderful to see the results. You rock as usual!

  4. Dwayne@TWC says:

    I fall into the 2 active blogs, 1 year, male, 21-30 category. In the next year all of these stats will change. except for male part.

  5. Jeremy Myers says:

    I’m getting serious about email! Just started my email list 3 weeks ago! I am still not certain about how make money from it, but for now, at least I’ve started a list, and it is growing every day.

  6. I love having my Newsletter and couldn’t imagine not having an email list either. It’s a great way to share cool freebies with my readers, announce the launch of Ebooks, let them know about featured shows like my upcoming appearance on Yahoo Finance FEB 9th & ask for thoughts on posts , request guest posts and so much more.

    Recently I used it to send a free Press Release template, and announce a blog hop I knew they’d want to participate it. For me one of the cool things that happened although my blog is primarily for women is a man who has a pet blog told me he really enjoyed the newsletters and they were really helpful-
    That made me feel good .

    I love receiving newsletters also. Although some of the lists I”m involved in they send out 5 or more a week-that is over kill in my mind. But I just delete what I don’t want.

  7. Anshul says:

    Hi Darren, just looking at your first results about 45% of your readers only have one blog. Just to curious to know if you are suggesting that you can’t be successful with just a single blog?

    • Gail Gardner says:

      Hi Anshul,

      I’ll let Darren speak for himself, but I didn’t want anyone to leap to that conclusion. In hindsight I truly believe that focusing on one high quality blog is the best path for most of us. Several people I know who have multiple blogs are selling them off to focus on one – including me.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      You can definitely have success with one – in fact there are some good reasons to just focus in. I for example was running quite a few at one point and the quality deteriorated because I was too stretched and unfocused.

  8. Robby G says:

    Any tips on how to monetize on email lists?

  9. The title of the blog post was “What 60% of ProBlogger Readers Don’t Do that’s Central to My Blogging Success”. What is the answer?

  10. Nevermind…. I picked it up. I thought since it was the title of the post it would have been highlighted more. Thanks Darren.

  11. Bryan says:

    Just out of curiosity, how many responses did you get, Darren? The gender shift is really interesting; I’d love to hear more about the raw data.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      I don’t have the stats in front of me for an exact figure but it was somewhere around 3000 respondents.

      • Bryan says:

        Wow. Great response. For those not yet doing email marketing, it’d be interesting too see the breakdown for how long they’ve been blogging. Is it evenly distributed, or is there some particular time when most bloggers seem to begin building their list?

        Sorry if I’m asking you to scoop a future post :-)

  12. Dzulhelmee says:

    You are right Darren

    Email marketing is the way to go for. My blog main focus for 2012 is to start giving free e book which I am currently working on. I believe that by giving freebies like e book, I can start harvesting email from my readers. Thanks for the survey info.

  13. Johanna says:

    A very interesting survey Darren, thank you. I’m sure many readers will find at least one or two ‘Aha’ moments from your findings. For me, I think it’s to move to a premium template, and to learn more about email marketing. Onwards and upwards. Again thanks for your continuing blogging generosity.

  14. In the last year, I’ve started coaching bloggers and it seems to me like the hardest thing is just putting it all together. There’s SO MUCH to learn to be successful online. As I’ve progressed I’ve gotten clearer on what the core components are and how to coach people through the process.

    The Core Components to Being Successful Online
    1. Your Website – It must be attractive to your niche, and have the structure to rank well in Google. That’s why WordPress is so powerful in my opinion. It’s easy to install, setup, and use.
    2. Traffic – You have to understand what your target audience is searching on and be able to rank high enough in Search Engines to get clicks. Sure you can pay for it, but that’s a whole different skill set. But you must master the ability to create at least 1 source of traffic.
    3. Opt-Ins – the money is in the list. You have to give people a reason to join yours, and that usually means creating something of value that you can use as an incentive for joining your list.
    4. Products/Services – this is the part where you get to make money. Yes you can offer affiliates here, but it’s way more profitable to create your own products if you have the know how.

    [Of course this is an oversimplification, but it does touch on the major areas]

    Missing any one of these components means you don’t make money. It’s the difference between having a time consuming hobby and being in business.

    Most people I’ve seen spend all their time changing the colors on their blog instead of learning keyword research, copywriting, or list building techniques that will make them money. It seems like the spend all their effort creating the look of their blog instead of focusing on building a system to make money.

    In fairness to them, there’s so much out there they COULD go do. You can spend endless hours researching some other social media strategy, or any number of things. It’s hard for people to know what to work on first.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t have it all figured out either. I have just learned by trial and error like most of us. I still have lots to learn to, but I think it’s come into a much better focus over the last year as I’ve put many things into practice.

    I’m just wondering, does anyone else relate to that?

    Thanks for the Post!

  15. Anna says:

    I am not a fan of email marketing myself. For instance, I find those popups “sign up for our email or ebook” to be a big turnoff when visiting a site – I usually click away from that site pretty quickly. I also feel that sending those marketing emails are one step down the road towards spam. So at least for this blogger, that kind of marketing won’t be part of the plan. My site has been doing well even without it. Thanks for all the other great info on Problogger – it’s appreciated. My favorite post so far was the one on “culture of welcome.”

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Anna – totally understand what you’re saying. Email can be used in aggressive ways that can annoy some (if not all) of your readers. However I wonder if perhaps there is a gentler approach that can be effective.

      On our photography site we do interrupt people with a popup once (then they don’t see it again) but then we send them useful content. Our newsletter goes out every Thursday and if we miss one we get complaints because it’s so useful to people. Most of what we do in email is just that – send newsletters. it’s not about selling – its about driving traffic.

      We do mix in some marketing messages (less than 10% of our emails) but I know bloggers who don’t do that – they just use the emails to drive traffic and provide value. In doing so they not only generate great traffic but build deeper engagement and connections with readers who don’t know how to subscribe via RSS or social media.

      • Anna says:

        Thanks Darren for the response. I realize there is a range in how aggressive those emails/popups can be. I look forward to reading your articles on the topic, though can’t imagine using that approach myself. Just wanted to provide some thoughts from one of the 60% (who don’t use email marketing).

  16. I just got a free e-book up today with an e-mail sign up and I increased the number of e-mails I have by 50% just today. I have been trying to get people to subscribe to my blog, but not everyone wants an e-mail from me sitting in their inbox when the wake up (so sad). Giving away a free book of my best posts from last year was a hit. … now I will tell you, I am a small blog, so a ‘hit’ to me is different from the rest of the real blogging world. Either way, I am a believer :)

  17. Gary Zhang says:

    My web site gridding.com is not a blog, but is a keyword driven feed of feeds. For example, blackberry playbook is a keyword, our web site will smartly collect articles and feeds about playbook together and show under this keyword. Can my web site be operated as a blog site? And how? Please don’t treat this as a spam, I seriously have question how to run this web site. I feel at least each keyword can be seen as a blog. But it could have a lot of keywords.

    thanks for any feedback and comments
    Gary

  18. I have only 1 active blogs, Its New 2Mnth Only, male, 21-30 category. :). Nice to see the report. Thanks for sharing with us.

  19. Hi Darren,

    I’m one of those who is guilty of not having an email list or newsletter. Can you point me to a post or two of yours that may help me get started (I know no knowledge whatsoever in this area).

    Thanks.

  20. Hi Darren

    I was interesting reading through the results. I was very surprised at the 60% email marketing number, I would have thought this number would be a lot lower with all of the information around about how important an email list is. Maybe it’s a time factor, people might have some capture method but not be doing anything with the information?

    The fact that a lot of people are using premium templates is no surprise. There are so many great blog designs out there, I think people really want a professional, polished look for their blog and brand.
    Thanks for sharing the results.
    Cheers
    Thea

  21. Good to see that I fall in the majority for most of them. I don’t know what this says about me and my blogging practises, but it’s always good to have company.

  22. HiepNguyen says:

    Very interesting statistics. I think in the future, we don’t have enought time and Email marketing’ll become the most common ways sell product. Thanks for your sharing!

  23. Scott Kelley says:

    Great survey, sorry I missed it as I am a reader and have your book 31 Days to a Better Blog. 60 days and still reading and applying it too. Just to put my two cents in I am 52, I have three Blogs, I post once a week to at least one of them, sometimes more, I am trying to monetize, one blog i post for $$, I have an email list for newsletter and use Social Media to drive eyes to my blogs…and I am a Male Minority and read more Women’s Blogs than Men Blogs. I just find them to be more interesting and informative. I feel better now!

  24. Rick says:

    Thanks Darren!

    it’s always good to know if one’s in the beefy part of the bell curve.

    After 6 months, I’ve finally installed my shiny new ‘Click Here’ button for readers to receive regular updates. I’m using Feedburner to make it happen. One more stat to look at every 15 minutes.

    If anyone is interested, I created a pretty button for it; I didn’t care much for what was out there.

    Feel free to steal it, or let me know, and I’ll send you the PPT so you can make changes to it.

    Cheers!

  25. That’s a pretty interesting stat breakdown – love anything like this! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Stega says:

    Thanks Darren for the interesting topic. I have always relied on email marketing and from the results I get I can bet that is it effective.

  27. Dragan Palla says:

    Interesting survey results. Very surprising is the fact that 60% don’t use email marketing. It is consider as a must for any online business. Good to know there is 56% of female. I have 1 blog and I’m 35 yo.

    Thanks Darren for sharing this informations.
    Best
    Dragan

  28. Really, really interesting survey results. The age statistics and the length of time people have been blogging were both not what I would have expected. I’ve been blogging for 5 years now, but still haven’t built up near the following that many 1 year bloggers already have. Guess I need to stick around and keeping reading Darren’s articles. Thanks!

  29. For me the biggest issue is creating my sales pipeline and how soon I should implement this. I had some experience with blogging back in 2006 for 1 year. Then started again last October. Now with consistency of 6 entries/week. The readership is still little, about 15-20 uniques/day. I am a little confused about where the “boundaries” between building email/readership and start selling products is. How many email subscriber should I have in order to start selling products? Any input would be appreciated. Note: I am one of your 31DBBB students too.

  30. I have several blogs, but only 2 that I work on daily. The others are just weekly posts. I’m thinking about going to NAMS Conference for help with this stuff… for niche affiliate marketers. What do you think about the conference?

  31. Hi Darren,

    The list stat does and does not surprise me.

    I realize how I resistant I was to building a list for quite a bit. I figured it was a waste. I looked for instant sales or nothing.

    Over time I studied successful people. I learned most ran a list. So I followed suit. Then I noted team members hopping on board, noting being on my list for weeks, or months. When you see the proof it motivates you to build a list even more quickly, if you have resisted it for a while.

    I know it is difficult for non-html types to set up the form. Or for newbies to begin sending out emails, crafting titles, testing, etc. But until you generate a steady stream of income through another method, list building should be about A1 on the list of things to do as an online entrepreneur.

    People buy from people they trust. You develop trust by sending out consistent, value-packed emails to people over a period of time. If you have no list it becomes tougher to do this. Some might subscribe to your blog but many like the convenience of receiving a value-packed newsletter sent directly to their email address.

    As for the html stuff most services like Aweber help you a ton in this area. Copy the code and paste into a widget, or in your html. Really simple. The copy stuff? Study successful people. Daegan Smith, Frank Kern, whomever really vibes with you. Their success was not by accident. It happened in response to clear and definite, successful acts taken day in and day out.

    Start that list today. You will be thankful you did.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Darren.

    Ryan

  32. Fantastic survey! I love that the average age of probloggers users is 31-40. That just shows that it is NOT something only for the young. I think it makes sense, the longer you have lived the more you have the say and the more insight you have into different subjects. Great blog

  33. Joshgun says:

    Darren if everyone did exaclty what you did there would be no need for The PROBLOGGER…you are a blogger filter for most of us…keep on being this creative and fancy in your work!

  34. Daniel says:

    Great idea to have a survey, and some interesting results, Darren.

    I am also surprised by the low number of webmasters using an E-mail list. Though, to be honest I am still looking into which particular service is best suited for my site(Which is in a transitional phase–about to go self hosted and swap over to WordPress.org)

    I also have to admit that I have left a number of my blogs inactive for quite a while.

  35. Anas says:

    Can anybody say, why most people are switching from Blogger to WordPress once they started getting more pageviews? is there anything wrong with Blogger platform from SEO perspective?

  36. I guess for me one of the biggest barriers to starting a newsletter is knowing what on earth to put in it.

    I find writing easy, hence a hundred or so scheduled posts on my blog, so am wondering if just sending out unique content on a range of subjects related to my topic would be a good enough starting point?

    Can anyone advise me on that?

  37. Igor Kventor says:

    Thank you Darren! Very interesting review has turned out. Until recently, I had 15 blogs. This year I decided to leave only the 4 most promising blog. On these blogs I’m just going to actively use e-mail marketing.

  38. Kathy says:

    I’ve been blogging about a year. Haven’t made any affiliate money and don’t get many comments on my blog. I have email lists (my current and previous college students), so I think it’s time to give email marketing a try. I have also made a few YouTube videos that I’ll be posting to my blog that I hope will drive traffic there. Thanks for your useful tips!
    Kathy

  39. Here are some questions I have: 1.) blog dares, linkies, seem to be replacing webrings as a way to drive readers, what do you think of them?

    2.) A blogger has a Google friend connect or some sort of thing like that, what do they really do? Do those people who are “members” regularly read the blogs they belong to, if not what use are those widgets?

    3.) A blogger has done all the homework on writing and creating a successful blog but the blog is still going no where, what then?

    Would to read your response, it will be very helpful!

  40. Gerry says:

    I have 20 blogs and building 20 more. But I only blog on these sites when there is something new in the niche. I build them using WordPress as solid content niche sites with a static frontpage, with an optin form to build a list, using pages for the pillar content, and the blog is in the inside pages. I build traffic first via solid content and promotion, and when I get traffic, I post on the blog so I can update the regular visitors about the latest changes on the site (like when I add a new content page) and post the latest updates on the niche/industry.

    When possible, I build a product that helps solve the problems in that niche, offer free solid content, and offer the sale only after I have provided value.

    I blog regularly only on three flagship sites. Hope that gives you some ideas on monetization and passive income with blogs.

  41. Darren –

    I’d love to hear more “nuts and bolts” on exactly how to set up and write a newsletter. For example, do you simply take all the posts over the past week (or whatever time), do you write new stuff, what do readers get that they don’t get just from coming to the blog?

    Also more about the software and good newletter platforms to start with if you’re cash strapped. I literally couldn’t afford more than about $10 per month — and free would be even better.

    Right now, I’m using Feedburner and I’ve also got a sign up list for a book that’s coming out this summer, and I’d like to start a newsletter in the next couple months as editing on the book winds down and I have some time again (I’ve learned not to start a project when I don’t have the time to devote to it).

    Thanks — really like that you’re getting back into writing more of the PB articles!

  42. I was one of the 3000, thanks for sharing the data Darren, its very helpful.

  43. Glynis Jolly says:

    Interesting information. I was surprised to read that there wasn’t any percentage in my age group (50+). What is strange is that I know for a fact that there is more than just me out here blogging away who are ‘seniors’. Is it because of what we blog about?

  44. If you want to monetize your site, an email list is CRUCIAL! I almost get the feeling most people feel like keeping up with an email list or newsletter is more “work”, so they choose not to do it. If this is how you feel, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are blogging for the love or the money.

  45. I spent a lot of time on problogger but can’t read all or atleast most of post. another surprising thing The comments are also have high quality?? Darren, Do you just remove comments mentioning thanks or compliments?

    A Feedback: When I search anything here.. It shows the whole topic instead of excerpt. This cause a lot of pain some times because of a lot of scrolling. :(

    I am looking for a series about email newsletters.. preferably, how to use feedburner effectively?

  46. Interesting of course I missed the survey because I started filtering my email because my inbox is overwhelmed . I use Gmail and now do not know how to get your emails to start coming to my inbox again. I have over 4500 emails and I am slowly trying to get control.

    Without a concerted effort to check the folder for each filtered email, I no longer see the ones I want.

    I have over 4 blogs and am at the higher range of your reader ages.

    Finally getting checks from advertising. But need that amount every month instead of once a year.

    Eileen