Blogging still works in 2020.
Don’t take my word for it—my colleague, Andy Crestodina, recently published Orbit Media’s 2020 Blogging Research.
And he’s run this research every year since 2014. That’s 7 years of data!
So here’s the reality:
Blogging has grown into adulthood. (Okay, I may be using dog years.)
As a result, more businesses use blogs to add new and/or updated content and articles to their owned digital media.
Like other forms of digital media, blogs have changed over time.
So let’s dig into Orbit Media’s 2020 Blog Research to understand how you can use your organization’s blog to support your business goals.
2020 Blogging Research Results
Let’s start with the major take-away:
(Note: These results are self reported!)
So don’t listen to the blogging naysayers in your organization!
BUT– Ditch the idea of a lone blogger!
Since most blogs have evolved and include a team due to increased time demands and skill specialization.
For example, in 2020, a third of bloggers used a professional editor to review their work. While 28% show their posts informally to another person. (If you’re wondering, my webmaster edits my posts.)
This shows that, regardless of what you call them, blogs have grown into a form of professionally created media.
While the research was answered by individual bloggers, there’s a good chance that they blog for their business’s blog or a media entity. As a result, there may be more people involved in the blogging process.
As MarketingProfs’s Ann Handley says, “Blogging is a process!” Before you cringe at the word process, I appreciate how much you may love using your words.
But now, successful blogging involves more diverse skills. Blogs have editors, search specialists, image and graphics support and social media managers. In addition, they may cross into other corporate departments such as email and website (and/or technology).
2020 Time Spent Per Blog Post
In 2020, bloggers spend about one and a half hours more writing each post than they did in 2014. The average amount of time to write a blog post in 2020 was 3 hours 55 minutes compared to 2 hours 24 minutes in 2014.
Are you surprised by these results?
Even with my blogging experience, I find that each new blog post takes more time than it did in 2014. Because even with years of experience, content creators need to put more time into each piece of content so that it’s the best it can be.
For many writers this translates to writing your first ugly draft (aka: TFUD) letting it sit and editing it one or more times. (Hat tip: Everybody Writes.)
BUT—I invest this time since my blogging has evolved with the changing environment:
For each new blog post to stand out, you must create unique content that your audience actively seeks.
2020 Words Per Blog Post
Want to know what bloggers spend their extra blogging time doing?
The short answer: They write longer posts.
In 2020, blog posts averaged 1,269 wordscompared with 808 words in 2014. Further, About a quarter of respondents write 1,500+ words per post.
At one point, I posted new content 5 times per week on this blog.
While I had a process and blog post structure to help me to create shorter and faster posts, I still needed to put my tush in my seat to write them. Also, I needed to generate more blog post ideas per week.
2020 Blog Post Frequency
Blogging frequency shows how blogs continue to evolve.
But, like traditional media, publication frequency creates a reader habit.
My parents had The New York Times delivered everyday for as long as I can remember. After the digital version was available, they still got the print version. Despite my dad’s complaints about the newspaper’s increasing cost, they kept getting it. Because it was part of their breakfast routine and their daily habits.
Like my parents, your loyal readers want to get your new cont on a regular schedule. This helps them to build a habit for reading your blog.
But, given the additional time each post requires most bloggers have reduced the number of posts per month. So to create reader habits, publish your blog posts on a consistent schedule, either weekly or every two weeks.
I get that your blog publishing schedule may miss a week or two. That happened to me earlier this year. Instead of stopping my blog, I put my big girl pants on and promised myself to publish or at least update one existing post per week. (For my perspective on 2020’s events, please check the past AMG Newsletters with photos and charts!)
What does this mean for your blogging?
- Balance your resources. Unless you work for a media entity, assess how much time you need to create a published blog post.
- Reassess which topics, types of content, and frequency of information your audience wants. Before you make any changes, ask readers for their input. You can also ask people who share your blog posts.
How To Help Visitors To Consume Your Blog Content
With longer posts and shorter attention spans, guide visitors through your content or they’re gone.
So what can you do?
- Add a Table of Contents for longer articles. Let readers skip to the sections they want to see fast. For example, I use a Clickable Table of Contents and Brian Dean of Backlinko uses a Visual Table of Contents with clickable images.
- Use an outline format. Make section subheads stand out with a bigger and bolder font. Or like Andy, format your headings like questions. Also use shorter paragraphs. This makes your content look less intimidating.
- Add more details to make your post stand out. Use data, screenshots and examples to explain your points. This helps readers understand your content better.
- Include images, screenshots, charts, videos and audio.
- Get input from people in your community. But remember to allow time for people to respond. Or use social media to get an answer or quote. Also, include their photo with their comments to make them happy.
How To Use Video, Audio and Other Content In Blog Posts
Beyond adding video, audio and/or other formats to a blog post, you can make video or audio content into into a separate post. Yes, even if you initially posted this content on another platform.
Because making your video and podcast content into a blog post expands your distribution, allows you to add supplemental links and relate other information to your content. It also ensures you have a copy if that platform disappears.
For example, Mark Schaefer spotlights his Marketing Companion podcast with Brooke Sellas on the front of his Business Grow homepage where it is separated from text blog posts. Then there’s a blog post for each podcast with related links.
Take a closer look and you’ll see that Mark has removed friction for visitors by letting them listen by clicking on the podcast images.
BTW, Mark and Brooke added a YouTube channel. I recommend that you take a look at it if you’re afraid of testing video since they have a young channel with limited views. So if Mark and Brooke can do this, so can you!
On her Aha Media blog Ahava Leibtag created a series of video interviews called, “What Did You Learn?” (BTW—I think that this is a great title for a series. Because you guide user input and spotlight members of your community!)
Ahava interviewed marketers in the healthcare field on the frontlines of COVID. She asked about what they were going through personally as well as professionally. As marketers, we sometimes forget to be human. BTW, kudos to Ahava for interviewing health professionals who were essential workers.
With many people working from home and using Zoom and other video options, this is an easy way to create content.
Always ask for permission to record and use someone’s input. NOT everyone wants their input to be public. Or they may need to go through an approval process.
What can you learn from these video blog posts:
- Use the title to call out important features. This includes the word “video” and the name of the person being interviewed and his organization.
- Include the full video on each page. As well as other video platforms.
- Add the full text of the conversation for people who prefer to read. Unlike many blogs that just use machine translation of audio, the text of these posts have been edited for humans. It’s a great place to link to related content.
2020 Blog Post Distribution
Based on Orbit Media’s survey, bloggers use a variety of methods to distribute their posts:
- Social media
- Search optimization
- Email marketing
- Influencer collaboration and outreach
- Paid services
Since blogging is now a marketing investment if you assume that time is a tradeoff for money, you need to create a blogging distribution plan to ensure that each post reaches its maximum audience.
Further, since you’re publishing less posts, it makes sense to keep distributing your post over time. Unlike other forms of content marketing, use a consistent blog post distribution checklist or system for most of your posts. Then expand and modify it for major efforts like research and roundup posts.
BUT use a variety of presentations to keep your blog post distribution looking fresh! Ideally, you can create these promotions at the same time as you create your blog post.
So create a set of social media shares tailored by platform (since content sizes and length vary.) Include Click-To-Tweets like this one:
Create different visual assets to share on different social media platforms. For example, Mike Allton includes a visual for specially sized Pinterest at the end of his articles.
In terms of email marketing, you can choose from a variety of options:
- Email your list with every blog post. Note—This is the only way some blogs communicate with their email list.
- Include your blog post in a regular email newsletter. I write a separate newsletter to my readers and add recent posts at the end of it. (Click here if you want to sign up for the AMG Newsletter!)
- Do personal outreach to contributors. At a minimum, thank the people who contribute to your post and let them know that it was published.
How The 2020 Blogging Research Was Compiled
Back in 2014, Andy Crestodina decided to run a survey of bloggers to get the answer to the one question people asked that he couldn’t find the answer for:
“How long does it take to write a blog post?”
Ask yourself what question do your colleagues need the answer to but can’t find online? Then, use this query as the basis for either original research or compiling related information from other sources.
The Orbit Media 2020 Blog Survey clearly states that:
- Survey respondents are “self-described” bloggers. So they consider themselves bloggers regardless of what their job title is.
- They’re FOA (aka: Friends of Andy!) They know Andy through social media and other events.
As a result, you know that the results of this survey may be skewed towards people who like and share Andy’s views.
Known for his analytical approach, Andy has run this survey the same way for the last 7 years so it provides insights into how blogging has changed over this period.
As a result, Orbit Media has built credibility for this research. Further, it has built a list of bloggers who know and trust him. So 1,279 bloggers answered this survey in 2020. (Note: You can also use your survey as a way to expand your network.)
2020 Blogging Research Conclusion
For me, the biggest take-away from Orbit Media’s 2020 Blogging Research:
Regardless of what anyone says, blogging is NOT dead.
BUT, like any other form of content marketing, you need to provide a quality experience for your audience.
To accomplish this, you need a team to help with the editing, non-text content, search, social media, influencer input and analytics.
Further, since blogging is no longer a teenager and there’s more competition for your audience’s attention, it won’t yield quick results by itself.
That said, by working with other people within your organization and your community, you can build a blog following and achieve blog results.
Even Andy Crestodina took over 10 years to become “an overnight success” according to his 2016 Content Marketing World keynote.
Photo Credit: Computer Cat via GIPHY
Lone blogger: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-man-sitting-on-couch-4048775/ cc zero