ConvertKit’s Most Interesting Findings from The State of the Blogging Industry 2017

State of Blogging

Our mission here at ConvertKit is to help turn blogging into a legitimate career. We’re not just talking “how to make money on the internet” kind of blogging, but the important work so many of our customers are doing to help their readers live better lives, be more informed, and create positive change in the world.

Bloggers are a fascinating group of humans who are driven by a desire to exercise their creativity and build an independent income that helps them become self-employed. They cover blog topics ranging from online business and marketing to vegan recipes to productivity to Christian living.

Many bloggers are entrepreneurs with creative business models who sell everything from advertisements to ebooks to software applications. In the process some of them become what we like to call “professional bloggers”, which we define as making more than the median household income in the United States… and many of them do all of that without a “real job.”

But when we talk about “bloggers” we often get a funny response that looks a bit like a confused puppy face. “What is a blogger?” people say. Or, “Aren’t bloggers just people who can’t get a real job?”

“Aren’t bloggers just people who can’t get a real job?”

The resounding answer is: No.

We know all of this because of a project we started in 2016. The project originated from an idea a couple of our ConvertKit teammates had while sitting at a conference. “If no one gets what “blogger” means, why don’t we find out and then share our findings with everyone we know?”

In August 2016, we launched a survey to find out. With the help of a few key promotional partners, we were able to gather more than 850 responses to our survey. It took those respondents an average of more than 20 minutes to complete the survey and we gathered more than 50,000 data points in the process.

Survey respondents shared everything about their blogs and the businesses those blogs power. The told us about their motivations for starting a blog, how much money they make from their businesses, the work habits they follow to stay productive, how they grow their audiences, the struggles they face and much more.

What emerged was a powerful portrait of an industry that’s often mocked but very seldom understood. Well, today that starts to change.

“Bloggers are a fascinating group of humans who are driven by a desire to exercise their creativity and build an independent income that helps them become self-employed.”

The State of the Blogging Industry 2017 report is the first annual report of many to come and it captures all of our findings from the survey. You can read the entire report online here, but first, we put together an infographic of our most interesting findings from the report to whet your appetite.

 

 

As you can see, we uncovered some fascinating information about what it means to be a blogger and where the blogging industry is headed in 2017. This is the first annual report of its kind and we expect to continue publishing this report for many years to come.

To accompany the report, we’ve created a full media kit for our readers, which includes the infographic above, Tweetable images, images of our favorite graphs from the report, swipe copy if you’d like to email your audience about the report, and a number of writing prompts if you’d like to write an article, record a podcast episode or make a video about it. Download the media kit here.

If you’re an Instagram lover, follow along with us there as we bring the report data to life by highlighting portraits of the real bloggers who responded to our survey. And stay tuned here on the blog for more behind the scenes posts on how we built the survey, analyzed the data, created the report, and launched it with a full promotion plan in place.

Without further ado… We’ve published the full report for free online, no email address required. We’ve also made a beautiful PDF version that is downloadable in exchange for your email address, which we promise to take good care of. Read the full State of the Blogging Industry 2017 report here. When you’re done, let us know what you think on Twitter @ConvertKit!

Barrett Brooks

Barrett is a servant leader, entrepreneur, sustainability advocate, optimist, avid learner, writer and outdoor enthusiast based in Portland, OR. His work is driven by the belief that business is one of the most powerful forces for good in the world. In his spare time, Barrett enjoys spending time with his wife, family, friends, and black lab. You can find him hiking, skiing, reading, throwing a dinner party, or generally asking deep questions of the people he loves most.

  • nice your topic of blogging. I like it, thank you

  • I may be off but do most convert kit users consider themselves “bloggers”? I wonder if “content marketers” would be a better term? Cool stats nonetheless, thanks for this!

    • BarrettBrooks

      Thanks for the note, Mason. You may be right! We’re actually researching this separately right now: what do our customers call themselves? So far we’ve found that our customers’ identities vary quite a bit based on the individuals. Some of our customers identify strongly as bloggers; some as content marketings; some as entrepreneurs; some have industry-specific identities. It really just depends on the person!

  • Jake Day Williams

    “There’s a profit earnings gap between males and females that needs to be closed.”

    Does it need to be closed? You didn’t provide any other data as to why there’s a gap.

    Maybe women have a better work life balance and the gap would be better closed if men worked less and spent more time with kids and family?

  • Ryan McConnell

    Your infographic makes the not-so-subtle suggestion that there is some discrimination in play re: gender and blogging (“there’s a profit earnings gap… that needs to be closed.”) Do you have any actual scientific data to back this up? In my experience, men are far more likely to choose business, entrepreneurship and investing as their blog topics – all of these topics offer high earnings via affiliate products and the willingness of people to pay top dollar for info products. Women bloggers, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on hobby and lifestyle products that offer lower earnings. Not discrimination, just a choice that is made. Does your data show otherwise?

    • I agree. I think a lot of that is due to choices of niche rather than due to gender. It would’ve been more interesting to see which blog topics earned better.

      • Hey @RobertvanTongeren:disqus, I replied above, but wanted to mention.

        “It would have been more interesting to see which blog topics earned better.” — Great point for further research.

        I think figuring out what topics earn more is an awesome data set to have. It is not, however, something we can assume is necessarily correlated directly with gender. (I can safely say I am always interested in making more money even when I’m making a lot and can put myself in the “professional” blogger category.)

        Your first statement, “I think a lot of that is due to choices of niche rather than gender,” is an interesting hypothesis, but it’s a hypothesis, not a fact. Let’s make sure we say as such, otherwise, it sounds dangerously close to like you’re implying women make less because they choose to make less (the argument reads like … “women make less … probably due to choices of niche… not gender… but they all collectively choose to.”) . (And I’m not going to assume that’s what you’re saying, I just want to point that out.)

    • BarrettBrooks

      Hi Ryan,

      “Scientific data” seems to imply that you’d like us to have some statistically significant data that shows without a doubt that there’s an earnings gap, perhaps broken down by industry. In many ways that tells me that there’s not much we could say to change your mind.

      I would return the volley to ask, do you have any scientific data to prove that “Women bloggers, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on hobby and lifestyle products that offer lower earnings” or is that perhaps an inherent bias we as men might have?

      We have many examples of women who are far outperforming many men in the realms of online business and entrepreneurship — people like Mariah Coz, Melyssa Griffin, and a whole host of others. It’s my experience that your statement may not be factually correct.

      The real question we should ask in response to this data from our survey, which was of 850+ bloggers, not all bloggers to be sure is this: do the women in the blogging world want the earnings gap to be closed? That answer probably depends on the individual. Many would probably say yes, while many others may be perfectly happy with their blogs and businesses as they are. The same would be true of many men — some would want to earn more while others would want to enjoy what they have.

      We found a profit earnings gap. I think it merits more exploration. And if we find that we can play a role in closing that gap for those who want to close it, we certainly will.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Stacy Ennis

        This is a great and articulate response, Barrett. The pay gap is a real thing in work and in creative endeavors like blogging. I have to admit I felt a bit of frustration at this statement: “In my experience, men are far more likely to choose business, entrepreneurship and investing as their blog topics – all of these topics offer high earnings via affiliate products and the willingness of people to pay top dollar for info products. Women bloggers, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on hobby and lifestyle products that offer lower earnings.” This is an overstatement and further perpetuates the gap. Essentially, Ryan is saying men make things that are valuable and women don’t.

        Anyway, nice report. Thanks for spending the time to create it.

        • BarrettBrooks

          Thanks for the note, Stacy. I can certainly understand how a statement like that would be both frustrating and disenfranchising. It ends the conversation before it can start. We’d like to encourage and welcome an open conversation about this topic here at ConvertKit, where everyone feels welcome to participate. And we also want that conversation to be thoughtful, nuanced, respectful, and forward-looking — I hope everyone who participates will take that approach.

          These are sensitive topics and perhaps that makes them all the more important to discuss in public with people from all backgrounds :).

          • Stacy Ennis

            I completely agree and love that you’re willing to tackle tough topics with respect and openness. Please keep it up!

      • Ryan McConnell

        Barrett – you found no gap. Did you compare female bloggers vs. male bloggers where both subsets were (a) working in the same niche, (b) put in the same number of hours and produced the same amount of content, (c) did the same types of marketing, and (d) started with the same experience level? If you didn’t do that, then your results aren’t scientifically significant, and that means that your headline and article are about as relevant as the average Buzzfeed article… in other words, clickbait.

    • @disqus_wAv4UDodCd:disqus and @RobertvanTongeren:disqus — you ask an interesting question about the data. This question — what is the reason for the difference in pay? — is an interesting one. There are several hypotheses that can be tested as a follow-up, such as: “do women or men more often identify themselves as professionals? or, what topics do they choose?”

      I’m a bit dismayed to see that you follow up this interesting question with a pretty broad-sweeping generalization and assumption. “Women bloggers … are more likely …”. Watch this, because that is a HUGE statement to make and a far more radical statement than the statement made in the original article.

      Great initial question: why is there a difference?

      Pretty rough follow-up statement to say, “it’s because of THIS (and I have no data to back it up other than my own experience.)”

      • Scott Bassett

        I would have to proffer that the statement: “There’s a profit earnings gap between male and female bloggers that needs to be closed…” is more baseless than Ryan McConnell’s experiential while unproven anecdotal evidence, which he began with “In my experience…”

        • @DanielScottBassett:disqus I disagree with you. It (the statement) is not baseless, for two key reasons.

          (1) First, it’s what the data show in the study they conducted. There is a profit earnings gap between male and female bloggers, based on their data set.

          Now, I would amend that to say that they could have written “that is worth further study” versus the more suggestive “that needs to be closed.” The second is suggestive versus straight reporting.

          (2) Second, national data everywhere confers with this conclusion. There is a wage gap, a HUGE wage gap, across nearly every industry. (See: “not baseless.”)

          One of these is a data set, collected and analyzed by the Convert Kit bloggers, and backed up by mountains of national data. The observation that begins “In my experience…” is followed by a sweeping statement about men and women bloggers (yes, maybe he means only the few that he’s encountered?) and what they choose to write about.

          • Scott Bassett

            Forgive me for not being more succinct.

            I couldn’t have a problem with the data set unless I introduced a contrary data set or contested the way the data was assimilated.

            Let’s regard the wage discrepancy between male and female bloggers as fact.

            The first clause is: “There’s a profit earnings gap between male and female bloggers…” and is in itself a statement of fact.

            The second clause “… that needs to be closed…” is a claim that follows the statement of fact and is never substantiated.

            This is something that Ryan McConnell did not do: make normative statements.

            Therefore, “that needs to be closed” is an entirely baseless claim.

            The circumstances under which the profit earnings gap arises and/or exists in blogging is what concerns me, and those circumstances are unknown.

            You cite national data, in which the circumstances are more readily known and reasonably aligned with Ryan McConnell’s remarks. I’m not necessarily ready to translate the causes for the national discrepancy into the online world.

            Also of note is that while total earnings for women are referred to as wages in the national data, this also includes income from profits. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t professional bloggers mostly earn profits and not wages?

            I would like to say that I really like Nathan Barry, his work and his team very much, and that this is a fine article.

          • I think we actually agree — the second part of the phrase (“that needs to be closed”) is argumentative and not substantiated.

            I would also like to say that I really like Nathan Barry, his work, and the team as well.

            @DanielScottBassett:disqus – Thanks for a civil conversation about ideas, I appreciate it.

          • BarrettBrooks

            @sarahkpeck:disqus @DanielScottBassett:disqus And I would like to say that we appreciate you both, as well as the fact that we can have a discussion about important ideas like this in public.

            My takeaway: we have a great opportunity to further explore the contributing factors to the earnings gap in the blogging industry.

          • Scott Bassett

            Thank you!

  • This is such a detailed, in-depth report! Thank you so much for putting in the time and energy and sharing your findings with us! Absolutely fascinating! Also, I’m SO happy and excited that you’re working with ConvertKit – I know that great things await this company because you’re a part of the team!!! All the best!

  • Ant Galvin

    In the full report, you quite rightly draw attention to the skewed data on Site Visitors and include Median figures. However, when discussing “The Money”, you revert to using the mean. I imagine income is highly correlated with traffic, and so, income/expenses are probably highly skewed as well.
    So how about including the Median figures under Money as well?
    Excellent report by the way.

    • BarrettBrooks

      Thanks, Ant! We were actually worried that the mean vs median distinction would come across as splitting hairs. Good to know that the differentiation was appreciated. We’ll consider adding this analysis across major metrics analysis in future reports.

  • thank bro, nice your sharing article state of blogging

See ConvertKit in action.

Join one of our experts on a live tour and get the answers you need.

Request a Demo