A brand new Pew survey of Internet users lets bloggers track the growing audience for their writing. The survey suggests that the total online potential audience (regular Internet users) has reached 40% of the US population, and that 7% of them (8 million) have created a weblog at some time and 27% (32 million Americans) claim to read weblogs. Other research indicates that, excluding the exploding Chinese market, US blog readership is about 40% of global blog readership, which means that the blog writer now has a target audience of 80 million readers worldwide. Of that number, 6 million Americans (and perhaps 15 million worldwide) subscribe to one or more blogs through RSS feeds. About 40% of blog readers have posted comments on blogs.

Other surveys monitored by Phil Wolff’s Blogcount suggest the number of regular Internet users who maintain active blogs is closer to 2% of regular Internet users (2 million Americans, perhaps 5 million globally), and that global blog readership including China is as high as 110 million. These surveys also indicate that the average blog reader stays only 90 seconds per page, and only 40 seconds per page on ‘A-list’ blogs.

But what’s the real competition out there? Extrapolating some work I did last year, only about 20,000 blogs (a mere 0.4% of all active blogs) have a sizeable audience (more than 10 regular visitors and more than 150 hits per average day), and readership in a typical day is only a little more than three million people, each spending an average of about 20 minutes flitting among 15 blog pages.

Using Shirky’s Power Law, and adding in RSS subscriptions to the hit count totals, that would break today’s blogosphere audience down roughly as follows:

per Blog
per Blog

per Blog
100 A-list bloggers 15 million 150,000 15,000 1700 hrs
2,000 B-list bloggers 5 million 2,500 1,000 62 hrs
18,000 C-list bloggers 9 million 500 150 13 hrs
80,000 up-and-coming bloggers 8 million 100 50 2.5 hrs
5 million remaining active bloggers 15 million 3 0

If you’re an average A-list blogger (those getting at least 15,000 hits per day), your 150,000 40-second visitors in aggregate are spending 1700 hours per day reading and commenting on your blog. The average B-list blogger (those getting at least 1,000 hits per day) is getting 62 hours per day of 90-second-per-visit aggregate reader attention, the average C-list (150-1,000 hits-per-day) blogger 13 hours per day of aggregate reader attention, and the average up-and-coming (50-150 hits-per-day) blogger 2.5 hours per day. These are not staggering numbers, but certainly an encouraging return on time invested in writing.

Compare this to a daily local paper. According to Encarta, in 2000 the 1500 US dailies printed an aggregate 50 million copies per day with an average readership of 2 people per copy. A Readership Institute survey suggests the average reader spends 15 minutes per day reading the paper. Assuming half of that is spent reading classifieds, ads, comics etc., that means the average US daily paper gets 8300 hours per day of aggregate reader attention. Assuming an average of 50 articles, editorials and columns per edition, that works out to 170 hours’ reader attention per article. Since people tend to exaggerate their newspaper reading, this is probably a high estimate.

What this means is that if blog readership continues to soar (doubling every 18 months) and newspaper readership continues to stagnate, in three years the average B-list blogger will be getting significantly more reader attention than the average unsyndicated US newspaper article or column, and the average A-list blogger will be getting almost as much reader attention as the average US daily paper.

Now let’s look at attention in aggregate. All US dailies combined are getting an aggregate of 12.5 million hours of reader attention per day. The blogosphere combined is getting an aggregate of 1.0 million hours of reader attention per day, and that’s doubling every 18 months, and we haven’t started to bridge the digital divide yet, where 80% of our potential audience lies.

Not bad for ‘a million guys in pajamas‘, huh?

Thanks to Above the Fold for the Pew link. If you’re looking for inspiration on what to write to tap into this huge audience, scroll to the bottom of my right side-bar to find What the Blogosphere Needs More Of.  For more of my articles on blogging, go here.

This entry was posted in Using Weblogs and Technology. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mark says:

    Good job, Dave. A lot of information packed in those few paragraphs.

  2. Jon Husband says:

    Thanks for this, Dave. Great.I think you’re at or nearing the point where you could stitch together all your past posts about blogging, how and why to choose what kind of social software for which purposes – collaboration, decision-making, online communications, personal productivity – and so on into a pretty nifty (publishable) primer on blogging’s (or whatever the combo of technology and interactiive process comes to be called) organizational applications and dynamics

  3. Jon Husband says:

    And if my above comment seems off-topic (the organizational slant), the way my mind works tonight is that the message I took from your post is that blogging has much room to grow and spread … … the audiences and the capabilities of interactive web-based communications will only increase, and a lot of the spreading will find traction in marketing and customer relations/service, and from there back into the work processes … as customers grow more and more demanding and organizations necessarily become more transparent.

  4. Peter Rees says:

    A handy heads up. Thank you.

  5. Dave, I was so pissed-off at you for so long for accurately predicting the Bush win! I almost shunned you permanently. This is an interesting forecast, though, and not so distressing :-)Though I think blogging is most likely a fad. While it certainly is not going away in our lifetimes, its popularity will likely peak in the next few years and then recede somewhat.

  6. PC says:

    I think the old 80/20 rule will apply in blogging – a minority of the blogs will get the majority of the readership, whatever the genre or market segment.Far from being a fad, I think blogging’s acceptance will increase as more and more people move become aware of it.Thanks for posting such useful information on your blog

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, everyone. Karen, I think blogs will evolve rather than fade away. I’ve tried to get people to call them ‘online journals’ and bloggers ‘online journalists’, and I think blogs will become online journals in the broadest sense of the term ‘journal’. We’ll probably end up subdividing them and tracking different types for different purposes, but what they’ll have in common is that they’re all online and they’re all journals (‘daily writings’).

  8. Ben koot says:

    Hi Dave,I just came accross an interesting format about telling the world what you want to do, working or care about. I thought this fits nicely in your collection.Cheers Ben

  9. Zwelgje says:

    Hi Dave,Interesting article. I like the numbers. Although I thank that there is another categorie on top of the A blogs, the so called Power Blogs. They are getting more than the 150.000 hits a day you mention. I think the newspapers are getting beaten even sooner than you predict.

  10. GJ says:

    Good article Dave. What I find really interesting about this topic is not the growth of the readership of blogs (although that is quite exciting too) but rather the vast amounts of content created by the huge bottom of the blogging pecking order. 5 million bloggers blogging away with fewer than 3 hits per day??? To me, this suggests a couple possibilities: either blogging is indeed a huge fad that will soon disappear, or that people blog even when no one reads their work. That is, most bloggers are not trying to make it to the C-list, much less the B- or A-list. Most are merely trying to reach a handful of people who care about their ideas – which is what makes blogging such an interesting medium. Even having one reader makes keeping your blog updated more than worthwhile.

  11. Just so we compare apples to apples, what exactly do you mean by “hits/day”?- Files served by the file server?- Unique visitors?- Number of times the main page is fetched?- Something else?

  12. Cindy says:

    For me, without reading the survey there are many questions without answers. I agreed with Mark Bernstein — what is hit? Just hit or stay to read? for example. I would also like to know the age of those A-list blogs. 2 Years, 3 years? I think blogging is the same as voluntary work. When there is a need, there is an urge to write. Some blogs that I happened to chance on were so good and yet the last entry sometime is about a year old. Then I begin to wonder what ‘stop’ this person from carrying on blogging? The blog is abandon for something more urgent, useful, OR the unthinkable … the blogger has left this world? I also think of newspaper vs blogging. Why I still think newspaper is a much better area for most people such as myself. The paper I subscribe to have things that I like most. They are all in one place. I buy this paper and I know I will have ‘these’. I subscribe to many blogs … some time they are there, some time they are not … And once in a while I found they are ‘dead’ without even announcing it. So … I find it very tiring to ‘chase’ after blogs. AND imagine they are millions of them …I think newsmedia still have not found the right mixtures. Basically it is the same old story of large organizations — they are dianasauce (spelling) as compare to the nimble bloggers … therefore changes take much longer. Furthermore top management almost never quite understand the ‘actual street scence’Since I enjoy writing, many times I am contemplating of starting one. Perhaps I would pick a topic from the list of ‘wanted’ topics you compiled, Dave. Cindy

  13. Dave, thanks for this great report. I have a question on the definition of a hit: I believe a page with 5 images would generate 6 hits, one for each image and one for the html — but that would still be just one pageview. So hits per pageview can differ from one site to the next. Is my description of a hit correct? And is this the definition of “hit” as it is used in this report? Thanks very much in advance for the info.

  14. Duncan Riley says:

    Same problem as others, what are you referring to as a hit? If you’re talking unique visitors I must be a B lister but if you’re talking page hits I’m an A lister, but I’m don’t believe this is accurate, and B is probably where I’m at. I think serious though, if you are talking hits as unique visitors you also need to crank the figures higher as well. Its fair to say that more than 2000 bloggers receive 1000 uniques per day, really in this day and age, 1000 isn’t a lot.

  15. Dave Pollard says:

    OK — by a ‘hit’ I mean what Sitemeter calls a PageView which they define as follows: ” When you are browsing a site, every time you follow a link to a new web page, it is treated as a single page view . Site Meter defines a visit as a series of page views by one person with no more than 30 minutes in between page views. If you click on a link to another site, and then come back to your site within 30 minutes, you are still on the same visit and Site Meter won’t increment the counter. But Site Meter will increment the number of page views recorded for your current visit. ” My estimate of 2000 B-listers (>1000 page-visits per day) is based on the Technorati and Blogstreet lists, with an adjustment based on my best estimate of the sites that are just mirrors, googlesluts and others that aren’t getting legitimate visitors.

  16. Monjo says:

    The TLB Ecosystem shows a good guide to page views. I would think your hit estimates are overestimated.I think the top blogs of today will eventually become multi-person teams and essentially an online newspaper, the writing will mostly professional and not personal.I think in a few years some software better than ‘blogs’ may come along and blogs will become like “Nuke” sites.But overall, your figures are interesting. If we take the ‘influence’ of a single blog. It is still tiny. The blogger got his information from newspapers or their web sites. Yes his bias is his own, but generally will reflect the paper he reads – as his choice of news source reflects his own bias.In other words, it is still the main media that influences people, it influences its direct audience, and it influences the people who read its content redistributed via blogs.

  17. great post. very interesting.we are at the low end of the blogosphere. it is an interesting thing to do.

  18. Dave Pollard says:

    Since this post is still getting a fair bit of traffic, I should let you know that I have posted an update to it today (March 4, 2005) which you can read here.

  19. AlFa_3d says:

    Thanks for so much of info.GoodDayCg India

  20. wew says:

    Люблю тебя, как два огняЛюбили вместе полыхать.Обнявши страстно, я готовЛюбить сильней тебя.Готов я, также, рисоватьПортрет твой на стене,Что б все увидели ту девушку,Что сниться мне во сне.Что б все могли любитьУлыбку уст и блеск ее очей,Которыми так часто слепит она всех.Но как мне быть?Ведь это только сон, иллюзия в уме!И ту девчонку, возможно,Не видеть больше мне….

  21. Thank-you for posting all this information. It must have taken you forever to get all of it together (and you did such a nice job!)I was wondering how many hits is average for a blog and your post broke it down wonderfully.Thanks,Dora Renee’

  22. Clumpy says:

    What an inspiration to me – it’s nice to find that I’m considered an “up-and-coming”, bordering-on-C-list blogger. I hadn’t considered the aggregate hours spent reading my blogs by others.

  23. Prof. Barcia says:

    Very interesting posicionament.Barcia

  24. Avery says:

    Very interesting posicionament.

Comments are closed.