1. What older bloggers think and do and feel: a super-summary of survey results

Cartoon about the feelings of older bloggers: companionship, purpose, confidence and happiness

The feelings of older bloggers

It’s official: here’s a snapshot of the results of our older bloggers survey. Yes, older bloggers do gain mental, emotional and social benefits from blogging, and yes, some do have problems with usability and accessibility.

  1. Mental benefits: 75% of respondents agreed that blogging “gives me something new to think about”, and 19% made comments similar to these: “it keeps my mind active”, “challenges me to learn new things”, “sure gives the memory a workout” or “improves my analytical skills.”
  2. Emotional benefits: 96% of respondents said they got a feeling of satisfaction and 80% said that blogging made them feel happy.
  3. Social benefits: 56% agreed that blogging helps them to feel they are not alone, and 70% said it “gives me contact with the outside world.” Numerous comments on various questions stressed the friendship and connections formed by blogging.
  4. Usability and accessibility difficulties: 47% agreed or strongly agreed that technical issues with a blog can be a challenge, but 29% disagreed or strongly disagreed—no problems for them. Around 18% had physical issues that restricted their blogging: vision, hearing, energy, mobility or pain. In their comments, these bloggers particularly stressed the need for visual accessibility.

A dream problem: too much high quality information

Over May–June 2018, 120 bloggers answered an online survey that I had compiled with the help of Judith Davey.

You see, I had a bee in my bonnet: to discover whether, as I believed, the habit of blogging was a source of mental, emotional and social benefits for older people, and to get a clear picture of what barriers of usability and accessibility confronted older people.

As well as answering 21 multiple choice questions, respondents were wonderfully generous with their comments — so generous that I could write a book about it, if I only had time.

Here’s my brand new problem. I thought the Older Bloggers Survey was just a little exercise which would satisfy my own curiosity and maybe lead to better service for seniors.

However, turns out we gained so much information that every time I contemplated writing up the complete results, my heart sank and I postponed the job for another day. Too much! Too interesting!

So instead I’ve decided to write separate articles about the main conclusions and various other issues that arose. I’ll publish them on this blog as I complete them. If you did the survey and asked for a report on the survey results, I’ll alert you by email about future articles on the topic.

Why this information about personal bloggers is precious

For at least ten years, various organisations have been keeping track of the blogosphere: the world of blogging. However, the blogs they survey always have a marketing or professional purpose.

I hesitate to use the word unique, yet I haven’t discovered anything comparable to our survey, where respondents are primarily blogging for personal reasons. I wonder why nobody has bothered, up to now? Maybe because…

  • Nobody knows how many blogs exist in the world at any one time, let alone what percentages are personal or hobby blogs. They come and go, undocumented, which is no bad thing.
  • There’s a hypothetical profit in any marketing blog, so there’s a commercial interest in data about such blogs. Personal blogs exist for other, non-profitable purposes.
  • To run even a small survey in a sound and ethical way and analyse the results is quite a big undertaking. This exercise is not part of a PhD thesis: it is a labour of love, a volunteer service.

Although this is a small study (120 respondents answered most questions) it was carefully designed and produced a wealth of information. We want to share the results as widely as possible. The ultimate aim was not to help bloggers to earn more money, but (now that the results are in) to find ways of helping older people to benefit from the practice of blogging and the community of bloggers.

Articles about the older bloggers survey

  1. What older bloggers do and think and feel: super-summary of survey results
  2. Who answered our Older Bloggers Survey?
  3. Older bloggers: patterns of engagement with the blogging process
  4. It’s not mandatory to join the blogging conversation
  5. Older bloggers: choice of devices and channels
  6. Historic data about bloggers, their age and choice of blogging platforms
  7. Challenges and physical barriers for older bloggers
  8. Motivation: why do older bloggers blog?
  9. Feelings and benefits associated with blogging
  10. Your blog: what type of publication or storage does it most resemble?
  11. How does blogging fit into your way of ageing, your life, and your concept of success
  12. Final comments of the older bloggers: new, overlooked, and underlined thoughts
  13. Older bloggers survey—using the results

Cartoon and text by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0—please share, with my name and a link to this page!

30 thoughts on “1. What older bloggers think and do and feel: a super-summary of survey results

  1. This is great! I’ve often wondered about blogging in older age, who’s out there, what are the variations, etc. I also know someone who is recently confined to a wheelchair (at age 64). I wish I could get her into blogging as well. It would help.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I am encouraged already by the results. Just seeing the shared effects makes me feel even more connected to the blogging world.

    1. That is very interesting and I can see why.

  3. cedar51 says:

    okay, look forward to your “posts” on this matter, even though I think I said, I didn’t think that just because I was older, had nothing much to do with anything – this world allowed me to write my nonsense and more recently post photos…no one was worrying about my grammar, or even if it made sense, it just something fun to do 🙂

    1. Indeed. Patterns emerged but no view of blogging were universal.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    This is very interesting. Well done, Rachel!

  5. srbottch says:

    Well, I agree with just about everything in the survey results. Nice work!

    1. That’s a good start!

  6. alison41 says:

    As you say: a labour of love. Well done, that woman! I found your article very interesting – thanks for taking the time and doing the work.

    1. Thanks so much!

  7. rummuser says:

    Congratulations. I am not surprised at all with the findings. I instinctually knew that people blog for these reasons. I look forward to the coming ones.

  8. Claudette says:

    Great beginning to analyzing the survey! What a fantastic idea. I’m going to repost this and share it, get the word out so to speak!

    The points of blogging vary so often that one answer today may change tomorrow (for me, maybe others too). There are times when I visit blogs of new moms and reminisce what I went through back then. There are times when I visit blogs of empty nesters and wonder, how will it be for me then? Then I blog about now and there is very little commonality…the early mid-life bloggers seem to be scarce. Or maybe I just haven’t found too many like-minded bloggers yet.

    Where are the deep in the tween and teen parenting trenches bloggers, the ones like me who are trying to find a way to survive on-again-off-again midlife crisis/identity issues while still holding it together for the sake of the teenaged kids? This is possible to do without mentioning the kids, which I know is sometimes a reason for ambiguity. There are some, not many, bloggers I met right here, and I’m grateful for them, more than I can say in the typed word. (You know who you are, friends!) 🙂

    Blogging has been the one constant in my adult/parenting life. Looking forward to seeing, hearing more about this. Thank you Rachel.

    1. Maybe those mothers-of-teenagers are too overwhelmed to blog themselves or even comment, but hang on your every word. Meantime blogging is your constant, so you must be getting the rewards. That’s wonderful, to have friends and supporters among your readers, isn’t it? I hear a lot about blogs that help new mothers, but not about those at your stage. Surely they are out there among the 300 million bloggers…

      1. Claudette says:

        It’s about privacy once the kids reach teen age…I try hard to spin it on me, not them, but my identity includes them, so that’s the slippery slope.

      2. Oh yes, I can see how that works. I must admit my kids and grandchildren rarely get a mention, and never a photo online.

  9. So glad you are doing this. I hope you let Ronni at Time Goes By (Time Goes By ) who writes a daily column on aging.

    1. Thanks Margo. Maybe Ronni will pick this up, who knows?

  10. So glad to read these results. I do recognize that my reasons for starting to blog over a decade ago have radically change. Now, I enjoy the conversation as much as am eager to push my business.

    1. Jacqui, yours is a trajectory that many people follow, and very satisfying. My first blogs were private databases!

  11. Rachel, what a fantastic survey! And the results are so encouraging. It’s great to know there are so many kindred spirits. Looking forward to your future posts. All the best, Terri

    1. Thank you, Terri. People responded very generously, which made all the difference.

  12. LA says:

    Really really Interesting!!

    1. Wow, thank you!

  13. Keep up the good work Rachel.

  14. Thanks Lindsay! Your encouragement comes at a good time as I struggle to transform data into a coherent report.

  15. Robyn Haynes says:

    Rachel, I’m really curious to see your analyses. As you said, there hasn’t been another survey quite like this one – that I know of either. You do us all a service by undertaking it.

    1. Thank you Robyn. It’s hard work so I am taking one bite at a time.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        Wise strategy. And easier for your readers to digest 😄

  16. lbeth1950 says:

    Good article. Blogging certainly engages me.