First, how many people completed our Older Bloggers Survey in May-June 2018? Altogether 123 people responded. Some skipped a few questions, but most questions were answered by 110–120 people. Moreover, most questions evoked numerous comments, which illuminate the results.
Who were these older bloggers? We imposed no age restriction, so people made their own decisions about whether they qualified as “older”. To our surprise, 7% of respondents were under 45. I thought their decision to take the survey was perfectly understandable: at 30, it’s natural to feel much older than 20, and at 40 much older still.
Even with this interesting minority involved, we did reach our intended population. It’s difficult to find accurate information about the age of bloggers in general, but there’s no doubt that our respondents are significantly older than the average blogger, as a group. (Percentages are rounded.)
- 40% were aged 55–64
- 34% were 65–74
- 11% were 75 or older.
Where do respondents live?
The survey shows that 47% live in USA, 24% in the United Kingdom, 11% in New Zealand, 7% in Australia, 5% in Canada, and smaller numbers in India, Italy, Malaysia, S. Africa, Thailand and Poland. I see nothing surprising about this information, which reflects these two facts: the survey is in English, and the survey’s designers live and blog in New Zealand.
When did the older bloggers start blogging?
Older people are stereotyped as technophobes and low users of the internet, and indeed there is evidence for this. But, as we see here, that’s not the full story.
Of the respondents to the Older Bloggers Survey, 40% began blogging between 55–64, and 21% began after the age of 65. One started at age 83—and one as a teenager. One was a very early adopter: “I started blogging a little before Facebook and laptops and smart phones.”
Of the 46 comments on this question, most show that age was not the trigger but some life event. The “when” of starting to blog is entangled with the “why”:
- 9 bloggers said they began when they retired
- 6 started blogging for work, to promote a business or a book, to create an online professional profile or to help with a job hunt
- 2 began after having their first child
- several began when they gained a new interest, for example in wine, travel, sustainable living, a 900km hike, or the new technology.
The events that trigger a blogging debut may be complex and idiosyncratic. Here are two comments that demonstrate this rather gloriously.
- “Started months after husband’s sudden death by accidentally publishing and not knowing how to remove from Internet so continued to save face.”
- “I started blogging in order to publicise my books, as a vehicle for my creativity and to vent my spleen.”
What are their blogs about?
Our survey asked, What is the title of your main blog? and we got 122 replies. From their titles, I expected to learn something about the topic or theme of each blog. But it wasn’t so simple.
- At least 43 blog titles give no clear hint about the topic or theme.
- At least 20 have titles that suggest ageing or retirement is an important topic of the blogs, e.g. Middle-aged Warrior, My Retirement Journey, Waking up on the wrong side of 50, Time Goes By — What it’s really like to get old, and Savoring Sixty and Beyond.
- At least 19 titles state or hint at the writer’s name, e.g. BeetleyPete, Candidkay, and Wendy Goes Outside.
- At least 14 suggest that writing or blogging is the main topic, e.g. The Word, How to Start a Blog, and Jotting Ink
- About 8 titles specify the exact topic of their blog, as in WineTalkGroup,
- At least 6 titles denote a professional or technical blog, for example Mobile Mum Tech Rescue, Low Visionary, and various authors’ blogs.
Please take this categorisation of blog titles with a grain of salt. You notice that each number is qualified by “at least” or “about”. That’s because older bloggers seem to have fun naming their blogs, so that many blog titles are ambiguous, inventive, comical, multipurpose, punning, mysterious, or all of the above. How to categorise susieshy45, for example, or Myricopia, or Tootlepedal’s Blog? (Fortunately for the reader, a blog’s tag-line usually clarifies the theme or main topic.)
Judging by their titles, we can safely say that the majority of these blogs are personal rather than professional. As you’ll see in the next article, this does not seem to detract from the time and energy and commitment invested by older bloggers.
PS As you see, the number of reports on this survey has already increased. Next report on Monday is about the habits of older bloggers: how often they blog, how much time they spend, and so forth.
Please share, with a link to this page. CC BY 2.0 Rachel McAlpine