3. Older bloggers: patterns of engagement with the blogging process
We asked 123 older bloggers a series of questions about their blogging habits—not just their writing habits, but also their patterns of reading and commenting. Our results, in my opinion, confirm a finding by Pew Research Center last year: that older adults who do use social media tend to view the internet in a positive light, and to be highly active and engaged.
Habits of reading and commenting on other blogs
Regardless of age, most bloggers are pretty keen to get readers and followers and comments on their own blogs, and this applies to both marketing and personal blogs. So we wondered how committed to online social interaction our older bloggers were. I was keen to find out how much time our respondents spent reading and commenting on other people’s blogs.
Question 6: Approximately how many blogs posts do you read in a typical week?
This was only mildly informative, because some blog posts are just a photo or a short quote, while others are long reads. For the record, here are the results (percentages are rounded):
Read fewer than 25 posts per week: 42%
Read 25–50 blog posts per week: 34%
Read 51–75 blog posts per week: 9%
Read 76–100 blog posts per week: 3%
Read 101–150 blog posts per week: 4%
Read more than 150 blog posts per week: 7%
In comments, the situation became clearer.
Ten respondents made it very clear that they were there to blog, not to read other people’s blogs. Some explained why they didn’t read more. Examples:
- “I don’t read blogs. I write a blog.”
- “Very seldom come across a blog that I care to read regularly.”
- “I unsubscribe from any blog that posts regularly more than once a week.”
14 comments showed a commitment to reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. Examples:
- “I try to read all those I follow — not always successfully.”
- “I read 25-30 a week, mainly to keep up with the bloggers who read and comment on my blog.”
- “I respond to all who comment on my posts as well as some special interest ones.”
The largest group of comments consisted of 16 people who either said their reading varied week to week, or cited lack of time and other commitments. Examples:
- “It varies week to week. Some days I read 20 in a day, other times nothing.”
- “It really depends on the time available.”
This leads us to another group of 5 bloggers who struggle with the perceived need to read and comment on other blogs. Examples:
- “I don’t know how to navigate this medium”
- “It’s so hard to keep up with all of them!”
- “It can be overwhelming since I also try to comment regularly. But, it’s hard to decide who to unfollow… and I keep adding more.”
Question 7: Approximately how long do you spend reading and commenting on blog posts?
What is startling about this graph, to me, is not that 30% of older bloggers spend 2 hours or less per week reading and commenting on blogs, but the fact that 11% estimated that they spent more than 12 hours per week on this activity. That’s a serious time commitment to the social aspect of blogging!
This question was a difficult one to answer, as comments made clear:
- “Again, sometimes I don’t do it, other times I can spend up to 5 hours or so.”
- “It’s hard to differentiate between reading comments on my blog and commenting on others, It’s all in the same mix, especially when using the app on a mobile device.”
- “I try to keep a balance between spending too much time reading other people’s blogs and doing my own writing. I love supporting bloggers so I make an effort to read as many as I can.”
- “Friends will comment on how much time it must take to write a blog. I always say it’s not the writing, it’s the reading of other blogs!”
Commitment to writing and publishing their own blog posts
To be published online is, by definition, the purpose of any blog, rather than social interaction, and here we can make some comparisons with marketing blogs.
Question 8. How often do you blog?
I was very surprised to see how many of our respondents published as often as once a week or even daily. The following graph shows the answers from our survey of older bloggers:
Compare the above with the results from Orbit Media’s 4th Annual Blogger Survey below. According to this 2017 survey of 1377 bloggers, our older bloggers are more than four times more likely to publish a blog post daily than the Orbit Media bloggers. I’m assuming that the blogs in Orbit Media’s survey are mostly marketing or professional blogs, and that the bloggers are on average considerably younger than our “older bloggers.”
Bear in mind that our survey is not directly comparable with any other, especially as we don’t have a figure for “2–6 posts per week” as Orbit Media does. Even so, our figures indicate a heavy commitment from a substantial percentage of older, non-commercial bloggers.
Q.9 Approximately how long do you spend each week preparing and publishing your own blog posts? (Choose the best answer.)
The figures (rounded) are as follows:
0–2 hours per week: 28% (33 responses)
3–4 hours per week: 32% (38 responses)
5–6 hours per week: 13% (15 responses)
7–8 hours per week: 11% (13 responses)
9–10 hours per week: 6% (7 responses)
more than 10 hours per week: 10% (12 responses)
It seems that most older bloggers in this survey do not stint on the time they spend creating and publishing a blog post. Let’s compare their answers with some data in Orbit Media’s survey of 2017, below.
Orbit Media’s 2017 survey focused on the average time that bloggers spend writing their blogs, and they found that the average blog post takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to write. Again, that’s presumably for marketing or professional bloggers.
I suspect that patterns that appear in our Older Bloggers survey are fairly similar to those from Orbit Media. In itself, would that be surprising? After all, we are the same individuals that we were when we were at work five or twenty years ago, and maybe we just carry on with similar habits of work.
It’s late and I’m not good at arithmetic, but I have a hunch that the average blog post by our older bloggers took a little longer than 3 hours 20 minutes. Let’s not go nano over this, because our sample is comparatively small. But my personal guess is that older bloggers take a little longer on average than younger people to create and publish a blog post.
Maybe that’s because we are more dedicated. Or maybe it’s just because everything takes us a little bit longer…
I’ll be back with another instalment of the report this Friday. (The pressure! The pressure!)
- Read the Pew Research Center report: Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults
- Read OrbitMedia’s 4th Annual Blogger Survey
Please share freely, with a link and my name, Rachel McAlpine. CC BY 2.0
29 thoughts on “3. Older bloggers: patterns of engagement with the blogging process”
This is great information. I like the way you’re dolling it out in consumable bits.
That’s lucky! It’s the only way I can cope. And I am starting to see the benefits too.
I have cut my time on social media for various reasons and have focused on the wonderful world of blogging (more reading than writing! LOL) Bloggers tend to have much more to say in a very thoughtful positive. What do you think the effects of social media have on blogging?
Poor Ursula! I feel her pain! LOL
That’s an interesting topic and I will write about it in a later instalment. People find the platform they enjoy most, and there’s something soothing about the blog environment. You put your finger on it! Ursula thanks you. She feels under appreciated.
Ah, yes . . . soothing! I think that is why I have turned away from social media. Social media is not soothing compared to blogging. Blogging seems to be a more in-depth conversation than what social media provides.
I am also now tending to concentrate on the blogging sector and Instagram [I love taking the odd photo] than say FB, which at the moment is frustratingly full of rubbish reposted a million times [slight exaggeration, at times it does feel like it.
Suzanne, I find people’s reasons for preferring certain channels and their methods of using them very interesting, including what you say here.
Very interesting! I love statistics. I’m looking forward to your next one. Thank you for sharing.
A fascinating set of data. I’m actually hovering over the button to delete my blog entirely. I set it up for business purposes but that is no longer the case. I thought I would blog more often but as my situation (retirement) has changed, so has my need to blog and share my crafts. I do still read my favourite blogs and enjoy that aspect of blogging. It is decision time I think. I was surprised to read that some people think that writing a blog is all that is necessary, and that they are not interested in reading other people. If you write a blog and want to keep people reading it, wouldn’t you need followers, otherwise your blog just disappears into the ether of blogland. I find that attitude arrogant and not really in the spirit of blogging.
Hi Barbara, thanks for tuning in. I have deleted a few blogs in my time! Many people find the original incentive for blogging becomes obsolete, and then yes, a difficult decision must be made. You will decide what is right for you. By the way, there are many excellent reasons why a blogger would decide not to follow or comment on other blogs—which requires a lot of time and energy; usually they have other priorities. The more I learn about the blogging community, the more I reconsider my assumptions. I feel that a blog can be whatever you want it to be (short of libel, abuse or hate speech of course). Thanks for bringing this to my attention: maybe I’ll discuss it in the next instalment.
Very interesting! Thank you for sharing these statistics!
Thank you, and stay tuned for more!
Fascinating! You’ve put a lot of work into this.
“I don’t read blogs. I write a blog.”
“Very seldom come across a blog that I care to read regularly.”
“I unsubscribe from any blog that posts regularly more than once a week.”
With those comments, I do wonder why they are on a public blogging forum and not writing a private journal. That attitude annoys me more than most. For me, blogging is all about appreciating, interacting and learning from other bloggers. Rant over and I did find the other findings interesting.
Thanks for your frankness. As for why, those respondents have impeccable reasons for their approach—and there’s room for everyone.
It is truly fascinating to see all the results, thank you so much for all your effort Rachel 👍🏼
You are kind.
It is nice to know that there are others like me around!
So many interesting and unexpected results here. I can’t imagine a goal for blogging of simply writing. Blogging for me has always been about the community. I’m going to have to think about that one.
And I will explain it more in the next post, because has puzzled several others.
Interesting analysis Rachel. Thanks, now I better get back to editing my next post 😉
On Facebook everyone always seems to be smiling. Not so on the blogs I read. There I find no pressure to have it all together. I appreciate your taking the time to analyze the responses. I am learning a great deal and having a chance to reestablish why I blog. It turns out I blog to interact.
That’s an interesting discovery! I’m so glad the analysis is stimulating your thoughts. Thank you.
Interesting to see the breakdown. Would expect business bloggers to operate differently than amateur solely personal bloggers.
I was surprised too.