2004 saw dramatic growth in the blogosphere

A new study by the Pew Internet Project today reveals that blog readership shot up 58% in 2004. Six million Americans get news and information fed to them through RSS aggregators. And 62% of online Americans do not know what a blog is (but they will as the months go by). The study says blogs and blogging have become a “key part of online culture.”

An even more dramatic story emerges in blog readership. We began asking about this in the spring of 2003 and found that about 11% of internet users at that time had read blogs. The figure jumped to 17% this past February and leapt to 27% in November. The growth in 2004 alone amounts to 58%.

Blog readers are somewhat more of a mainstream group than bloggers themselves. Like bloggers, blog readers are more likely to be young, male, well educated, internet veterans. Still, since our survey February, there has been greater-than-average growth in blog readership among women, minorities, those between the ages of 30 and 49, and those with home dialup connections.

This is dramatic growth, and I expect it to continue. 2005 will be a year when more mainstream media outlets get into the citizens media movement, and that will be a very positive thing for all.

Comments

  1. Readership growth is definitely where the real story is. Blog authoring was originally estimated at 2-7% and is still estimated by Pew at 7%.

    I suspect this means we’re seeing a core group of bloggers finding increasing audiences, not a general increase of readership across all blogs.

    After the last Pew report I opined that blogs weren’t the best use of time for blog creators who wanted a broad reach without working for it. That appears still true for those with unrealistic expectations about the amount of time required to do a blog right and size of typical blog readership.

    At some point, coming along more quickly with Pew’s latest readership stats, blogs will join "traditional" media as an equal partner, either sitting alongside them or absorbed into them, much as all new media has done to old.

  2. Frank makes an excellent point:

    "After the last Pew report I opined that blogs weren’t the best use of time for blog creators who wanted a broad reach without working for it. That appears still true for those with unrealistic expectations about the amount of time required to do a blog right and size of typical blog readership."

    Blogging does take a lot of hard work, and with the explosion of blog authoring and readership highlighted by this report, the one thing that gets lost is the fact that according to the Perseus Blog Survey nearly 60% of these blogs will quickly be abandoned. If even the best, most successful blogs are going to be sustainable, there needs to be greater cooperation and more group blogs.

    It’s silly how many of us are doing this on our own, even though there are dozens of blogs that essentially have the same things to say about the media. Some of the best blogs should join forces to create a real powerhouse and build a real community for discussing these important issues, instead of fracturing audiences across dozens of blogs. See Dot Squiggle’s post on this issue.

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