Report

Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet's New Storytellers

  • July 19, 2006
A telephone survey of a nationally-representative sample of bloggers, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, has found that blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world. Some 54 percent of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else; 44 percent say they have published elsewhere. While generally youthful, these writers otherwise represent a broad demographic spectrum of people who cite a variety of topics and motives for their blogging.

Eight percent of internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog. Thirty-nine percent of internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs – a significant increase since the fall of 2005.

Capturing a current snapshot of an ever-changing blog universe

The Pew Internet & American Life Project deployed two strategies to interview bloggers.

First, as part of our standard random-digit dial tracking surveys about internet use among a nationally-representative sample of American adults, we asked respondents if they maintain a blog. Then, we called back these self-identified bloggers between July 2005 and February 2006. Seventy-one percent of those called back completed this second telephone survey, which focused exclusively on blogging. The remaining 29 percent said they were no longer keeping a blog or were not willing to take another survey, and we eliminated them from the callback interviews. This strategy yielded a relatively small number of respondents (n=233) but allowed us to ask in-depth questions of a nationally-representative sample of bloggers. Numbers cited in this report are based on the callback survey unless specifically noted.

Our second strategy for preparing this report involved fielding additional random-digit surveys between November 2005 and April 2006 to capture an up-to-date estimate of the percentage of internet users who are currently blogging. These large-scale telephone surveys yielded a sample of 7,012 adults, which included 4,753 internet users, 8 percent of whom are bloggers.

Bloggers cover a variety of topics

While many well-publicized blogs focus on politics, the most popular topic among bloggers is their life and experiences. The Pew Internet Project blogger survey finds that the American blogosphere is dominated by those who use their blogs as personal journals. Most bloggers do not think of what they do as journalism.

Most bloggers say they cover a lot of different topics, but when asked to choose one main topic, 37 percent of bloggers cite “my life and experiences” as a primary topic of their blog. Politics and government ran a very distant second with 11 percent of bloggers citing those issues of public life as the main subject of their blog. Entertainment-related topics were the next most popular blog-type, with 7 percent of bloggers, followed by sports (6 percent), general news and current events (5 percent), business (5 percent), technology (4 percent), religion, spirituality or faith (2 percent), a specific hobby or a health problem or illness (each comprising 1 percent of bloggers). Other topics mentioned include opinions, volunteering, education, photography, causes and passions, and organizations.