It’s time again for Andy Crestodina’s annual survey of 1000(+) bloggers. Take a listen and see how your site measures against the trends …
For the third year running, Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media has run his Survey of 1000 Bloggers. We had a chance to chat about the most interesting findings … and talk about what a big project like this can mean for an organization like his (or maybe yours).
In this 30-minute episode, Andy and I talk about:
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
Sonia Simone: This episode is brought to you by Acuity Scheduling. Acuity Scheduling makes scheduling meetings online easy. Clients can view your real-time availability, self-book appointments with you, fill out forms, and even pay you online. To learn more and get a free 45-day trial, visit AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger.
Well, hello there. It is awesome to see you again. Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, and enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant.
My name is Sonia Simone. I’m the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital, and I like to hang out with the folks who do the heavy lifting over on the Copyblogger blog. You can always pick up additional resources, extra links, and the complete show archive over at Copyblogger.FM.
I am here today with my lovely, dear friend, colleague I don’t know, internet friend, occasional person we see face to face, Andy Crestodina. Andy, it’s so good to see you again or hear you again.
Andy Crestodina: It’s great to hear your voice. I’m glad to be back.
Sonia Simone: Oh. It’s so good to be back. We have talked to Andy in the past about content marketing for his empire. I want to call it your global empire, but really it’s more of a local empire. That’s Orbit Media, where he is the co-founder and strategic director. I will give you guys a link to that episode in the show notes. It was an interesting conversation.
Today we’re going to talk about your Annual Blogger Survey. I’ve got the title of that right, do I?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. We used to call it the Survey of 1,000 Bloggers. But, yeah, this is the third annual Survey of 1,000 Bloggers.
Sonia Simone: Very cool. You and I just chatted about that a little bit in email, and you tossed me a couple of juicy and interesting little bits of data that emerged from that. I loved the trends. I love that you survey 1,000 bloggers every year. I think that’s really awesome.
Let’s jump into it, if you’re ready. Maybe start off with, the lead piece of data that I saw from you was an interesting shift in the way that bloggers were working with editors in an editorial process. Do you want to talk about how that’s shaken down these days?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. We asked these 11 questions, and one of them was about editors. This year we added a 12th question, which is about how would you describe the success of your blog? Would you say it’s strong results, or some results, or weak results?
We were able to make some correlations. What we see is a slight shift away from people who edit their own work toward people that collaborate with at least one other person. There is an uptick in the percentage of people that show it to a person or two — that’s the idea that they just have an informal process — and an even stronger uptick in the people who use formal editing processes, as in show it to an actual editor or more than one editor.
It is now at the point where one in four bloggers have a formal process for editing, which is a continuation of the trend that we’ve seen the last two years. More people are getting more serious about this, which I was excited to share with you, because this is generally good news for the Internet, good news for content.
Sonia Simone: Yeah. It really is, because a good editorial process, if nothing else, it really shows that you have a commitment to producing quality work and not just work, not just spewing words on pages for SEO.
Was there any kind of correlation of that with how they saw the success of their sites?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. It’s not surprising. These are just more serious content marketers. So 31 percent of bloggers that have a formal process for editing with one or more editors reported strong results. There’s a correlation: Only 23 percent of bloggers with no editing or just an informal process reported strong results.
It’s not a surprise. It’s definitely there, and we’re seeing the trend over time and that correlation with strong results shows that people who take this more seriously, people that collaborate with others, people that have a process for quality are more likely to self-report those strong results.
We’re happy to see that trend, and it’s one of several points where you can tell people that people are just getting more serious.
Sonia Simone: Yeah. What are some of the other signs that you’re seeing from this survey or from any other data you’re looking at that people are getting more serious about their blogs?
Andy Crestodina: Well, the time was the biggest shift, the time that people spent. There was a downtick in the percentage of people who spend an hour to two hours, or less than that, per post and an uptick in the percentage of people who are spending two to six hours.
There’s a very strong, a doubling of the percentage of people who spend six-plus hours. This was one of the first things that we wanted to discover, because we knew that in our content strategy, we were spending a lot more time than a lot of people we knew who were also using content.
That first question and the impetus for the original survey in 2013 was how long does it take to write a blog post? We found that the first year, 5 percent of bloggers spent six-plus hours. The next year, 6 percent. Now it’s 12 percent of bloggers that are spending six-plus hours combined creating a piece of content on average — which is, if you average it out over the middle of each time frame range, it’s three hours and 16 minutes to create the average blog post now, which I think is good news.
It shows people are serious. People are really going deeper. People are spending more time, probably better research, more thoughtful, more detailed content. People are really doing what I’ve always recommended, which is to without exception just make the best piece of content on the Internet for your topic, if at all possible.
Sonia Simone: Yeah. Exactly. Your best in your way with the resources. I’m very big on managing your resources and managing your constraints.
What have you got? Have you got a great writing voice? Do you have a great analytical mind? You deploy everything you can to try and create something remarkable.
Where do you get these bloggers? How do you source this list of — I think it’s a little over 1,000. Do I have that right?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. This year it was 1,055. I think last year it was 1,070. It’s whenever we close it off. It’s between 1,000 and 1,100.
Sonia Simone: You sort of put out a call to action on the Orbit Media blog for entrance?
Andy Crestodina: No. Actually, by far the biggest piece of work for this project is the data gathering. Here’s been my approach, and the secret sauce, and something anyone could replicate in terms of gathering data for something like this, building a list.
What I’ve done for the last three years is just paid close attention as I interacted with people on LinkedIn. If someone sends me a LinkedIn invite, I’m going to scan through their profile, and I’m going to look to see that either they have been endorsed for blogging, third-party validation, or that they’ve published content directly to the LinkedIn platform.
If yes or yes, then I copy and paste their email address into a tool that I will later use during the outreach phase to ask them politely with a semi-personal email if they wouldn’t mind answering these 12 questions.
I have validated that each of them is in fact a content producer, and I know that they’re producing content in that business context, most of them. It’s skewed towards Chicago, because that’s where I am. It’s skewed toward the US. It’s skewed toward people that I’ve just interacted with on different platforms.
But they are all business bloggers, almost all in the US, and probably a good 25 percent of them are in the Midwest. But, yeah, it’s just brute force outreach. It’s slow growth on this list of people that I’ve sourced almost exclusively from LinkedIn, maybe a couple that found us through Twitter.
I keep the pinned Tweet up there on my personal profile saying, “Hey, if you’d like to answer 12 questions …” But we’re not offering people anything to take it. It’s not a promoted thing. You don’t win an Amazon gift card or something. We just have to do this manual, one-at-a-time, semi-personal outreach. I’m using Ninja Outreach. I spent an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening for about five weeks, until I had them all.
Sonia Simone: I love that. The way you do things is different than the way other people do things.
Andy Crestodina: It’s slower. It takes awhile.
Sonia Simone: Yeah. It’s just fabulous, because it’s not cheap. It’s really curated. It shows an individual’s attention and thought, which is amazing.
What do you think? I’m going to as you some more questions about some of the results from the survey, but before we do, why do you do it? This is a ton of work. What do you feel Andy Crestodina gets out of it or Orbit Media gets out of it? Why run the survey?
Andy Crestodina: Well, in a general principle sort of way, it’s nice to feel like you’ve really contributed to your field by making something that is totally original. Then you are literally adding to the conversation, rather than doing something that’s just a comment on something else, republishing something, or giving medium-quality advice on a well-trod topic.
I get to have conversations like this with you. It’s great just to be part of the community in a more original way, but quite selfishly there is a specific tactic happening here.
There are studies that show … The biggest one I’ve seen was the Moz BuzzSumo study, where they analyzed a million pieces of content and found that there’s two types of content that get the most links and shares. They are original research and strong opinion.
The original research piece, I didn’t find this in the study, but my theory is that original research gets linked to more than other content, and strong opinion gets shared more than any other content. As far as a link-attraction strategy, and if you’re trying to rank from money phrase and buyer-related lead-generating phrase, in our case that’s Chicago Web Design, then you have to have two things: something worth linking to, that’s like this piece of research, and relationships with people who create content.
We try to go big, slow, and painstaking in both categories. So creating that piece of content that is worthy of being cited, referenced, and linked to is to be the primary source for something. We had to create that soundbite, that data point, and so that blogger survey is the one big thing we do each year that works that way.
Sonia Simone: That’s great. I love that. Thank you for sharing the strategy behind that, because I think it would be very useful for people to sit down and think about what they could do on their own in their own topic for their own business, where they could put some hard work into and the kind of benefits that you can get from it.
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. There’s another way too. Just briefly, I think that what a lot of people can do is also — and our blogger survey isn’t the best example — but produce a piece of research or a data point that supports the sales funnel.
As an example, I’m using a service to schedule meetings. It’s called x.ai. Have you heard of this?
Sonia Simone: No.
Andy Crestodina: It’s an artificially intelligent virtual assistant named Amy. If I copy her in an email, she emails back and forth with whoever I was talking to and schedules a time. She integrates with my calendar. It’s a service that saves you time.
If you go to x.ai and look at the service and consider it, it’s a paid service, but they have this data point there that says the average meeting takes as many as eight emails to schedule. That piece of data is supporting their sales funnel.
It’s totally possible to create a statistic or data point that exemplifies the purpose of your offering — the meaning, the value of what you do. The blogger survey really isn’t that, but there are other great reasons to produce original research. Some of those might be to strengthen your pitch in the context of selling.
Sonia Simone: Absolutely. Very good. We’re going to pause for a very quick moment here and just talk about one of our beloved sponsors. Then when we come back, we can dive into some of the data from the survey a little bit more, as well as chatting about a few fun things, like the fourth edition of your book coming out. Just give us maybe 30 seconds for that, and then we’ll be back.
This episode is sponsored by Acuity Scheduling. You know how challenging the back and forth of booking appointments and meetings can be. Some of you may know that, right now, I am in a different time zone from most of the folks that I’m interviewing. Trying to do the back and forth of setting up podcast interviews, meetings, or other kinds of conversations when we’re talking about multiple countries, multiple time zones — it gets really tricky.
What if you never had to ask, “What time works for you?” again?
Well, Acuity Scheduling makes the whole process of scheduling appointments easy. It works with your existing Google, Office 365, iCloud, or Outlook calendar. Clients can view your availability and self-book appointments. They can complete onboarding forms, and they can even submit payment, so you can get back to running your business. It helps you avoid no-shows with automatic text and email reminders, it’s simple to use, and they offer phenomenal customer support.
Go to AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger to start booking all of your meetings with zero hassle right now. The paid plans start at $10 a month, but Copyblogger FM listeners can actually access a free 45-day trial of Acuity Scheduling’s stress-free scheduling management. That’s a month and a half for free just by using AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger when you sign up. I just want to thank them and give them a shout-out for their support of Copyblogger FM.
Hey, there. Welcome back. This is Sonia Simone, here again with Andy Crestodina. Andy, so nice to hear your voice and hear all the interesting, smart things you’re sharing with us.
Andy Crestodina: Glad to be here. This is great. I love reconnecting with you.
Sonia Simone: I always enjoy