What it Takes to Compete With Top Blogs: 3 to 10 Posts a Day

According to the newly-released Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2009 Report, the top 5,000 blogs have one thing in common:  they publish frequent posts.

If you have visions of turning a blog into an ad-supported business, you’ll need to know what you’re up against.  And what you’re up against is blogs that resemble media publications more than they resemble hobbyist sites.  For one thing, those high-authority blogs average roughly 3 to 10 posts a day, according to this chart:

Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2009

The State of the Blogosphere is being released in installments, but a presentation overview of the results is available on DocStoc.  There are a couple of interviews of well-known blog personages accompanying the report with interesting insights too.

For instance, Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, noted in an interview that TechCrunch bloggers write 3 posts a day:

RJ: I’ve noticed in my own personal experience with you, and I’ve also heard this from a blogger that knows you very well, that nobody works as hard as you do and the reason I’m raising that is because one of the things that we learned in the 2008 State of the Blogosphere was the highest authority blogs posted the most frequently. The top 100 averaged 12 posts a day.

MA: Yes, I think this goes back to the Gizmodo and Engadget theories of posting. We hired John Biggs who was the founding editor of Gizmodo and he’s been working with us running Crunchgear. The first thing he said is posting matters more than anything, and if you look at Cruchgear he runs that blog a lot differently from TechCrunch: very much shorter posts and tons and tons of them, and it’s quick hits and a lot of it is re-blogging major media and it works and we get a lot of page views – it’s great it’s a profitable blog, it’s awesome. I love his team and I read it, but that isn’t TechCrunch’s style. I know that lots of posts lead to lots of pages, but I don’t think it necessarily leads to more credibility…

RJ: That goes back to the quality that you started with you: to be a good writer and write quality stuff.

MA: We have a good team here and I look for them to write three to four posts a day, and three is fine and I try to get them to write one or two post on the weekend, so we’re talking about less than 25 posts a week and the average is like 15 to 20 for each writer. And that’s a lot.

And this insight was provided by Edelman agency executive Steve Rubel in response to the question “What’s your advice to people who are looking to make a serious go at professional blogging?:

“If you haven’t started by now, it’s extremely difficult to thrive. All of the good niches are taken and established. You either need to find an unmet need or catch on with someone else who is established.

That said, I believe people can succeed as professional content curators – but this will need to go beyond blogging. A good example of this is MuckRack.com and the network of properties Sawhorse Media is building.”

Rubel goes on to say it is harder to get people to come to blogs and that we are “living through the Attention Crash.” He speaks of “using a hub as a launching point for your content, syndicating it out to your “spokes” (eg the social networks where one chooses to engage) and then conversing about it in both locations.”

So what’s the conclusion from the State of the Blogosphere report and these interviews?

  • Yes, it is possible to turn a blog into a media business.
  • But it’s getting harder for new entrants to break in because most niches are covered and you have to fight for attention.
  • And to make it work requires publishing multiple posts a day.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful company blog to promote your business.  Sure you can.  And you don’t need 10 posts a day to be successful at it.  It just means if you have aspirations of of that blog becoming a self-sustaining media business, the bar is a lot higher.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

18 Reactions
  1. Anita,

    It could be hard for a solo entrepreneur to write multiple posts per day. I have problem to write a post per day even if I have a weekly blog schedule with different topics / categories during the week.

    If you include microblogging on Twitter and FriendFeed, I am writing several messages per day! 😉 I will write more often on my site on Posterous when I have create a new online home for my business. I need some tools like Flip camera, iPhone or other smartphone so I could add stuff to my lifestream on regular basis.

    I think that Small Business Trends is a great example of new media portal & syndication network of small business experts, guest bloggers, press information, podcasting show, etc.

  2. Interesting. I have seem this trend coming, but I think its based on news as intertainment. As blog posts get shorter, they are more like introductions to a subject that continues on other blogs.

    Why not just post titles with a single paragraph?

    I’ll tell you why, because short posts do not add to your content base that will continue to drive traffic for years to come. I see the blogsphere dividing into two camps, the content creators and the gossipers. If you want to compete with the gossipers, you need to increase the frequency of your posts. But if you want to market a business or build a brand, than yours better off as a content creator.

  3. A lot of deep thinking has been created by this post. Hmmm. The numbers give part of the story, for sure. I’m glad for your optimism tempered with reality, Anita. The bar is higher.

    The established media companies said the same things about blogs. We’re entrenched, we have all the niches covered. You’ll have a tough time breaking in.

    There is always room for an entrepreneurial mind to come in and shake something up, look at it fresh, and create a viable venture. I was reading the Inc 500 issue that highlights the top young companies. Many of them started in the last 4-5 years, came into dominated industries, and have 10,000%, 13,000% growth. They are still small companies, but they came into a crowded space.

    The bar is now higher. That’s okay.

  4. Hi TJ,

    Yes, you’re right, it’s reality. The bar is higher now.

    Again, just so I am perfectly clear: I think there is plenty of room for businesses to set up blogs attached to their company website, to serve customers and promote their business. Certainly, they don’t need to publish 3 or 10 posts a day.

    This data applies SOLELY to those sites that intend to become media businesses.

    And even for niche media businesses, can you do well even at say, 1 post a day or 2 posts a day? Sure — I think so. But success will be a bit more modest. If you expect to become one of the very top and support a staff and ongoing technical development, you will need to have an already-existing reputation or brand from somewhere else that you bring to the table, or post frequently.

    – Anita

  5. I am kind of new to blogging, so I am still seeking my balance on creating good material and sending the proper message about the company I work for. Thanks for the post. Very informative.

  6. If you expect your blog to be your source of income, why would you NOT expect it to take full-time effort? Seems pretty logical that you would have to post a lot to get a lot. But this needs to be tempered by the concept of value (Michael Arrington hinted at it).

    To become an established blog you have to present value. John Biggs creates value with frequent post that cover virtually everything in his niche. John Jantsch creates value by presenting a more thought out piece once/day. If you’re presenting value to your readers they’ll keep coming back, plain and simple.

  7. It will be very hard for a single blogger to post 3 posts a day, but i will try from now on. I am posting 2 post per day, one written in Chinese and the other written in English. I think I can write 2 or 3 English posts per day later when I am better in English.

  8. Success in this report is defined as a self-sustaining ad-supported blog. In such a case, pageviews is the primary objective. However, if the author’s objective is to engage with readers establishing trust and influence, I don’t find it necessary to post 10 posts a day. Actually, I think it could undermine the author’s ability to nurture a specific niche since this niche would be overrun with content.

    However, media properties that started as blogs but that have become great hubs of information posted by several authors should not be called blogs anymore… they have evolved to become a different sort of business with more of a general readership.

    Moreover, self-sustaining blogs could generate indirect income other than ad revenue.


  9. Anita,

    I think your commenters make some great points. At some point it is no longer a blog, but more of an ezine.

    Personally, I discovered some great content on this site having just discovered it today, but the last four posts I read were by four different authors. I am not even glancing at your ads, and if one of you suggested that I should purchase something I most likely would not because there is no trust built up.

    At four posts into a one person blog I would have already begun to have some sense of who the writer was and some level of trust would have started to build. After a week or two reading their blog I would probably know enough about them to at least check out something they wanted me to purchase.

    Maybe I would trust the Technorati report a little more too if they could handle the roll out of their redesign – which has been very ugly. In all seriousness, I understand your point about become a media business, and it is well taken. I just don’t think that what you are describing can be considered blogging anymore.


  10. Hi Curt, You make a good point. I do think there’s room to increase the frequency of posting and still have substantive content, though. But I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s tricky to keep that from just degenerating into a regurgitation that adds nothing.


  11. Hi Brad, Agreed that a blog such as I’m describing is a media business.

    And as I pointed out above, to have a successful blog as an adjunct to a small business does NOT require posting 3 or 10 times a day. I don’t think anyone should even aspire to that level of posting for a blog related to a small business — that would be nuts. That level of posting is only for those that have chosen a different path, to be media businesses.

    Let me share the story of how we got to where we are today with this site. I started this site 6 years ago, and spent the first several years with mainly just me writing. In the early years it could have been described as “my” blog.

    But the site gradually grew and has taken on a life of its own. It’s become bigger than me personally. That wasn’t by design, really. It happened because a few friends of mine asked if they could post now and then. For a long time I resisted letting any other than a few people post here occasionally. Gradually, though, people self-selected and joined the conversation.

    You’re absolutely right, it is now more of a ‘zine.

    I now feel like this site is a mini (very VERY mini) version of something like Forbes or Huffington Post. I write articles (just like Steve Forbes or Ariana Huffington), but my thoughts are not the only ones here.

    I view the mission of this site not to be a place just for my voice, but a platform that allows others to be heard — although I still personally review each person and each article that gets published here.

    Once you start providing that kind of a platform and it becomes a community vehicle, a trade-off of course is that you won’t be the only voice. But I feel the site is richer for hearing from others — because I don’t (and can’t) know everything that the others here know. No one person can bring so many experiences and wisdom to the table.

    I do invite you to come back and visit and get to know people who post here with some frequency — not just myself, but others.


  12. Anita,

    Thank you for your reply. I will definitely come back, and I have already bookmarked your site. There is a lot of great content here.

    Perhaps using this site as an example in previous comment might have been unfair. I am sure that the more I read the more it will take on a community feel. My point was more geared towards the blogging community being one that developed its audience by putting themselves into their blog posts. It doesn’t seem that where we are trending (these micro blog recaps of major media) is going to be that appealing to them.

    The online audience as a whole will likely flock to the ezine style of blog posts, but I question whether bloggers are really competing for that type of audience. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part?

    I think the next several years will be very interesting to watch as the tradional hard copy reporters continue to pour into the online world. The individual blogger may become a casualty of this changing online landscape leaving only the hobbyist. I wonder, will the bloggers turned ezines survive or just be absorbed?

    I enjoyed your recounting how this site has grown. In many ways it is the classic small business tale. I am looking forward to reading more great articles from you and the other writers here.


  13. I think this is fascinating – it’ll be interesting to see how the equilibrium of quality content and less frequent posting will amass next to those who try for viral only mass produced content…or is there a way to culminate the two? I guess this will separate the successful blogs from the spam-esque blogs.

  14. Are the “top blogs” considered the ones that get the most traffic, or most comments, or most reposts? It seems like the most successful blogs would be the ones that actually convert visitors into customers or clients. Or, make a lot of money selling adds. Does the report track conversion or monetary stats or is it based on overall visibility?

  15. Just better is making less but more quality content.