How big can blogs get?
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004
Lots of talk and observation about the latest Pew study, which shows that, among other things, 17% of Internet users have posted written material on Web sites. The most interesting number for me, though, is this one “11% of Internet users have read the blogs or diaries of other Internet users.”
Believing fervently that blogs offer a superior media (or should I say unmedia) experience for most readers, I’ve often wondered how many people haven’t yet heard of blogs… which is to say how many more people we can still expect to discover blogs and become addicted.
This Pew number is much higher than I expected, particularly because a number of people have probably visited blogs but don’t know that’s what they are visiting. So maybe the number is 20%? That’s quite a contrast to a couple of years ago when NOBODY I met — except bloggers — had heard of blogs. My wife and I used to share the same grim laugh after a night dining with friends — when would someone do more than mumble politely or giggle discreetly when I mentioned the word blog?
Today, I’m no longer longing to meet people who know what blog means. On the contrary, when I meet a blog reader… darn, another market already conquered, I think.
So, if 20% of the American internet users have used blogs, does this mean that blog traffic can only grow 5 times from here?
I’d suggest no — many of today’s readers haven’t yet found exactly the favorite blogs — indeed many of those blogs have yet to be birthed. So shall we say 10 or 20 times? Moreover, we know that the longer people are on the Internet, the greater their usage. Folks who have been online 6+ years use the internet 15.8 hours per week, 50% more than folks who have been online 4 years (10.9 hours), and three times longer than people who’ve been online less than one year (5.5 hours). (That piece of vital but widely ignored data is buried on page 22 of this UCLA report.)
So will the readership for weblogs some day reach 30X or 100X current levels? If you find this post via Google in five years, leave a comment and tell us how things turned out.