According to a recent study by BlogHer and Compass Partners, more than one-third (35%) of all women in the U.S. aged 18 to 75 participate in the blogosphere at least once a week. And that number increases if less-frequent visits are factored in. Of those women who are online any amount of time, 53% read blogs, 37% post comments to blogs and 28% write or update blogs, according to the study.
"We can now see that blogging is mainstream," said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and chief operating officer of BlogHer.
BlogHer is an online women's blogging community, and Compass Partners is a brand strategy and consumer-research consultancy. The study was based on surveys of two sample groups which together included several thousand respondents: one composed of participants in the BlogHer community and the other of online women selected to represent the general population of U.S. women.
If anything, blogs do seem to capture a consistent audience. Of the general population of online women who write blogs, 58% post entries at least weekly -- and of those who read blogs, 80% do so at least weekly. But among BlogHer users, 43% of those who write blogs and 89% who read blogs do so daily.
What women bloggers want
However, while blog usage among BlogHer readers and writers is much higher, the study also found that the motivation for blogging (and reading blogs) was similar in both surveys. Of women who said they write blogs, answers from BlogHer respondents and the general population were "nearly identical," saying they: most often do so for fun (65%); to express themselves (60%); to connect with others (40%); as a personal diary (34%); and to give advice or educate (26%). Women read blogs for fun (46%); to get information (41%); stay up to date on family and friends (36%); stay up to date on specific topics (34%); connect with others (28%); and entertainment (26%).
Ms. Page, and another BlogHer co-founder, Jory Des Jardins, agreed that the last finding is significant for all media.
"I think other media have to be conscious that this is also entertainment. It's replacing other forms of news gathering, which has newspapers and magazines scared, but it's also [replacing] all of entertainment, which should have TV and movie [companies] scared," Ms. Page said.
Among both BlogHer participants and general women consumers, there has been a noticeable shift away from traditional media. Some 24% of the women overall watch less TV, as do 43% of BlogHer users; another 25% and 22% of the general consumers read fewer magazines and newspapers, respectively, as do 31% in each category of BlogHer users.
Interacting with ads
The survey also asked BlogHer readers and writers what appeals to them in online advertising. The results? BlogHer publishers were much more likely (40%) to click on an ad vs. BlogHer readers (29%). Still, their reasons for doing so were almost exactly the same: to learn more about a product or service (79% writers/81% readers), to get a free product or service (52%/48%), to get a discount on a product or service (49%/52%) and because the brand advertised was one they knew and trusted (46%/48%).
Demographically, BlogHer users are fairly similar to average online women, although they skew much higher in the 25- to 41-year-old Gen X range, with 68% of the BlogHer users in that age range vs. 42% of overall women.
With so many similarities, the BlogHer co-founders said they believe their user population is a harbinger of online women's habits and preferences in general. "We are almost a beacon of what's to come," Ms. Des Jardins said.