A new AOL blog survey shows most bloggers are not aspiring "cyber journalists" or political activists; they blog as a form of therapy.
According to the AOL "Blog Trends Survey," nearly 50% of bloggers say they do it because it serves as self-therapy, and one-third of bloggers who responded say they write frequently about self-help and self-esteem topics. The survey also revealed that when it comes to relieving real-life pressures or dealing with personal issues or tragedies, six times as many respondents prefer to write in their blog or read blogs written by others suffering from similar problems rather than to seek counseling from a professional.
Conversely, only 16% say they blog because they're interested in journalism; as few as 12% say they blog in order to break or stay ahead of the latest news and gossip, and a fractional 8% blog in order to expose political information.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, about 8 million Internet users say they have a created a blog, and according to a Technorati study, the number of blogs in existence doubles about every five months.
The AOL "Blog Trends Survey," conducted by Digital Marketing Services, Inc. (DMS) questioned 600 people who write one or more blogs on the Web, and examined why they write blogs and what they write about.
"What we've noticed is that bloggers aren't necessarily wannabe journalists, or people out to break news or get noticed by the public. They're writing for themselves, and their blogs serve as a recreational and therapeutic outlet for their thoughts," said Bill Schreiner, Vice President, AOL Community. "In a way, blogs serve as oral history. When it comes to sharing blogs and reading other people's blogs, we like to connect with people, learn about their lives, and find common ground. There's no pressure to write about a particular subject or keep blogs maintained a certain way, and it's not necessarily a popularity contest."
AOL and AIM blogs are a product of AOL Community and are available to Web users on the AOL.com (http://www.aol.com/journals) and AIM.com (http://pc.channel.aol.com/aimblogs) portals. They give people a virtual soapbox from which to express their thoughts about anything -- hobbies, families, jobs, friends, news or celebrities. AOL and AIM blogs provide bloggers a simplified way to share opinions and photos online with friends, family, and others on the Internet. Consumers can choose an existing template or design their own to create a private blog or public one to share with others.
An overview of top survey findings:
Blogs As Therapy
-- Nearly 50% of respondents say they write a blog because it serves as a form of self-therapy.
-- One-third of bloggers write about self-help and self-esteem topics.
-- Fifty-four percent like to share their thoughts and feelings with others, and 43% like to chronicle their life and interests.
-- In times of need or high anxiety, one-out-of-three people (31%) say they turn to either writing in their blog or reading the blogs of other people who are experiencing similar issues; that's six times as many people who prefer to seek help and counseling from a professional (5%). The No. 1 answer was seeking advice from family and friends: 32% vs. 31% who turn to blogs.
-- Only 16% of bloggers write a blog because they're interested in journalism, 12% to break news or stay ahead of the news and gossip curve, and only 8% write a blog to expose political information.
Bloggers Write For Themselves
-- Consumer bloggers feel no pressure to write a blog: only 16% write one because it is the latest Internet trend, and 21% because their families or friends do.
-- Most bloggers (66%) feel free to write on "anything and everything."
-- Sixty-six percent of respondents say they do not feel any pressure to have to frequently update their blogs, although they do care about how often the blogs they read are updated. Sixty-five percent say they at least sometimes pay attention to how often other bloggers update their blogs.
-- Sixty-percent consider themselves to have a "laid back" blogging personality. A small number (3.8%) describe themselves as blogging perfectionists, obsessive and compulsive.
-- Only 12% worry that their blogs are funny and witty.
-- A significant percentage (47%) say they feel no pressure at all when they know they have an audience reading their blog. Although, 54% admit it may take them a little longer to write an entry when others may read it.
-- Only 13% of people feel disappointed if other people's blogs attract more readers or responses.
-- Forty-percent of bloggers say it is important to address messages people have posted in their blog in a timely manner.
-- Sixty-one percent of bloggers feel that posting a comment on another person's blog is the "right thing to do."
-- One-in-five bloggers (23%) worry about offending people in their blogs.
-- More than three-out-of-five (65%) of bloggers admit to feeling disappointed when people post negative or abusive comments to their blogs.
More on Blogging:
-- Twenty-nine percent of people write blogs to improve their writing skills and 41% to stay in touch with family and friends.
-- Survey respondents write and maintain an average of two blogs.
-- Consumer bloggers spend an average of four hours per week writing their blogs.
-- When asked why they read other blogs, most (53%) say for entertainment, 44% say to get a new or fresh perspective on the news, and 36% say to interact with other participants through posting.
The survey was conducted from July 17-22, 2005 through Opinion Place, an online research site operated by DMS. Opinion Place utilizes real-time, randomized assignment of respondents to surveys based on a scientifically process. A total of 600 Web users completed the survey. The screen qualifications for this study were males and females aged 18 and above who write one or more blogs on the Web.
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EXPERT AVAILABLE: An AOL/AIM blog expert is available for interviews to provide blogging tips for beginners as well as etiquette advice for blogging rules-of-the-road.