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How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results

Yesterday we shared Andy Castodina's (of Orbit Media) survey of 1000+ bloggers ( We shared it because it was great research, great content. 

But +Sonia Simone took it a step further. She's dug into some specifics of the Orbit Media results and discusses topics like: 

 - The rule of 24
 - What's better: a solid weekly post or a monthly masterpiece?
 - The trick to nurturing leads when you publish less
 - A challenge to all bloggers

You'll find this and more in this afternoon's post (11 a.m. EST). Stay tuned. 

Update: post is now live:

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Ok, this is all very interesting.  But I notice you did NOT define what you meant by the "Top 5% of Bloggers".  "Top"?  From the article, what you mean by "top" is, "this is what the people who do the most do".  I don't think that is a useful definition.

A useful definition of "top" would be, "this is what the people with the greatest number of people reading their blogs do".  Or, perhaps better, "this is what the top bloggers in their respective areas do". 

The article gives no way to correlate what you reported here with success.  All it says is, "If you want to be hard working, conscientious blogger, here's some things for you to do."

Most of us want to be more than hard working and conscientious, we want to be read.
This post is in line with Jon Morrow's recent post on how the model of blogging has changed in recent years. Doing research, having an editorial calendar, fact checking etc. means that successful blogs are run more and more like magazines. This doesn't mean you have to take on that model, but if you spend twenty minutes on a blog post, you'll probably get twenty minutes worth of results. If you spend ten hours, you'll get ten hours of results.
This post also makes me think that in my blogging, and my business, getting the results I want means that I can't do everything by myself. It's impossible. 
As someone who decided to move my consistency from blogging regularly to sending email newsletters regularly, I have to say publishing less but writing more works - even for a small blog with two posts in two months.

It's no longer about comments, social shares, or even traffic. It's about making personal connections with your readers and sparking conversations. You don't need thousands of page visits for that. You only need a handful of people to give you permission to email them. 
I have been spending more time on my posts, writing 800+ words per post, spending time on formatting it, adding images. And it's working for me. 
But sometimes I really feel guilty about not posting regularly on my blog. If only there was a way to publish quality posts everyday, sadly that's not possible for an individual blogger like me. 
I so appreciate your sharing this survey information.  At the same time, I'm confused by your article.  If most popular bloggers are writing posts in a few hours and very few spend six hours, why are you challenging us to take more time on our posts?
It's like anything else in business. Hard work doesn't guarantee success, but it's very rare to find success without it. 

+Sandra Pawula Because you don't want to be stuck in the bottom 95% -- the mass of average "me-too" content. You want to be in the group that creates more memorable content, because that's where the rewards will be. 

Similar answer for +Chuck Anderson -- it's our assertion that your content isn't going to get read, at least not in the numbers you want, until you put in a solid amount of effort. Until you're putting in the work to create solidly valuable content, you're not ready to start asking how to get more traffic.  

Dan Kennedy sometimes gives the advice, 'Great marketing for a lousy product just gets the word out faster about how lousy you are." Not to say that most bloggers are "lousy," but most blog content published is, let's face it, kind of thin and unmemorable.

There are a handful of people who are naturally extremely witty and can quickly write content that will get attention, but that tends to hold much more true for a "personal interest" blog than one that's serving a business function. 
+Sandra Pawula To clarify, most popular bloggers aren't spending a few hours on posts. It's most of the bloggers in total that he surveyed. 
+Sonia Simone ~ I understand now!  They didn't interview the top 5% of bloggers, they interviewed bloggers in general.  Now it all makes sense.  Thanks so much.
Sonia Simone shocked me with some of her info. On an internet in which people are paying $4-6.00 for a 500-word article, it makes serious writers want to gag. Sonia is obviously finding that there are the few, the proud bloggers who actually take the job very seriously and spend the hours it takes to write important, convincing articles which will remain relevant and effective for a very long time to come. Thanks, Sonia, for encouraging those of us who were beginning to believe that no one gives a hang anymore about great quality content.
I think it would be very useful to see how time spent writing a post or how the length of a post, or how frequency of publishing could be directly linked to results. Do those 5% of bloggers that spend 6+ hours writing a post see an increase in page views? Do they see more response to calls to action? Does a longer post result in more sales (however that is defined at each individual blog)? You've shown us how to operate on the high side of the bell curve, but you haven't shown us how these actions result in positives for our business. I would love to see this study go much deeper into RESULTS rather than ACTIONS that may or may not impact my bottom line. 
I appreciate the input +Chuck Anderson. I got that feedback once in other location. Although it would be interesting to study what the "most read" bloggers do, I'm not sure how to do that survey.  There is no reliable list of the bloggers who are read the most, and no tools for accurately measuring others' traffic.

Our goal here was to learn about how bloggers go about the job in general. When the data showed that most bloggers spend relatively little time per post and don't use an editor, it became obvious that some bloggers are working much harder. So the best insight was to show what it takes to put yourself in the top range of bloggers in terms of effort.

I found the data really interesting in that way. I spend 6+ hours per post on average. So do 5.5% of other bloggers. Hopefully, the effort shows!
+Amy Butcher I agree with you. I wish we could have other tools that would measure the intersection of quality writing with quality followers. All I know is that if I focus on my bottomline which is more about high-quality client relationships versus masses of prospects, the better results I have. 
I'm sure it's outside the scope of the survey and difficult for the public to measure, but I'd be willing to bet the 5% who go the extra mile to produce high quality content are ALSO using their analytics to gauge whether the effort is producing results. Like +Samar Owais said, it's about building connections, which is hard to put a dollar figure on. I found this survey and +Sonia Simone's analysis informative and encouraging. 
Just want to say thank you to everybody.  I found the comments very helpful.  My initial comment was too narrow in scope, although I still think it would be very interesting to attempt a survey focused on bloggers who have high readership rates.  Since traffic info is not in the public domain, it would have to be self reporting by the bloggers themselves.  It would also be interesting to note, as part of such a survey, the general topics or focus of the blogs they write. 
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