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[Interview] How to Get Inside the Mind of a Blogger with Andy Crestodina

May 22, 2018

At Traackr, we always advocate for building meaningful relationships with individuals, and Andy Crestodina’s annual survey can help you better understand the bloggers you work with as whole. Read on to get inside the mind of a blogger (or 1,000).

For the past four years, Andy has conducted his blogger survey which interviews over 1,000 bloggers to best understand how they approach their craft. From content creation to promotion, this meaty report has fascinating insights for bloggers and anyone that works with them. We sat down with Andy to gain insight into what these numbers mean and why brand marketers should care.

Why did you decide to do this survey and to focus on bloggers? How are bloggers different from influencers?

Originally, the goal was to fill in a gap and answer an unanswered question: how long does it take to write a blog post. The answer is (of course) “it depends”. But what’s the average? To find out, I knew we had to ask a lot of bloggers, so the Survey of 1000+ Bloggers was born.

By the way, the answer is 3 hours, 20 minutes. That’s 40% more time than a few years ago.

Here are all the blogging statistics from the survey.

Not all bloggers are influential. Millions of people write blog content, but most of them have very small audiences. Others write content for clients or for their brand and they aren’t influential themselves.

A ton of bloggers are “micro-influencers” and highly-relevant but to a small group of people. For example, a real estate agent in a small city may have only a few hundred subscribers… but they read every word she writes. She can meet her marketing goals easily without reaching a wide audience.

How has blogging changed the most since you started doing this survey four years ago?

Besides more time spent on each post, here are some of the other top findings:

  • The average blog post is 1,142 words, 41% longer than 4 years ago
  • More bloggers are using multiple images in each post
  • Publishing frequency for individual bloggers is down

But one of the big findings was the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Slow down and read this next sentence carefully…

According to our survey of 1300+ bloggers, influencer marketing is the most effective form of content promotion.

More than social, more than search, more than paid, partnering with influencers correlates with “strong results”. Here are the stats:

That’s a very important takeaway for anyone in blogging or digital marketing.

If long posts, time spent on writing and consistency bring better results, would you say that we have reached an age of quality over quantity, depth over surface?

Nope! We have not. Some content creators who focus on quality, but this is the minority. Millions of posts are published every day and most of them are very low quality. Here’s what I mean by that:

  • They don’t go deep into a topic (short, common information)
  • They don’t have an original angle or compelling headline
  • They aren’t formatted for digital (long blocky paragraphs, no bullet lists, links or visuals)
  • They lack contributor quotes, data and supportive information

Sadly, I just described most of the content published. If you doubt this, just pick a random industry, search for that industry plus the word blog, scan through some websites and articles, then ask how many of the above criteria they meet.

Of course, not every article has to be ground-breaking news or original research. But no one should hit the publish button if all of those above items are true.

What advice would you give to brands trying to build long-term relationships with bloggers?

That’s the key question. In one word: slowly. Once you have a list of 3-5 bloggers who are relevant to your audience, take your time and gradually build the relationships.

Follow these steps over the course of several weeks…

Pro Tip: the host of this blog, Traackr, makes this process super simple

  1. Listen
    Start by following their streams and subscribing to their emails. What are they writing about? What’s their best advice and strongest opinions? Where are they active?
  2. Share
    Next, show some generosity. Share what they’re writing, but add thoughtful comments. Don’t just click the tweet button. Share in several places. Don’t get stuck on one network. Ideally, you’ll become visible to them in several places.
  3. Comment
    Leave a thoughtful comment on their content. They’re very likely to see it, so make it good. Connect a few dots or share some insights. And it’s ok to respectfully disagree.
  4. Connect
    By now, they know your face and your name. They’ll probably be happy to accept your invitation to connect on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  5. Collaborate
    Here’s the fun part. Find a place where their insights would fit nicely into your content. Then politely reach out and ask them if they wouldn’t mind sending you a contributor quote. Make it easy for them. Tell them the general length (50-100 words) and the time frame (any time within the next two weeks would be great!)
  6. Mention
    Finally, when you share the piece that includes their contributor quote, mention them. You’re hoping that this gets plenty of traction without their help, so make it good. Adding a compelling image, numbers, benefits, questions, hashtags and special characters can help.Here’s what a masterpiece of social content looks like, complete with the mention of the contributors:

Now you’ve given what you hope to give. You started with generosity. You leveraged reciprocity. You’re doing blogger relations and influencer marketing with patience and focus. You’ve known how to do this since you were a little boy or little girl.

It’s called making friends!

How would you explain the dramatic increase in paid services when influencer outreach generates stronger results? Do you think the success bloggers are achieving with influencer collaborations is a trend that will continue?

The jump in paid promotion can be mostly explained by Facebook. They’ve made it so easy for everyone to become an advertiser. More people are clicking the “boost” button more often. The trend toward native advertising also helps explain the increase in paid.

Influencer marketing might not be as easy as clicking a button, but the tactics that get the best results are never the easiest, right?

Working with influencers will definitely become even more popular in the future. Two reasons:

  1. Influencers are becoming more influential
    It’s true. It’s how audience growth and social proof work. Those with a lot of visibility tend to become more visible. As the barrier to entry keeps increasing, the faster, more effective path is to partner with someone who is already visible.
  2. Partnering with influencers is getting easier
    Technology is making it easier than ever to partner with influencers. Influencers with more audience that money will be keen to work with brands. Brands with more money than audience will aim to gain visibility on various networks.

Will blogs ever be replaced? What does the future of blogging look like? How will you evolve the survey to react to these changes?

The word “blog” may go out of style, but the idea of content marketing is probably going to be around for a very long time.

Here’s “blogging,” “content marketing” and “influencer marketing” in Google trends, showing the search popularity over the last five years.

You can see that as a search term, content marketing and blogging are very close. And influencer marketing is growing steadily. These are all fundamental concepts to digital marketing and I don’t expect that to change.

But the survey will definitely evolve. In the future, we may need to break up paid into separate groups. We may also need to segment for B2B and B2C. Nothing in this business is going to stay the same. Keep an eye on the survey to track the changes!

If anyone is interested in being part of the dataset for the 2018 survey, connect with me on LinkedIn.

We hope that you have found these insights as interesting we have. It is important to understand the mind of the bloggers or any influencer you wish to associate with and that of their audiences through them. By understanding what matters to them, you will be able to map out what mutually beneficial and successful collaborations look like.