Lifestyle Blogging Report
In February and March of
2013, Zephyr Adventures
(operator of two Beer
Blogger Conferences, the Wine
Bloggers Conference, the Fitness
& Health Social Media Conference, and the International
Food Blogger Conference -along with our
a 32-question survey of bloggers in the beer, wine, food, and fitness
industries. Over 1400 bloggers completed the survey. Here are the
Zephyr Adventures. You are free to copy portions of this report as long
as you attribute and link back to Zephyr Adventures.
Part I: Conclusions
For those of you who won't make it through the entire Lifestyle
Blogging Report, we present here some of the conclusions we have drawn
from this report, guided by our experiences working and interacting
with lifestyle bloggers at the annual conferences we organize.
tend to be young males who are fully employed, with little professional
experience, and writing as Citizen Beer Bloggers because they are
passionate about the subject. They are the least likely to make money
from their blogs but the most likely to judge their success on whether
they are happy blogging. Probably because of the industry, they lag
behind their peers in other niches in terms of site visitors and social
media followers. They are the least likely to attend the Beer Bloggers
Conference, in part perhaps because of finances, but perhaps the most
likely group to benefit from doing so.
have the most experience in blogging, with one in five having been
blogging for more than six years and 77% having been blogging more than
two years. They are also older and the most likely to have attended a
Wine Bloggers Conference. They are more likely to be self-employed and
more likely to be "very successful" at making money from paid writing
and outside consulting on social media or the wine industry. In short,
wine bloggers are fairly mature and an accepted part of the wine
tend to be female and a greater portion are stay-at-home moms,
students, or unemployed - although the majority are still
self-employed or employed full time. Food bloggers have the greatest
proportion of new bloggers, which likely means the industry attracts
new bloggers frequently. By a significant margin, they are most likely
to be blogging to turn their blog into a job or a book. They are
the most invested in social media and most successful at using both
Facebook and Google Plus. A few food bloggers are wildly
successful at gaining website visitors and social media followers.
Fitness & Health Bloggers
tend to be young women. They are the most likely to be blogging to
support their own entrepreneurial efforts and have more industry
experience, possibly due to the large number of personal trainers, yoga
instructors, dietetians, and others in the industry. Along with food
bloggers, they do well in terms of site visitors and social media
followers and are far more likely to be "very successful" making money
by working with corporate partners. Despite all this, they are more
likely to cite "writing is my passion" and "to have a voice" as
motivating factors for blogging.
in general tend to live in the United States, be married or living with
a significant other, and blog as a Citizen Blogger because they are
passionate about their chosen subject. More bloggers than not have some
professional expertise related to their blog. Lifestyle bloggers are
not out to make money and measure their success based first on their
personal satisfaction and second on the number of site visitors
and social media followers. They are fully engaged on social media,
increasingly use photos, and have not yet adopted videos within their
blogs. Most lifestyle bloggers do not attend industry blogging
conferences but those that do are more successful and have greater
impact than those who do not.
Part II: The Bloggers
were asked to classify themselves as a Citizen Blogger (their blog is
not connected to any business), Entrepreneurial Blogger (promoting
their own company), or Industry Blogger (connected to a business or
other organization). The clear majority of bloggers are classified as
Citizen Bloggers - up to 85% of respondents in the case of beer
bloggers. Wine bloggers are most likely to be representing a business,
which reflects the thousands of wineries in the world, many of which
have their own blogs. Fitness bloggers are the most likely to be
blogging to support their own entrepreneurial efforts, likely due to
the thousands of fitness instructors who blog.
The vast majority of responding bloggers tend to be from the US,
although the exact numbers reflect who responded to the survey. For
example, since Zephyr Adventures runs a European Beer Bloggers
Conference, more beer bloggers from Europe responded.
varies dramatically among the different lifestyle blogging niches. Beer
Bloggers are overwhelmingly male, wine bloggers are more mixed, and
both food and fitness bloggers are predominately female.
varies quite a bit. Fitness bloggers are the youngest group, with 58%
under the age of 35. Wine bloggers are the oldest group, with a
surprising 24% over the age of 55. Among all bloggers, most are married
and roughly half are parents. In sum, most lifestyle bloggers have
quite a bit of life experience already.
Over 85% of beer, wine, and fitness bloggers are employed full time,
either with a company or self-employed. Only food bloggers had a good
portion outside the employment world, with 8% stay-at-home parents
(itself a job!), 5% unemployed, and 5% students. Only wine bloggers had
any significant portion of retirees, at 6%.
bloggers are the most experienced group among our survey respondents,
with 77% have been blogging at least two years and a full one in five
having been blogging for more than six years. There
are veteran wine
bloggers out there with some great staying power. While food blogging
is a veteran pastime as well, a full 21% of food blogger respondents
indicated they have been writing for less than one year.
food blogging is still drawing many new adherents each year.
terms of work experience related to blogging, 50% of beer bloggers have
none. Most wine, food, and fitness bloggers do have related experience
in writing, editing, marketing, or - most commonly - in the specific
industry. In other words, while no bloggers need qualifications to
start a blog, many lifestyle bloggers do have related experience.
Part III: The Motivation to Blog
asked, “Why do you blog?”, at least 82% of respondents in all four
“X is my passion”, where "X" is their subject matter (beer, wine, food,
or fitness and health). Three additional answers that drew
heavy response included:
Interestingly, the similarities in answers were quite strong among the
four niches. Passion for a subject matter is by far the strongest
motivation to blog, regardless of the subject. Also interesting is that
economic motivations, including trying to turn a blog into a job or a
book and promoting a business are not common. Making money is well
down on the list and is not a motivator for most lifestyle bloggers.
have a voice so I can say what I want to say
- To create a name for myself in the industry
- Writing is my passion
When asked how bloggers track the success of their blog, the primary
answer was simply “personal satisfaction”, which makes sense given most
bloggers are motivated by passion. Ultimately, a successful lifestyle blog is one that makes a blogger happy.
satisfaction, success is based on whether people are paying
attention: the number of visitors to the blog, sharing of
their content via
social media, the number of Twitter and Facebook followers, and the
number of comments left on the blog. Google Plus does not yet score
highly but probably will in the future as it is increasing in
is not an indicator of satisfaction for the vast majority of
bloggers and technical
such as incoming links and RSS subscribers are not important
It is interesting to note that food and fitness bloggers are more
likely to be motivated by making money and more likely to judge their
success by revenue.
Part IV: Social Media
Almost all bloggers engage in social media to promote their blogs and,
as presented earlier,
many indicate social media is an important indicator of how they judge
success. In terms of engagement, Twitter leads with between 84% and 91%
bloggers using it, depending on the industry niche. Facebook is next
with a substantial majority of bloggers using it to promote their
blogs. Pinterest presents a difference among lifestyle bloggers. It is
understandable that food bloggers participate in Pinterest, since "food
porn" (photos) are an excellent way to share. Interestingly, fitness
bloggers have also picked up on Pinterest while beer and wine
bloggers (who wants to share a picture of a beer?) lag behind. Based on
our experience with bloggers we can say that Google Plus is coming on
In terms of effectiveness, bloggers clearly consider Twitter and
Facebook to be the
most effective social media platforms in promoting their blog. It isn't
clear why beer bloggers and wine bloggers prefer Twitter while food and
fitness bloggers prefer Facebook, but they do. One explanation might be
a gender preference, since more beer and wine bloggers are
male. Pinterest has shown itself to be effective for a
substantial portion of food (28%) and fitness (12%) bloggers and smart
beer and wine bloggers might check into how they might use Pinterest
more themselves. Google Plus, YouTube, and LinkedIn
lag behind, although 4% of beer bloggers do cite Google Plus as the
most effective social media platform.
With regard to Twitter and Facebook, the effectiveness of the platform
correlates somewhat with the number of followers. The
data below represents the average number of social media followers
without outliers, because the number was wildly distorted by a
few very successful bloggers. (One food blogger responded he or she had
1.3 million Google Plus followers.)
Beer, wine, and fitness bloggers had the most followers on
Twitter and fewer on Facebook, while food bloggers had the most
followers on Facebook and then Google Plus. The Google Plus numbers
were distorted by a handful of very successful users, even after
removing the outliers. Fitness bloggers are doing quite well on
Pinterest, again thanks to a few successful Pinterest users. When
looking at the median number, the number of Pinterest users is greater
than the number of Google Plus users for all four niches.
Part V: Traffic and
The disperson of answers as to the number of unique
visitors to a person's blog per month is huge. Some bloggers claim very
low numbers and others have huge numbers of visitors. Plus, each
blogger might be getting numbers from
different sources and with varying degrees of accuracy.
The median provides a good idea of visitation for the average blogger
and the median number increases quite regularly from beer (1000
visitors per month) to wine (1,500), food (2,000), and fitness (2,500).
These differences certainly reflect the market size (there are more
people interested in reading about fitness and food than there are
about beer and wine) but also probably reflect the success of bloggers
in these niches.
Looking at averages, food blogs have a very high number, thanks in part
to a few extremely successful blogs (one million, three million, and
eight million visitors per month within the survey responses)
but also due to a substantial
number of very successful blogs (six percent of food blogger resondents have over
100,000 unique visitors per month).
These average numbers provide a tale of collective clout. For example,
there are 1,930 active beer blogs, according to the Complete
List of Beer Blogs
. (See also the Complete List of Wine Blogs
and Complete List of Fitness & Health
.) Multiplied by the 5,536 unique visitors per month
gives you a grand total of 128 million visitors to beer blogs each
year. The number of visitors to food and fitness blogs is exponentially higher.
varies widely depending on the lifestyle niche. 73%
of beer bloggers do not make any money at all from their blog
as compared to only 51% of fitness bloggers who make no money. However,
when considering "almost" no money (less than $200 per month), a full
83% of fitness bloggers and higher percentages in other niches make
little or no money from their blogs. As we already know, most bloggers
are not blogging to make money - and most bloggers do not make money from their blogs.
There are exceptions. Three percent of food bloggers make over
$2,000 per month, which amounts to an annual salary.
possible to monetize lifestyle blogs.
those who do make some money from their blogs, the most successful
method for beer, wine, and food writers is obtaining paid writing gigs.
Consulting on social
media or within the industry is also somewhat successful, especially
for wine bloggers. Fitness bloggers have been successful at monetizing
through sponsored posts/reviews and through brand promotion - i.e.
working directly with companies. Other traditional
ways to monetize a blog such direct ad sales, ad servers (Google
AdSense), ad networks, affiliate programs, and selling e-books do not
have great rates of success.
that often the most successful
way to monetize a blog is to leverage a blog’s credibility and a
blogger's newfound skills to create
off-blog sources of revenue (like writing or consulting); to work
directly with companies to get paid to promote them; or, as
indicated earlier, to move from blog to industry job. For you new
bloggers out there: work hard, write well, cooperate with your
industry, and establish a great reputation. It can pay off.
What Has Changed in Lifestyle Blogging
asked a general question: What has changed since you first started
all bloggers are spending more time on social media. Even in wine
blogging, where only 65% are engaging more often on social media, only
13% said they are engaging less.
are reading more blogs, using more
photos in their blogs, writing longer posts, and updating
their blog more often. Again, wine bloggers are more likely than other
niches to reader fewer other wine blogs (25%), write shorter posts
(30%), and update their blog less often (39%). This might reflect the greater length of time they have been blogging.
substantial portion of bloggers (from 28-39%, depending on the niche -
not shown on the chart below) are updating their blogs less often.
not that many bloggers have increased their use of video, almost none
have decreased their use of video - it simply hasn't taken off in blogs
Beer Blogger Conferences
Zephyr Adventures runs two Beer
Blogger Conferences conferences annually (one in
North America and one in Europe), the Wine
Bloggers Conference, the Fitness
& Health Social Media Conference (for bloggers and industry folks engaged in social media), and the International Food Blogger Conference
(with our partners Foodista). There are several other fitness
conferences and a dozen other food blogger conferences each
Most survey respondents have never
attended an industry bloggers conference. Wine bloggers are most likely
to have attended a conference while beer bloggers are the least likely.
When asked what is most important
in determining whether a blogger would attend a conference, the most
important factors were cost, whether the
timing fits into a blogger’s schedule, and the quality
of the speakers and content.
Also of interest is that bloggers who attend an industry blogger
conference have greater impact and have experienced greater
than those who don’t. Just taking food bloggers as an example (but this
applies across the board), bloggers who have attended a food blogger
is not clear whether more successful bloggers
attend conferences, whether conferences produce successful bloggers, or
both but we do believe any blogger who wishes to improve his
or her blog,
learn how to gain more readers and social media followers, or convert a blog into
an industry job should plan to attend an industry blogger conference.
- 10X more unique website visitors per month
more likely to be making money from their blog
more likely to have been blogging for over four years
- 704% more fans on Pinterest, 668% more on Google +, 281% more on
Facebook, and 155% more people on Twitter