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

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We’ve said it so often you’re probably sick of it.

Content marketing doesn’t work unless the content is genuinely worth reading.

Routine, phone-it-in content won’t get you the audience, the leads, the prospects, or the conversions you need.

Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media Studios is one of the content marketers who really gets it. When I found out that Andy had conducted a survey of more than 1,000 bloggers about the specifics of how they work, I knew that I wanted to get a post together to share our takeaways from the survey.

Good content takes time. It’s a lot of work. And it can be hard to put the time in when we have deadlines and publishing calendars to meet.

This tension is built into the lives of all content marketers. Every blogger and every content creator is looking for that balance between quality and quantity. All of us.

So how much time and how much work does it really take?

Let’s dig into some specifics from the Orbit survey and see what we can glean.

The quality factor

The first thing the data shows is a huge difference in the amount of time spent per post among bloggers.

  • 54 percent of bloggers spend fewer than 2 hours on a typical post
  • Just 5.5 percent of bloggers spend 6+ hours per post

The survey shows other big differences in what people put into their content.

  • Only 15 percent of bloggers have a formal editing process
  • 4.9 percent of bloggers write 1500+ words in a typical post
  • Less than half of bloggers use multiple images
  • 14.7 percent are adding video

In case you’re curious, on Copyblogger the typical post takes about 5-7 hours to create (sometimes quite a bit more), but that work is spread out over several content creators. Because we have the luxury of an editorial staff, we have a multi-stage editorial process in addition to the time that the original writer spends on each post.

If you don’t have a team of writers, don’t worry. Solo content creators can absolutely create excellent content, and some of the most wonderful blogs on the web are produced by individuals.

One key is to give yourself enough time to create quality work. Strong writing is a product of many factors, but those factors always include time for proofreading, editing, fact-checking, and rewriting.

Make the commitment to producing your content in several phases — a draft phase, an editing phase, a fact-check phase, and a final “picky” proofreading phase.

The Rule of 24 is an excellent one for every writer. Allow at least 24 hours between your draft phase and your editing phase whenever humanly possible.

In order to make this happen, we have to get real about the quantity of content you’ll be able to produce.

The quantity factor

You can probably guess that those who are spending six hours per post aren’t likely to be posting every day.

Here’s a partial breakdown of the post frequency among the bloggers who were surveyed:

  • 54 percent of bloggers are publishing at least weekly
  • 32 percent publish more than once per week
  • 3.3 percent publish daily

The good news is that most bloggers are actually consistent. They’re getting the job done. Most bloggers are publishing a lot of content.

When we go deeper into the data, it’s clear that the biggest bloggers aren’t usually the most frequent bloggers. (Not including large, multi-author blogs like Copyblogger.)

Only 4.3 percent of the bloggers who publish weekly are spending 6+ hours per post. In the trade-off between quality and quantity, they’ve made a choice.

Every content creator makes that choice. The question goes something like this:

What’s better: a solid weekly post or a monthly masterpiece?

Frequency is important, right?

Ideally, your content frequency is aligned with the length of your sales cycle. If it takes two weeks for your prospect to discover you, learn to trust you, and fall in love with you (or go hire your competitor), it seems that you’d better publish at least weekly — monthly won’t cut it.

Right?

Well …

Monthly won’t cut it unless it’s great. Unless it’s so good, it’s memorable.

A monthly post that your reader remembers (and shares) is worth a lot more than a weekly post they’ll forget. A memorable monthly article beats four soft weekly posts every time.

If you do decide to cut back on your publishing schedule in order to boost quality, I always recommend you put a really good email autoresponder sequence in place. That will serve the role of nurturing the lead until she’s ready to buy from you — holding her attention (and building your credibility) until the buyer is ready to make her decision.

Email marketing consistently proves itself as the most effective online method for moving an audience through attraction and interest and on to a purchase. And an email autoresponder is the way to use terrific content to make email much more effective.

Will you be average or awesome?

Most bloggers spend around 2.5 hours writing 800-word posts and publish weekly. They share it on social media (94 percent) and move on to the next post. Only half check analytics on a regular basis.

Is this what excellent looks like?

Andy and I both want to throw down a challenge for you:

Just maybe we can get away with higher quality. Maybe we can add the research, the audio, the polish. Maybe we can put more time and thought into our content. Maybe we can check our analytics to see if our content is hitting the mark.

Maybe it’s time to publish less, but write more.

Look back at your blog. Have you published a lot of “ok” material? Pretty-good stuff that answers audience questions in a routine way?

Now look forward at your calendar. Planning more of the same?

Try putting this on your publishing schedule: go big at least twice a year. Epic posts. Game-changing posts. Posts that establish real credibility and authority, and don’t just conform to a schedule.

Where you take it from there is up to you.

The internet wants quality.

It doesn’t want more … it wants more original.

Check out the full survey

Make sure to head over to Orbit Media Studios and read Survey of 1,000+ Bloggers: How to Be in the Top 5 Percent.

And if you have thoughts about the survey, or the gauntlet we’ve laid down above, join us for a discussion over at Google+.

Image via Orbit Media Studios.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

Andy Crestodina is a web strategist and the co-founder of Orbit Media. He is a speaker, content marketer, environmentalist, and author: Get more from Andy on Twitter.

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