Late stage capitalism has infected us all, brothers and sisters! This is most true in the online world, where we are all expected to promote our personal brands and side hustle our way to a better life as an Instagram influencer. By setting aside all the fun and genuine things we could write in favour of that streamlined look, what do we actually gain? The answer, in most cases, is likely nothing.
Before the rise of the plank, the selfie and, unfortunately, the belfie, the internet was a utopia for people like me. Once you had begged your parents to stop using the phone, you seized the line and dialed up. 30 seconds and a lot of noise later, you had 56kbps of possibilities at your fingertips. So naturally you would think up weird questions and download some data to answer them. All of these great data sources still exist, and are even better, but none of them are on Instagram.
To help answer the question of what is the point in blogging, I downloaded a csv file from data.worldbank.org detailing the population of every country in every year since 1960. I then found internetlivestats.com, who provide estimates of the number of web users and the total number of webpages from the first one in 1991 up until 2018.
Below is a graph plotting world population and the number of people hooked up to the internet since 1990, for all of the years I could find data for.
This looks like great news for the blogger. World population has increased from 5.4 to 7.5 billion between 1991 and 2017- 2,100,000,000 extra potential blog readers! And people have been heading online at a rampant rate. More than 3 billion people had been connected by 2015. Why isn’t everyone furiously uploading content and cashing in already?
The bad news is, of course, that everyone is furiously uploading content already. Below left, I have added the total number of active webpages to the graph.
The extreme scale on the graph highlights the problem. World population growth looks to have flatlined compared to the unstoppable rise of the webpage, from 1 in 1991 to 1.6 billion in 2018.
Perhaps this reflects the relative ease and low cost of webpage building compared to child rearing. But it is terrible news for advertising revenue starved bloggers. As the right hand graph shows, there are now a meagre 3.7 users per webpage.
Worse still, we know the internet is a superstar economy. 6.2 billion people have watched Luis Fonsi and a guy called Daddy Yankee taking it slowly en español. Or rather, as we now know, the average internet user has watched it about twice, for a total viewing time of 55,000 years. It is unlikely that they were reading your page and digging your brand during this time. The point of this example was to persuade you that you would be doing well indeed if 3.7 people were looking at your page at the same time.
So, what is the bloggy point? The numbers provide too bleak a basis to justify piling your efforts in to blog writing. To oversimplify one more time you have two choices:
- Enjoy writing online for the sake of it, and accept likely financial failure now.
- Try the almost impossible and embrace your inner Daddy Yankee. He now has so much gold he puts flakes of it in his own tequila brand. And that’s an actual fact. Yankee! Yankee! Yankee!
One thought on “What’s the Bloggy Point?”
Is there any data on how the distribution of views per page has changed over time? I would expect today it to perhaps be Zipfian, but different in the past, given the connectivity graph of the web has changed substantially.