There is a lot of sweat behind those Irish bloggers flawless selfies.
The rise of blogging in Ireland is nothing new, we have seen the emergence of Irish bloggers and personal brands such as Suzanne Jackson, Pippa O’Connor, Joanne Larby, Johnny Ward, Anouska Proetta Brandon, Niamh Cullen, James Patrice and many more over the last number of years and the upward trend of Irish people starting blogs is showing no signs of slowing down.
Gone are the days when Irish bloggers are seen as nerds or geeks, as a pimple faced, spectacle wearing recluse, who does nothing but sit behind a computer all day.
Now Irish bloggers are fashionable trendy and icons to a younger generation and who themselves are carving out a lifestyle that was not imaginable less than 10 years ago.
With the rise in popularity of blogging in Ireland, it’s no wonder that every second person I speak to is now starting a blog.
I’ve been blogging since 2008, back then social media was in its infancy, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist and if you want to start a blog you really had to know the basics of coding.
The emergence of social media or the web 2.0 was it should really be called and platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace and Blogger have made it much easier to get yourself online.
In fact, it so easy but you can now get up and running in less than five minutes. However, the removal of the barriers to entry has meant that this generation has grown up with expectations of internet fame, year-long travel and money beyond their wildest dreams, all from a website.
Of course, the World Wide Web is not just restricted to Ireland and while many people are looking to carve out a piece of the Irish market, the global market for bloggers and influencers is where the battle is played out. Just because your target market is in Ireland doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will be any easier to get your name out there.
With over 2.75 million blog posts published per day around the world getting your one piece of content in front of the right eyeballs is no mean feat.
And the production of content and new information shows no sign of slowing down with Forbes stating that by the year 2020 about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet.
Big Name Bloggers
So for every Johnny Ward, Suzanne Jackson and Pipa O’Connor, there are hundreds if not thousands of other bloggers out there that you’ve never heard of.
Of course, there are also the blogging Elite that you’ve never heard of and never will, but these bloggers are truly making millions every year with the likes of Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse and Mike Stelzner to name but a few.
So as I said earlier your aim may just be for the Irish market but your reach can be worldwide and those worldwide are reaching into Ireland.
Despite all this competition, all these websites, all this content, every day there is a new blog set up. Every day someone has decided they want to plant a flag in their own corner of the Internet.
What does the landscape of Irish blogging look like?
We recently surveyed the largest Irish bloggers group on Facebook . The group has over 4000 members and is growing rapidly, with 25 to 50 new members adding themselves to the group every couple of days.
While the return rate on the survey was very low, with only 65 respondents, it does give us a small glimpse into the world of Irish bloggers, all be that a limited glimpse.
65% of the respondents were female, meaning men are outnumbered almost 2:1.
Millennials lead the way in terms of the age demographic, with almost 46% being between the ages of 25 and 35, with that said 25% are between 36 and 45 so certainly blogging is not just limited to those much talked about “millennials”.
What is clear from the amount of blogs popping up is that the world and their mother now wants to be a blogger.
However, the survey has told us that the vast majority of respondents have been blogging for more than five years with 34% stating so. With that said, 33% of respondents surveyed stated they have only been blogging for between 12 and 24 months with the 0 to 12 months range taking up 23%.
When it comes to a topic of choice for those who responded, we have a clear winner, “lifestyle”
A lifestyle blog is not something that has a clear definition, but in most cases, it will cover the following;
There are a few other topics thrown in depending on the owner of the blog, but in general, those would be the main ones.
Really what it boils down to is, a “lifestyle” blog is a blog that allows the owner to document their life, travels and desires.
As someone who is most certainly not a “lifestyle” blogger, I am making these assumptions from the outside looking in. Regardless, over 46% of respondents identified as “lifestyle” bloggers, with the closest topic being “food and drink” at 26%.
So if you are between the ages of 25-35 and female, then the chances are your “lifestyle” blog is in for some stiff competition.
When it comes to producing content, I myself have always been a big fan of podcasting, having taken my first podcast from the kitchen table to national radio.
But blogging was always the main source of our content creation and despite the rise of Vlogging and short form video content on the likes of Snapchat and Instagram, blogging remains the main staple of content creation with over 87% of those who took the survey producing regular written blog content.
With less than 5% of my fellow Irish bloggers sharing my love for podcasting. Which is interesting, the data suggests that due to the limited numbers of bloggers producing a regular podcast, it could be an avenue to help differentiate your blog.
When it comes to their little corner of the internet, most bloggers rely on WordPress in one form or another.
You can get a free website up and running with wordpress.com and while a WordPress.com site will have a number of restrictions in terms of your domain name and the look and design, over 28% of bloggers use the platform. Which would be in line with other bloggers worldwide with 26.4% of the world’s blogs being powered by the platform.
WordPress.org is the big winner in the blogging platform war, with over 46% having their own self-hosted WordPress blog with their own personalised domain.
After that Squarespace and blogger make up the rest. Choosing a blogging platform can be tricky but as someone who has been self-hosted with WordPress since 2008, it would certainly be my platform of choice and the one we recommend.
As you might expect most Irish bloggers are spending a lot of time promoting their content on social media, all vying for your time and attention.
Over 93% of respondents are using Facebook and Twitter to promote their content, yes Twitter is still live and kicking.
What’s interesting about these two stats is that 64% of those say that their primary source of traffic comes from Facebook with only 25% reporting Twitter as their primary source of traffic.
It does beg the question as to whether or not their time might be better spent promoting on another platform. Instagram and Snapchat are still only seen as emerging platforms in terms of promoting blog content which is no real surprise given that neither allow direct links in updates (at the moment).
Therefore, quantifying the R.O.I is difficult.
Yet despite the lack of a direct link in each update over 44% of people surveyed state want to get better at using Instagram. The Facebook-owned photography platform has emerged from the shadows of the big blue beast and has begun to take on the ghost that is Snapchat.
The launch of “Instagram Live”, video capture increasing to 60 seconds and the addition of “stories” mean that Instagram could prove to be the bloggers platform of choice and if the new “swipe up” to a link is rolled out to everyone (at the moment it is a function that is only available to verified accounts) then I can see everyone making a big shift to Instagram as their main promotion platform.
The barrier to entry is non-existent, but despite the fact that you can get up and running quickly and promote on your favourite social networks, it’s not all a free lunch,
When it comes to handing over cash for tech and software, bloggers are not afraid to spend a little cash, when it’s needed of course.
There can be no doubt that blogging is big business, not just for those Irish bloggers looking to make money but for tech companies targeting Irish bloggers.
The Cost Of Blogging
There are any number of pieces of software out there that can make a blogger’s life easier and save them time and hopefully make them money, but not everyone wants to spend money on their blog with 35% of respondents blogging entirely for free using free services like blogger or WordPress.com.
On the other hand, over 52% of respondents are spending up to €50 a month on their blog. Which means in one group alone the spend could be over €105,000 a month on blog hosting/software etc.
Just over 10% of those surveyed are spending between €51-€200 if we take the halfway point (€125) as the average this section of the group could be spending up €50,000 a month.
So as you can see, if we were to apply the amounts and the breakdown to that of the entire group over €150,000 a month could easily be being spent by just over 62% of the entire group and with thousands of more Irish bloggers not part of the group I think it would be safe to assume that the amount spent by Irish bloggers on their little corner of the internet is much more.
Of course, you have to speculate to accumulate or so that saying goes, but that doesn’t seem the be the case with many of the Irish bloggers surveyed.
Are They Really Making Money?
42% of respondents were “hobby bloggers”, who blog for the love of it and have no designs on making any money, nevermind trying to make a living from their blog.
With that said, 58% are trying to make money from their blog.
However, wanting to make money from your blog and actually making money from your blog are two different things as almost 33% of those surveyed will attest to.
That 33% are actively trying to make money, yet have not made a penny in the last 12 months from their blog.
Ok, so that leaves 25% who are making money, a quarter of Irish bloggers making money isn’t bad right?
Well of that remaining 25 %, half of those made less than €1000 in the preceding 12 months. Of the remaining 12.5%, only 3% made what we would consider a decent income from their blog earning over €20,000, with the majority (9.4%) making up to €5000 in 12 months.
So for every million euro travel blogger, there are much more making a loss when we factor in the money spent on hosting and software.
Of course, money isn’t everything, to many people time is what really matters.
It’s About Time
Having the time to blog is the biggest problem for most of those surveyed. Forget about the tech or the topic, having the time to blog is the biggest barrier to having a successful blog.
79.7% of respondents state that their biggest problem when it comes to blogging is time or lack of it to be more precise.
When we look at the income, you can see that most must be blogging part–time with jobs and family also taking up much of the precious commodity.
It’s interesting to see that “knowledge” or the “how-to” doesn’t really factor into the equation. Only 1.6% stated that “Technology” was a problem for them, which if I’m honest is a little surprising.
My own opinion on this is that many identify with time as it’s also the barrier to figuring out the technology.
People may not understand some of the tech, but they know there are any amount of blog posts or videos that can show them how to use it, the problem is they don’t have the time to sit down and figure it out.
So I would hazard a guess that tech is a bigger problem than people will admit, with the feeling being that if the information is out there to show me how, then I can do it, the problem isn’t that I can’t its that I don’t have time to figure it out.
Despite all the information suggesting that the blogging market is saturated with 25-35-year-old female “lifestyle” bloggers who spend on average €50 a month on their blog and make nothing back in return, there will still be a new wave of Irish bloggers on the scene in 2017 with many promising themselves this will be the year they get their blog off the ground.
They will not be discouraged or dissuaded, they will be the next “Influencer”
How do the Irish Compare?
Of course, these stats are only based on our research of one group, so what about other bloggers out there, how do Irish bloggers stack up?
Well according to research published by Ignite Spot 53.3% of bloggers are between 21-35, with the majority being women.
While only 14% of bloggers earn a salary through blogging, with over half of all bloggers who are paid per post earning less than $1000 a year.
So certainly some of the stats available would suggest that that Irish bloggers are no different to their international counterparts.
So you still want to be a blogger?
Well, the good news is that with the barriers to entry so low, you can get up and running in minutes.
The bad news is that if you are looking for a get rich quick scheme or the “easy way” I suggest you stop reading here and go do the lottery.
Blogging is by far one of the best things I have ever done and it has opened up so many doors for me, both personally and professionally, but it has also taken its toll on me and my relationships.
Of course, it doesn’t have to when you set the right balance and this is something I continue to struggle with but, thankfully have become much more aware of since I burnt out some years ago.
If you want to start blogging for a hobby, then that is great, you should, it’s how I started.
If you want to start blogging as a way to make money, be that on the side or full time, then I have some harsh realities for you.
The Harsh Reality
It is going to inspire, irritate and for the most part consume your everyday.
You won’t be able to sleep some nights with the amount of ideas jumping around your head, other nights you won’t be able to sleep because of deadlines.
The amount of times I have had to pull an “all-nighter” to meet deadlines or because a piece of software stopped working is not funny.
It has literally had me in tears of both sadness and joy. It has brought me into contact with some amazing people, many of which I now call friends.
As my mother would say “the truth is a harsh mistress” and you need to get to grips with it and understand that if you truly and I mean truly want your blog to rise above the noise and get noticed then it is going to take patience and hard work.
Everything else you hear about blogging is just fluff, what is truly required is patience and hard work.
You have to learn to play the long game. An article you write today may not do much for you at this moment, but as it begins to be indexed by the search engines that article could begin to drive hundreds or thousands of people to your blog.
The problem is that many Irish bloggers, like everyone really, crave instant gratification. If we don’t get it, then we assume something isn’t working.
When it comes to blogging it’s all about the long game, what we do today is for the benefits we will see in three. six or nine months time. That is why everything we do has a “90-day” plan, to give it 90 days to mature, then we can decide if its working and only then.
It’s Not All Selfies
As we have already discovered, time is the biggest problem for Irish bloggers, with almost 80% stating they are constantly fighting against the clock when it comes to blogging.
This is no great surprise, blogging consists of so many tasks like;
- Creating a blog
- Coming up with a blog topic
- Designing your blog
- Coming up with content ideas
- And much more…
It’s no wonder that Irish bloggers are struggling to get it all done.
The good news is that if we could do it, so can you.
We built a side business from our blog, we created over 40 pieces of blog content a week, along with everything else on the list and we did it with full-time jobs, families, part-time college degrees/masters and still managed to have a life.
The demand put on Irish bloggers, mostly by themselves might I add, is something as I’ve said we know all too well.
But once we figured out the “balance” and what “really” mattered, everything kind of fell into place.
Now by “fell in place” I don’t mean “fell into our laps” but as Conan O’Brien said in his address at Dartmouth College;
“The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”
It’s this clarity and a lot of trial and error that has brought us to where we are today.
It’s because of many years of trial and error that I feel comfortable showing my blogging “battle scars” and explaining to people how I got them and what they can do to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
But it’s only because I have lived it every day for almost 10 years that I feel I have earned the right to speak and to teach others.
I’m not qualified to speak and teach others about the best ways to create content and run a successful blog because of my achievements, I’m qualified to speak and teach others about the best ways to create content and run a successful blog because of my failures.
And trust me when you have to create over 40 original pieces of content a week for organisations like RTE and The Irish Times while juggling a full-time job and a family and all the pressures that they bring, you make a lot of mistakes.
But it’s through these mistakes that you find what works.
Join Us Live
It’s all this experience that has brought us to put together a one-day Social Media and Blogging workshop.
At its core, the workshop is our blogging playbook. It’s the system I used then and it’s the system I still use today.
You can head over to our Workshop F.A.Q page for more details on how you can attend, what we’ll be covering on the day and most importantly if it’s right for you!