Intimations of Mortality
This Week in Elder News: 12 April 2008

The Women Behind Their Blogs

Blogher, the women’s blogging network, recently held its annual business conference in New York City where the results of their survey about How Women Use Social Media [pdf] (a misnomer since it covers only blogging) was unveiled. The ages of respondents are 18–75 (sorry, Millie, and other elderbloggers who are older). Some findings:

  • 36.2 million women participate in the blogosphere (publish, read or comment) at least once a week

  • 43 percent would give up reading newspapers or magazines to “keep the blogs they read or write”

  • 21.1 million read or post comments at least weekly

  • 15.1 million post to their blogs at least weekly

  • 67 percent have completed college

  • 46 percent have incomes higher than $75,000

  • GenXers are the largest age group in the blogosphere

  • What the survey calls “matures” (ick!), age 61-75, are the smallest age group

Almost as many elder women (78 percent) are getting news and information from blogs as younger women (80-83 percent), and 60 percent of elder women are shopping online.

This is the Blogher report header for the page on women's media habits, but the subhead, “Online participation rates decline with increasing age.” erroneously suggests that elders drop out of online usage as they get older.

Bloghergraphheader

No evidence exists that women (or men) stop using the internet or blogging because they get older. In fact, the opposite is so – increasing numbers of elders are learning to go online and some are creating blogs. The surveyors probably mean that fewer old people online than young, but that's not what the page says.

By far, the largest age group of women bloggers are GenXers (age 25-41 according to this survey) following by Boomers (42-60 in this survey, but who are more commonly identified as 44-62 this year), Millennials and pulling up the rear with the fewest bloggers or blog readers are “Matures.”

Not to beat to death my frequently-made point about language, but I don’t like answering to Senior and I damned sure won’t be called a Mature. It surprises me that Blogher would use this clumsy euphemism to describe old people in a major survey (or anywhere) since it was one of their founders, Elisa Camahort, who coined the term "elderblogger."

In Blogher’s survey, 24 percent said they blog to earn money. There is no mention of how much they earn, but a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project about bloggers [pdf] in 2006, had this to say about blog income [emphasis added]:

“Even as a subset of bloggers gain (sic) prominence in the media and as traffic to blogs grows, blogging is not exactly the most lucrative of hobbies, let alone professions. Only 15% say earning money is a reason they blog and only 8% of bloggers report actual income. These bloggers are mostly older than age 50.

Since the Blogher bloggers are mostly younger than 50, I don’t know if or what inference can be drawn from these two surveys. What hasn’t been done in several years that I’d like to see is a survey of elderbloggers and other online users – women and men 50 and older. Our age group is growing faster than any other and is an economic force to be reckoned with.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Tamar Orvell tells Sherry's family story of growing up black in Atlanta in the 1960s and Sherry's remarkable mother in Baby Pictures.]


Comments

Yes! That survey of bloggers 50 and over sounds like a good idea. And it shouldn't stop at 75. By the time it could be done, I might be too old to participate!

Ronni, it would be a great idea to have a survey of elderbloggers that was organized off your site. The invitation to take the BlogHer survey was on the BlogHer site. Hence, the average BlogHer reader formed the majority of the survey. If you ran a survey from your site, your average reader would constitute the majority. I've constructed free surveys on Survey Monkey--I'd be happy to help you set something up.

I like Virginia's idea. I feel a little bit excluded from the BlogHer stats...and no, there is no BlogHim site.

Thanks for your take on the survey, Ronni, just wanted to clarify a couple of things.

Virginia: There were two different populations who took the survey. Yes it did run across the entire BlogHer Network (not just on BlogHer.com) so a self-selected population of over 5,000 took it there. But our survey partner Compass Partners also presented the same survey to an online panel group that was recruited and weighted to match the representative demographics of the U.S. online women's population. Most of the data in the available presentation is actually about that general population sample, with comparative notes from the BlogHer population added as color commentary.

A point that didn't make it onto a slide, but that we talked to when presenting the data is that raw participation rates did decline with each subsequent demographic group, however once someone gets sucked into the blogosphere they stay and participate at the same rates of loyalty and regularity. IOW: A lower percentage of the elder online female population may participate vs. boomers. vs. GenX...but very similar percentages from each group participate daily and cite blogs as a reliable source etc. etc.

Hope those further tidbits are interesting.

I am wondering if this topic is an omen for me. The first thing I thought about this morning (After my brain kicked in and I was able to think at all) was wondering if I should be brave and tackle my own blog. I wondered what I would write about that would be of any interest to anyone except myself. Would it turn into a me-me? Would I find it too frustrating learning how to set it up, putting quotes in boxes, etc. I don't have a wonderful son like Millie has to help me with the logistics.

I have written my memoirs and my life story. I now have time to devote to a blog. This dilemma is becoming irritating. I think I fear that it would be stressful and I avoid anything that causes stress like the plague. What to do? I will mull it over.

yikes, i just missed the cut! i'm sure these age boundaries will become more difficult to set in the coming years.

ronni, virginia's idea of a survey off your site sounds as if it could produce very useful data.

darlene, give blogging a try. start modestly with you own writing and quotation marks for text (i never use boxes), maybe images as you get more comfortable--or not. the blogs on the TGB roll vary so much, i think you might find one or more as models.

I'm glad Elisa weighed in on the background for the survey. I notice she doesn't use the word "Matures". I took a quick look at the survey results and the context seems to be names of different generations: Millenials, Gen-X'ers, Boomers, and Matures? Never heard the generation preceding the Boomers called Matures before! Wikipedia uses the terms Silent Generation or Greatest Generation. Hmmm. I'm not sure I'd care for "Silents", but "Greatest" might work, or how about "Silencers"? Just kidding.

Darlene, just jump in like Naomi said! Don't worry too much how it will turn out or what kind of blog you write, just do it and see what happens. If you don't like it you can always abandon it. But I hope you'll like it. I started with a blog on the Blogger website just because I'd heard it was easy, and for the most part it is.

And if we're voting, I vote for a survey on TGB!

Anne--You are obviously correct that several (and no) name has been applied to the pre-Boomer generation. To remedy this, I'll write this one more time: Prior to the Boomer generation was the Beat generation. (As if I could make it so.)
Darlene--Come on in the water's fine!

Thank you for the encouragement Naomi, Anne, and Cop Car. I am mulling it over.

"Matures"??? I don't think so, at least for me.

Darlene, my blog is no model, but I accidentally jumped in suddenly when I was not yet ready to do so (wrote about it in my first posts.) I haven't had the time to add features I originally intended before I started, but will get to them one day. Would have preferred to have had my blog set up a bit more but have survived. Other bloggers are wonderfully supportive folk. Just do it!

To Darlene: I discovered blogging (and, yes, I'm 86) as a way to chronicle my everyday life for my children and grandchildren. I write as a way to process my day and better understand what I'm doing and why. Since the counter has rarely reached over 14-16 per day, I've never had a sense of an online "public" out there reading my words so self-consciousness is never a problem. My readership has always been my kids and theirs (in my mind). I think that shapes how and what I write and keeps me from feeling intimidated.

Dive in! Every now and then I click into the counter to "world" and find that I have a reader in Australia, in Scotland, in Korea(?) and feel the wonder of the times in which we are living. That's heady but rare and I soon get back to writing for the benefit of my family and the record I'll leave when I'm no longer around to defend myself!

Betty

I'm too old to be a Boomer and too young to be in the Silent Generation. I'm sure I must be part of the Beat Generation. Born in 1940 so I'm pre-war by a year. My sister was born in January 1946 and I consider her an early Boomer.

"36.2 million women participate in the blogosphere (publish, read or comment) at least once a week"

I hope this doesn't sound off topic - but I'm amazed that the number of women involved with blogs is that high! That's encouraging!

Hi Ronni,
Well at least they counted us (still think the numbers after age 50 are way off the mark).

I blog for those strange people who have been making my stats go up and down like a roller coaster - and most of the time, I do it for me.

Just because many of us have grown tired of marketers/advertisers/johnny-come-lately's attempting to categorize us and refuse to participate doesn't mean we aren't reading blogs, shopping, etc.

Did it ever occur to anyone - we might just want to 'do our own thing' when online, not make it a 'group hug'?

My 2 cents. Ronni, I'd take your survey. Ask Crabby, bet she'll agree with me!

Ronni - set up a survey (free) through survey monkey. I did these with my media studies and it is easy and you are in the perfect place to do this study.

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