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Stinky blogging stats

Mark Penn, a former Clinton pollster, writes in the Wall Street Journal that:

In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers.

Understandably, Penn’s catching a bit of flack for that and statements and the numbers he uses to back them up. From Waldo Jaquith at VQR:

Penn’s thesis is that average American citizens are becoming professional bloggers, offsetting the loss in journalists, with millions enjoying a revenue stream from blogging and nearly half a million making a living at it. That’s wrong on its face. There’s simply no way there there’s more than, say, 10,000 Americans are paying for their basic life expenses purely through blogging.

Scott Rosenberg, who has done all sorts of research about blogging for his forthcoming book, reacted similarly:

Technorati’s are the longest-running and most valuable, and consistent, series of blogging studies over time, but like any study’s numbers, they can be easily misrepresented: here, Penn relies on them for the datum that bloggers who reach 100,000 uniques a month can earn $75K a year. But if you read the source, you find this:

“The average income was $75,000 for those who had 100,000 or more unique visitors per month (some of whom had more than one million visitors each month). The median annual income for this group is significantly lower - $22,000.”

In other words, the $75K average is skewed by a handful of outlier successes, but the great majority of bloggers who get 100,000 uniques/month earn more like $22,000. Here, the median is far more relevant than the average. Penn, of all people, knows this.

From my perspective as someone who does make a living blogging, Penn’s numbers, especially this 100,000 uniques โ€”> $75K business, are misleading at best and a complete fucking lie at worst.