There are between two and five million actively managed blogs worldwide.
That number is orders of magnitude smaller than what is typically reported. So let’s explore why other sites say that there are hundreds of millions more blogs when that’s obviously wrong.
Why There Clearly Aren’t Hundreds of Millions of Blogs
Before we count how many blogs there really are, let’s absolutely destroy the myth that hundreds of millions of them exist. I can prove this quickly enough.
According to VeriSign, Q1 2021 ended with 363.5 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs). Keep in mind that 70% of those domains are parked. Leaving us with about 108 million domain names that even have a landing page up.
How could there be 500 million blogs if only 100 million domains exist?
Worse, if there were 500 million blogs out there, that would mean that one out of every 14 people on the planet ran a blog (including the elderly, illiterate, babies, poor, etc.). You shouldn’t have to think about that very long before you recognize what a ridiculous assertion it is.
What Counts As a Blog (And What Doesn’t)
A blog is a series of publicly available long-form articles on your website that exists to drive traffic and revenue to itself (your website, or a blog on a 3rd party website).
Other sites get the count wrong because they’re counting things that are clearly not blogs.
- Tumblr: Tumblr has 530M+ users and thus feeds. However, since most of those feeds are either unused or porn from spambots (not long-form articles), none are blogs.
- YouTube Channels: YouTube has 38M Channels. But a vlog is not a blog. It needs more long-form written content to be a blog.
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.): None of these social media platforms really allow long-form written content. Many accounts are private and not capable of driving public traffic. Making them NOT BLOGS!
- Podcasts: Obviously not a blog.
- Q&A Websites (Quora, StackOverflow, Reddit): Questions in forums are not long-form content. And the bloggers that use Quora to drive traffic, aren’t trying to drive traffic to other Quora posts.
- Parked Domains: The 254 million purchased domain names that are not in use are not blogs.
- SubStack: Substack is a subscription newsletter service. It’s not a public blog.
- Abandoned / Failed Blogs: When people ask “how many blogs are there,” they’re really asking how many competitors they have. Posting one article to Medium then walking away forever does not make you a competitor to a real blogger. Blogs with zero traffic aren’t really blogs.
What are we left with?
- Individual Websites: Ones with many long-form written articles.
- 3rd party Blogging sites: Like Medium, Blogger, Dev.To, Ghost, etc. These services allow users to post public long-form written content that is discoverable by search engines.
All we have to do is add up these up. How hard could that be?
Counting How Many Blogs There Are
3rd Party Services
There are less than 200k actively managed blogs on 3rd party services. Here is how I came up with that number.
Medium (65,000 blogs)
Medium cited having 65k writers in their partner program at the end of 2020. To get into the Partner Program, you only need 100 followers and to have published 1 article. This is an extremely low bar, and I believe it’s fair to not count any blogs that don’t meet this threshold as blogs.
Keep in mind that this is probably an over-count as many Medium bloggers also post to their own website.
Blogger (30,000 blogs)
Google doesn’t release any stats about how many active blogs there are on the platform (probably because it’s embarrassing how few people still use the platform).
This means we have to estimate the size of blogger. There’s no way in hell it’s anywhere close to the size of Medium (when was the last time you saw a writer choose blogger over medium?). So I’m being generous and saying it’s roughly half the size of Medium.
Ghost (10,000 blogs)
Ghost actually is a blogging service. And they claim to have 10,000+ paying subscribers. If you’re paying decent money to run your blog, I’m willing to count that as a real blog.
Dev.To (5,000 blogs)
Dev.To is a blogging platform for developers, and there are some dedicated bloggers on the platform. They claimed to have 350,000 registered users in a June 30th, 2020 interview. Their homepage claims to have double that number in August 2021. So it’s a large and growing community. That said, how many users are actively running a blog?
This is hard to determine as I can’t find published stats anywhere. That said, their homepage has a feed of all published blog posts. And if you were actively managing a blog, you’d probably publish at least once a month, right? When I do the math on how many individuals did that last month, we’re left with about 5,000 blogs.
3rd Party Services in Other Countries / Languages (0 Blogs – May be controversial)
Domain names are global. Meaning when we start counting domains in the next section, we’ll also capture all of the blogs written in foreign languages. And while you might assume there’d be as many 3rd party blogging services in foreign languages as there are for English, I don’t believe that’s accurate for the following reasons.
- 3rd-party blogging services like Medium offers multi-language support. And we already counted Medium.
- Many countries still don’t have reliable Internet access or just got it when cell phones became abundant.
- Large countries like India primarily produce English blogs.
- Small languages (like Swedish with 10M speakers worldwide) don’t have the business appeal of larger languages.
- In a large country like China, their government is tough on free speech. They type in Pinyin (which is the romanization of Chinese characters based on their pronunciation). It’s a difficult language to type long-form text in.
Domain Names With Blogs
This is the big one. How on earth do we count how many domain names have active blogs? Here are a few preconditions of how this count needs to be captured.
- Blogs have to be counted programmatically – There are hundreds of millions of domains; no man has time to go through and check if these numbers are correct.
- We don’t want to count parked domain names – Just like with 3rd party services, we’re not counting websites that get 0 traffic.
When we accept those conditions, we see that the only way to approximate how many blogs there are is to use ClickStream data. ClickStream data effectively captures data for 1 out of every 10,000 computers on earth. They approximate how much monthly traffic websites get by multiplying their results by 10,000.
While it is not a perfect system (and I made up the 1/10,000 number), for our purposes it works! ClickStream does a reasonably good job of telling us how many websites on the Internet are getting more than 0 traffic. Which is precisely what we wanted to know!
All we have to do is find some extremely small blogs, see what their Alexa Rank is, and we’ll have a good idea of how many blogs there are. Luckily, the Income School Garage Sale is constantly selling new blogs that they created. So I’ll use those to see how low it gets.
- FenceFrenzy.com is less than 8 months old with 101 posts, and it has an Alexa Rank of #2,101,599
- LiquidFeatures.com is less than 8 months old with 98 posts, and it has an Alexa Rank of #1,188,639
- RabbitInformer.com is a year old with 100 posts, and it has an Alexa Rank of #1,100,135
- ConcreteQuestions.com is a year old with 119 posts, and it has an Alexa Rank of #1,238,069
And you may be saying, “Shaun, 100 posts is a lot of posts, clearly there are many smaller blogs that exist.” But, Alexa rank goes back three months and it takes several months for these blogs to get out of the Google Sandbox. These sites are so young we can spot the exact place they ranked the second they started getting any Google traffic (which is around 2-3 million).
And so no, there aren’t hundreds of millions of blogs out there. There are roughly 3 million blogs. If you mess with the definition of what a blog is you could drive that number higher.
But even if you did that, there certainly is nowhere near 500,000,000 blogs. That’s fake news.