Failed campaign strategist/pollster/tyrant Mark Penn writes in his always forward-thinking Microtrends column today: “Paid bloggers fit just about every definition of a microtrend.” Hooray! We’re eating steaks tonight! And then maybe some dancing, MMHMM? Tell us more: “In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers.” Hoor– HUH? Oh god this entire fucking column is wrong, isn’t it?

Mark Penn’s problem is that he operates from a very wrong premise, shared by many people who don’t know what they’re talking about: If print newspapers are dying, then bloggers must be raking it in! (BY STEALING.)

The best studies we can find say we are a nation of over 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income. That’s almost 2 million Americans getting paid by the word, the post, or the click — whether on their site or someone else’s. And that’s nearly half a million of whom it can be said, as Bob Dylan did of Hurricane Carter: “It’s my work he’d say, I do it for pay.”


One out of three young people reports blogging, but bloggers who do it for a living successfully are 2% of bloggers overall. It takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year.

All of this is wrong. You will not make money blogging, especially now. There are not 452,000 Americans making their living as full-time bloggers. Probably 10,000, to be charitable. And that $75,000 average? WHAAA? This isn’t Gawker in late 2007, you ogre! The *median* is $22,000.

Ahhh, $22,000… now it smells like home.

Anyway in another shocking new “Microtrend,” Mark Penn updated his online version this afternoon with several paragraphs about how everything he wrote was wrong.

People have raised questions about the calculations on the numbers of bloggers for hire. First, I was surprised at how few studies there are on this and I believe there definitely should be more. So perhaps in the future I will do some original research, but for this piece we took the best we could find and referenced every number so people would know where they came from.

Look everyone, the head of the esteemed Burston-Marsteller Polling Firm thought that blogging was a major new wealth-creating industry!

America’s New Profession: Blogging [WSJ via Gawker]

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

    Corrected version: “In America today, ther are almost as many people lying about making a living as drug dealers and prostitutes as there are lawyers.”

  2. America’s “Newest” profession? I thought that was the job where you paid folks to stand in lines during pre-boarding of Southwest Airline Flights.

    At some point the value of the Huffington Post will no doubt pass the value of the Washington Post.

    Please. He calls that spotting a trend? That is completely obvious and entirely knowable.

  3. [re=295661]problemwithcaring[/re]: Well I think it will be important for the HuffPo first to, say, break $500,000 in annual revenue.

  4. I wonder if the money hole formerly known as Jammies Media was included in those calcuations.

    “However if wingnut welfare contributions are removed then the average blogger makes enough each month to buy a six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best”

  5. [re=295661]problemwithcaring[/re]: I expect at some point the value of the average dog turd will pass the value of the Washington Post, especially with Fred Hiatt’s current op-ed choices.

  6. 452,000 is roughly the population of several dying, mid-sized American cities (Fresno, Cleveland, Virginia Beach). What if you entirely emptied, say, Cleveland of its population (except for those Clevelanders making a full-time living from blogging) and forced all other full-time bloggers to move there? What sort of vibrant community would they create? Would it be straight out of Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class? Or would it be like Lord of the Flies, with the pasty, pudgy, unkempt bloggers turning to cannibalism and mob rule the moment their cheeto supply ran out? Wouldn’t we all like to know the answer? Microtrends!

  7. [re=295740]jfruh[/re]: There is no way a Lord of the Flies situation would happen, because most bloggers weigh 800 pounds and won’t ever leave their computer. However, what is possible is “cyber-cannibalism,” where avatars will start eating other avatars.

    [re=295680]LittlePig[/re]: You may want to wise-up, knowing that.

  8. People have questioned the numbers I used in this article which is really unfair. Numbers like this are really hard to find! Someone should do a study on them! Then we would have numbers. Until that day, that someone somewhere does a study on them, which I hope they do, I had to totally make these numbers up! Which is hard! It’s hard to just pull fake numbers like this out of your ass, you know. Difficult difficult work, my job is.

  9. Hell, I am living of the hobo beans I get for winning Newell’s caption contest. (you gotta realize, like JTP’s fake business, this is aspirational, not actual).

  10. The calculus Penn employed: “Lemme see now, I get paid a zillion smackers to know shit from shinola, which I don’t, and some bloggers get paid to blog, which they actually do! Therefore, they must make an average one point eight shitpiles of bux, times 10 to minus 5. Give or take.”

  11. [re=295671]Jim Newell[/re]: To be fair, it’s far more likely for the Washington Post to drop BELOW $500,000 in revenue. Which I guess would be immediate death for them.

  12. What a stupid fuck Mark Penn must be, he with his little calculator. He makes a good living thinking/saying/writing crap, so he assumes everybody else is doing the same thing. Here’s a clue, Mark: The money is in these so-called “link farms”. It’s the cold fusion of the future.

  13. Well, it isn’t as if we did not see paid ahssole posts in the last three elections.

    (low life son’s a whatever)

  14. I thought blogging was Peacecorps for rich kids who fear foreigners – zero money, just satisfaction in making the world a better place.

  15. The only people more consistently entirely wrong than Penn who manage to keep their jobs are weatherpeople. Seriously. Should be renamed “NoLongerTrends”.

  16. I read this book when it was a “current new book,” and thought it was pretty lame, even weirder than Freakonomics. I really thought it would have been remaindered out of existence by now.

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