MATH IS NOT A MICROTREND  6:01 pm April 21, 2009

Mark Penn Declares Blogging Latest Microtrend (UPDATE: Mark Penn Unsure If Blogging Is Latest Microtrend)

by Jim Newell

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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Delicious April 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Can I be paid to be a douchebag like Penn?

ManchuCandidate April 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

So ends Mark Penn’s “micro”trend of pulling numbers out of his macro sized ass.

shortsshortsshorts April 21, 2009 at 6:07 pm


DagNabbit April 21, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Now there is a mug I’d love to dip my teabags into.

proudgrampa April 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm

[re=295621]ManchuCandidate[/re]: God, you’re funny! Win!

Cape Clod April 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Thank you, Mark Penn. You just made it possible for me to imagine Bob Dylan killing someone.

SayItWithWookies April 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

“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.”

Bearbloke April 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

“The future ain’t what it used to be, eh Mark?”

chascates April 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm

You mean blogging pays MONEY??!?!!

I have wasted my fucking life.

Tommmcatt April 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Those figures actually make sense if you replace “Make $75000 a year” with “enough to survive on meth and popcicles”.

Rush April 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

At $22k per year, I assume many pirates are former bloggers just trying to pay the cable bill.

problemwithcaring April 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

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.

Jim Newell April 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm

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

LittlePig April 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm

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”

problemwithcaring April 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm

[re=295671]Jim Newell[/re]: Yes. And not be the Huffington Post. Also.

LittlePig April 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm

[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.

Scandalabra April 21, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Hoor– HUH? is the new WTF?

jagorev April 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm

perhaps in the future I will do some original research,


WadISay April 21, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Now that Mark Penn has Dana Perino as a partner, you can expect things generally to get progressively more fucked up.

WadISay April 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Are we “unique visitors”? Huh? Are we? (*strokes naked mole rat*)

Naked Bunny with a Whip April 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

[re=295620]Delicious[/re]: There’s always televangelism.

jfruh April 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

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!

shortsshortsshorts April 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm

[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.

populucious April 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm

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.

Red Zeppelin April 21, 2009 at 7:31 pm

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).

EggplantParm April 21, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I can’t believe I “know” “someone” who works for this guy.

davesnothere April 21, 2009 at 8:18 pm

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.”

JMP April 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm

[re=295680]LittlePig[/re]: But who else will warn us about those kids today, with their tattoos and their dungarees and their jazz music?

ellie April 21, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I spend the better part of my free time battling Bowser on my Nintendo DS. That and reading Wonkette, of course.

Zadig April 21, 2009 at 9:44 pm

[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.

picyou April 21, 2009 at 9:44 pm

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.

Decker April 21, 2009 at 11:06 pm

So perhaps in the future I will do some original research, but…

So is Penn trying to take J-Lo Goldberg’s job?

sezme April 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm

To be fair to his numbers, Meghan McCain all by herself pulls in a blogging salary in the high six figures. It’s hard work, kids!

Icecycle April 22, 2009 at 12:08 am

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

(low life son’s a whatever)

joeybrill April 22, 2009 at 1:59 am

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

Mr Blifil April 22, 2009 at 8:10 am

Microtrends are not germain to the conversation. Methinks the issue is micropenis.

turboslut April 22, 2009 at 8:30 am

Now, more than ever, I’m glad I had “MICROTRENDS” tattooed across my abdomen in gigantic gothic typeface. Blogging!

gradgrind April 22, 2009 at 8:57 am

Earth to Mark Penn: F u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb!

Paco April 22, 2009 at 11:10 am

You stupid fucks need to learn how to spell. Also.

rev_matt_y April 22, 2009 at 11:19 am

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

Capitol Hillbilly April 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Mark’s not into blogging, he’s into clogging – as in toilets.

Oshkosh John May 18, 2009 at 4:48 pm

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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