Sparring Mind

Behavioral Psychology Blog

50 Successful Blogs That Prove You Don’t Have to “Blog About Blogging” To Create A Winner

If there is one misconception in this space that bothers me the most, it’s this belief that blogging & content marketing doesn’t work unless it’s “meta”.

That is, people don’t believe blogs can be successful unless they are about blogging, marketing, or social media.

What they don’t understand is that it’s only the marketing blogs that publish things like “traffic reports”, “income reports”, case studies and the like.

Regular blogs in popular “normal” topics don’t do this, yet they are still out there killing it.

Today I’m going to bring you 50 successful blogs, often built solely through publishing great content + guest blogging, that span a huge variety of topics, to prove once and for all that blogging can be used to build an audience in nearly every topic imaginable.

What’s The Point of This/What Are The Guidelines?

If there is one piece of advice that I would relay about blogging to any newcomer, it would be this: smart marketing tactics work far better in untapped niches than they do in the blogging/marketing community.

People outside of the blogging/marketing community don’t understand the subtleties of gaining subscribers, creating linkbait and how SEO works, they just don’t care!

Better yet, most sites outside of the marketing space don’t understand this either!

The examples below show a few where that definitely is the case.

This presents a huge advantage to you: create a blog in a popular topic (90% of which are WAY more popular than “blogging”), create content that people want, dominate your niche, and you’ll see incredible growth.

Okay, so enough ranting, on to the guidelines:

The Rules

Any blog featured here can NOT have any of the following characteristics:

  1. Focus on blogging/marketing/social media/making money online/home businesses/etc.
  2. The blog cannot be tied to another popular site aspect (example: the Penny Arcade blog is really popular, but that’s only because the Penny Arcade webcomic is so popular)
  3. Must still be active
  4. Must have an involved community (no minimum subscribers, but I looked for around 2k+)
  5. No “mega” blogs or magazines (very hard to define, but I avoided blogs like TechCrunch & Engadget, along with the Gawker blogs, just for variety’s sake)

I’ve included data on the approximate (~) subscriber count (when available) and what the major income source seems to be (when applicable).

For sites that have no subscriber count available, I used the Google Reader browse feature, which shows the number of Google subscribers only, so keep in mind that those RSS counts are likely much higher.

To give you an example, Google Reader shows SocialTriggers.com as having 2k subscribers, but Derek’s email list is sitting around 16k+, so that number is very selective and you have to consider what the blog is focused on promoting (Facebook page, email list, even Tumblr “followers” and the like).

Last note: I browse on Chrome with AdBlock enabled (to increase page loads, I whitelist sites I enjoy), and my screenshots reflect as such

Enjoy!

1.) This Song Is Sick [Hip-Hop & Dance Music]

URL: http://thissongissick.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 2,359) [Likely much, much higher]

Main income source: Advertisements, ticket sales, merchandise, sponsored events

Only a guy truly interested in your success would blog about the competition ;).

While this blog doesn’t directly compete with Sophistefunk, it is in a similar space, and as such I know a lot about it.

This is without a doubt one of the biggest dance/electronic music blogs out there, and often is a sponsor to huge events like the Ultra concert among many others.

The emphasis is on song premieres, which it gets easily due to it’s size.

Look how poorly optimize it is though!

2.) Digital Photography School [Digital Photography]

URL: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 846,000+

Main income source: Advertisements, affiliate links, e-Book sales

Run by ‘the Problogger’ himself, Darren Rowse, this blog is actually his real money maker, not Problogger.net.

This thing is an absolute monster, a huge blog in a VERY profitable niche (people buy cameras… a lot, and they are expensive).

All of the tips that Darren writes about on Problogger are put into action here, so if you want to watch the Problogger at work, follow the strategies that this blog utilizes, rather than reading the next Problogger post.

3.) Freshome [Interior Design/Architecture]

URL: http://freshome.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 64,000+

Main income source: Advertisements, affiliate links?

Let me first say that I love the design of this blog, and it’s a good thing to, as it focuses on design, but not the type you see on the web.

No, Freshome is an absolutely astounding architecture and interior design blog.

One of the writers, Ronique Gibson, revealed on Problogger that she has posted over 773 posts (and that was in 2011!), showing how a “curation” style blog, combined with lengthier posts, can create a real winner if it’s on a focused topic (and the content is top notch).

4.) PsyBlog [Social Psychology]

URL: http://www.spring.org.uk/

Approx. Subscribers: 53,000+

Main income source: e-Book sales, advertisements

You can probably guess that this is one of my personal favorites, but it’s easy to see why any reader can enjoy this blog.

The author takes psychology studies that they come across (they happen to be a psychological researcher), and relates them to real world issues and in laymen’s terms, so that anyone can gain the information that they have to offer.

That’s the big emphasis I’d like to make on this blog: you should always be mindful of beginners, it’s not that you have to appeal only to beginners, but taking more complex information and boiling it down into something interesting that anyone can read is a formula for a winner, as long as the audience is there.

5.) NerdFitness [Exercise/Physical Fitness]

URL: http://nerdfitness.com/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 50,000+

Main income source: Product sales

Steve Kamb is a guy well known in the marketing niche, but he doesn’t write about marketing.

That’s because his blog has served as a great example of how to build a successful site full of an endearing personality, outside of the blogging/marketing niche of course.

This is one of the great advantages of being someone knowledgeable in content marketing: you can offer up your success story to all sorts of marketing blogs if you create a popular site in a atypical topic.

Marketing blogs absolutely love case studies of this kind, and you’ll get attention and links just by telling your story. It’s a method Steve has used multiple times to appear on sites like Lifehacker and ThinkTraffic.

6.) 1stWebDesigner [Web Design]

URL: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 49,594)

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements

There are a huge number of web design blogs out there, and yet some still find ways to be successful…

Somebody should ask Dainis how he did it, because 1stWebDesigner manages to stay a top web design blog and appears to be growing still.

I can tell you that 1stWebDesigner at least does everything in it’s industry the right way, while setting a few innovations (industry examples being stuff like free PSD files and the like).

That’s the big takeaway for this site: find out what works for the big players in your niche, pull some ideas that you like, and innovate on the rest.

7.) TinyCartridge [Portable + Retro Gaming]

URL: http://tinycartridge.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 2,303)

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements

TinyCartridge is simply a perfect example of how to start a blog in a the incredibly overcrowded gaming niche.

Did the founder decide to doom their site to an early death by just focusing on “gaming”?

Heck no!

TinyCartridge has become THE place to learn about mobile gaming news and updates, it “niched down” into a way less competitive market, and took it over.

That’s a HUGE takeaway from this post, one of the most important: dominant a small niche, and move onto broader things down the road.

8.) What I Wore [Personal Style]

URL: http://whatiwore.tumblr.com/ (No custom domain? For shame!)

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 10,849)

Main income source: Advertisements, affiliate links?

Since I’m not into fashion blogs all that much, what I can tell you most about this site is that the author’s personality dominates.

It’s a personal fashion blog, so that makes sense, but the general principle here is that her personality is inserted without pause.

Every post is flooded with the author, and it makes the case that a strong personality (and taste) can make for a great unique selling proposition, even in a crowded niche like this.

9.) Nature Mom’s Blog [Natural Living + Family Life]

URL: http://naturemoms.com/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 5,000+

Main income source: Advertisements

“Mommy bloggers” is a term I hate, but if you’re taking your content and your site seriously, I can definitely love the work you’re doing.

That’s the case with this blog, from design to content, Tiffany is delivering the goods.

I like the “two-niche combo” going on here, something to learn from most definitely.

Instead of going the “health” or “mommy blogger” route, the author did both, taking two typical ingredients and making a very unique recipe.

10.) AutoBlog [Automobiles]

URL: http://www.autoblog.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,766) [Likely much higher]

Main income source: Advertisements

What guy doesn’t love a sweet looking ride?

Autoblog fills a big need for a big audience of automobile fanatics.

I see so many bloggers who are against “news” sites, and while I’m also in favor of creating ‘evergreen’ content, when you are dominating a specific niche well, your blog is certainly capable of breaking news, even if those posts won’t generate lifetime traffic.

11.) Art Of Manliness [Men's Lifestyle]

URL: http://artofmanliness.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 150,000+

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements, product sales

A men’s lifestyle blog that as absolutely nailed the concept of a strong and memorable unique selling proposition.

In addition, this blog is the opposite of the autoblog above it (not in audience, those are similar!).

What I mean is, Brett focuses on almost entirely evergreen content, writing very long and in-depth articles that address topics that matter to men, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

This kind of content ensures that people can find old articles and still be “wowed” by the information there, and it is a strategy that has paid off very well for Brett, as AoM is now a whole different beast with hundreds of thousands of readers.

12.) StudyHacks [School & Career Success]

URL: http://calnewport.com/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 26,000+

Main income source: Book sales

I am actually a consistent reader of Cal Newport’s blog (known as StudyHacks), although recently he has moved on to “career hacks” in that he addresses career and job advice over studying in college.

One thing I love about Cal’s blog is that is isn’t afraid to speak out against the status quo, yet only does so when he has data and a strong argument to present.

He doesn’t stir up controversy just to do so, yet many of his posts are controversial because he cites evidence that goes against a lot of beliefs that we often hold. (For instance, he doesn’t believe in “Following your passion”, that definitely threw me for a loop!)

13.) FarmVille Freak [FarmVille]

URL: http://farmvillefreak.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 770) [Focus is on the Facebook page, which sits at 425,000+]

Main income source: Product sales

Ugh… it pains me to write about this one, but I’ll try to remain unbiased.

This is one of those examples about becoming a “hub” for something extremely popular, in this case, FarmVille.

Being a source of FarmVille news and tips worked out well for this site, as it has for many in the past.

One word of caution: you have to take into consideration how long certain topics will remain in popularity.

If FarmVille is forgotten, this site will lose it’s purpose, not so with evergreen content.

Still, blogs that become a big part of a fanbase’s enjoyment for popular topics can live a long time, look at things like Pokemon (the kids game) or Madden NFL (another video game) which have been around for years and show no signs of slowing down.

14.) Cute Overload [Baby Animals & Pets]

URL: http://cuteoverload.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 462,270) [Woah!]

Main income source: Advertisements

Ah, cute animals, overlords of the internet.

CuteOverload, one of the originators of the cute animal blogs, obviously understood the appeal of “tumblogs” far before the trend set in.

That’s the point I’d like to make here: tumblogs (blogs that focus on short updates and are generally media rich) can be extremely effective if they niche down and dominate a popular topic.

Music blogs, photoblogs, and video blogs are all of this variety, as their short updates usually come daily and focus on media over lengthy articles.

They are harder to get initial traffic to (as guest blogging sometimes isn’t as effective), but when they take off, they can become BIG.

15.) Supersonic Electronic [Art & Art Culture]

URL: http://supersonicelectronic.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 2,582)

Main income source: Product sales

Another blog I randomly check from time to time, the art featured here can be pretty amazing (Warning: it is sometimes Not Safe For Work).

As an art blog, this site initially made it’s name with top quality selections and acted as a great promotion method for new artists.

Later, with an established name, people now submit their art in hopes of being featured.

I found this to be the exact case with my electronic music blog, as when I grew in popularity, people messaged ME about getting featured, rather than the other way around.

16.) Stereogum [Indie & Alternative Music]

URL: http://stereogum.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 57,076)

Main income source: Paid promotion, affiliate links, advertisements

This one’s a biggie!

The big breakthrough for this site was being early in the scene, and breaking a lot of big artists first (Arcade Fire and the like).

this site also knows their audience really well, and manages to always please despite the difficult task of selecting music that their audience will like.

17.) WPBeginner [WordPress Tutorials]

URL: http://www.wpbeginner.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 210) [Focus on social media pages, which are quite popular]

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements, WP services

A pretty popular site for WordPress newbies.

The big point to be made here is that creating a site for beginners is always a good idea if it’s done well, because there will always be new beginners, so your audience can only grow (as long as your topic stays popular, which WordPress has).

18.) Skepchick [Atheism + Secularism]

URL: http://skepchick.org/

Approx. Subscribers: 11,000+

Main income source: Advertisements

One trend I noticed in the WordPress community is that Christianity seems to be a popular topic, and many pastors seem to get involved in blogging and web development.

I don’t really have a comment, just something I noticed.

This blog takes the opposite approach and is all about atheism, and creates post on atheist news and issues.

19.) DeSmogBlog [Environment & Pollution]

URL: http://www.desmogblog.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 407) [Focus is on the newsletter]

Main income source: Book sales

Featured on Time’s Best Blogs of 2011, it got a lot of press for stirring up a very heated issue.

Great way to gain notoriety for a blog: pick a hot topic and stir up some debate, while still maintaining integrity by not being overly aggressive or indigent.

20.) Listverse [Random Top 10 Lists]

URL: http://listverse.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 7,654) [Focus on social media]

Main income source: Advertisements

If there was ever a site that showcases the power of List Posts, here it is!

One thing even I don’t get is that this site get’s authors to guest post, but doesn’t even give them a link…

Apparently getting your opinion in front of a big audience is the only reward, something to consider when crowdsourcing for your own site.

21.) Smitten Kitchen [Personal Cooking]

URL: http://smittenkitchen.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 205,082) [Yowza!]

Main income source: Book sales

Smitten Kitchen is one of those blogs that might have actually greatly benefitted from Pinterest (whereas most don’t), because not only does Deb throw down some delicious recipes, her personal photos are well done and made to be shared.

This blog has gotten a lot of press, and one main thing the authors tout is their tiny kitchen.

This selling point related to a lot of folks: you can make great meals even in a small kitchen.

It made this blog more “real” than those cooking shows with giant kitchens and pre-chopped ingredients.

22.) Canvas of Light [Travel + Photography]

URL: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/category/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 424) [Focus on social media]

Main income source: e-Book sales, photography services

Photo travel blogs are a dime a dozen, and Canvas of Light made the cut here because the photos are amazing.

Nothing much I can add here, other than the author goes all out and has a lot of talent.

Great example of taking an excellent skill and making a truly memorable blog out of it.

23.) Yoga Dork [Yoga]

URL: http://www.yogadork.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,740)

Main income source: Advertisements, affiliate links

Yoga was (and still is) one of those absolute prime topics for somebody to take over with great content and smart marketing know-how.

YogaDork does a great job, but this is one I still feel there is big room for.

This site creates excellent how-to as well as news related posts (who’s doing yoga, new products, etc.)

Just an overall great example of tapping into a topic of growing popularity and keeping things entertaining.

24.) Eat, Sleep, Draw [Drawing]

URL: http://eatsleepdraw.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 675) [Tumblr blog, focuses on "followers" over RSS reader]

Main income source: Advertisements/paid promotion

I suck at drawing. Luckily, my brother was blessed with the ability, so I’ve been able to enjoy watching someone talented draw for most of my life, which I’ve enjoyed because I love “traditional” drawn art.

Eat, Sleep, Draw caters to people like me, and unsurprisingly, to actual artists as well.

Showcasing a clean, simple format, ESD focuses on reader submissions, another great example of using your platform to get exposure for others, and using their submissions as a crowdsource method for your content.

25.) Fluent In 3 Months [Language Learning]

URL: http://www.fluentin3months.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 2,083)

Main income source: Book sales, affiliate links

Proof positive that if you tackle a tough topic with relentless consistency, you’re guaranteed to find success.

There are some topics out there that I think are just prime for blogs to take over, but they’ve been vacant for so long because nobody with the right skills has stepped up to the plate.

Hobbies & skills that require (imagine that) actual skills have a way higher barrier to entry.

The thing is, if you do get into them (and have something to offer), you’ll face limited competition, and if you know your marketing, you will flourish.

26.) Make [DIY Projects]

URL: http://blog.makezine.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 981) [Likely much higher]

Main income source: Advertisements, sales on site

Probably one of the leading sites in DIY examples, I’m not too familiar in this space so I can’t be sure.

I know Makezine is pretty popular, so it would stand to reason that their blog would be too.

DIYers, this is definitely one to take notes from (notice the curation + article content here as well).

27.) Ray Wenderlich [iOS & iPhone Development]

URL: http://www.raywenderlich.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 5,948)

Main income source: Store

This is one of those “you need to be an expert” topics that I was talking about above.

Not surprisingly, Ray Wenderlich is and expert and is blog is very popular for people in the field.

He’s taking his knowledge in a growing topic, displayed his expertise, and uses good blogging practices.

How can he fail?

If you can do the same thing in another topic, how can you fail?

28.) Arseblog [Arsenal Soccer]

URL: http://arseblog.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,382) [Focus on Facebook at 20k+]

Main income source: Book sales, advertisements

Great way to tackle a popular topic, without biting off more than you can chew.

If your a new blogger and thinking to yourself, “I’ll start a soccer blog!”, I hate to be the dream killer, but it doesn’t work that way.

Focus is a fundamental key to blog success, being the king of your sub-niche and moving on to broader topics (or even whole new sites) down the line.

29.) ThreadBanger [Knitting + DIY Fashion]

URL: http://www.threadbanger.com/blog

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,697)

Main income source: Advertisements

All of  you DIY fashionistas are probably already familiar with this one (wait… do any fashion forward people read my marketing blog?)

This may seem… well, I dunno how it seems, but let me just say that I think women (and women’s topics) are the future in blogging.

Topics that have been stereotyped as for “geeky males” have been covered to death and are very competitive: that group of people have always known how to set up and run websites.

That’s why blogs about gaming & tech are so saturated.

30.) The Brothers Brick [Lego & Lego Creations]

URL: http://www.brothers-brick.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 8,839)

Main income source: Advertisements

A blog on Lego! (Note: not “legos”, Lego aficionados will drill you for that on ;))

Wow, if this doesn’t prove that you can literally start a blog on any popular topic, I don’t know what does.

As your newly minted social media blog flounders among a million others, this Lego blog is showing you how to cater to an audience of Lego fans who have been looking for a hub to see new creations and products.

31.) Nomadic Matt [Frugal Traveling Tips]

URL: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 13,000+

Main income source: Affiliate links, store, advertisements

Combining frugal + travel tips was a great way for Matt to stand out in the travel niche, and it’s worked really for him.

Another “topic + sub-topic” blog that’s used smart marketing knowledge to get traffic and build an email list in a niche that has a ton of competition.

Notice the clean and simple blog design, proof positive that you needn’t go overboard with cluttered design in order to build something successful.

32.) The Style Blogger [Men's Fashion]

URL: http://www.thestyleblogger.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 3,168)

Main income source: Advertisements, store, affiliate links

Another area that I feel could really be taken over with the right blogger, men’s fashion is a hot topic that has lots of things to sell.

I’ve heard a ton of criticism about this guy’s fashion sense, but it doesn’t matter: he has a large audience that does enjoy his fashion tips and photographs.

A great example of appealing to those who actually enjoy your content, and ignoring the haters.

33.) Phil Galfond [Poker]

URL: http://www.philgalfond.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 424) [Focus on his Twitter]

Main income source: None (personal blog, Poker could use another blog!)

As an avid poker player myself, this is another area I would love to see a “home grown” blog take over in, all you get in the poker results now are ways to play online.

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a poker book, what better way than to build an audience with poker articles?

Phil is more personal with his site, not looking to monetize in any way (yet…), but still building a very active audience of poker fans.

34.) Lil Wanye HQ [Lil' Wayne]

URL: http://www.lilwaynehq.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 867) [Focus on Facebook page at 100k+]

Main income source: Advertisements

…Yes, you read that correctly.

With a Facebook page of 100,000+, it seems as though there are enough Lil’ Wayne fans as to warrant a site that updates on nothing but him!

I can’t hate, this site does a lot of things right in terms of appealing to a very specific audience, but that doesn’t mean I have to like his music! ;)

35.) Expert Enough [Skill Acquisition]

URL: http://expertenough.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 2,000+

Main income source: Product sales, affiliate links

The recent pet project of Corbett & Caleb of ThinkTraffic, this blog showcases two very unique learning points.

The first is that launching a blog can be a process in and of itself. Corbett & Caleb took the launch very seriously, promoting it heavily with a big guest post on ZenHabits and a huge first post featuring a ton of folks (whom then shared the post they were featured in).

The other lesson is to listen to your audience, as initially they were going to start a new blog on “Blog Design”, but fans responded that another blog design blog was going to be boring.

The team listened, and came up with a much better concept (IMO).

36.) Money Saving Mom [Budgeting + Personal Finance]

URL: http://moneysavingmom.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 10,360)

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements

Ah, I had to add a personal finance blog to the list, but I wanted to stray from the “making money” types as they resemble MMO too much in some instances.

MoneySavingMom fit the bill, because it is a very focused personal finance site, with a huge emphasis on saving dough on day-to-day things.

Their “narrow mindedness” has been more rewarding than limiting, as the blog is super popular and puts out fresh content continuously.

37.) PSD Tuts+ [Photoshop Tutorials]

URL: http://psd.tutsplus.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 165,000+

Main income source: Premium access, affiliate links, ads, Envato marketplace

When you have a popular program as expansive as Photoshop, it’s only right that there should be a blog that uncovers awesome tricks of the trade to using it properly.

With over 165,000 RSS readers, it seems the PSD Tuts+ audience agrees with me.

The Envato team are a super smart group of folks, definitely follow along with what they’re up to, they know how to run a business.

Their content marketing efforts like this (which aims to get people to subscribe to a premium membership and buy things from their GraphicRiver design marketplace) are really effective and have helped them grow sales tremendously.

38.) Audio Tuts+ [Audio Production Tutorials]

URL: http://audio.tutsplus.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 12,000+

Main income source: Premium access, affiliate links, ads, Envato marketplace

For the sake of originality, I was hesitant to include another Tuts+ blog, but the smart content marketing/blogging examples they serve are just too good.

In order to help with the launch of another marketplace (AudioJungle, for royalty free music), the team launched AudioTuts+.

This content has sent a lot of interested readers back to the AudioJungle site and definitely helped in creating a lot of first time and repeat customers (such as myself!)

39.) Cats Who Code [Code + Web Development]

URL: http://www.catswhocode.com/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 17,000+

Main income source: Advertisements

There are a couple of web development blogs to choose from, but who doesn’t like cats… who can code.

This quirky twist on a standard topic and some simply excellent content has made Cats Who Code a go to site for web devs.

Nothing fancy here, just a funny twist, simple design, and content that delivers.

40.) Garfield Minus Garfield [Humor]

URL: http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 17,123)

Main income source: Book sales

I had to add at least one totally strange blog up here!

Garfield Minus Garfield is the epitome of humor blogs in my opinion, because it creates nothing original, it actually just takes Garfield out of his own strip, revealing what seems to be a very delusion and nihilistic Jon Arbuckle!

This strange humor has to be seen to be believed, and if that’s not enough, Jim Davis has allowed the site to publish and sell a book of the comics! (I’m sure he gets a piece, but still, that’s just funny in itself)

41.) Universe Today [Space & Astronomy]

URL: http://www.universetoday.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 69,000+

Main income source: Advertisements

Who doesn’t love space?!

I was so glad to find this blog, this is another topic where people seem to just avoid blogging about it, despite space & astronomy being immensely popular.

You can’t get more basic than this either, this blog consists of an unedited Thesis theme with a basic logo… and that’s it.

42.) Pretty Much Amazing [Independent & Trendsetting Music]

URL: http://prettymuchamazing.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,688) [Likely much higher, focus on social media)

Main income source: Affiliate links, advertisements

Lofty topic title, but appropriate.

Pretty Much amazing focuses on breaking music, and it’s site features are a huge draw, which is the main takeaway from this site.

It includes a radio + shuffle feature that’s fairly unique for a site of this style.

The point: a unique feature can make a site stand out even if it’s content can be found elsewhere.

Presentation matters as much as the “meat” does, keep that in mind.

43.) Ecoki [Green Lifestyle / Eco-Lifestyle]

URL: http://ecoki.com/

Approx. Subscribers: 2,000+

Main income source: Shop

The green living space is big right now, and definitley growing.

I chose a “startup” blog over some bigger options because let’s face it, a list of giant blogs would be boring.

I love how the design of Ecoki speaks to it’s content AND to it’s audience, remember what people are reading about when creating the “look” of your site.

44.) Sirlin.net [Competitive Gaming & Game Design]

URL: http://www.sirlin.net/

Approx. Subscribers: Unknown (Multiple feeds, should be optimized better!)

Main income source: Store

There are a huge number of gaming blogs I could have picked, but this is one of the most interesting, and a stellar example of good content marketing at work.

David Sirlin is a professional game player (and now designer) who has created numerous card and board games, which he now sells to his audience via his site and other places.

How he got his started? Creating incredibly viral articles on game design such as the controversial “Playing To Win” series (an excellent read for even non-gamers).

45.) Dread Central [Horror Movies]

URL: http://www.dreadcentral.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,216) [Focus on Facebook with 16k+)

Main income source: Shop, advertisements

A nice spin on the generic “Movie Review” blog, a site that knows how to ‘niche down’, focusing exclusively on Horror content.

Honestly, few people are going to care about your random movie reviews on something that came out 10 years (or even 10 minutes) ago.

But, if you are the go-to place for a specific set of movies (catering to a specific set of fans), people will value your opinion and come back for more.

46.) Reality Tea [Reality Television Stars]

URL: http://www.realitytea.com/

Approx. Subscribers: Unknown (Received an error, Facebook page at 9k+)

Main income source: Advertisements

Ugh, I guess I had to feature at least one of these (I hate gossip blogs, as well as they seem to do).

Not much to comment here, other than that popular topics = popular blogs, as long as they break through that “hump” and having something unique to offer.

Instead of being a basic gossip blog, the focus here is on reality TV, another “niching it down” example that does it right.

47.) Startup Quote [Images + Quotes]

URL: http://startupquote.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader count: 1,303) [Tumblr blog, focus on "followers" over RSS reader]

Main income source: Advertisements

Fantastic use of good design work to build a popular blog around original design content (not just posting “finds” from others).

I also like the showcase of the power of images here.

Images often get shared far beyond the blog itself, and their spread on the internet is very powerful.

StartupQuote has a great strategy with this, creating unique images that are super shareable, and putting a subtle shout out to their own site in each one (so you know the source).

48.) ZenHabits [Minimalism + Personal Development]

URL: http://zenhabits.net/

Approx. Subscribers: 240,000+

Main income source: Book sales

If ever I should add a personal development blog (many of which I think are garbage), it would be the grandaddy of them all, ZenHabits.

Leo has done a lot of things different (or first), from the most minimal blog design ever to making all of his content copyright free, this site goes far beyond creating “great content” in terms of standing out.

49.) GoinsWriter [Writing]

URL: http://goinswriter.com/

Approx. Subscribers: (Google Reader feed: 587) [Focus on email list over RSS]

Main income source: Book sales, advertisements

There are a lot of great writing blogs, but Jeff’s site is great because it’s apparent to anyone that Jeff knows his marketing.

Email forms, riveting (and sometimes controversial) content, a focus on writing for the “modern” reader, this site does a lot of things right.

There’s also a lot of personality here, proving that building a brand around yourself can be a fantastic USP.

Wait, Could You Do This For Your Site?

One important thing to remember is that these examples aren’t far fetched lofts that are unreachable by normal bloggers.

All of these sites (big and small) were started by someone or a small group of folks, and there’s no stopping you from doing the same if you focus on your topic and your strategy.

So, could you break down your own site in this way?

50.) Help Scout blog [Customer Service]

Help Scout blog

URL: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 40,000+

Main income source: Software

What’s a big post without a little self-serving on the side ;).

This is the blog I manage for my startup.

We’ve managed to gain traction on our entrenched competitors solely through content marketing.

When it’s impossible to outspend the competition, you can always out write them!

3 Critical Insights

I’ll keep this short, as you’re probably tired of reading if you made it all the way down here ;).

  1. I’ll say this 100 more times if I have to: dominating a small niche is the fast track to success!
  2. This can go on repeat too: marketing tricks and tactics work far better in “regular” topics than they do in the “blogging about blogging” circlejerk.
  3. Lastly, curating content seems like it works really well for the right type of blog. A surfing blog could curate surf photos from time to time (think a weekly post) in addition to longer articles on surfing. Something to consider when starting a new blog.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

Over To You

Inspired yet?

Here’s what you should do…

  1. Share this post with your blogging comrades (everyone could use a little inspiration)
  2. Let me know what YOUR angle is for your most recent blogging project.

Thanks for reading, please share this post if you found it useful.

Join 29,385 folks who read my newsletter last week