20 Successful Blogs in Every Topic Imaginable

One misconception that forever bothers me is the belief that blogging doesn’t work unless it’s meta.

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 “income reports” and the like.

Regular blogs in traditional topics don’t do this, yet they are still out therekilling it.

Today I’m going to bring you 20 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 Are The Guidelines?

Any blog featured here cannot have any of the following characteristics:

  1. Focus on blogging/marketing/social media
  2. The blog cannot be tied to another popular site
  3. Must have an involved community
  4. No “mega” blogs or magazines

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.

Enjoy!

1.) Help Scout blog [Customer Support]

URL: http://www.helpscout.net/blog/

Approx. Subscribers: 65,000+

Main income source: Software

The blog I’m responsible for! Help Scout is support software that is trusted by thousands of small businesses. We run the gamut over on the Help Scout blog, but our bread-and-butter will always be customer support.

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

We also use a large selection of resources to grow our traffic and subscriber base.

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. Lots of people buy cameras, and they’re 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’sindustry 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 theincredibly 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 didboth, 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) [Likelymuch 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 foryears 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.

Comments (1)

  • Reply

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog! kdddbeebakdccdge

Leave a Comment