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What Can the “25 Best Blogs of 2012” Teach You about Successful Blogging?

Time recently came out with their list of the 25 best blogs of 2012, with a nod to blogs that are not yet household names, but are growing fast. A quick look through the list can give us some ideas on what’s working, and how to apply that to our own blogs in order to grow and monetize.

The first blog on the list is NeverSeconds. Built on Blogspot, the young blogger created controversy by showing the quality (or lack thereof) of food in her school. In just a year, she’s used her blog to raise over $200,000 for hungry children.

Jumping down to #4, we find Design Sponge. Interior design, fashion, accessories, house ware and more are discussed, showcased, and sold. With 90,000 daily visitors, the blog has become one of the more preeminent authorities on all things design. And it’s monetized via display ads, a book, and affiliate product sales.

Design Sponge

Asymco, a blog covering the details of mobile gadgetry, comes in at #6. Readers tune in for no nonsense coverage of the mobile marketplace, and they’re treated to sales reports, industry trends and the like. The site is built on WordPress and is monetized via sponsorships and donations.

At #10, The Beat is a blog about all things comic books. It’s consistently been one of the top blogs in that area and has survived by hardcore fans and the advertisers looking to reach them. The site is a go to source for news and commentary related to the world of comics.

The Beat

On down the list we come across blogs with names like Her Bad Mother, Geekologie, Awkward Family Photos, and 500px. We see blogs on platforms from Tumblr to WordPress to Blogspot. We see blogs aimed at parents, teens, photographers, and businessmen.

So what’s the point? What can we learn about the success of these blogs and how can we apply those lessons to our own blogs?

Lesson #1 – Know Your Audience

It’s clear that the first thing that each of these blogs has in common is that they were written for a specific group of people. And the writers know who those people are, because most often they fit into that group. When you write what you know, it’s clear to people. Write about something that you’re passionate about, and your readers will be passionate about it too.

Lesson #2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Be Controversial

Controversy is most often a good thing. Take a side, take risks, and take on all comers. Those bloggers who try to cover every aspect of every story, who write so that there is something for everyone, don’t usually generate a strong following. Objective journalism has its place in the world, but fast growing blogs take sides. You’re more likely to develop followers when you take a stand on an issue, because those followers will agree with you. And often, it’s those critics of your opinion, style, etc. who will help you grow by calling attention to the fact that what you’re doing is “wrong”.

Lesson #3 – There Are Many Ways to Monetize

Going for the Big SaleToo many bloggers get caught up in trying to sell ads. The key to monetization is to know that there are hundreds of options available. Try one at a time until you find one that works. A few options available to you are: product sales, book deals, affiliate programs, advertising (display, text links, sponsorships), and donations. And within the category of advertising, there are a lot more options than you might realize. Check out Kontera, LinkWorth, AdBrite, and BidVertiser.

The guest post was written by Zach Heller, Director of Marketing for the New York Institute of Career Development. NYICD recently launched a Professional Blogging Course for anyone who wants to learn to blog and make money online.

About the Author Zac Johnson

My name is Zac Johnson and I have been an online entrepreneur for the past 18 years and blogger since 2007. This is my personal blog and I welcome you to the site. In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am benefiting financially or otherwise from everything you click on, read, or look at while on my website.

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omecool20 says

I have to agree about the three points above. From personal experience, the failure happens when you focus too much on item # 3. Blogs are meant for reading, therefore you have to take care of your audience first.

Raplus says

Hi Zach,

Your lesson one is really important. Most newbies fail because they don't identify their blog audience. And 3rd one is also important. Most bloggers think that Adsense is the only way to make money from a blog.
My recent post Top 5 Ways to Make Money Blogging

Phil Cebu says

Your reminder about monetization is true. I am currently experimenting and applying on a few systems. Hopefully , I can be approved and find something that will work as a success for my site.
My recent post Apple Iphone 5 Specs, Price & Release Dates

Jay says

Controversy sells newspapers, magazines, and don't forget the major news networks like CNN, MSNBC, et..

If you stir up controversy on your blog your visitor count can shoot threw the roof.

Don't be afraid to say what's on your mind that is what blogging is all about.

Good post.
My recent post 10 Ways To Better Monetize Your Blog And Make More Money Blogging

Preston Price says

Its really better to have plenty of options in terms of monetizing your site. One can never be too dependent on only one. Experimenting with as many types would do you better.
My recent post Acer Aspire V5-571P-6400 Core i3-2377M Dual-Core at $530

UnlockBoot says

Hi zac, can you write more new reviews about ads networks? Thanks!
My recent post Factory Unlock iPhone 5 iOS 6 – Official iPhone 5 Permanent Unlock

Darren boland says

Thats a pretty impressive effort for Neverseconds.com pretty cool to be able to do that.

My recent post 2014 Are You Ready For Me, Here I Come

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