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.
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.
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
Too 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.