What can 10 of the top-earning bloggers in 2020 teach us about how to make money by blogging and the current trends of top-ranking blogs?
a design, technology, science and sci-fi blog
The second blog on our list that was founded by Peter Rojas, Gizmodo is a design, technology, science and sci-fi blog with numerous variants serving different parts of the world, including Brazil, Japan and the UK.
It’s a great chronicle of geek culture, from the latest Huawei smartphone designs to fan theories on the original Star Wars trilogy.
One particularly strong feature of Gizmodo US is the ‘Giz Ask’ content series, which goes to great lengths to answer science teasers such as “Could teleporting ever work?” and “Do animals practise revenge?”
a web developer and designer blog
If you’re a web developer or designer, we’re willing to bet you’ll have read an article published by Smashing Magazine. Founded in 2006, this blog has grown to become one of the leading sources of guidance and commentary covering all things web, from information architecture to website aesthetics.
A key ingredient of Smashing Magazine’s success is its memberships offering, which encourages readers to pay between $3 and $7 per month for premium features. Interestingly, the blog has a live member counter on its homepage, which strikes us as a clever way to help readers quantify the value of their financial contribution to the blog.
a vast library of tutorials, courses, guides and eBooks, delivered in blog format.
Envato Tuts+ is a vast library of tutorials, courses, guides and eBooks, delivered in blog format. It covers subject areas including coding and web design, business, photography, music and graphic design. Some Envato Tuts+ content is free-to-access, while other items are available on a subscription basis.
Envato, the company behind Tuts+, was founded by Collis Ta’eed in 2006. Its headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia.
Renowned for its excellent coverage of startup news and advanced tech topics.
TechCrunch is renowned for its excellent coverage of startup news and advanced tech topics. The blog’s content focuses heavily on the dealings of tech giants such as Alphabet, Amazon, Uber and all the other usual suspects.
Between 2007 and 2015, TechCrunch ran the popular startup database Crunchbase, which is now a separate entity.
A Media and tech blog
Media and tech blog Mashable was founded in 2005 by Pete Cashmore, a 19-year-old web consultant from Aberdeen.
Mashable’s output covers a vast range of topics, including tech, science and social good. One of the blog’s standout features is Amplify, a content series “devoted to raising awareness, spotlighting issues, and taking action” on racial equality issues.
Another interesting feature – this time from a monetisation standpoint – is Mashable Deals, a section of the blog which features deals, reviews, product roundups and other commercially focused content.
The most influential content marketing blog in the world
Copyblogger is a blog about blogging (and other forms of content writing). It has been described as “the most influential content marketing blog in the world”. Core features of the blog include writing tips, analysis of new developments in content marketing, and podcast episodes.
Given the fact Copyblogger is a blog about copywriting, it faces serious pressure to practise what it preaches and produce good copy. Its articles tend to meet that requirement, with very clear formatting and interesting, conversational writing.
celebrity blogger and media personality.
Perez Hilton (born Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr.) is a celebrity blogger and media personality. Hilton’s gossip blog, PerezHilton, is one of the biggest names in showbiz journalism.
Since 2005, Perez Hilton has written stories on stars such as Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp and Miley Cyrus, all the while embedding himself, personally, into celebrity culture. Popular features of the PerezHilton blog include gossip stories, photo galleries and quizzes. Overall, the blog’s content is similar to that of a traditional celebrity/gossip magazine, such as Closer or Heat.
One of the PerezHilton blog’s greatest strengths is its effective use of the celebrities who drive engagement with the blog’s content. Famous names and famous faces are given the spotlight, through category headings for specific celebs and heavy use of paparazzi and red carpet photos. This shows a clear understanding of what makes the blog compelling – which is something every blogger needs to figure out about their own blog.
Moz is an SEO community and service provider
Moz is an SEO community and service provider with an offering that includes SEO software, conferences, and a large-scale digital publishing operation.
Headed up by a highly influential blog, Moz’s content is more than just content marketing – it’s one of the leading publications in the field of search marketing.
Popular features of Moz’s blogging include case studies, industry reports, and ‘Whiteboard Friday’, an educational vlog series formerly presented by Rand Fishkin, the company’s founder. Fishkin, who still presents Whiteboard Friday vlogs every now and then, moved on to a new venture, an audience intelligence provider called SparkToro, in 2018.
Blogging isn’t Moz’s core product. However, we feel it’s right to include Moz in our highest-earning bloggers list, as the brand’s blog is among the most popular and influential publications in digital marketing. Further, Moz’s digital publishing is a key lead generator for the company, helping drive its $44.9m annual earnings.
Covers a range of tech topics
Engadget covers a range of tech topics, from smartphone games and robotics to search engines and wearables. The blog was founded in 2004 by Peter Rojas, a former Gizmodo editor. Rojas left Engadget in 2008, and has since refocused on venture capitalism. Much like the Huffington Post, Engadget was acquired by AOL in 2011, and is now owned by Verizon Media.
Engadget’s estimated annual revenue of $47.5 million places it towards the top of the tech media league table.
Affiliate links contained within product reviews are an extensively implemented monetisation option for Engadget. The links are included as a CTA button labelled “Buy now”, which is contained in a static header.
A commentary blog
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post (rebranded to HuffPost in 2017), built her business up from a current affairs commentary blog to a full-blown media empire between 2005 and 2011, when The Huffington Post was acquired by AOL for $315 million.
HuffPost has an estimated annual revenue of $500 million, which places it in the big leagues by most traditional newspapers’ standards, let alone relative to other blogs.
A key factor in HuffPost’s success has been its scattergun approach to digital content production and distribution. The platform has typically posted from 600 to 1,000 articles per day, of which anywhere from 10 to 100 have gone viral.