The most influential bloggers

What did they do write?

January 9th, 2017. Day 9.

In my next installment of writing, my curiosity of the blogging world continues with a deeper look at influential bloggers. Who are they, what do they write about, and what makes them so unique?

Yesterday’s post on the history of blogging reveal some of the early bloggers who built a large following, including Robot Wisdom, and the tech bloggers at Gawker, Gizmodo and others.

Today I’d like to be more specific because this could be a really long look at the blogosphere, and I don’t want to include corporate blogs in my analysis. In a similar post on the top three Medium authors, several of them I found were already famous or authors prior to Medium. So, the question I want to to answer today is:

Who came up from nowhere due to blogging, and what was their story?

Research

For a few of these listings, I found the TheRichest’s Top 10 Earning Bloggers in the World to be helpful and have included those I found most appropriate first. They ranked the blogs based on earnings, but I have excluded that information.

Travel

# 6 on TheRichest list, Jake Dobki, founder of Gothamist which provides travel and news tips on New York and 16 other locations. Prior to this, Jake was an amateur urban photographer so it’s clear that is his blog is what made him successful.

Tech

# 2 on TheRichest list: Pete Cashmore of Mashable, who started at 19 in his bedroom in Scotland. Mashable is now a large media company that blogs on tech, digital, politics, and social media, but it is still privately owned. However, with investments from Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting, they could easily become an acquisition target if they aren’t already. Kudos to Pete for standing out in this very crowded space while remaining independent.

News

News blogs were really some of the first big blogs, and if you think about what a blog is, it’s news! Usually personal news, but still news. So I didn’t include any general news blogs here.

Lifestyle

# 8 on TheRichest list: Gina Trapani, developer and founder of Lifehacker, which has since joined the Gizmodo empire. I included Gina because she’s also co-founder of several other important tech companies and has moved on from ‘blogging’ but her work remains. She has a great story to tell and is passionate about open-source technology.

Others on TheRichest list, including founders of VentureBeat and TechCrunch are NOT on my list, simply because they already did this for a living. The blog was just an extension of their journalistic backgrounds. That doesn’t make it any less interesting, but it’s not what I am focusing on today.

Fashion

Fashionista provides a thorough list of the top 20 bloggers, most of which has become ultra famous through their work extending on YouTube and Instagram. But several of them maintain really popular blogs.

Topping this list is Chiarra Ferragni, whose The Blonde Salad has morphed from fashion how-tos into a beauty brand and ecommerce site. 7.7 Million Instagram followers also contributes to her becoming an international fashion celebrity, consulting with brands and large fashion houses like LVMH.

Food

Food and home blogs are still a popular category, but out of millions of tiny blogs, most don’t have a huge following. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has maintained a really strong following with her personal style, great photography, and created a revenue model through sales of her award winning “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”. She keeps things simple and delicious, and her fans love her for it.

Personal Development

Making an appearance again in one of my articles again is ZenHabits, a minimalist blog by Leo Babauta about lifestyle and maintaining your zen in today’s wild world. With a readership north of 2 million people, and books and ‘habit programs’ to purchase, Leo has embraced the blog lifestyle without selling out. Sure he makes money, but there’s not a single ad on his blog and he’s very clear about what is and what is not for sale.

Writing

While writing about writing, I figured it would be fitting in include a blogger that also writes about writing. Meta explosion! Jeff Goins offers advice, courses, and a book on how to write better and turn writing into a business. Although it would seem like I should enlist his services, so far I have not.

Wine

One of my favorite topics is wine, and there are hundreds of wine blogs out there. None of them made the top lists I have seen so far, so I did a specific search just for wine blogs. A few that come up I am already familiar with, but there really weren’t any stood out above the crowd. Especially in terms of style, usability, and simple modernity. I will give credit to Alder Yarrow, whose Vinography is one of the best and older running blogs, 2004. He’s not even a full time blogger, which to me is most exciting.

For great recommendations on wine, Joe Roberts at 1winedude provides a consistent supply of good recommendations and quick reviews. Wine Folly also offers terrific wine guides and information, and their blog is full of content, but is scattered between interviews, travel, tastings, etc. I credit it for being the most modern feeling of the wine blogs because they include graphic design into all of their work.

I believe most new wine commentators have switched to tools like Delectable and Invino for their reviews, and left the traditional blog approach to the previous generation.

Additional categories like web development, photography, politics and more all have an important stake in the blog game. For the sake of brevity (it’s okay to shorten blog posts!) I will omit the details.

Photo: Darren Rowse at Digital Photography School

Web Dev: Smashing Magazine

Politics: Politico and Drudge Report

Next I’ll cover a historical look at the first authors who used computers, because I’m feeling old school and want to learn more about the leap from pen, to typewriters to computers.

Cheers!

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