the kitchn

Below is a list of examples of successful blogs. And I don’t mean successful as in they have a niche lifestyle business.

Each blog listed in this article is earning at least a million dollars in yearly revenue. Some just make the cut. Some are way past it in the 8 to 9 figure range.

There are a few reasons why I decided to make this.
First, a lot of people are unfamiliar (or unconvinced) that a blog can make a lot of money. And if you take a look at the blogs below, you’ll see that they’re just normal content websites.

Second, I wanted this to help with niche selection. I’ve found from experience that finding a blog niche is easiest when you have examples to look through. It’s not by scrolling through a long list of random words. Instead, it’s by analyzing successful blogs that already exist. Each example shown is one of the biggest and most profitable blogs in their given industries.

1. Greatist

A health and fitness blog backed by science.

greatist - health and fitness blogGreatist is a blog that I’ve followed deeply over the years. Their focus on creating only the highest quality, science-backed health and fitness articles for millennials has paid off greatly. On the surface, they’re a regular health and fitness blog. Behind the scenes, they’re a full-blown media startup with over 10 million visitors per month and an estimated yearly revenue in the 8-figure range. They make this money through ads and by selling sponsored content.

What they do well: Creating reputable, trust-worthy health content backed by science. This is hard to come by in an industry full of misinformation.

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2. Nerd Wallet

A giant affiliate site that dominates SEO in the personal finance niche.

nerd wallet - financial affiliate siteTo build a website like Nerd Wallet is every affiliate marketer’s dream. They are the leading example of a successful SEO blog that crushes affiliate marketing, and they’re doing so in one of the most profitable (and competitive) industries in the world – personal finance. Nerd Wallet reviews everything from credit cards, mortgages, insurance, and all things finance. The affiliate commissions for financial products like these can get into the hundreds of dollars per referral, which is why they’re worth over $500M.

What they do well: Understanding search intent and creating the best TYPE of content and user experience depending on the keyword.

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3. Nomadic Matt

A travel blog with strong personal branding.

nomadic mattThere are a ton of travel blogs on the internet. Most are personal blogs. They write about their travels and build up a small audience over time. Nomadic Matt also started as a personal blog about his own travels. Today, he’s built up a HUGE resource with everything you need to know about travelling. What’s crazy is that it’s still a personal blog with only one main author. Even to this day, he writes most of the content himself. And he ranks for nearly every keyword based around travel you can think of. There aren’t many single author blogs out there that grow to this size. It takes an incredible amount of time, focus, and persistence to continue pumping out content like he does.

What they do well: Diversifying income streams by creating and selling their own products. Staying small, lean, and extremely profitable.

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4. Nerd Fitness

Health and fitness advice for nerds and ordinary, everyday people.

Steve Kamb started Nerd Fitness nearly 10 years ago when he noticed that there were a ton of health and fitness blogs, but nothing catering specifically to him. So he decided to build it himself. Instead of targeting anyone and everyone, his blog was directly for… nerds! The interesting part is that the definition of the term “nerd” evolved as the site grew. At first, his audience consisted of people like him – nerds who played computer games and just wanted to get fit. Today, his brand has grown into a massive community of regular people who just want to learn how to get fit and have fun doing it.

What they do well: Differentiating themselves from all the other health blogs by going extremely specific in their audience targeting.

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5. Art Of Manliness

Honest tips and tutorials for becoming a better, more centered man.

art of manliness - mens magazineI first heard of The Art Of Manliness after listening to a Mixergy interview. They are a true content site, producing mainly informational blog posts around men’s interests and lifestyle topics. They make money through ads, and they’ve later started selling physical products like mugs, t-shirts, and posters. Usually, branded physical products can only work when you have a loyal audience, which obviously they have because 30% of their traffic comes is direct.

What they do well: Great branding, original design, and sticking to their origin topics of content even a decade after existence.

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6. CSS Tricks

A giant design and development resource centered around one big influencer.

Chris Coyier is one of the most well-known designers on the internet. And it’s all thanks to his wildly popular design blog, CSS Tricks. Like Nomadic Matt, a large percentage of the articles are written by Chris. He started the website in 2007. At the time, it was purely about CSS – hence the name. Today, it’s grown into a huge resource for all things web design and development. I visit this site several times a month myself, mainly to copy and paste in CSS lines that he shares in his blog posts.

What they do well: Using his existing audience to launch new products/companies. For example, his website CodePen now has 1M users and traffic is double that of CSS-Tricks.

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7. The Penny Hoarder

A finance content site that teaches people how to put more money in their pockets.

the penny hoarderThe Penny Hoarder is a blog around money. Their mission is to teach people tons of ways to make more money. It started out as the personal blog of founder, Kyle Taylor. Once it started to take off, he started to bring on new writers, and transition into more of a media company. The most fascinating thing about The Penny Hoarder is the amount of money they make, and how they make it. Last year, they generated close to $40M. And unlike other media companies, they did it without any advertising. Instead, they use affilaite marketing by forming partnerships with the right companies.

What they do well: Using storytelling to write their content to make it more engaging and relatable. They’ll feature or interview interesting people on their site and share how they’re making money. They also do a great job at not coming off as scammy, which is very easy to fall into in the “make money” niche.

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8. CoinDesk

The leading cryptocurrency blog.

CoinDesk is a website I visit at least 3 times a week. It’s the most successful cryptocurrency blog in the world, getting over 10 million visitors per month. It was started in 2013 by Shakil Kha, and then acquired by Digital Currency Group in 2016 for an amount rumored to be around $500,000. Today, they’re the go-to source for all news and updates in the blockchain world. They make money through advertising, publishing paid reports, and selling tickets to their conferences.

What they do well: Establishing themselves as a leader in a new industry.

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9. ArsTechnica

A tech blog that people trust.

ars technicaWhen I’m really interested in new tech (like new MacBooks being released), I’m always happy to see Ars Technica do a piece about it. It was founded a long time ago, in 1998. Ten years later, in 2008, it was sold to Conde Naste for $25M. Although they’ve lost readers’ trust a few years back when they attempted to block any visitors using an ad blocker, they’ve rebuilt their reputation by hiring smart writers (most of whom are post-graduates) and writing in-depth pieces of information in the tech world.

What they do well: Writing really detailed news stories. While most tech blogs merely “report” the news, Ars Technica analyzes it.

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10. Bustle

A women’s publication about everything.

bustleThe Bustle is a site that I study constantly. It was founded by Bryan Goldberg after he built and sold Bleacher Report (a sports blog) for $175M. The reason I’m so interested in Bustle is because of Bryan’s infamous announcement before starting the company. He claimed that he would build something that’s never been done before: A women’s site that not only talked about fashion but news and pop culture as well. This brought on a fury of haters (which brought in a ton of free links and press coverage πŸ™‚ ), who wrote about the dozens of companies that are already doing just that. Another thing that’s interesting is the reason WHY Bryan decided to create this site. After running Bleacher Report, he realized that a female audience attracted the most advertisers. So he received funding, hired a bunch of people, and created one of the biggest women’s blogs in the world.

What they do well: Covering every aspect of every story that people are interested in.

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11. Wellness Mama

A health and wellness blog for mothers.

wellness mamaThere are a ton of health and wellness blogs out there. But Wellness Mama stood out from the pack by being one of the first ones in the space to cater their content specifically to mothers. Going ultra targeted with your audience targeting is a very effective way to make your blog unique and develop a strong following. Katie Wells is someone who used this laser targeting strategy perfectly. Although her blog isn’t for everybody, there are a lot of moms out there who agree with Wellness Mama’s mission of getting the best information for healthier families.

What they do well: Going ultra targeted with their audience targeting.

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12. Thought Catalog

A deeper, emotional blog written by college students.

thought catalogI don’t know if Chris Lavergne, founder of Thought Catalog, will appreciate the description above but it’s what I personally think of this blog. Thought Catalog is like BuzzFeed for hipster college students. You’ll mainly see articles about heart break, relationships, and being a stronger person. The coolest thing about Thought Catalog is how they developed their content. As anyone who blogs will know, it’s difficult to source good content. Thought Catalog attracts college students, mostly writing majors, to write on their site for free as a way to build their portfolio. It’s “cool” to be published on Thought Catalog. And as a result, they have hundreds of submissions every single day from some of the deepest, brightest minds all over the world. That’s amazing.

What they do well: Getting their content for free in an ethical way. Coming up with a unique content strategy and executing it perfectly.

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13. Fatherly

A parenting blog for fathers.

fatherlyFatherly is a blog that I researched heavily. It was started in 2015 by Mike Rothman, one of the co-founders of Thrillist. He helped grow Thrillist from zero to $100M before leaving to start Fatherly. There are a lot of parenting blogs out there, but Mike realized that almost all of them are heavily targeted towards moms. Furthermore, they often portrayed dads as the goofy one who didn’t know what they were doing. He aimed to change that with Fatherly. And he grew it into one of the fastest growing media companies out there growing to $5M in revenue in just two years.

What they do well: Doing niche and audience research really, really well. Have a listen to this podcast and you’ll realize that he takes niche and audience research to a whole new level.

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14. Apartment Therapy

A blog about home design and decor.

apartment therapyApartment Therapy is one of the leading blogs about home design. It was started in 2004 by Maxwell and Oliver Ryan, brothers. Maxwell was an interior designer who started an email list to send out design advice to his clients. Oliver, who was experienced in media, convinced him he should turn it into a blog instead. And Apartment Therapy was born. Today, their blogs make roughly $20M in revenue. I saw blog(S) because they have another brand as well, which I’ll talk about next.

What they do well: Scale. Seriously, these guys know how to scale a blog really well. Check out this report.

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15. Kitchn

A blog about food.

the kitchnMaxwell Ryan, mentioned above in Apartment Therapy’s description, started another blog with his then-wife, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, just a year after Apartment Therapy was born. Sara was a food blogger, and Maxwell took the lessons learned from growing Apartment Therapy into growing Kitchn. Today, Kitchn gets roughly 20M visitors per month to its site and is one of the largest food and recipe blogs in the world.

What they do well: Use what they know and apply it over to a new blog.

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16. Digital Spy

A blog about movies, tv, and entertainment news.

Do you want to know the blog responsible for all the #1 rankings for just about any movie or tv show? It’s Digital Spy. Although the blog started way back in 1999, it wasn’t until 2011 when Hearst Magazines UK purchased it, that it started to dominate the search engines. It’s seriously fascinating to see a single blog dominate every movie or tv show like that. Just search for a tv show or movie and they’ll pop up #1. And if you take a look at their title tag, you’ll notice they’ve crafted it perfectly to include every variation of their keyword – each of which gets hundreds of thousands of searches every month.

What they do well: Dominating the search engines as the #1 authority on all keyword variations for every single movie, tv show. Here’s an example of such a page. Again, look at that finely crafted title tag 😍

Visit Site

Conclusion

This list will be ever growing, meaning I’ll continue to add more examples of successful blogs when I stumble upon them during my own research.

Hopefully by analyzing the examples shared above, you got to see what 7-figure blogs look like, how they’re monetizing, what kind of content they publish, etc. But most importantly, I hope it helps spark some niche ideas for your own blogging projects.

Most of the blog niche ideas I get myself are from analyzing and researching other successful blogs.

Yes, it’s true that most of the blogs shared in this list have a huge editorial staff and a ginormous budget to work with, making it impossible for a single-person to compete with directly. But that’s not the point. The point isn’t to copy them directly. The point is to identify what you can build for yourself based around what others are doing successfully.

36 Comments

  • Reply
    Sam
    October 8, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Super insightful Chris. I’ve been reading AOM for a few years now. And it’s the best. However, I think REALMENREALSTYLE.COM could be included in the list. I don’t know the amount they make but they rule the men’s fashion SEO. And generates close to 2mn visitors / month.

    Also, I’m surprised not to see Neil Patel on the list.

    Thanks anyways for the post. I’ve bookmarked it.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Cool, thanks Sam. I’ll check out the site. There are definitely a ton of big blogs in that space. I included AOM because it’s one of the ones I’ve known the longest.

  • Reply
    Craig
    October 8, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I love this list of examples and sure hope you keeping adding to it.

    Ideas about what works are fine but examples are the fuel that ignites a roaring fire, a fire that erases the darkness so we all can see our way forward.

    Thanks

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Love the way you described it πŸ™‚

      Thanks Craig.

  • Reply
    Theodore Nwangene
    October 8, 2018 at 9:41 am

    This is so wonderful Chris,

    I’ve always told people that people are making jaw dropping sums out there from blogging alone, you just have to position yourself differently, do what others are not entirely doing, horn your craft, and boom….you’ll Crack the code.

    Looking at the blogs above, they all have one thing in common, and that is “consistency”.

    Thanks for being awesome as always Chris.

    BTW: What’s your take about adding the “noopener” tag on internal links on a page? That is making it to open in a new tab? Someone said it affects bounce rate, and also affects SEO.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks Theodore!

      Noopener is more for performance and security reasons than anything else. Not aware of any SEO concerns it might bring.

  • Reply
    Pavan
    October 8, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Always a fan of your content Chris.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks man πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Edson Zandamela
    October 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Hey thanks Chris,
    Is it possible to see some income on a new site in 3 months.
    For example $100 a month?

    I am struggle to get my first $10 for about a year. That is normal :-p.

    Thanks for the Article.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Hey Edson. It’s possible for sure. But the goal really isn’t to get there the fastest – more to build it properly so that it’s sustainable and you continue growing.

  • Reply
    Jim Hofman
    October 8, 2018 at 11:02 am

    A very interesting list with niche sites covering all sorts of different topics. It appears the key to all these sites is great content, which is terrific news for those of us who enjoy writing.

    One other common thread with this list – it appears each site was a passion of the original owner. I personally think this is so important; if you’re working on a site make sure it’s in an area of personal interest, strong personal interest. It makes producing content and coming up with content ideas that much easier …

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Excellent point, Jim. Yeah the personal bloggers in this list really did a good job at transitioning from a personal blog to a media company.

      They’ve also been the ones that have stuck with it the longest, since it started as passion project.

  • Reply
    Deepak
    October 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Chris!

    Wonderful post mate.

    Quick question :

    As video consumption is growing day by day, do you think starting a new blog is still the way to go or one should rather start youtube channel/facebook video (&fb watch shows) ?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Deepak! Video is great if you can do it well. For example, much of Fatherly’s early revenue came from video and content on other platforms.

      However, just because video is growing, doesn’t mean that blogging and written content is dying.

  • Reply
    Paulette Quann
    October 8, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this list! And while building a profitable blog remains a bit of an untouchable feat to me, the list is encouraging. Enviable!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      Glad to hear that, Paulette πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading.

  • Reply
    Om Priyadarshi
    October 8, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Hi, please correct the number related to the 12th Site, Instead of 132, it should be 12.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Aha, just fixed it. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Luke
    October 8, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I think it’s very important to choose the right niche at the very beginning. Beginners make a lot of mistakes that is why their progress is slow or there is none at all and they quit. If I started a blog right now I would know much better what to do with it.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 8, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Luke.

      Beginners do make a ton of mistakes. So my advice usually isn’t to find the perfect niche in the beginning. Just pick something you have a lot of interest in.

  • Reply
    Luigi
    October 8, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Awesome piece Chris.
    How many posts/articles you think it takes to be a 7 figure blog ?
    Understanding that SEO and Social is done.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 9, 2018 at 1:17 am

      Thanks Luigi. Varies wildly. Correct answer is… a lot πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Bhuboy
    October 9, 2018 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for sharing this Chris, articles like this is what give me hope that in the future what I am doing I what will let me achieve my dream of being with my family while still able to provide for their needs.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 9, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Thanks, Bhuboy!

  • Reply
    Tyrone Patrick Fahey
    October 9, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Thanks for that.
    Great food for thought, it has pushed me in the right direction.
    Keep up the good work mate and God bless!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 9, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Thanks for reading, Tyrone.

  • Reply
    Mohit Kumar
    October 9, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Hello Chris,
    I want to ask a question which is in my mind from a long time and only you can answer this question correctly,

    As you can see people get their answers in google snippets time to time google snippets gets increases which result in low search engine traffic and low ctr from search engines Google gets smarter and smarter day by day will a day come where publishers don’t get any traffic from search engines because a niche site totally depends on search engine traffic.
    what your thinking on this, please answer my question because my main source of income totally depends on organic traffic and this scares me a lot.

    hope you a reply from you
    thankyou

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 11, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      I think getting less clicks from Google is an issue you can’t ignore, but at the end of the day, they’re still a search engine – they search for the best webpages on the internet and present them to their users.

      Some searches are fit for a quick answer through the answer box, but not all of them are.

  • Reply
    xTechKR
    October 11, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you so much! Great website, great post! Very informative.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 11, 2018 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Seppe
    October 24, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Chris is the “outdoors ” a niche? Or is that too broad?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Depends on what you’re comfortable with. With a broad niche like that, it’s going to require a ton of content in each different “outdoor” category.

      • Reply
        Seppe
        October 26, 2018 at 6:31 am

        Yea i thought so .. after thinking about my question, i think its too broad. I think now its better to niche down a little bit. I can not build authority its too broad for me. Hell even the niche cycling is too big i have to niche a little bit more πŸ™‚

        • Reply
          Chris Lee
          October 27, 2018 at 11:57 pm

          Yeah, it depends on what you’re comfortable with.

  • Reply
    Saleh
    November 13, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Chris that was a great one!
    I have a question regarding niche selection
    Is this a good target
    β€œHelping new and motivated online entrepreneurs set up their websites”
    Is that something good to target?
    Thank you

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      November 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Saleh πŸ™‚

      It’s a really tough niche for SEO, but if you can get some traction a site like that is usually really profitable (most of the times it’s through hosting affiliate commissions).

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