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Friday, February 15, 2013

The Art Of Creating A Successful Blog – Tips From The Pros [Feature]

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The Art Of Creating A Successful Blog - Tips From The Pros [Feature]

by Ryan Dube
In an effort to understand the magic ingredients that make up the recipe of a successful website, I went out in search of successful bloggers that have formed popular, profitable websites. The fruits of that search turned up two big names in the blogosphere - Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine, and Joshua Topolsky of The Verge.
Writing is such a personal, private thing. On the other hand, the act of blogging is such a public and transparent thing. When you put the two together, you have this highly visceral, raw act of casting ideas out into the Internet.
It's hard to imagine that those ideas could ever grow into something highly successful, popular and dare you hope - profitable?
There are a lot of very cool stories out there about how some of the world's most popular blogs and websites got started. Look at the story of Arianna Huffington. She began her online writing career with a website called Resignation.com, where she burst onto the scene calling for the resignation of President Bill Clinton. From the founding of The Huffington Post in May of 2005 to its acquisition by AOL on February 7, 2011, Arianna and her team of journalists established one of the most popular news blogs on the Internet.
Then you've got a site like the Daily Beast, founded in 2008 by Tina Brown and Barry Diller. It eventually grew and merged with Newsweek to become the "online home" of Newsweek Magazine. Then there's the story of Darren Rowse, one of my favorite bloggers, who quit his job working as a laborer to try and earn a living through blogging. He founded b5media in 2005 with fellow bloggers, he founded the extremely popular site ProBlogger, and openly admits that today he comfortably earns a six-figure income through blogging.
It doesn't end there. You've got GizmodoGawkerTechCrunch,MashableSmashingMagazineTMZThe Verge...the list goes on, and I'm sure many readers here have their own personal favorites.
So, what's the secret? How do certain sites do so well, while so many others fall by the wayside?

Why I Turned to Blogging

According to WordPress.com, there are over 60.6 millionWordPress.com hosted blogs across the entire world. That's right. Million. There are over 100,000 new WordPress sites created every single day. It's difficult to get an accurate picture of just how many websites are created on the Internet every day, but if just the WordPress stats are any indication, the number is massive.
Much like Darren Rowse, I turned to blogging more out of necessity than anything else. We were due to have our first child, my wife would no longer be working, so we needed income. I attempted to buy and sell antiques on Ebay to make extra income. That effort was moderately successful - I did manage to establish a Powerseller status with 100% positive ratings - but the work was enormous and the resulting profit was miniscule.
So, I turned to a passion that I've had since I was just a kid - writing. I've always had an overwhelming love for the written word, and the joy created by a well-crafted sentence. At the time in 2006, I didn't think it was possible to really earn anything by writing, but I started doing it online just for the joy of it. I loved crafting articles, and if I could earn a few pennies in the process, all the better.
My story was a long road of countless late nights writing blog entries and articles for peanuts, and an endless search for newer, better-paying clients. Of course, there was also lots and lots of coffee. Probably too much coffee.
Fast forward to 2012. I now write for one of the top technology blogs on the Internet, I am an editor and writer for an educational technology site, and in 2009, I founded by own blog called TopSecretWriters - my first endeavor independently publishing my own work, which would provide no immediate income in return at the start.
No - TopSecretWriters was different. It wasn't work. It was less about making money, and more about having lofty goals and ideas to share that I am passionate about. It was my way of tossing my message in a bottle into the vast ocean of the Internet, hoping that someone would eventually read those words, and that it might inspire them to bring friends.
Today, I would consider myself to be a moderately successful blogger. I earn a comfortable income writing for others, and my own site is what I would consider to be an on-the-rise new blog, on the cusp of breaking through into that magical area of financial self-sufficiency. It's an exciting time.
Considering that I'm about halfway up this mountain that so many before me have climbed, I decided to take a breather and take a closer look at those explorers that have come before - co-founders of their own websites that are wildly popular today. Both of these writers are passionate about the work they do, and they both lead websites that nearly everyone reading this article will recognize.
I am speaking of none other than Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine, and Joshua Topolsky of The Verge.
Both of them have agreed to give us a little bit of insight - and dare I say some inspiration - into what it takes to create and grow popular and extremely successful websites on the Internet today.

The Verge - Editor in Chief Joshua Topolsky

The Verge is listed around the web as one of the top 10 technology blogs out there. It is unique in that it covers not just tech news, but focuses holistically on the entire culture of technology and science in the world today. Its rise to fame has been astonishingly quick - the site was only founded in 2011 and began making it on the top 10 lists shortly thereafter.
Joshua Topolsky, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Verge, agreed to sit down and chat with us about the founding of the Verge, and what he felt gave it the ability to grow so quickly, so fast.
Of course, my first question was exactly that - what made the site so popular? His response - repeated throughout the interview - was actually rather simple. His secret to success is teamwork.
"The two people that founded the site were myself and Marty Moe. We kind of cooked up the idea and co-founded the site, but we have a group. Even though we're the founders, there's a group of editors that were here from the very beginning that built the site into what it is."
That's fantastic, however, your about page also mentioned a partnership with Vox Media, was that from day one as well?
"It was originally a site called SB Nation, which is a network of sports blogs. When Marty and I brought the idea for Verge to them, we sort of decided that we needed to form a new company. That new company became Vox, and now Vox is The Verge, SB Nation, and then Polygon, which is a games site that we launched in the middle of 2012."
Joshua told me that Jim Bankoff, the CEO of SB Nation, decided to fund the founding of The Verge, and in collaboration with him and Marty, they founded the site while also creating a new company called Vox Media.