The 10 Most Unique Blogs of 2011
Well, it’s officially the final month of 2011.
As we cross the threshold into 2012, one thing is for certain, blogging is no longer a novel idea.
There are millions of blogs online and thousands of posts go live each day.
To stand out, you have to do something different.
Ever wonder what makes a blog unique? Ever wonder how to make your blog unique?
Listen, this is not scientific, but the following blogs are what I believe to be the most unique blogs in 2011. No question, these blogs are getting the attention of readers, because they are different.
I’ll tell you what makes them unique and how you can use that information to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
This blog is is not just unique, it’s bizarre. Rather, the contents of this blog is bizarre. Okay, the people who submit the content of this blog are bizarre.
Why do I say that? Well, EDC, or Everyday Carry is a blog devoted to pictures of the things people carry around in their pockets. And people carry around a lot of things.
For example, one reader emptied his pockets to reveal a Spyderco Dragonfly II [folding knife], Leatherman Squirt p4 [utility knife], Breitling Colt Quartz II [watch], Mont Blanc soft leather wallet, Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate and pry tool. He had to work for the CIA. I have to confess: I kind of want one of those folding knives now.
Take away: A great way to build a following is to create a unique niche. Make it reader-generated and you’ve got a winner.
Ten years ago Boston Globe’s photoblog and it’s 990 pixel wide photographs would have utterly failed. It’s only on today’s monitors can you appreciate an epic presidential election celebration or the frantic rush of a mob retreating from tear gas at that size. But with screens and pixels to carry it, a blog devoted simply to pictures–wide ones at that–demonstrates that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Take away: while copy is still king, the web is now the perfect platform for large photographs and images. And the impact they can provide for your readers will only enhance anything you do on your blog.
Before they launched The Verge in late 2011, staff members of Engadget who defected came up with a nifty side project to build interest in The Verge. It seems to have worked, because before they shut down This Is My Next, they were churning out an amusing weekly podcast, hefty analysis of technology and smart reviews.
Take away: Use a short-term blog to generate interest and traffic on a larger project you are working on.
Advice, how-tos, tips and favorite picks. That’s a no-fail formula for blogging success, a formula The Hairpin uses with great effect. This blog for women by women covers any topic of concern to women with intelligence, wit and earthy charm, making it uniquely different than girly competitors. Tips on Surviving Your Cancer and Colson Whitehead and Edith Piaf on the Zombie Apocalypse are two great examples.
Take away: Hairpin banked on the hunch that smart women didn’t want to read Cosmo. But they still wanted advice on men and make up. Identify a gap in information and fill it.
Sorry, but Heather Armstrong belongs on the top ten most unique blog list year in, year out. Her blog, the one that got her fired from her job, is the same one that provides a full-time job for her and her husband.
And it’s been over a decade, with two kids added to the mix, and a growing community of readers with no end in sight. Getting fired, marriage, now kids…she’s experienced enough everyday triumph and heartache to carry this thing out for another decade. Who knows, we may even have a Grandmother Dooce.
Take away: Be genuine. And let your personality shine. Big time.
Scheme in your twenties. Rack it in before you’re thirty. Retire at forty. That’s the dream of every American, whether they admit it or not, but it’s a fantasy and not the way to live according to Get Rich Slowly’s J.D. Roth. His advice and principles take years to implement and decades to mature.
Think of his blog as the Everyman’s financial blog, one for people who worry about sending their children to college or making a down payment on a home, where money is something you think about carefully, not calculate ruthlessly.
Take away: Roth has tapped into an audience that’s been worn down by the relentless get rich quick mentality of America and provided award-winning advice that makes sense. Some times your idea doesn’t have to be stellar. It just needs to make sense.
If Consumer Reports had an unruly sibling, The Consumerist would be it. Yet the rebellion that this blog promotes is more about justice than it is about revenge or just sheer anarchy.
The blog provides advice on how to make companies who’ve screwed you over pay. In addition, they expose fee hikes, denounce the unmet promises and readers can even share their worst customer service experience, which continues to creates a community of like-minded people.
Take away: The Consumerist formula is simple. Find the enemy and wage war. If you want this to work for your blog, identify a common enemy and then rally the readers.
Geraldine Deruiter lost her job, and instead of finding another one, she decided to hitch along with her husband who travels the world for his job. And blog about it.
Since its inception the blog has been a compelling read due to DeRuiter’s quirky perspective and range of topics. Let me warn you: this is more than a travel blog. It’s a blog about a woman who is taking in the world and processing it on her terms.
In the span of two posts she may swing from a blissful visit to a small German town to a perplexing moment in front of a television in a foreign country, trying to make sense of what is going on on her screen. The lesson here is the writing is only half the picture. Her personality is the other half.
Take away: People are living vicariously through Deruiter because not everyone can travel the world. What unique experiences and outlook can you share on your blog? And remember, your personality is the main ingredient.
Chris O’Leary’s two-year old blog devoted to David Bowie is a great example of how to find and dominate a niche. O’Leary knows a lot about Bowie, and even if you are not a fan you are pulled in by his grasp of his subject and the stories and quotes that he seems to pull out of nowhere.
This is one cautionary tale, however. O’Leary may be a passionate fan, but is he making any money off of his blog? He’s got a narrow audience [hardcore Bowie fans]. Perhaps he intends to remain modest and obscure, maintaining his wordpress.com blog for sentimental feelings.
Take away: If your goal is to make money off of your blog, then choose a niche that is big enough and profitable enough to do that. Not all niches will pay a monthly mortgage rent, let alone a Netflix subscription.
What Top 10 blog list would be comple without a blog devoted to lists? Enter Listserve, a one-stop-shop for anyone who has an endless appetite for lists. They do it a little bit different.
Who can resist 10 Monumental Malignantly Narcissistic Sociopaths or Top Ten Famous People Who Never Existed? Each post is submitted by readers, and it’s growing popularity demonstrates one thing: people may be curious but they want to consume their facts fast and furious.
Take away: Whether you use them for a single blog post or all your posts, lists are money.
These blogs do it just a little bit different. And they stand out. How about you? What blogs would you nominate for the most unique in 2011?