Continuing our annual check-in, here is an update of our top 10 highest-earning bloggers for 2022 as well as elements have contributed to their success. (You can also check out our 2020 and 2021 versions)
There have been many discussions recently about the exponential growth of TikTok, which is expected to hit 1.5 billion monthly active users by the end of year 2022, and how this love for short-form, video content could make it difficult to attract and retain blog readers.
This isn’t necessarily the case and in fact, blog writers could utilise the huge userbase of platforms like TikTok, to grab the users initial attention and help drive traffic to their blog.
So, what have our top 10 bloggers been up to since the previous years?
Huffpost (previously The Huffington Post before its rebrand), is an American news website that is famous for its big headlines, breaking news stories and opinion pieces from Politics to Entertainment.
As for Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post founder remains active across myriad professional endeavours. Alongside her continuing work as CEO of Thrive Global, Huffington has been appointed co-chair of Brainstorm Health, a nutritional and biohealth clinic specialising in solutions for children with neurodiverse conditions.
HuffPost was acquired by Buzzfeed in 2021. The new parent company quickly restructured HuffPost’s team in response to significant losses at the publication. At the time, a HuffPost union representative was quoted by CNN as saying:
“We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home.
“This is also happening less than a month after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. We never got a fair shot to prove our worth.”
HuffPost continues to post articles on a broad range of topics, including current affairs, showbiz and health, in 2022. It is not clear whether a similar strategy implemented in 2022 would enable a blog to grow to the same extent as HuffPost.
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 was subsequently owned by Verizon Media. The publication was sold to the investment firm Apollo Global Management in 2021.
As of 2022, Engadget is operated under the Yahoo umbrella of publications.
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. Moz has shown how a brand can sell products and services by making blogging a key part of its offering. Rather than bolting a blog onto its site and posting articles there occasionally; this brand has established one of the very best blogs in its industry. Thanks largely to its blogging, Moz has become a destination and focal point for the SEO community.
Moz started as a blog, and the brand remains highly dedicated to blogging, with high-quality content published several times per week. As the Moz website states: “We know SEO. In fact, we wrote the blog on it.”
Perez Hilton is an American blogger, columnist and media personality. He started his blog, perezhilton.com, in February 2005 and has since become one of the most controversial celebrity bloggers of all time, assisting with his rise to fame.
One of the PerezHilton blog’s greatest strengths is its effective use of the celebrities who drive engagement with the blog’s content. Another of this blog’s strengths is its use of tone-of-voice. Look out for a smattering of ‘OMGs’, ‘WTFs’ and an overall tone of scandalised incredulity in PerezHilton’s posts – a perfect fit for gossip-hungry readers.
Returning to the PerezHilton blog in 2022, we noticed that the website now gives a lot of prominence to links and graphics promoting Hilton’s podcast and video content, which suggests an increased focus on audience development across the brand’s multiple media channels. Hilton’s YouTube channel, in particular, remains highly active, with new celebrity gossip ‘Shorts’ published daily.
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.
As we’ve seen with some other leading blogs in recent years, Copyblogger now divides its focus between blogging and podcasting. The brand’s podcast, ‘The Copyblogger Podcast’, moved to a dedicated website in 2022.
Pete Cashmore is the CEO and founder of Mashable, an award-winning website and popular go-to for social media, digital and technology news. Cashmore founded the site when he was 19 and it now has more than 200 million unique visitors per month.
Mashable consistently leads the field in breaking news and ensures that it always publishes up-to-date, relevant content. Cashmore ensured that his story was always head by attending interviews, conferences and talks to help promote his brand, always encouraging engagement and interaction along the way.
Since 2017, Mashable has been owned by digital publisher Ziff Davis. In March 2021, Mashable launched Mashable Home, “a virtual home experience celebrating the tech and connected culture that brings us together”. This struck us as a smart way to build Mashable’s reputation as an expert in consumer electronics – a subject area which ties into some of the brand’s revenue streams, such as affiliate marketing and advertising.
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.
Where this blog really stands out is in the volume of quality content it produces, with dozens of articles routinely published per day.
Interestingly, TechCrunch has added a subscription option, called TechCrunch+, for premium content, with annual membership charged at £80/year. This approach follows a trend towards subscription services which has been prevalent in the digital magazine and newspaper publishing fields in recent years. As Media Voices reports, subscriptions to digital publications grew by 70% between 2018 and 2020 across 50 leading magazine brands – a trend driven in part by increased demand for high-quality digital content during the pandemic.
Along with other top blogs such as Engadget, TechCrunch was sold by previous owner Verizon in 2021. TechCrunch is now owned by Apollo Global Management and operated under the Yahoo media umbrella.
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.
Having previously offered some premium subscription services, Tuts+ made all of its content free for everyone to access in 2022. In an Envato blog post, Tuts+ Manager, Matthew Cox, is quoted as saying: “We have big hopes to expand the reach of our content and help even more people, which is why removing the paywall makes so much sense.”
Tuts+ has clearly prioritised acquiring new audience members, rather than maximising revenue in the short-term. This makes a lot of sense, given increased competition in the online tuition space from relative newcomers such as MasterClass.
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.
Smashing Magazine boasts 3 million monthly pageviews, 2 million monthly unique visitors, and over 196,000 email newsletter subscribers.
Gizmodo is a technology blog that focuses on reviewing new shows and devices to providing news updates on all things tech, however it is highly famous for its honest and funny nature. One particularly strong feature of Gizmodo US is the ‘Giz Ask’ content series, which goes to great lengths to answer science teasers.
Since 2019, Gizmodo has been part of the G/O Media group of publications, along with other popular titles including The Onion, Jezebel and Kotaku.
The state of blogging in 2022: the end of an era?
Reading through our updates to this article for 2022, it feels like we may have reached the end of an era for blogging, at least at the higher end of the revenue spectrum.
Trusted observers such as Forbes – our source for the figures used in this article – have largely ceased publishing annual revenue rankings for the highest-earning blogs, which speaks to the changed role of blogging in the digital content ecosystem.
As we touched upon in the intro, entrepreneurial content creators have branched out into a broader array of media. Blogging often still plays a role – but for many brands, blog articles are now just one of several ways of packaging content, alongside Twitter threads, social audio sessions, mailouts (some of them for paying subscribers only), etc..
Some higher-quality blogs such as TechCrunch are bucking the wider trend, by seeking revenue through new blog subscription services. However, the bigger picture is that blogs now tend to be one of multiple ways to consume a media brand’s “best” content.
The good news for bloggers is that blogging can still play a crucial role in a brand’s content activity; you might just need to think a little harder about how the blog plays into marketing or commercial objectives. In the words of HubSpot content strategist Annabelle Nyst:
“It's more about consistently meeting your audience where they are, in the right moments, engaging with them one-on-one, and establishing trust via community building."
It has always been the case that succeeding at blogging requires a lot of time and effort. The big change we’ve seen leading into 2022 is that it’s now just as important to finetune your blog’s role within a multi-channel strategy. Understanding how your blog interacts with your other channels and revenue streams will likely be crucial to your success in this emerging new era of blogging.