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3 Highly Successful Blogs and How They Got There

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Out of the millions of blogs on the web, only a small group have thousands of loyal followers. Take a look behind the scenes of three successful bloggers as I ask them about their journey and how they got such a dedicated following.

PSFK.com

PSFK is one of the leaders in covering the latest trends in categories that vary from fashion, advertising, luxury, sports, and much more. Piers Fawkes is the founder of PSFK and running it along with the other parts of PSFK.
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When did your site launch?

In 2004 when I moved to New York from London. I thought there was a lack of channels that shared new ideas - so I created my own site.

How many monthly visitors does your blog have?

In the next month or so, we should hit 1m visitors a month. We describe our audience as creative professionals - ad execs, designers, media, entrepreneurs, digital folks. Half of our readers are North American and the rest from around the world.


Did you start the blog on your own?

I started it and quickly a lot of people around the world wanted to contribute too. Today we say PSFK is the go-to source fro new ideas for creative business.

What would you say is the main contributor to your success?

Content is king and we are dedicated to presenting up to 30 new ideas each day. But the business model isn't a simple publishing one - we operate in 3 parts: publishing, events and consulting and working that out is the reason we are doing well today. Ad sales are going to not support a publishing business of our size but it increases awareness so that more people come to our events and a very few hire our research team to help their companies find new ideas based on trends.

It's important for us to move into other services and away from traditional publishing models: we just launched this amazing question and answer service called the PurpleList (www.purplelist.com) which allows people to tap into the knowledge and expertise of our relationshop.

Was there one thing that happened that really sped up your path to success? If so, please elaborate.

Time and focus. Time is very important both in terms of improving the product every day and in terms of how people perceive you. The longer you are about, the more people will trust your brand and come to think of it as a permanent feature on the inspiration landscape.

What would you do differently when launching a blog today compared to when you started?

Right now PSFK.com is at the center of the eco-system where we use social media like Twitter and Facebook to broadcast our message. I wonder if we started today, the site would just be one of a number of social parts that play different roles to share ideas.

What is the biggest failure you experienced on the journey to what you've created?

We lost focus by creating new channels such as an environmental off-shoot. It split up our efforts, it broke up our audience it distracted us. Today, every good ideas gets published on PSFK..com

Coolhunting.com
Cool Hunting gives an inspiring look into a hip creative and stylish world. Come here to find amazing products or artistic projects that are unique and cool. Josh Rubin is the founder of Coolhunting.com and is still running it together with a passionate team.

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When did your site launch?

The site launched in February of 2003.

How many monthly visitors does your blog have?

Over 600,000 people visit Cool Hunting on the web and via RSS, Email and our iPad application.

Did you start the blog on your own?

I designed, built and ran the site on my own for the first two years. In the beginning it was really just a database of inspiring things I came across during my process as a designer. I wanted a place to catalog these things--which mostly fell in to the categories of design, technology and style. I only shared the site with friends and colleagues, never intending for it to be more than a personal reference.

What would you say is the main contributor to your success?

I have a hard time pinning down a single success factor. I certainly had the advantage of timing--there really weren't "design" blogs when I started the site. Factors like word-of-mouth, User Interface, SEO and some great press definitely played a role as well. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the content. We are committed to delivering new, inspiring and creative stories and videos to our audience. If we don't have an exclusive on something, we make sure to bring our own angle to it.

Was there one thing that happened that really sped up your path to success? If so, please elaborate.

In September 2004 Rob Walker wrote an article in his NY Times magazine column, Consumed, about Medium footwear. Generously, he opened the story with an anecdote about me and Cool Hunting. I still consider that my big break!

What would you do differently when launching a blog today compared to when you started?

If I was going to launch another ad-supported website today I wouldn't try to keep it under the radar. Cool Hunting has grown naturally but I think a new site today needs to actively cultivate an audience.

What is the biggest failure you experienced on the journey to what you've created?

To me the biggest failure is the name Cool Hunting. I was inspired by Malcom Gladwell's New Yorker piece on the subject and took the name for my own though I thought of it more to mean "seeking inspiration." Because I wasn't intending to create a commercial publication I didn't think twice about trademarking or longevity of the name. I mean it's a good name and we've done a good job taking ownership of it, but I would have loved to come up with a name that could be truly ours.

Swiss-Miss.com

Swiss Miss is a design blog by Tina Roth Eisenburg filled with innovative, fun, and fascinating designs.

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When did your site launch?

I launched swissmiss in may of 2005 as a personal visual archive. My bookmarks folder, while neatly organized, were overflowing and I couldn't find anything. Typical designer, I am a visual person and don't necessarily remember a name of a product/service but remember it when I see an image of it. Voila, a blog was the perfect platform for my own personal "wikipedia" of things I see and like.

How many monthly visitors does your blog have?

I have 900,000 uniques a month.

Did you start the blog on your own?

Yes. It was always just me maintaining and I think it will stay that way. Whenever personal blogs bring editors in I feel they get watered down and lose their personality and stickiness.

What would you say is the main contributor to your success?

I keep it somewhat personal, light and upbeat. Posts are short, visual and are a perfect coffee-break reading material for the visually inclined. And, I make sure there's plenty of posts in there pat will put a smile on your face. Voila.

Was there one thing that happened that really sped up your path to success? If so, please elaborate.

Being asked to be a part of The Deck Ad Network has changed things around. Making money from my blog (in a subtle, tasteful way) has allowed me to spend more time blogging, and therefore improving the blog, its design and overall quality of content. http://decknetwork.net/

What would you do differently when launching a blog today compared to when you started?

I would host it on my server from the very start, under my own domain. I initially hosted my blog over at typepad under swissmiss.typepad.com. Moving it to my own domain was quite a hassle. Thank god for my amazing developer John Ford.

What is the biggest failure you experienced on the journey to what you've created?

Hmm... can't think of anything. So far, running/maintaining swissmiss has been the most amazing, fullfiling and fun experiment I've ever done. No failures yet.

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