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You Should Study These 9 Beautiful and Strategically Brilliant Blogs (Especially #5)

Do you look at other blog’s in your niche for design, content, and marketing inspiration?


While your peers may have stellar blogs, I believe that using them as a benchmark will cause you to create a slightly different version of their blog.  This is why you often see an entire niche using similar templates, navigation, and editorial strategy.  Bad. Bad. Bad.

Successful blogs deliver content with a fresh approach.  They study their niche, research their audience, and  create an innovative strategy and marketing plan to attract specific types of readers.  But most of all, savvy content marketers look outside their primary niche for inspiration and innovation.

As a content marketer you probably have spent time looking at the usual social media blogging examples but today, let’s examine 9 blogs in other niches that are crushing it.  Open up a blank document to capture the ideas inspired by these blogs.

Let’s get to it.


1: OkDork

Noah Kagan’s blog is a test-bed of excellent blogging tactics.  Noah has leveraged his background as a growth tactician to garner credibility while entertaining his audience with his obsession for tacos.

Pay attention to:

  1. Great Headlines: Every blog post uses modern headline tactics designed to stoke curiosity and grab attention.
  2. Detailed How To Posts: Noah digs deep into each topic offering actionable step-by-step checklists for readers to follow.
  3. Featured Post Layout: Pay attention to how the most recent post is given priority by separating it from the other posts.  This layout shows that you can successfully move beyond the standard content + sidebar look.


2: ConversionXL

Peep Laja is a well respected expert on how to get more online conversions.  He’s known for being incredibly thorough and methodical in his approach.  His blog is a good example of a consultant auditioning their skills for readers through blog posts.

Pay attention to:

  1. Featured Images: Peep picks his images carefully and makes sure they set the mood for his posts.  He’s also increased the size of these images to heighten their impact.
  2. Mixed Content Types: ConversionXL features text, video, and custom illustrations in each post.  Offering different types of content keeps the reader guessing and intrigued about what will come next.
  3. Excellent Call To Action Prompts: This blog has an entry gateway page, an overlay form when the reader attempts to leave the site, and a footer slide-in to catch attention when the reader scrolls.  Peep has covered all his bases. You can use the same type of call-to-action buttons with OptinMonster, Leadpages, or PopupDomination.



Unbounce offers an online services for creating beautiful landing pages.  I’ve watched Unbounce for 2 years and they seem to get better at creating memorable content every week. Unbounce was an early disciple of HubSpot type inbound marketing and uses it’s blog as the hub for their efforts.

Pay attention to:

  1. Content Mix: Unbounce relies on special reports, ebooks, infographics, and online guides to attract new readers and future customers.
  2. Guest Writers: Unbounce uses outside writers to supplement its internal content team.  Many of Unbounce’s best posts were authored by professional writers with deep industry knowledge like Kristi Hines.
  3. Pre-Sell Posts: Each post on Unbounce generates interest in their flagship landing page software.  Unbounce isn’t afraid to promote its services consistently and often.


4: Quicksprout

Neil Patel’s blog Quicksprout, is a juggernaut in the online marketing niche.  I believe the blog’s success can be traced to an excellent search engine optimization strategy. The good news is that Quicksprout generously teaches the techniques they use to keep their blog on top.

Pay attention to:

  1. SEO: Quicksprout has identified the common questions about generating website traffic and built an editorial calendar around answering them.  This blog’s SEO strategy is aggressive AND balanced, delivering great information in search-friendly package.
  2. Focus: Every item on the QuickSprout blog page has a purpose.  For example Neil has chosen to focus on building the blog’s Twitter audience.  Each post displays a single Twitter share icon.  The reader knows exactly what to do to support Quicksprout – click the retweet button!
  3. Post Frequency: Posting more is the sure-fire tactic for getting more blog readers. Quicksprout published 2-3 times a week like clockwork. Each post puts another search-friendly page in the Google index that will attract new readers.


5: GrooveHQ

GrooveHQ is an online customer service company that uses a brilliant strategy to position their blog and attract new readers.

Pay attention to:

  1. Single-Story Focus: The team at Groove looked for a way to make their blog standout from the crowd of startup blogs.  They figured that their audience of entrepreneurs would want to know how they were growing GrooveHQ.  As a result their articles are in-depth recaps of specific strategy and marketing tactics they used to achieve their $100K a month revenue goal.
  2. Home Page Lead Capture: Building an email list for future follow-up is Job #1 for GrooveHQ. The first thing you see when arriving at the blog is an attractive opt-in box with a great offer.  You can’t miss it or ignore it.
  3. Innovative Layout: GrooveHQ has the most beautiful and functional blog index page I’ve ever seen.  They custom designed a graphic timeline that includes blog posts and company milestones melding each into a visual overview.  This brilliant tactic reinforces their blog’s editorial strategy.


6: Danielle Laporte

Danielle is a human potential coach who has brought a fresh approach to the self-improvement category.  She has built a spectacular personal brand and has extended it to her online site in a cohesive and compelling way.  She is my personal standard for best-of-breed branding.

Pay attention to:

  1. Ignoring blog conventions: This blog is far from conventional.  You won’t find staid sidebars, regurgitated social icon graphics, or overused self-help jargon anywhere on the blog.  Storytelling and promotion are packaged together offering a compelling experience.
  2. Excellent tie-in with products: Each product is promoted on gorgeous custom-designed landing pages that reflect Danielle’s brand.  The blog’s design reminds customers that they aren’t buying books and stationary, they are buying tools for exploring their vision and belief.
  3. Short but powerful posts: Danielle is a master of packing a lifetime of wisdom into a 100 word post.  This editorial style keeps her audience clicking through the blog finding new insights and tools to purchase.


7: Marie Forleo

Marie is the poster child for innovative branding, brilliant execution, and Blue Ocean content.  Marie uses WordPress as a platform for content that positions her as the business consigliere for women business owners.   I’m sure I’m not the only Y chromosome devouring her content.

Pay attention to:

  1. Video Blog: Marie posts her popular videos as blog posts.  This approach allows her to create high-quality content and engage with her readers on a platform she owns.
  2. Engagement: Each video post gets 100+ comments making one of the most engaged brands on the web.  Interestingly Marie does not respond to every comment; she jumps into the discussion when she has something new to offer. I’ve preached for a while that responding to every comment isn’t required for high engagement.  It’s nice to see a powerhouse like Marie showing that engagement is built quality and not silly unicorn-union rules.
  3. Branded design: oozes branding.  Marie is a wild-child and loves the camera.  She recognizes that her audience wants to see her in all of her professionally zany glory and makes a point to put her image on every page.  This isn’t vain. It’s smart.

Pop Quiz: In the last 14 years, how many people, other than Oprah, have been on the cover of Oprah’s magazine?  ….Two – Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres.  It’s about YOU.


8: FiftyThree

FiftyThree are the developers of Paper, a popular iPad sketching app, and Pencil an innovative stylus for the iPad.  FiftyThree answers the question “How can a product developer use content marketing?” Let’s take a look.

Pay attention to:

  1. Product as enabler: FiftyThree positions Paper and Pencil as creative enablers.  The blog showcases their customers creations inspiring readers to download Paper and consider purchasing the Pencil Stylus.
  2. Showcase your best benefit: FiftyThree is a visual brand.  They don’t worry about creating 800 word posts, they just grab an awesome example of Paper’s features and publish it on the blog.  They can do this because they have the graphic assets to make it work.
  3. Using Tumblr to focus on creative: Gasp!  Tumblr?  What about WordPress?  FiftyThree knows that Tumblr is the preferred blogging platform for artists.  Using WordPress gives more creative flexibility but they would miss out on Tumblr’s creative-centric audience.  I believe they made a smart choice.


9: Charity Water

It’s great to see an innovative cause-related Charity effectively use content marketing to spread their message and spark a movement.  CharityWater’s blog is unique and compelling tool for telling their story.

Pay attention to:

  1. The Name: Charity’s blog is called the “Water Log.”  Nice. The name incorporates the mission of Charity Water while keeping the subject light and accessible.  I wish more organizations took the extra time to name their blog.
  2. Another example of zero sidebars:  I’ve always been a sidebar cynic.  Looks like I have company.  CharityWater dropped its sidebars to focus reader attention on their blog posts.  This decision simplified the layout and increased the cohesiveness of the entire page.
  3. Site-wide Integration: CharityWater has a full-blown website.  Their blog is just a small component of their larger online presence.  I’m impressed with how they’ve included their site-wide links in a discreet way at the top of the blog.  This is definitely a layout convention worth modeling.

Do you have a 10th?

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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