A Sampling of Niche Blogs
Setting up a new blog is simple and free if you use public platforms like Blogger or Wordpress or Twitter. A few years after ordinary people discovered the joys of blogging, experienced bloggers are branching out into multiple blogs. This led to the rise of niche blogs, blogs devoted to a very narrow subject. The internet audience is so big that even the most obscure topic can gain an audience if it has two things: a good idea and enough material for regular updates. Since readers are often glad to contribute material, sometimes a good idea is enough.
Hotel Bed Jumping is one of the earliest niche blogs I noticed. We don't know how many people would have never jumped on a hotel bed if there weren't a blog showing other people doing it. The blog is a section of a commercial hotel reservations site, so the first thing I wondered was how happy the hotel owners had to be that this activity was being encouraged. Still, it looks like a lot of fun!
Many photo blogs depend on reader submissions, such as the super-successful I Can Has Cheezburger and its various offshoots. Animals with Light Sabers (pictured) takes the idea a step further and combines cuteness with science fiction. Photoshop makes it easy to add a light saber to any photograph, so everyone can participate. Presidents on Roller Skates is an entire blog dedicated to Photoshopped images putting US leaders past and present on wheels. Only about half the presidents were posted before updates stopped. Maybe the webmaster was counting on reader submissions that never came.
Skull-A-Day (pictured) started out as an art project as artist Noah Scalin produced a skull every day for a year. Then he opened up the blog to submissions and is still posting a skull of one kind or another every day. Bad Spock Drawings began as a collaborative project involving artists from all over. All it took was an invitation for people to send in their versions of Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. American Gothic Parodies is a look at the influence Grant Wood's 1930 painting has on popular culture. The posts are scans of a collection the webmaster's grandmother kept.
The Big Beautiful Wonder Woman Blog brings artists together to show the Amazon princess as a plus-sized woman. The illustration pictured is by Mike Manley.
Science writer Carl Zimmer once wondered what kind of tattoos scientists selected for their own bodies. He received so many photographs in response that he started a new blog called Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium just for those pictures! The collection is now housed at a special section of Zimmer's current blog at Discover Magazine. A still more focused tattoo blog, Owl Tattoos (pictured) features nothing but tattoos of owls. Who knew there were so many owl tattoos? The owl pictured is the work of tattoo artist Gina Casaleggio.
Cute Overload became an internet sensation by posting cute (mostly baby) animals. A host of cute blogs followed suit, but the more successful put their own twist on the idea. The Daily Puppy caters to dog lovers, and The Daily Kitten to cat lovers. Pandafix is full of pandas, and only pandas. ZooBorns (pictured) reports on animals born at zoos and sanctuaries all over the world. Ugly Overload gives not-so-cute animals their own special place in the blogosphere. If your idea of cute is a fictional character, there's House of Kitty Blog dedicated to Hello Kitty, and it's opposite, Hello Kitty Hell.
As a subcategory of the many cat blogs on the internet, an entire list could be made of niche blogs about cats. Cats Jumping (pictured) has nothing but pictures of airborne cats. Cat Ladders details the global architectural phenomenon of access ladders people install to make it easy for upper-story cats to come and go.
Established blogger Shaun Usher began Letters of Note to showcase historical correspondence and give us a glimpse of what life was like in the days of serious snail mail. When possible, both scans of the original letter and the retyped text are posted. Taking this idea even further into niche blogging, Bank Notes (pictured) is a blog of notes passed to bank tellers during robberies. In most cases, a scan of the original note is not available, but each post includes the text of the note, sparse details of the robbery, and security camera screen grabs and/or mug shots when available.
People of WalMart posts pictures of people seen at WalMart, usually taken with a cell phone to preserve their fashion choices. It inspired the creation of another blog, People of Public Transit which does the same thing to folks riding in city buses and trains. Find He-Man (pictured) fills a very small niche as it chronicles one person, an unnamed local character in New York City who stands out from the crowd (and who was featured in a previous mental_floss list).
Glum Councillors takes advantage of a trick newspapers use to illustrate a story in which there are no obvious illustrations. When a local problem becomes political, just take a picture of the politicians who are wrestling with the issue. They will look unhappy as they pose near something, anything that has to do with the matter at hand. A road with potholes is a common setting. A star in the "pictures of people" niche blog genre is Goths in Hot Weather (pictured). The creator wondered how those who wore black clothing, combat boots, and thick makeup fared in hot weather, and so began to post pictures dealing with only that subject. Pictures are rated for both gothiness and sweatiness.
Other very focused blogs include Sweet Candy Corn, which is, yes, about the seasonal candy, Clearly Closed (pictured) which has pictures of stores with the "open" sign showing, even though the store is clearly closed, and This Peanut Looks Like A Duck, featuring things that look like a duck (not limited to peanuts).
Are highly focused niche blogs worth the trouble? Just ask Justin Halpern. Last summer he moved in with his parents and in August he began posting interesting things his 73-year-old father Sam said on his Twitter account under the name Shit My Dad Says. In three months, he has gathered over 759,000 followers! Here is a profanity-free example of his Tweets:
"You worry too much. Eat some bacon... What? No, I got no idea if it'll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon."
After only a month of Tweeting, Halpern was juggling book offers. Sam is so entertaining that CBS is developing a TV series. Yes, a TV series based on a Twitter feed.
Of course, there are more niche blogs than will fit in any one post. If you have a favorite that I haven't mentioned, please let everyone know in the comments!