Most people think about blogging as a mean of personal expression, a tool that lets them share feelings and opinions with those around. But blogging can be more than a hobby or a medium of expression. People from around the world realized that they can make real money with their blogs and some have even used their blogs to become rich.

No matter if they talk about cars, the latest gadgets, sizzling hot gossip, or even how to make money online, successful bloggers have one thing in common: commitment and a passion for success. The best bloggers work hard to stay up to date with the latest trends in their areas of interest and know how to monetize their passion. From affiliation schemes and banner advertising to pay-per-click campaigns, today’s most popular blogs make big money for their owners.

Let’s make a quick review of the most successful and highest earning bloggers in 2011.

1. Pete Cashmore

Blog: Mashable
Topic: Social Media News, Technology
Monthly income: $560,000 – $600,000

At 25, Pete Cashmore is one of the youngest top bloggers and, at the same time one of the youngest Internet entrepreneurs. His performance is nothing less than astonishing – at 19, he founded Mashable, the hugely successful blog dedicated to social media and tech. Mashable is a top 10 Technorati blog and a go-to destination for anything related to the hottest topic in tech today – social media. Cashmore earns his income from an assortment of display ads and pay-per-click links, which together with other activities bring him almost $600,000 per month.

2. Michael Arrington

Blog: TechCrunch
Topic: Tech, Startups
Monthly Income: $500,000 – $800,000

Mike Arrington is a hugely influential figure in the tech world and is regarded as a prophet in Silicon Valley, the area where most hot startups originate. Arrington founded TechCrunch, his startup-oriented tech blog back in 2005, and turned into the premiere source for tech news. Today, TechCrunch is a network of related blogs, which together garnish an estimated $500,000 to $800,000. The network was bought by the Internet giant AOL in late 2010, but Arrington holds a tight control over TechCrunch, which has a special status inside AOL and complete editorial independence. Besides blogging, Arrington is a venture capitalist, with investment in various startups.

3. Mario Lavandeira, a.k.a Perez Hilton

Blog: Perez Hilton
Topic: Celebrities
Monthly Income: $200,000 – $400,000

Mario Lavandeira, better known under his pseudonym Perez Hilton, is one of the most colorful figures in our top of richest bloggers in 2011. His blog covers celebrities, from Hollywood stars to singers and athletes, offering the juiciest gossips and frequent exclusive features. Some call Perez Hilton the most hated site at Hollywood for the way it exposes some of the best kept secrets of the stars. It’s not entirely clear how much money Perez actually makes, with estimates ranging widely from $200,000 to $400,000.

4. Vitaly Friedman

Blog: Smashing Magazine
Topic: Web Design, Web Development
Monthly Income: $150,000 – $190,000

Smashing Magazine is the Net’s leading web design and web development blog, offering high-quality tutorials, tips, and other resources. The blog was founded in 2006 by Vitaly Friedman and Sven Lennartz and is based in Germany. Smashing Magazine is one of the best destinations for everything related to web development and design, and attracts millions of visitors every month. Friedman earns his money from banner advertising, from the publishing of the Smashing Book, as well as from other sources. The Smashing Network, created in 2009, brings together some of the best blogs about web publishing in one accessible place.

5. Timothy Sykes

Blog: Timothy Sykes
Topic: Investments, Financial
Monthly Income: $150,000 – $180,000

Timothy Sikes is a special case on our list, as he makes a lot of money from his offline business, which is penny stock investment. Sykes is one of the most successful traders in the recent years, placing on the top of various investor rankings. He specializes in penny stock investments and short selling, which brought him a lot of attention, both negative and positive. On his blog, Sykes offers investment advices, reports the evolution of his investments, and offers insightful analyses. He runs a stock investment alert and sells various products such as training DVDs. It’s estimated that his blog earns him more than $150,000 every month.

6. Jake Dobkin

Blog: Gothamist
Topic: Urban Lifestyle
Monthly Income: $80,000 – $110,000

Jake Dobkin is the founder of the city-centric lifestyle portal Gothamist. Initially focusing on New York, the Gothamist network extended with websites dedicated to other major metropolises, from London to Shanghai. The Gothamist covers city life, from restaurants and bars to movie premieres, sport events and the latest gossips. The hefty revenue obtained by Dobkin’s properties is explainable when you consider their public – urban, educated public, based in major cities. The Gothamist has earned a number of prestigious awards, including Forbes Favorite and Wired Rave Award.

7. Collis Taeed

Blog: TutsPlus
Topic: Tutorials
Monthly Income: $55,000 – $120,000

Collis Taeed made his fortune helping people master software applications, with a focus on design tools such as Adobe Photoshop. His blog, TutsPlus offers tutorials, advices, tips, and resources on the most popular software, including graphic design, music production, video editing and more. Taeed has grown TutsPlus in a tutorial empire, which comprises specialized websites, as well as freelance-oriented blogs. According to various estimates, Taeed earns revenue from banner advertising and the membership fees for his various online properties.

8. Gina Trapani

Blog: Lifehacker
Topic: Personal Improvement
Monthly Income: circa $110,000

Gina Trapani is one of the few female bloggers that reached the tops, but she did it in a spectacular way. She co-founded Lifehacker, the wildly popular personal improvement blog, which she edited until 2009. Currently part of the Gawker blog empire, together with Gizmodo and other highly visible properties, Lifehacker is one of the best sources of tips and ideas that help readers improve their lives. Gina Trapani still writes regularly on Lifehacker, but also has gigs on other websites such as Fast Company and in the prestigious Harvard Business Online.

9. Matt Marshall

Blog: Venture Beat
Topic: Technology, Investments
Monthly Income: $50,000 – $100,000

Matt Marshall is one of the most respected journalists on our list, having a long and prestigious career in journalism before entering the blogging world. Founded in 2006, his Venture Beat blog covers the technology world with an emphasis on resources for entrepreneurs. Venture Beat has developed in a network of specialized websites, which cover specific areas of the tech world, such as green tech or social media. Marshall serves as the Editor-in-chief of the blog, which is estimated to be making between $50,000 and $100,000 every month.

10. Ewdison Then

Blog: Slash Gear
Topics: Gadgets, Tech
Income: $60,000 – $80,000

Ewdison Then founded Slash Gear in late 2005, to offer the public the latest news on his passion – gadgets and technology. The blog is currently ranked fourth in Technorati’s technology top and has millions of monthly visits. With a combination of banner advertising, pay-per-click, and affiliation schemes, Then earns more than $60,000 every month, which allows him to close our list of richest bloggers in 2011.