Since the first blog post appeared in 1994, blogging has become an important and influential part of the online landscape. From its start as an online diary to becoming an indispensable part of any communication strategy, a blog exists to share information or start a discussion around common interests or passions. It is a platform that has grown in influence, and taken on a commercial role. With cross-platform publication, sponsorship, and endorsement, these days a blog is for not only individuals, but small business, companies, brands, associations, think tanks, media outlets, and much more.
When Justin Hall started what has become known as the world’s first blog, it wasn’t even called a blog. He was just writing about his life on a website – lots of text and links. The term ‘weblog’ wasn’t coined until 1997. A lot has happened since then.
Where did blogging start?
People have been journaling or keeping a diary for centuries. They are often a deeply personal account of life, purely from the writer’s perspective. Journals are written to keep a record of events and experiences and to help in working through personal issues. But without an audience.
In 1994 a college student, Justin Hall, started Justin’s Links from the Underground. He shared snippets from his life with an unknown audience, and it was his way of documenting his daily activities. It is widely believed to be the first weblog or blog and was the first of many online diaries and journals. It started as a way of sharing information and with time, it became a more personal account of his life. Each journal entry was a webpage. Unlike the visuals, infographics, embedded video clips we know today, early blogs were text-based and existed to share the writers’ personal interests or details of their lives.
A brief history of blogs
The timeline of the evolution of blogging features a few key dates when technology took a big step forward. Essentially, as more blogging tools and platforms were developed, blogging became more mainstream. Initially, bloggers created their web pages in HTML which limited blogging to only those who could code or program. With the launch of blog hosting platforms, access opened up significantly. Here is a quick look at the arrival of these platforms and their launch dates:
1998 Open Diary
1999 Blogger (later acquired by Google) and LiveJournal
2003 WordPress and TypePad
These platforms and other blog hosting services democratized the practice of blogging by making it accessible and user-friendly. Knowing how to code HTML was no longer a requirement to blog. The subject areas also broadened, with Huffington Post and Buzzfeed introducing politics and news into the blogosphere.
Benefits of blogging – now and then
Just like the first bloggers, individuals are still writing online diaries and sharing their interests, convictions, and daily activities with the blogosphere. Blogging gives the blogger a way of sharing their opinions and these days, participating in a community of like-minded people online. It creates communities and a strong connection is built between the blogger and his/her audience. In the comments section, there is interaction and exchange.
However, as blogs became more popular, blogging evolved and expanded to become an important marketing tool used by both businesses and influencer bloggers. Blogging now plays a key role in building corporate brands and promoting products and services. It allows companies to have a more human relationship with their consumers.
There are now many resources available around how to write a blog and produce engaging content. There are training courses on how to start a blog, make it interesting, and maintain it. Advice is available on topics such as how regularly to post and how to make money blogging.
Over time, bloggers have also become more digitally savvy and even blogs on niche subjects can be monetized. This enables bloggers to be paid for their passion. The content is authentic, and that appeals to the audience but also attracts sponsors who want to be associated with a blogger known for their true passion.
Why is blogging still so popular – for bloggers and readers?
The popularity of blogs continues to grow. Whether readers are seeking general advice and information or they follow a particular individual and their content, it is safe to say that blogs are an important part of the digital landscape. The desire to belong to a community is also key. It fulfils this need for both blogger and reader.
What’s next for blogging?
In 2021, blogging is still relevant, and it continues to evolve. Some of the most popular subject areas are food blogs, parenting blogs, travel blogs, financial blogs, political blogs, news blogs, pet blogs.
These days, blogs have become much more visual, and the content is sometimes even repurposed from a podcast, such as an interview transcript. Videos are often embedded, and you will notice the use of infographics and GIFs. Additionally, the focus has shifted from blogging solely around personal experiences and interests. Blogs can feature anything from human resources topics to compliance and architecture. It is no longer just puppy dogs and personal accounts of travel adventures. The sheer number of internet users has meant that if content is engaging and appealing, it will find an audience.
Since the beginning, a blog post has been a way of sharing a passion or providing a platform to discuss, vent, or educate via an online diary. Blogging is a mode of communication open to all, regardless of gender, social status, color, or religion. Blogging tools continue to evolve, making blogs more mainstream and accessible to even the least tech-minded individuals. Readers turn to the blogosphere for advice, opinion, entertainment, distraction, information, news, free expression, discussion, and increasingly, revenue. Blogging has become an enormous interconnected online community of writers and readers, creating an influential communication tool for both individuals and businesses.
With 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. alone, this popular form of expression is clearly only getting bigger.