Many people have a love/hate relationship with blogging. For some, the memory of cheesy online journals and personal updates from the early days has tainted the medium forever but blogging in 2020 is quite different to its humble beginning.
What started out as basic online documentation has become a professional communication tool in its own right, with blogs now providing information, education or just simply entertaining readers.
Today, we follow and read blogs for style inspiration, to find new recipes or to source information about a niche topic. Some blogs have even become an alternative to mainstream news outlets, and many innovative businesses have been created from the boom in blogging.
But how did the blog transform from a novelty side project to an almost essential feature on most websites?
Let’s start by taking a look at how it all began.
The first blog
According to online resources, the first blog was created in 1994 by Justin Hall on links.net, although at the time it was referred to as a “personal homepage”. The term “weblog” came into use around 1997, and most of the early blogs were simply logs of internet activity – hence the name. As with most things in life though, the weblog evolved, and more people jumped on board as they explored the internet.
By the end of the 1990s, blogging platforms started to pop up, and just before the year 2000, “weblog” was abbreviated to blog. This was when blogs were mainly online journals, where writers would document their daily lives and users could comment on each other’s posts. Then, in the early 2000s, some bloggers recognised a financial opportunity by hosting advertising on their sites and the monetisation of blogs was born.
In 2003, WordPress – the platform that hosts this website – was launched and mainstream media started to incorporate live blogs into their news reporting, with the Guardian reportedly the first outlet to do so.
Video blogs started to gain in popularity in the mid-2000s, which was further fuelled by the launch of YouTube in 2005. It was also during this time that conventional news reporting and blogging started to merge with websites like Huffington Post and BuzzFeed churning out content, often with a current affairs-angle. As we all know, these websites and platforms are now huge, with YouTube especially going from strength to strength.
Since the first decade of the 2000s, blogging has been a permanent fixture in the online world. It has helped to create a generation of influencers, as well as form the basis of digital marketing campaigns and provide an outlet for creative expression.
Today, a blog is more than just an online journal where people document their thoughts and daily activities – it’s an effective business tool for communicating with an audience and building a brand. In a nutshell, blogging has professionalised, with many blogs now operating as sophisticated websites complete with SEO-friendly content, calls to action and striking photography.
That’s not to say that blogging today is how it will always be. New technology is constantly being developed, and audience demand will change, which means that writers will have to continue to adapt. I think it’s fair to say though that the blog is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.
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