Today, blogging is a familiar term and a popular practice. In fact, as of 2014, there were more than 76.5 million blogs on WordPress alone. It’s safe to say that there are millions more on other publishing platforms.
There are countless personal blogs, tech blogs, music blogs, business blogs and so on. Blogging has even become recognized as a valuable part of the online marketing process — specifically inbound marketing.
With its growing popularity and the increase in its uses, it can be easy to focus on where blogging is going. But what about where it’s been, so to speak? Its history is actually pretty interesting, though. So...how did it all begin? Who started it? And how did it become what it is today?
It all began in 1994 with what was then known as a “personal homepage.” Most agree that Justin Hall was the first to create such a page. In 2004, Justin was even named “the founding father of personal bloggers” by the NY Times.
Back to 1994, though. His site went by the name links.net and was a collection of HTML examples from online links. Yes, it was very different from what we know as blogs today.
Fun fact: It might surprise you that links.net is still in existence. Justin still posts there to this day.
In February 1995, Jorn Barger created Robot Wisdom, a personal web page. He generally updated the site daily. He wrote about artificial intelligence and other subjects of interest to him. A couple of years later, the “weblog” officially came into existence. Jorn Barger coined the terms to describe the “logs” of his internet activity.
The “weblog” finally had an internet niche carved out and it gained a little more traction. In 1998, a game-changing blogging platform called Open Diary launched. What was so special about it? It was the first membership site of its kind that allowed users to comment on the work of other bloggers.
In 1999, Peter Merholz decided to change the name of the game. Literally. He decided to pronounce the word “weblog” as, simply, “blog.” Needless to say, it caught on.
In the same year, several other blogging platforms came onto the scene. These included LiveJournal, Xanga and Blogger. Blogger is one of the most popular platforms to this day.
In May of 1999, Adam Kontras started an online video blog, also called a “vlog”. He is widely regarded as the first to do this. While this technically began in 1999, Adam considered the “true start of ‘The Journey’” to be in January of 2000. You could say that Adam set the stage for the "vlogging" giant that we know today as Youtube. More on that later.
With more and more blogs being created, it was time to compile them into an index. Why sift through heaps of unrelated results? A search engine for blogs would make them much easier to find on the web. In 2002, Technorati was born. It was the very first search engine or index designed just for blogs.
Several search engines — including the Blogspot search engine — have since followed in Technorati’s footsteps.
At this point, there’s a niche for blogging, blogs and vlogs, publishing platforms and a search engine. What next? A way to monetize blogs. June 2003 saw the launch of Google Adsense. This allowed bloggers to earn money by pairing relevant ads with their posts.
This was a major development that turned blogging from just a hobby into a way to make a living. It’s no wonder, then, that blogging grew even more popular in the years after this.
In the same year, more platform options became available. TypePad was launched and so was WordPress, which now powers more than 26% of the Web.
Fast forward a couple of years now. In February, Youtube appeared as an online video sharing service. This solved a growing problem. There were increasing ways to record videos but very few ways to share them.
Google acquired Youtube in 2006 and it steadily grew from then on. It’s now the number one platform for video, the third most visited site in the world and the second largest search engine in existence.
The beginning of 2006 saw the birth of a new kind of blogging when Twitter burst onto the scene. This became known as microblogging since Twitter only allows 140 characters or less. Other platforms have since been created for microblogging as well. Tumblr, which came along in 2007, is one example of this.
Anyhow, Twitter and other similar platforms that followed had a strong focus on sharing stories, news and other content.
By 2010, Technorati reported that there were more than 8 million blogs online. Also, 11% of bloggers were earning their primary income by means of blogging. It had been a long road over 16 years. But still, those stats are quite impressive.
Blogging evolved even further with the launch of Medium in mid-2012. It mixed the worlds and practices of blogging and news reporting.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, the publishing platform was founded by the co-founder of Twitter. As already stated, Twitter pioneered microblogging with an emphasis on sharing news and current stories.
Also in 2012, the professional networking platform LinkedIn launched its Influencer program. A select group of thought leaders began publishing posts relevant to their respective industries. Later on, in 2014, LinkedIn extended publishing privileges to everyone on the platform.
And Here We Are...
That brings us right up to 2016 — 22 years from the start. Countless millions of folks blog and microblog just for the fun of it. They mostly use platforms like Youtube, Tumblr and Twitter. Yet, news giants also use those same platforms (and others like LinkedIn) for reporting. Not to mention that more businesses are recognizing the benefits of having a blog in addition to their websites.
The fact is that blogging becomes more relevant and more common by the year. That’s especially the case since independent contracting and telecommuting are on the rise. It’s an excellent option for:
- Those who wish to work from any location with an internet connection
- Bloggers who like to work with several different clients
- Those who'd like to monetize their own personal blogs
It’s been a long road with many small but significant developments along the way. Who knows what developments will be next, what new trends will take hold, what other creative uses will come to light?