Today, writing a homework assignment on my blog feels a bit like living in the future. I remember when “web logs” were new. Few people wrote them, most were highly personal, and there weren’t many popular ones. Some of the top blogs from my preteen days were on Xanga and LiveJournal. Like MySpace, these blogs are hardly relevant anymore. (See blog timeline at bottom of post.) Now, Some of the most popular free blogging platforms are WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad.
As our technology skills have improved, blogging has boomed. The days of online diaries are, for the most part, behind us. Now, many businesses operate from a blog platform. For some, blogging is highly lucrative. One of the most publicly known commercial blogs is The Sartorialist, a high-end fashion blog run by Scott Schuman. With enormous amounts of website traffic and high-paying advertisers, he made over $1 million annually from blogging. His blog no longer features banner advertisements, but his web presence has earned him a “six-figure book deal with Penguin, and a booming photography business.” (Read more from Fast Company.) He also boasts over 100,000 unique site visitors per day.
If you want to be successful in the modern world, it’s essential to have a great web presence. Many creative jobs and marketing positions are now filled online. The job hiring process often means scoping out LinkedIn profiles and digging up personal information on Google. If a young professional has a blog or website for recruiters to land on, it shows initiative, the ability to influence, and a personal voice.
It takes both marketing skills and tech-savvy to run a successful blog. To run a for-profit one, it takes a bit of luck and a lot of ingenuity. Exceptional blogs can even be be sold as a business. For the rest of us, bloggers make money through advertisements and partnerships. This ranking of top earning blogs shows the main source of income through advertising:
For reference, a comprehensive timeline of the history of blogging:
Swarthmore student Justin Hall creates first blog ever, Links.net.
Online diarist Jorn Barger coins the term “Weblog” for “logging the Web.”
Programmer Peter Merholz shortens “Weblog” to “blog.”
Blogger rolls out the first popular, free blog-creation service.
Boing Boing is born.
Heather Armstrong is fired for discussing her job on her blog, Dooce. “Dooced” becomes a verb: “Fired for blogging.”
Nick Denton launches Gizmodo, the first in what will become a blog empire. Blogads launches, the first broker of blog advertising.
Talking Points Memo highlights Trent Lott’s racially charged comments; thirteen days later, Lott resigns from his post as Senate majority leader.
Gawker launches, igniting the gossip-blog boom.
“Salam Pax,” an anonymous Iraqi blogger, gains worldwide audience during the Iraq war.
Google launches AdSense, matching ads to blog content.
The first avalanche of ads on political blogs.
Jason Calacanis founds Weblogs, Inc., which eventually grows into a portfolio of 85 blogs.
Denton launches Wonkette.
Calacanis poaches Gizmodo writer Peter Rojas from Denton. Denton proclaims himself “royally shafted” on his personal blog.
Merriam-Webster declares “blog” the “Word of the Year.
Study finds that 32 million Americans read blogs.
The Huffington Post launches.
Calacanis sells his blogs to AOL for $25 million.
An estimated $100 million worth of blog ads are sold this year.
Time leases Andrew Sullivan’s blog, adding it to its Website.
The Huffington Post surges to become fourth most-linked-to blog.
(Timeline via New York Magazine)