The blogging cycle – back to the beginning

I’ve noticed an interesting shift in blogging. In short, there’s a trend moving away from hyper-focused niche blogs, back to what I’d call “personality” blogs. It makes me think of when I started writing online in 2000, and I like it.

Twelve years ago, I first read the word “weblog” on Splorp. I had no idea what it meant, but I liked the site’s chronological listing of updates and the personal voice. After reading for a few weeks, I realized the site’s proprietor, Grant Hutchinson, and I liked some of the same things: photography, vintage Apple hardware/software and design.

I read Splorp often because Grant and I had those shared interests. In fact, the site inspired me to start a blog of my own, which I built and updated by hand using Adobe GoLive. It was fun but a lot of work.

As blogs matured, people realized they could earn money with focus. A niche blog attracts an engaged audience. Don’t blog about cars, blog about blue coupes made in Detroit between 1960 and 1965 [1. Forgive my ignorance of the automotive industry.].

The niche blog thrived and soon the blogosphere was full of hyper-focused sites that explored a single topic, all day, every day. And it was cool, especially for fans of Detroit coupes.

Today I see the “personality” blog returning. Consider Daring Fireball, The Loop, Shawn and 512 Pixels, to name a few. You could argue that each is a “tech site,” but that’s not the whole truth. Daring Fireball is John’s voice, personality and interests. He’s as likely to write about the New York Yankees as he is the new iPad. The Loop reflects the interests of Jim, Peter, Shawn and the the other contributors. The same is true of Stephen and Shawn Blanc.

The niche blog will never be replaced, of course. I’ll always check my beloved Van Halen News Desk, Swiss Miss and so on. But I also “follow people,” as Jim says, and it’s a lot of fun. In other words, I’ve been at this for a long time and I’ve seen the definition “pro blog” change. It’s interesting to watch the pattern, and I’m glad personality blogs are swinging back into popularity.