But the biggest change has to be the advent of the blog.
"Blog" is short for 'web log'. Blogs started off as a way for people to create an online diary. Bloggers would simply log on, tap out a paragraph or two giving their thoughts on life and the universe (and everything in between); click 'publish' and that was that. His or her words were live on the Internet for anyone to see. The big appeal of a blog was that it was interactive: readers were welcome to add a comment on any post, with a link back to their own blog or website.
Gradually, bloggers started to want more. They wanted easy ways to upload photos, and extra pages on the site - just like a 'real' website. They wanted a range of themes, to better express their personality or business.
Programmers everywhere came to the party, particularly with WordPress, a well-known open source blog creation software. Now, if you want a website/blog, it's possible to:
- Sign up with a web host with CPanel for a low monthly fee.
- Install WordPress with just a few clicks of the mouse, using Fantastico on your website's CPanel.
- Either use one of the pre-installed themes, or browse the various themes available at WordPress (and on many other sites) to choose one that suits your personality or business.
- Upload the theme you want to the wp_content folder, using a simple FTP program (such as WS_FTP or Cute FTP).
- Start posting your articles or comments.
- Add extra pages to your site (if you want to).
Now that you can add separate pages to blogs - just as you can with a standard website - many people are turning to them as their preferred way of building a website. By using various plugins, it's possible to do pretty well anything you want.
=== What Are "Plugins"? ===
Plugins are extra features available for your blog to make your life easier. You can get plugins, for example, that will:
- Help you to block spam.
- Make it easy to upload and sort your photos.
- Ping the search engines so they know when you've added new content.
- Insert Adsense blocks so you can earn money from your blog.
There are quite a number of plugins available now - take some time to find out what they will do.
=== Help With Using Wordpress ===
While Wordpress is not the only blog software available, it is an excellent choice because:
- it's free;
- it's relatively easy to use
- it's open-source, and therefore has a lot of people working on it constantly to make it better, and
- there are quite a few 'how to' sites on the Internet showing you how to make the most of your Wordpress blog.
One of them is Guido Stiehle ("The Jungle Marketer") who offers an excellent free tutorial (with video tutorials) that will show you, step by step, how to set up and use your blog. You can find other providers by simply typing 'how to use Wordpress' into a search engine.
Spend an hour or two browsing, and you'll see why a blog is a very viable option for establishing your presence on the Internet.