Back in 1998, I had a blog called Cafecrowd. Back then we didn’t have the fancy blog publishing platforms like we do today. I had to create HTML templates and cut and paste into HTML by hand. Each day I would get content from various means delivered by email and I would mark it up.
There was no community systems, no social networks, no twitter, digg or anything else. What I had to do was build email lists using list aggregators. This is where I would find people who would opt into my site, then I would put that person into an email bank and then I would get an email address back for the benefit.
This was a great way of building a list up if you could keep people on your mailing list. We managed to get it to 3000 odd people by early 2000, sending an email a day to them with the content of our “blog”. However the difficulty was monetizing your blog to justify such an effort. Today we have many ways to monetize, and I laugh at what we were doing 10 years ago with such basic tools.
However what we did learn was the power of email to build your online presence.
Darren Rowse has a good discussion here: