Lessons learned from online journals
There are lessons to be learned from the first round of online journals, hammered out over time in the private spheres of close friends and associates. Many from that time have moved on to other things, but their legacy remains at the core of blogging's foundations.
Write for an audience of friends.
When you have an audience of a million people, there's no way to anticipate what the best viewpoint to reach them all is; remember that your writing is an expression of your viewpoint, and express it as such. Express your viewpoint as if you were talking to a group of friends: clear, to the point, and perhaps a dash of humor.
Aesthetics speak a thousand words.
The appearance of a site frames the content contained within, setting the tone for the reader. If your color schemes makes it painful to read, they won't. If your paragraphs blend together and your punctuation is rare, they won't. Aesthetics are reflected unconsciously in the mind of the reader, directly affecting their interpretations and feelings.
Passion and eloquence garner respect.
There's nothing more boring than a long-winded essay on a topic that the author can't seem to find inspiration to write about. Keep your words focused, on topics you personally care about; whether they agree or not, your readers will thank you.
Relationships are built on honesty.
Many forget that the Internet isn't a faceless crowd, it's a crowd of invisible faces. Each reader will remember you; perhaps not by words, but they will take away some small thing. Your writing has a direct effect upon anyone who listens, and some will remember you. These days, the world is a very small place; you may find yourself discussing what you've written face-to-face someday.
Links: Dialectic describes how blogging changed her writing. Good stuff. DPS talks about becoming a better writer. A Klog Apart talks about how blogging is about the content, not the presentation. Rands explains several points in favor of weblogs.