America Online Inc. on Thursday opened its AOL Journals blog-publishing service to members of AOL Instant Messenger members, letting them create and manage blogs using their AIM screen names.
By tying AOL Journals to AIM, AOL is expanding the blogging service to its 36 million active IM users. AOL Journals previously was only available to AOL subscribers.
AIM users also can submit posts to their AOL Journals blogs through IM. When they are logged in to the screen name associated with a blog, they can send a message to AOL Journals in order to have it published, AOL officials said.
"The blogging phenomenon grows stronger each day and has especially taken hold among our community of members," said Bill Schreiner, AOLs vice president of community, in a statement.
"By extending AOL Journals to the AIM service, now more Internet users can easily enter the blogosphere."
Since AOL Journals launched in 2003, users have created more than a half million blogs on the service, an AOL spokesperson said.
The expansion of AOL Journals follows AOLs launch in March of a blogging service for teenagers.
All the major Internet companies are pursuing blog-publishing strategies.
Microsoft Corp.s MSN division last month moved its hosted blog service, MSN Spaces, out of beta after drawing 4.5 million blogs in four months.
Yahoo Inc. in March began a limited test of a service called Yahoo 360, which combines blogging with social networking features.
Meanwhile, Google Inc. owns Blogger, one of the first and best-known blog services.
AOL Journals is available for free to AIM users.
Among its other features, the blog service supports the syndication of blogs using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) 2.0, lets AIM and AOL members post comments on blogs, and integrates with the AOL Youve Got Pictures service for posting digital images.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about the number of blogs created using AOL Journals.