Friday, August 10, 2007

Why Blog Genealogy? Why not?

There must have been something in the air this past Wednesday. . . First, I read Ken Spangler's post "Should I Rethink This?" where Ken was basically doubting himself regarding blogging but by the end of his post he had convinced himself to continue. His concern was with the number of posts he's made and the frequency of posting. - - Quality is better than Quantity.

Then I headed on over to Tim Agazio's place and read "
Blogging for Bucks - Genealogy Style" where he discusses some ideas for making money with your blog, gives some lessons he's learned and provides some links to other blogs that might help with that task. - - This is not something that I am choosing to do at this time but I'm not going to hold it against anyone else who goes that route.

Then a stop at Creative Gene where Jasia had posted "
A Dilemma of a Different Sort" where she'd like to do a series of posts of a rather 'delicate' nature relating to genealogy. Her dilemma arises from the fact that after several previous posts of a 'delicate' nature were sent to readers via email they were rejected by the reader's ISPs and then her readership subsequently declined. So, does she post with some degree of self-censorship in place or does she go ahead and post the articles knowing that some readers might be offended or quit reading her blog altogether. - - I left my thoughts in a comment, along with a few other people.

Janice Brown mentioned in a comment on Jasia's post that she had experienced a drop in readership after posting an article about outhouses and included a variety of words necessary to the story. An experience similar to Jasia's that lead to a decline in readership. This prompted her to write a follow-up post titled "
Mentioning the Unmentionable: Naughty Words for Bloggers" where she wonders if filtering software should be of concern to bloggers.

Later in the day, Miriam Midkiff wrote "
What motivates us?" which was in response to the posts by Tim and Jasia. - - A thought provoking post in itself and she asks "Why do you blog your genealogy? Why do you read about others' research?"

There are probably as many reasons for blogging your genealogy as there are genea-bloggers.

When I started this blog nearly seven months ago (January 12th 2007) my focus was to present the genealogy and history of the families that I am researching, and, hopefully, to reach out to others who are interested in the same families. I wasn't sure if anyone else would be interested in what I had to say, but how would I know if I didn't try? My goals haven't changed though I throw in a few posts about websites I've found, a few tips, a few thoughts and participate in the Carnival of Genealogy, but the majority of posts are still about my families.

I thought long and hard before actually starting the blog and had been 'lurking' on other genea-blogs, trying to see what was being done and how the information was being presented. I already had a website but was frustrated by the amount of time it took to put stuff on the site. I learned just enough html and css to make me dangerous. I thought the blog platform was a good way to present the information that I had gathered as well as document new research and that it wouldn't take too much effort! Well, it does take some time and effort, but not nearly the amount required of a 'normal' static website.

Other benefits gained from blogging never crossed my mind at that time:

  1. A sense of community, particularly from participating in the Carnival of Genealogy.
  2. That good feeling that wells up inside when someone leaves a comment saying they enjoyed the post or that it helped them in some way.
  3. Getting helpful tips and ideas from other bloggers.
  4. Search engines seem to index Blog posts much quicker than a normal website, which means your information gets 'out there' faster.
  5. You might be able to make some money from blogging.
  6. It can help you focus on your research. Writing about what you've found forces you to look more closely at the details and you might see things that were previously overlooked.
  7. It might help you get more organized. Now, where is that document I was going to quote?

Is there a downside to blogging?

  1. It can be addictive, much the same way as genealogy. Can you handle more than one addiction?
  2. It may take away some of the time you would be using for research.
  3. I'm sure there are other reasons not to blog, but I can't think of any more right now ;-)

Would I advise someone to start a blog? Sure. In fact I'll be giving a presentation on blogging for the Genealogical Society of Whitley County in January or February. I'm hoping to get a few other researchers to contribute to my other blog Whitley County Kinexxions that I started last February.

If you are thinking of starting a blog or maybe thinking of quitting blogging, you may want to read these recent articles first:
Both are guest-posts at Lorelle on Wordpress. Obviously, I don't use Wordpress, but to say that Lorelle VanFossen has a lot of good tips on blogging is an understatement. I've been reading her Wordpress blog since March and also check in on her Family History and Taking Your Camera on the Road blogs periodically.

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