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Friday, February 22, 2013

Starting a Genealogy Blog

At a class I taught recently on creating a genealogy blog, even though there were mostly experienced computer users in attendance, some of the attendees were unfamiliar with blogs. If you are reading this post, you have probably overcome the first obstacle for starting a genealogy blog; that is, understanding the idea of a blog. A blog is essentially a website that exists on the Internet with its own unique title and address.

Once you understand the nature of a blog, the first step towards starting your own blog should be to read various genealogy blogs and decide on a topic or theme for the new blog. While this might seem pretty simple, this step also involves spending some time thinking through the process of writing and publishing the information. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you really want to spend the time and effort it takes to post your research, your comments or whatever on the Internet. Do you want to share? Do you want to have people contact you about what you write? While there is not set form or schedule for publishing a blog online, we do find a considerable number of blogs that are abandoned after a few postings because the author or authors discover the amount of work necessary to maintain one. Do you enjoy writing? If not, you may find it difficult to keep a blog alive.

Although there are provisions for creating an invitation-only or private blog, making a genealogy blog private defeats most of the reasons for having a blog in the first place. The general idea of starting a genealogy blog, especially one that talks about an individual family line, is to communicate with both known and unknown family members. An invitation-only or private blog or family tree, excludes the people you are most interested in contacting; those you don't presently know.

I might observe that blogs are extremely effective in helping to establish contacts with remote family members. Posts on Facebook and Twitter are both transitory in nature. Blog posts are discoverable by Google searches and can remain online for an indefinite period of time. One of our relatives contacted my daughter about some family photos, three years after she posted the inquiry requesting the photos in her blog.

You may also need to decide where you want your blog to reside. Many bloggers use Google's free Blogger program for hosting and posting a blog because it is relatively simple and free. If you are more technically minded, you might like WordPress.com, a free specialized programming environment for creating and hosting blogs. You can create a blog using simple menus from both Blogger and WordPress. But WordPress.org has capabilities that go well beyond the simple or menu driven selections. You can also rent space on an Internet file server such as GoDaddy.com or BlueHost.com and create your own website. Most people who do not have the programming skills or who do not want to spend the time to create their own website, can do so, using the blogging programs.

Here is a Genealogy Gems video that gives and excellent introduction to blogging:


At the heart of the participation in the blogging world is the motivation to share information. Without this driving force, blogging can become a burden rather than a opportunity.

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