Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ten Unexpected Benefits of Genealogy Blogging (what are you waiting for?)

On the 10th of every month I write a "Top Ten" list.  In no particular order, here are some benefits I have found through genealogy blogging:

My distant cousin and I at the Oahu Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii
decorating the graves of our relatives and ancestors with leis of flowers. 

1.  Cousin connections -  This is probably the first thing people think of when they start a blog (so perhaps it is not “unexpected?). I know that I was hoping to meet up with readers who shared some of my colonial ancestors so we could share research notes.  I was thrilled to find readers who actually were second or third or fourth cousins who remembered meeting my grandparents or great-grandparents or cousins.  You will meet cousins near and distant, and it will be more fun than you imagined.  

2.  Improve your research skills- Organizing a blog post, even a short post of two or three paragraphs, forces me to re-look at all my research.  Before I post something online I always double check all my dates and sources.  My writing skills have improved, too, as I try to work out the documents and write them up in a chronological story line that makes sense.  Writing was not always easy for me, but that has changed over the last six years of blogging and it has become something fun I look forward to every day.

3.  Write the “Great American Novel” (a little at a time) -  For over thirty years I collected documents, dates, facts, names, photos and ephemera on my ancestors.  One day I looked at the great piles of “stuff” and the full hard drive of data I had collected.  It was time to do something with all that “stuff”.  But, the idea of writing it all up in a book was overwhelming.  Through blogging I can write up one little story at a time, whenever I want, with no real deadlines or schedule.  Perfect! Blogging is much more fun than writing a huge tome.

The 1780 Last Will and Testament of
Jabez Treadwell, Ipswich, Massachusetts

4. People will start to send you stuff – Yes, I’ve been re-united with some precious artifacts and documents from my ancestors.  Out of the blue several readers and Googlers have matched up the ancestors and relatives in my blog with items they have found in their attics or in antique shops.  I was sent a will from the 1780’s signed by my 5th great grandfather http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2009/10/jabez-treadwells-will.html  and I was also sent an account book written by another 5th great grandfather http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2009/08/mystery-of-jonathan-batchelder.html    You never know what will happen once you put your ancestor’s names out where they can be traced by search engines like Google and Yahoo.  Hopefully this fun experience will happen for you, too!

5.  Crowd source your research -  Once your blog is live on the internet, other researchers will find you and the surnames you write about online.  Many of these folks have access to libraries and archives near them that you have only dreamed about visiting.  I’ve had folks from Hawaii, Australia, England, Scotland, Spain and The Netherlands all share information and documents with me, and I’ve also shared some of my local New England and New Hampshire research with folks all over the globe, including several very happy Australians.  I saved them a big expense in airfare for a genea-jaunt to Boston, and I’ve found cousins all over the world while doing this! Not only is this valuable and productive, but fun, too.

The Frank Roberts Family, 1960s
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Cousins to my grandmother who
immigrated to the USA in 1915

6.  Unexpected photos of your ancestors may appear in your inbox -  Yippee!  This is so exciting and fun!  The first time I received scanned images of my ancestors and relatives from someone else’s attic I was jumping for joy.  These are photos you will probably never find online or in an archive.  Fingers crossed this happens for you, too!

7.  Journal your genealogy research journey-  If you are new to genealogy, or if you have been doing research for 40 years like me, there is always something new to write about.  Over the years I have visited new archives, toured “new to me” historic properties and places, found new things online, changed how I stored information, and changed how I shared information.  When I look back on my earlier blog posts (from over six years ago) I can see how I have grown and changed as a researcher and writer.  It’s fun to look back, and to imagine what it will be like going forward for the next few years!  

8.  Smash those brick wall genealogy problems -  I can’t even begin to list how many brick wall genealogy problems I have solved via my blogging.  Sometimes someone will comment with a good hint.  Sometimes someone will comment with the solution! Sometimes the answer comes from inside me as I organize my thoughts to write up a post and I see that the solution was there all along.  Those can be very fun blog posts to look back on.

9.  Share with your close and extended family in an easy format -  I started my blog knowing that my Mom was reading along and learning about the family tree.  For months I thought she and Vincent were my only followers, but the blog statistics proved I was wrong.   My sister, cousins and even my in-laws and cousins-in-law in Spain all read along, and give me ideas for blog posts.  Now I don’t have to send out individual emails and scanned images anymore, I just tag the blog posts on Facebook or send out the blog post URLs via email.  Fun for them, and simple for me.

New England Geneabloggers

10. Meet a great bunch of people, virtually and in person. – One of the first people to ever comment on my blog was Bill West from the West In New England blog, and he was commented about a cousin connection.  It wasn’t long before I met Bill in person. At local meetings of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, the NERGC conference and other conferences outside of New England I have met up with dozens of other genealogy bloggers informally, at special interest  blogging groups and blogger meetups.  I joined Geneabloggers, formed a New England Geneabloggers group, and made Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest connections with dozens more genealogy bloggers. A great many of these folks have helped me with technical issues, writing, researching and other details. It’s fun associating with them in person or online.  Several have become very good friends.  I never would have connected with any of these wonderful, interesting folks without my genealogy blog. 

-----------------------

These are the great benefits I have found by blogging about my family tree.  If you look at all ten reasons listed above, I have used the word FUN in each one.  Blogging should be fun.  If you aren’t having fun you won’t take the time to post, and you won’t take the time to keep up your blog over time.  I look forward to writing something almost every day, even if I don’t post every day.  I hope you find the fun in genealogy, and the fun in genealogy blogging, too.

I know that some people blog about their genealogy business or they monetize their blog in order to make enough money to cover the costs of their genealogy research (it can cover fees for online subscriptions, supplies, conferences, workshops).  I have no experience with these business reasons to blog, but I know that other genealogists have been very successful this way.

I’m sure there are dozens more reasons to start a genealogy blog.  Please comment below if you have discovered some terrific benefits to blogging about your family tree, or if you haven’t started a blog perhaps you can list some of the benefits you hope to achieve someday through blogging your genealogy research.

--------------------------

Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Ten Unexpected Benefits of Genealogy Blogging (what are you waiting for?)", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 10, 2016, ( http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/03/ten-unexpected-benefits-of-genealogy.html: accessed [access date]). 

14 comments:

  1. Wonderful top 10 listing. It is always so much FUN to read your blog entries! Looking forward to following along on your genealogy adventures (and learning a few new tricks) as you post new entries...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't think of anything to add to the 10. I've improved my research and cannot believe the number of words I've writing in the past 2+ years. As you say it has been FUN. ~ Cathy

    ReplyDelete
  3. I, too, have experienced every one of these benefits from blogging. I feel like I have an entire group of friends from around the world. I can't recommend it enough.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing the great ideas why blogging is fun and a good idea. I think I can safely say that in one year of blogging I can check most of the items off the list and look forward to more results. Your blogs are always fun to read and offer inspiration to continue.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi, Heather.
    Thanks for sharing this list. I can relate to writing a book a little at a time. Because blog posts tend to be short, I'm forced to write concisely. I generally know the most important parts of a post by the time I've edited it. That means I could also add more interesting details (in the event that I weave the post into a book).

    On a different note, I love it when descendants send me photos! I've been researching, speaking and writing about Confederates from Iowa (that is, men who left Iowa and served the Confederacy). So far, I've documented 75 such men. Some of their descendants have enriched my research. My blog is called Confederates from Iowa: Not to defend, but to understand. Best wishes, David Connon

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good information! So far, blogging has been the only way to interest my adult children in my family research.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Although I need to get back to the blogging habit, I would say that #2 & #7 are the most important to me. I love reviewing what I have found and how I found things in the past. As for cousin baiting, my online tree has kept me pretty busy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loved this blog story. Everything you mentioned is so true. I've received those new to me photos in the mail that I'd never seen before. So far I haven't received anything as to artifacts in the mail - but fingers are crossed. Great Job!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wonderful Top Ten! I want to be a more faithful blogger. :) It does 'pay' in so many ways!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Heather,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/03/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-march-11.html

    Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Heather, I have experienced the same benefits through my genealogy blog. I just wish more people were blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post! I have experienced all these benefits as well. It really takes your genealogy to the next level.

    ReplyDelete