Lately I have been hearing in my genealogy circles of friends how some of them have always wanted to start a genealogy blog but didn’t know how or where to start. Before starting my genealogy blog, I have been writing a craft blog on the blogger platform for two and a half years before moving it to WordPress.com. Before I started my craft blog, I wished that there was someone to ask questions on creating a blog or at least a post of tips to get me started. I thought it would be helpful to share what I wish I knew before I started my genealogy blog.
Here are my top 10 tips I wish I knew before I started by genealogy blog.
- Don’t rush into blogging. It takes time to make decisions on several key items such as design, layout, and the focus of your content; so don’t be in a hurry to “go live” with your blog. Take your time, research and look at all options before making a decision on your blog.
- Think about exactly what you want to blog about. At first read, you might think…”Duh, I wanna blog about my family history/genealogy!” That is fine, but do you want to include everything and the kitchen sink when blogging about your family history? Do you want your blog to just inform your family on your research updates? Do you want to use the blog as your research log? Do you want your genealogy blog to be a source of income? These are all very important questions to answer and I know there are more that fit your specific situation. A good way of figuring out how you want your blog to look like, what to write about and the layout of your blog is to find and read other blogs. Make a note of what you like and don’t like about your favorite blogs. This will be very helpful in giving you a direction of your blog style.
- Take stock of the time you have available to devote to your blog. Take a good look at your current schedule, include the things you do for your family, volunteer/church, genealogy research, education opportunities, social events and your personal “me” time. Whatever time you have left to commit to your blog, that is perfectly fine. The nice thing about a blog is that it is easy to work into your schedule. You can spend a few hours over the weekend writing several posts, and schedule them to post on your blog in the future. I love this feature! I don’t utilize it enough!
- Determine which platform you want to use for your blog. Do you want to use the Blogger or the free version of WordPress? Both platforms have its merits and its downsides so you will need to research it very carefully. Personally, I started out with Blogger but switched to WordPress. I do like the control I have over creativity and how my blog looks more on WordPress then I do on Blogger. Some people like that control, some don’t. It’s a personal decision and one that you have to make according to your situation.
- Determine how you want your blog to look. What style do you want to have? Do you want a creative, artistic look or something more clean and uncluttered? You do have options no matter which platform you choose. Also think about the bells and whistles you can have on your blog.
- Pick a name for your blog. Since this might take some time for you to decide, use your family and close friends as sounding boards on the different names you come up with. You never know, they may have a few good ideas for you as well.
- Ok, so you have made all of the important decisions on your blog, have signed up and started creating a shell for your blog, it’s time to start thinking about the guts of your blog….your posts. I suggest that you create an Editorial Calendar of the regular posts you want to write. Having a regular post is good; it gives you something to post about on a regular basis and is helpful when you have writer’s block and have run out of post ideas. Go to Geneabloggers.com for their list of daily blogging prompts and pick a few. You don’t have to do each one, just use those that interest you. You also don’t have to do them every week. You can post them as frequently as you want. I post my Monthly Aspirations on the 1st of the month and my Saturday Updates every Saturday.
- Create a few essential pages (not posts) for your blog such as an About Me page and a Contact Me page. You want to give your readers and possible relatives a way of getting to know a little about you and a way of contacting you.
- Test your blog. When you are ready to go live with your blog, test it first. You want to make sure that everything looks like you want it to, that all links are pointing your readers to where you want them to, and you want to make sure that nothing is missing. Have your closest family members test it as well. Give them the web address and let them browse. The more different computers and browsers that test your blog, the better. Make sure they report back any problems with page and photo loading and link connections so that you can make the final tweaks before your blog goes live to the public.
- Finally, publish your blog!!! Sign your blog up with Geneabloggers.com and have it added to Thomas MacEntee’s list of blogs. Send an email to all of your family and friends that will be interested in reading your blog and let them know that it is now “live.” Also, create a signature for your e-mail program that has a little blurb about your blog with a link to it. When you send e-mails out, whoever gets them, will be able to click on the link and read your blog.
Blogging is not that hard, once you get use to your posting rhythm. Remember, your journey begins with one step. So take that step already!