Thursday, August 22, 2013

Genealogy bloggers: what keeps us going?

Whew, what a conversation we had on Tuesday! I wrote a post about thoughts on quitting blogging. I had no idea it would garner the amount of discussion it did. I did not intend my post to be a pity party, but rather reflection on why blogging is important to me. Turns out that many people think about hanging up their blog from time to time. Many of you chimed in with why blogging is important to you and I thought it would be great to pull together all of your ideas in one post.
Better research - This was the most prevalent comment from our discussion. Blogging makes us better researchers. Knowing that what we post will be a part of the world wide web for as long as the platform exists, we put our best foot forward. Many of us attach sources to our posts so that down the line other cousins, relatives and descendants will have an easier go at following in our footsteps. And, perhaps more importantly, the information we leave behind will be correct to the best of our abilities.

Searchable research repository - Our blogs are our own personal libraries. We reference them to jog our memory and keep us from repeating our research steps and wasting time. Jacqi at A Family Tapestry made a great point: by blogging we create a public, searchable database of family information. Information that will be available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our research and thoughts can now be found at a single Google click. That thought alone is fuel for creating well-written and researched posts! Many of you mentioned that you also turn your blog into a printed book. Blurb was one source mentioned for this option.
An outlet - I've written my whole life either in a journal or in my profession. It has always been an outlet for me so it is a natural transition to blog...especially about my favorite hobby. Several of you mentioned that you use your blog as a way to decompress and relax. Add that to a field of lavender and a hot bath and we're the most relaxed folks in the world.

Digging deeper - Not only do our blogs produce better overall research, but they help us to dig down to the interesting stories behind our ancestors. By focusing on creating a better researched post, we often come across stories that put the meat on the bones of our family story.

Finding kin - Our blogs are a great resource for connecting with distant relations. That Google search we mentioned up above? That is leading our information straight to cousins that just learned that we are related and may want to link up. What better way to draw cousins to you than your blog? And like Amanda mentioned below, they may have photographs!

Do it for you - Many of us are little guys in a big genealogy blogging world. We may never reach more than a handful of views for any given post. But for all the reasons above, it is worth the time...even if it is only for you. However, remember that the other little guys read your posts for inspiration or to cheer you along, even if you don't get many comments. We are members of a community that understand the joys and tribulations of finding a hidden uncle in the census or finally stumbling upon an obituary. It takes a community to grow a family tree.

My biggest take away from our discussion is that, for me, blogging and research are now one in the same. I have come to a point in my research where I have found most of the "hard copy" items on my ancestors: names, birth dates, death dates. By blogging I am pulling that information together and creating their story, rather than their facts. Thank you all for such a great discussion. Here's to many more years of blogging. And know that if you ever feel the urge to take a break or quit, there are so many reasons to keep plugging along!

Have I missed anything important to you? Please add it to the discussion!


Amanda (the librarian) said...

This may have come up in the earlier discussion (which I could not participate in - I've done eight presentations at work over the last four days), but -- besides the reasons you summarized -- I also blog as "cousin bait." I've been blogging a lot longer than you and don't even have half the number of followers you have, but I don't care. Thanks to using the Blogger platform, my blog comes up high in search results for many of my surnames, and I've made contacts with so many distant cousins who've had valuable information - AND precious photographs - to share. That's what keeps me going!

Claudia said...

What I have done recently is moving some posts from my blog to Evernote. There were things I had forgotten and I just copied the post and pasted it.

I had read that some people had their blogs disappear and I thought it would be good for a backup.

I blog for myself, it aids in my thinking and evaluation.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

A very good, point, Amanda. I'll add that above. It is only through my blog that I have met any distant relative with photographs!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Claudia, that is a good point. I need to find a good way to back up my blog so that I don't loose all this hard work. Evernote would be a great and easy way to reference past posts.

Jacqi Stevens said...

You're right, Heather, it was a great conversation the other day! You really zoomed in on a sensitive issue. And your post here makes a terrific synopsis.

I love the way you put it in today's conclusion:
By blogging I am pulling that information together and creating their story, rather than their facts.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Thank you, Jacqi! Another great thing about blogging is that we can have "conversations" with people we have never met in person. I love that aspect, that I have found this great group of people.

Sally Knudsen said...

As a slightly off-topic comment, I also find that the post I think will be awesome and swirl around in my head for awhile, doesn't always resonate, but the post that's more rote or afterthought garners a lot of feedback. The internet reacts in funny ways :)

Kathryn said...

Great post Heather! Along with building a searchable database, I feel like I'm hopefully preserving the information for future generations too. For backups, I subscribe to my blog posts on two different email accounts (Gmail and Yahoo). It's a quick and easy way to have a backup should the blog somehow disappear. I like the idea of making some of it into a hard copy, so I'll have to look into Blurb.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Kathryn, it is an interesting idea to back up your blog by receiving the posts to your email. Perhaps I should give that a shot...additional levels of back-up can never hurt!