My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

10 Things I Wished I Knew When I Started My Blog

Blog header for my blog.
In October, I will be celebrating my seventh year of blogging, so I decided this was a good time to share the 10 Things I Wished I Knew When I Started My Blog. At that time I knew very little about publishing a blog (blogging was relatively new to the genealogy world), and I knew none of the items below.

My blog hasn't changed much since the day I started. A few minor things have been though. I replaced my original header picture (above) I took in the dead of winter, of an old cemetery in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, with the one above. Same cemetery, almost the same view, different season. I now include other topics, not pertaining to genealogy and make an extra effort to include my photographs.

I wish I had learned these 10 items at the same time and very early during my writing days, but I didn't. If I had known a few of these things and did them then, they wouldn't be a major challenge now. The items are in no particular order.

1. I should have started labeling each blog, with major content words. The words, known as search words are used for me and readers to locate my blog topics, like: Revolutionary War, Surname: Smith; Location: New York; Cemeteries; DAR; Research Tips and so forth. The labels are shown at the bottom of each post, and on the label bar at the right side of each blog.

2.  I should have kept a list of all blogs written, with date and title. I have written over 1230 posts and it's difficult to remember what was written. To use search words (as mentioned above), takes a while and sometimes those words aren't the ones I initially typed. I still don't have a list, but if I ever do make one, it would be on excel and it would help me immensely.

3.  I wish I knew about checking all links I've put in the posts to see if they are still active. I didn't begin doing this until rather recently, and after seven years, many old addresses have disappeared. They need to be corrected or deleted.

4.  I try hard to reply to all comments. I know how I feel if somebody doesn't respond to my comments, so I do my best to respond to any I receive. In the earlier years, I didn't do this, and that was pretty inconsiderate. I clearly remember the ones who sent me messages when I first began. It was a nice feeling. With so many blogs available to read, readers can move on to other blogs, they don't have to deal with an ungrateful writer. If your post is ever selected to be on a Best of the Week list, you best thank that blogger. Many readers will take notice if you do or don't.

5.  Sourcing your facts in a blog is as important as it is in your genealogy. I didn't know this in the beginning of my writing days, nor did I know it 27 years ago when I began doing genealogy  (then, most people didn't source). If your post has facts, you need to go a step beyond.  Thanks to the many professional bloggers, webinars, seminars and genealogy magazine writers who stress the importance of sources, most genealogy bloggers are now sharing where their information came from. Along with sources for facts we need to give credit for all photos and images we use.

6.  I should have spent more time preparing each post. Some of my early posts have major problems. They aren't consistent with font and size and some are bold. When I come across them, I take the bold feature off, make the size normal in Veranda style. If you are using a program with very small print and light font, such as a grey, I won't read your post. We all like to read something that's easy on our eyes.

7. I learned that people will have opinions on what to do in order to have a great blog. Well, some ideas are great, and others, I don't quite believe. For example, I read that all blogs should be "short and sweet." Well, I've read some great stories that are quite long, and some are continued and I had no problem reading them. Since then, I've written a three-part story which seemed quite popular. Just your own judgement and do what you want to do.

8.  I wished I knew about some of the sites that help bloggers with hints and tips, such as the free Problogger or the hundreds of informational blogs out there to help all writers. I didn't know about these sites until four years ago. There are thousands of bloggers, and we all need a little help in the beginning.

9. When I discovered I didn't need to write almost every day, I felt freer because I wasn't tied to my computer, and my readers were probably happy because they didn't need to spend their time reading yet another blog. If you subscribe to 100 blogs, I doubt you would want to read 100 of them a day. On a personal note, I wrote 260 posts in 2010 (my first full year) and 94 in 2015. This post is my 43rd one for 2016. It isn't because I don't have enough material to share, it's because I don't feel it's necessary to share everything, nor do I want to spend the time, since some can take between 2-4 hours or more, if I need to drive somewhere to take photos.

10.  I learned that my blog is not about page-views (the number of hits, that is, people looking at your post). In my first few months, I spent every day checking those figures and wondered who was reading what I was writing. For most of that time, I worried about what the readers thought, and who they were. Months and years later, I discovered those figures don't always represent real people. The stat figures are not an indicator of how good or bad my blog is and the same goes for others.