A little bit of background information!
Years ago I began writing up my research into my family history and posting about various ancestors in my Celtic Family History blog. Initially it was not intended for a wide audience, just those in my family who were interested in the details I had uncovered from forays into Ancestry and FindMyPast. Slowly but surely, I gained confidence in what I was researching and writing and became brave enough to share with other readers. My writing back then was in the classic encyclopedic style with carefully documented evidence of my ancestors’ existence. Not a very interesting style to entice my readers, unless the ancestor was famous and of historical significance.
Note: These “dry facts are the stepping stones, not the destination”, according to Carol Baxter, family historian, genealogist and History Detective.
Now if you are interested in writing your complete family history in a book and you are needing advice, go no further than Carol Baxter’s books available at her website. You may even wish to book a cruise on which Carol is the Enrichment Speaker.
My forte is in writing short stories, snippets of family intrigue, legends and secrets from the imagined journals of my own family exploits or the research of places, memorabilia and experiences handed down in my family archives.
I write my ancestral stories in a variety of ways; some become digital stories (5-10 minute video monologues with photos and musical soundtracks) available in YouTube, Ancestral Cards (short descriptions and pertinent facts about an ancestor) located in my Trello Boards, Essays (1000-1500 words) of a slice of life of an ancestor, (mine or sometimes commissioned by others) available as printed documents or a blog post (a factual story of an ancestor’s life or a series of vignettes) expanding on the imagined and/or researched slices of their lives.
Lesson One: Choose a blog platform
In this series of bog posts, I will focus on the Family History Blog writing tools, tasks and templates.
The first thing to do is to choose a blog platform. This is the online tool where you’ll be creating and sharing your posts, its just like your own website. My favourites are Blogger and WordPress, but there are many more.
When I first started writing blogs I wanted a blog platform that was relatively easy to work with, had built in design templates and was free to use. After doing my research and talking to other bloggers, I settled on the use of Blogger. Later as I wanted to grow my readership and develop a website, I chose WordPress.
Here’s some helpful advice on getting started with choosing a Blog Platform. In GCF Free Tutorials on ‘just about anything online’, you’ll find some easy to read information about the two blog platforms that I use, Blogger and WordPress, in the Blog Basics section. But I am sure you will want to expand your research and find out about other Blog services.
One of the best ways to make your decision about a blog platform is to check if the service enables you to use typical navigation tools needed to categorise and publish your blog posts about your family history. Also look for blogs that provide templates which have the visual appeal you prefer.
Once you have selected your Blog service, next comes the fun part of designing how it will look using the built in templates for appearance, menus and navigation.
For example in WordPress you can choose from a variety of free Themes that will coordinate the look and feel of your Blog site with built in colour schemes and imagery.
[Note: My Writing in Progress blog is based on the Independent Publisher Theme in WordPress, while this one, CoachCaroleOnline is based on the Twenty Twenty Theme.]
One of my favourite projects (an elective at Level 4 in Pathways Education) was/is the Write a Compelling Blog project.
I completed that one in my first Path, Effective Coaching, and planned, scheduled and wrote a series of blogs on the “Journey of a Pathways Guide“! The instructions from the Toastmasters Blogging Basics file, provided in the project were sufficient to get me started in writing ‘compelling blog posts’.
Note: since that date (January 2018), this blog has gained a large following and many subscribers. Thank to you all those Toastmasters and Family Historians who have visited, commented and supported.