Exploring Family History Blogs is a great first step in preparing to write your own.
Lesson Two: Subscribe to Selected Family History Blogs
I subscribe to many Family History Blogs, some of which are listed here in my blogroll. They provide me with inspiration and motivation to draw my readers in to my blog posts. I am constantly learning what works best in engagement of the readers in the blog writing from skilled historians and bloggers.
When I subscribe to a blog, I receive an email notification of new posts from the author, an automatic function from within the blog platform. This is a great tool to increase the readership of a blog, especially as reminders for those want to return to read the next posts from that author.
My preference is to subscribe to those blogs that feature stories of family history containing colourful threads of the lives of ancestors, woven into a rich tapestry of life in the past lane.
FamilyHistoryDaily provides a comprehensive guide to genealogy sites recommended for your reading.
Feedspot provides a list of 100 Best Genealogy Blog sites for you to choose from – a wide variety and a deep dive into some of the best.
Other Blogs I recommend you subscribe to are those that provide lessons on the Art of Blogging itself. This one for example is one from my Blogroll: The Art of Blogging. Then are those that are specific to your blogging platform, like this one: WordPress – The Daily Post.
What to look for in a Family History Blog?
As I read the posts from my favourite blogs (again and again) I realise there are some key elements that bring me back or intrigue me to subscribe:
- Authentic Voice – I enjoy reading posts that enable me to gain a glimpse of the writer. They are the ones that speak with passion and conviction to make a point or teach a lesson. “Passion is the name of the game. Write from the heart, about the things that make you feel alive, and write in a way that is both entertaining and inspiring.”Source: Christian Mihai – The Art of Blogging
- Relevant Content – I am more likely to read a blog that provides a lesson or an inspiration about writing family history that is relevant to me in my journey into genealogy. Although I may not know them or their families, I look for the stories that show me how they relate to the lives and experiences of their ancestors.
“A grief stricken moan escaped the mother as her son took his last breath. But she had to stay strong for the rest of her family. There was no turning back and she knew they all had to keep fighting in order to make a go of it in this harsh new land.” Source: Pauline Wilson – A genealogy Journey
- Intriguing Writing Style – The blogs that draw me back are those with distinctive writing styles – a measure of the appeal of the storyteller is often gauged by the frequency of visits to their blog.
“This is why as genealogists we gather as much material as we can (exhaustive research) and analyze it, rather than just taking the information from the first record we find an assuming it’s all correct. I’m curious, have you learned of unfortunate circumstances from an ancestor’s burial record? Have you found ancestors in common graves?”Source: Writing My Past
- Engaging Page Structure – The blogs that I find easiest to read are those that have snippetts of their posts displayed as images. This style of blog enables me to wander through their snippetts and select posts at random as they peak my interest. After revisiting the blog by Amy Johnson Crow, I am inspired to change the layout for my blogs in WordPress. Take a look here to see how Amy structures her pages.
Source: Amy Johnson Crow
- Currency of Posts – Some blogs come and go! Others stay focussed and frequently updated. Sadly my own Celtic Family History blog has been abandoned for a while and needs refreshing to keep it current. This means more research and more story writing of course, about my ancestors.Those blogs that maintain a regularity of posts are the ones that focus my attention. If I am subscribed to these blogs, notifications about recent posts appear in my Updates category of my Google mail inbox. How about this one with the appealing title Shaking the Branches.
- When you’re checking which blogs to read, take a look at the Frequency information provided in the Top 100 Genealogy Blogs and Website in 2020 from Feedspot.
Note: the Ancestry Blog features weekly posts.
How can I keep up with all of that reading?
What are my strategies for carving out time on my schedule? I am still working on that to ensure that I remain focussed. Here’s my process so far: during the week I schedule a specific time period for family history research in my desk diary. This diary is my ‘go to’ reminder for things that I need to do online. A glance at my week ahead reminds me of specific sites to view; tasks to complete and blog posts to write. A simple process that works for me. Adding some reminder alarms on my iPhone also assists.
I am sure you have your own favourite methods of scheduling your research and writing – if not now is the time to consider that as you plan to research and write your own compelling Family History blog.
Good luck with your selection of Family History Blogs to read!
If you would like to help me structure the content for a new course in ‘Blogging in the Past Lane’, please add your thoughts and comments in this survey.