5 Things I Learned While Blogging in 2014

2014 was quite a year. I wrote more than I had in recent years, met some wonderful bloggers, and dug into more of my research. I also learned quite a bit while blogging. Here are 5 things I learned while blogging in 2014:

5. Blogging Is a Lot Like Exercising

You know how they say that when you want to start exercising more, it works best to tell your friends so that they’ll hold you accountable? That’s how the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge got started. I wanted to blog more regularly, so I set myself a goal of writing about one ancestor per week. I thought, “Hey, if I announce this on my blog, I’ll be more accountable for doing it.” Let’s just say it worked.

4. Genealogy Bloggers Are Incredibly Supportive

When the 52 Ancestors challenge took off in January 2014, I had no idea how popular it would become. In the early months, I compiled a weekly recap. I added the participating blogs to my Feedly reader and copied the links to the 52 Ancestors posts from the previous week. (Being the librarian that I am, I had to put them in alphabetical order.) When it got to be too much – regularly taking several hours each week – I had to decide what to do. Everyone was very supportive when I had to go to the current format of publishing a recap post and participants leaving links in the comments. It was a hard decision, but it was one I needed to make. I appreciate everyone’s support and understanding.

3. Cousin Bait Works

I found several cousins in 2014. Rather, they found me thanks to my blog posts. Think you need to wait until you know everything about ancestor to blog about them? Think again. Write up what you have. You never know when a cousin out there will see it and help fill in the gaps.

2. Calendars Are Wonderful Things

Having been an editor of several genealogy society periodicals, I know the value of a good editorial calendar. They keep you on track. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own “best practice” before I went to Europe back in June. I intended on getting the posts for those 2 weeks written and scheduled before I left, but… And once I fell behind, I never got caught up again. (Which is why I posted my last 10 ancestors in the last 2 weeks of the year :(

1. Writing About Your Ancestors Is an Incredible Research Tool

Where will this keyboard take me in 2015?

Where will this keyboard take me in 2015?

Ok, this one’s cheating a bit, since I already knew it. But 2014 absolutely drove home this point. This is nothing like writing about an ancestor – even writing about one specific aspect or event in his or her life – to help you see where the holes in your research are. Suddenly you’re faced with the fact that you’ve never found them in all of their censuses or you don’t have his World War I draft record. You also get lots of new ideas for places to look. Don’t think of writing as something you do when your research is “done.” Think of it as another research tool.

What did blogging teach you in 2014?

25 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned While Blogging in 2014

  1. Sue

    Your #1 hit home with me, and gave me an insight to my less than patient self when it comes to telling everything I know as soon as I know it. I can never wait to write about a new discovery and often have to go back and see what else is worthy of telling. I love pitching out the Cousin Bait Bobber and just letting it sit there until a nibble comes along. I have caught some big fish with that bait.

    I’ve taken your January Fresh Start Bait and posted my first 52 Ancestors Weeks story. Like I said, I have a hard time waiting to tell.
    Tracks Of My Georgia Ancestors

    Reply
  2. Kenda

    Just wanted to drop in and say how much I enjoyed your blog posts this last year, Amy! This was a wonderful challenge. I so enjoyed reading what you posted about our family (thanks, cousin) and also the times I dipped into random stories of your followers. What a wealth of treasured stories your archives hold. Here’s to lots more in 2015!!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Thanks, Kenda! I’ve enjoyed telling the stories of our ancestors. So many more to be told!

      Reply
  3. Celia Lewis

    Oh the things I learned on this year-long trip!! All your 5 points above, plus…
    I came face to face with all my sloppy long-ago research, forgotten documents, new to me & hidden resources, cousins’ paperworks I’d filed ‘somewhere’… Wow. Why do you think I’m doing Thomas MacEntee’s Do-Over for the first quarter of 2015?! Time to get more methodical, thorough, accurate, while I continue to enjoy the research and story-telling parts.
    Thanks so much once more for a fun ride on this challenge, Amy. It was a distinct pleasure!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      I think many of us (myself included) have come face-to-face with the “oh my goodness, what was I thinking” of our early research days. I’m not going to do the Do-Over as Thomas MacEntee has proposed, but I am going to do a Re-Visit :)

      Reply
  4. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

    Pssst Amy! I would like to tell you a secret. The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge did everything for me that Thomas MacEntee to going to try to do with his Genealogy Do-Over. Only I think it was more subtle and did not cause all the anxiety I’m seeing as people prepare to start over. Sure I’m curious and will be following his Do-Over but I refuse to sart over. At the same time I’m going to continue writing about my ancestors, one couple a week, while cleaning up the database, citing sources, looking for new information. Your #1 is also my #1.

    Reply
        1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

          I applaud anyone who can chuck everything they have and start over. Me? I can’t quite go there. (More on that in a post later today :) )

          Reply
  5. LaVonne Murray

    I joined in late and only completed 3 stories. But the point is, I started and I will continue. The Do-Over isn’t truly a do-over. It is re-organizing and being more thorough, which is just what those of us who wrote stories this past year found ourselves doing. There are some things you can’t do-over. As imperfect as my early efforts were, I know that I preserved history that otherwise would be lost to us now. And as far as 2015 goes…it is now time to share! Here’s to 52 Stories in 52 Weeks!!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      I think a lot of it comes down to refocusing and reconsidering how we approach our research. For me, that means taking a closer look at the collateral relatives. I haven’t really explored very many of them. That’s what I’m going to focus on in 2015.

      Reply
  6. Wendy Negley

    I really enjoyed writing the stories and getting a chance to share them with my family. My children, sister and even my husband all told me that they had never known most of the stories I wrote. My husband even said he learned things about his mother he’d never known! It made the family much more real to my daughter, in particular. It also brought me closer to several cousins. Names and dates are not that interesting to most people but peoples lives and how they coped with circumstances ARE. Sometimes you can read the story between the lines of dates and vital records, this was my opportunity to speculate on them and write them as I think they may have been.

    Reply
  7. Vicki Court

    Blogging in the 52 Ancestors challenge made me start writing the story of my family through looking at the lives of individual ancestors. I had been planning to do this for some time, even started on occasions, but the 52 Ancestor challenge made me focus on actually doing it and now I have something to show for almost 50 years of gathering information.

    I was able to see how much I had discovered about some family members and in some cases add to or refine the information.

    I have also discovered where more investigation is required. However, even though there may be gaps in the story, at least some of their story has now been written.

    I have discovered a number of themes as I wrote about my 52 ancestors. I have also found a number of co-incidences. These can form the basis of further research and blog posts.

    Writing the blog posts has also resulted in contact with other people researching branches of my family resulting in the opportunity to share information or follow a new lead.

    Reply
  8. Marcy Belles

    I agree that the “do-over” is too much. However, I am doing a “re-visit” to make sure I have the correct documentation. By writing the blogs, I too, learn where my gaps are and hope to find cousins out there that can help fill those gaps. I just did a post from a different angle – a timeline rather than a story. I think I will continue with that approach as it builds the story.

    I also like the idea of collaterals. Some of my collaterals became ancestors!

    Reply
  9. thegenealogygirl

    I read this several days ago and I could relate to everything you said here. I’m so glad I participated last year. I didn’t write every week but I wrote several posts and the connections I have made because of those posts have been amazing. It was definitely a case of more goodness coming back to me than I had put out into the world. Thank you for issuing the challenge!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      You know my motto: Anything you write is more than what you had before! And isn’t that the way when we write — we get back so much more.

      Reply
  10. Pingback: Fresh Start in 2015 | Rooted in Foods

Leave a Reply to LaVonne Murray Cancel reply