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
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.