Blogging Genealogy: How do I figure out what to write? via BloggingGenealogy.com
A better editorial calendar & blogging flow for family history bloggers.

When I previously introduced an editorial calendar for those blogging about genealogy, it was aimed towards those who are blogging for genealogy-related businesses reasons, for those who were blogging for genealogical societies, and for those who were blogging their family history {specifically Cousin Hunters}.

And that's a broad spectrum.

Too broad.

Now that I've refocused Blogging Genealogy.com on cousin hunting bloggers {or family history researchers}, it's time for a more specific editorial calendar and blogging workflow.


Is the dog wagging the tail, or is the tail wagging the dog?

Blogging prompts can be helpful when we're stumped on what to blog about on our family history blog.

But?

Are we bloggers first or are we researchers first?

Genealogy and family history blogging  should be a natural extension, or flow, of what we are researching. {And this statement does not specifically include genealogy professionals, genealogy businesses, or genealogical societies, but the concept could certainly be adapted for their marketing purposes.}

And every time we stop researching to figure out what we are "supposed" to be blogging about based on the day of the week, we interrupt that natural flow from researching to blogging.

For instance, research-wise, I'm currently working on my Daughters of the American Revolution {DAR} app and my United Empire Loyalists {UEL} app at the same time. {When I'm able to get to personal research, that is.}

And let's say when Tuesday rolls around, I realize I need to find and slap a photo of a tombstone on my blog because that's the blog meme for the day.

But?

I don't have a pic of an appropriate tombstone for the research I'm doing right now. In fact, I'm not working on any deaths at this very moment, and I may not even need a picture of the tombstones for my application when I get to the deaths. {I mean, I do eventually want them, but they might not be needed for this current research project.}

Well, "What to do, what to do," I ask myself.

I could slap another one up there that's completely unrelated to my current research project.

But who? And where is the photograph filed {online or offline}? And the story behind the tombstone? And...and...and…

Who's running this blog?

The blog prompt or my research? And how much research time have I wasted?

Or?

I could stop and reflect on what I'm currently researching in order to come up with some blogging ideas. And I could stop and extract a small story or a couple of small stories from what I'm working on and share them.

And it's great for researching and cousin hunting because:
  • It's relevant to what I'm working on right now and it's what I'm passionate about right now. It gets my creative juices flowing.
  • It can help me work out a current research problem because sometimes just speaking or writing about it helps. {Note: I always read my blog posts out loud several times. I really do want to sound like we're sitting together in a diner some where drinking coffee and talking about blogging family history or trading family stories.}
  • It gets more detail out there about my family history so that when someone is Googling, they'll find my blog posts easily. {Hopefully.}
  • It doesn't interrupt my research flow. In fact, it tends to help it.

So what's the editorial calendar? Well, the ideas come from us, but generally speaking, we're usually looking at a Pedigree Chart and wondering about the holes we need to fill. You know, the information we need to find that leads us to family stories. Thus, the Pedigree Chart tends to be the initial editorial calendar, or pre-editorial calendar, for our family history blogs. Sure, I might have a project like my DAR application that's motivating me, but I'm constantly looking at my Pedigree Chart to see what else I need to do.

A Better Blogging Flow
You ~> Pedigree Chart ~> Research Project ~> Blogging

And, of course, we can do whatever we want on our blog whenever we want. It's our blog. However, we need to ask ourselves this, "Is it supporting my overall goals in the most efficient way or is it being disruptive?" {Remember, we do have goals for our research as we purposefully blog.}

'Cause the thing about disruption? We tend to avoid stuff that disrupts our routine, which means we tend to get blogging paralysis, or research paralysis, or {heaven forbid} both. Why? Because we're family history researchers first and bloggers second.

~Caroline
 


Comments

11/20/2012 15:32

Caroline,

You make some excellent points here. For me, I don't have an editorial calendar when working solely on my Family History site. That tends to be fairly free form and is driven by who/what I am researching and also by what I might be doing with a collection of documents or what I may have recently found about several individuals in a new repository. For example I have about forty 80 to 100 year old German letters and as they are translated I then post them if they are of interest.

I do not adhere to the Tombstone Tuesdays or any similar daily "reminders." I agree that that type of scheduling can end up being "forced" and can make one write a post in a hurry just because of someone else's idea of how to schedule blogging. As you might discern, I do not like this type of arbitrary scheduling. I imagine for most people it could negatively impact their "writing inspiration."

And I 100% agree with you regarding the tail wagging the dog. A forced blog schedule can take the fun out of researching and blogging one's stories that result from the research. And why would we do this if it wasn't fun?

And lastly, I think one of your most important points is that some folks and some genealogy blogging "experts," do not differentiate between business blogging and family history blogging. As you state quite clearly - they are quite different.

Thanks for posting this. I believe it can be quite the eye opener for family history bloggers. Bravo.

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11/21/2012 13:40

I appreciated the kick in the pants your post gave me. I have a few 'favorite' themes based on the current work that I'm doing such as Photographing Mementos, Family History Albums, sharing the 500+ gravestone photos I took this summer.

I know the Tombstone Tuesday trend will die out as I haven't taken a lot of gravestone photos lately. But I'll let that be (thanks to your post) and not worry about not having a Tombstone Tuesday to post.

In the middle of sharing photography and heritage scrapbooking information, I do research. Your post answered a question I had. Do I post the research I have to fit a topic of the day? Or do I just post and go? I guess I should post and go. If it fits a topic, great! If not, no big deal. The point is to share what I'm learning, finding, or curious about. Thank you for this awesome post. I personally needed it.

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11/24/2012 05:28

I hear ya. But in defense of the meme -- they were a lifesaver when I first started blogging, when I really had no idea what to say. Readers found me and I found other blogs and bloggers whose example has inspired me to try other approaches. I still like to use memes in clusters to create a little series; for example, Sunday Obituary and Tombstone Tuesday work together well, and if I have inherited a dish or tool I can write about it for Thursday Treasure. While I don't adhere to this approach, it helps me THINK because I find I'm better at telling the end story than describing my process of researching. I'm glad I found this post through Jana's Friday Finds.

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11/25/2012 20:48

Thank you for saying so well what I have always felt. My blog helps me organize small bits of information as well as giving me an outlet for my view of a problem. My blog has very little organization, despite my original intention,but it is full of family stories, my views and research quandaries, my discoveries, and a place to share the wonderful family photos that have been shared with me. My blog suits me. I am not interested in trying to "grow" my blog, but I am interested in making it more useful for me. If that is a help to others. . . wonderful, but I do love comments.

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11/26/2012 10:01

Thank you for writing this. Recently, I've been trying to blog about what I'm researching, usually writing several posts about one family or surname. I will try to fit one of the geneablogger memes into my group of blog posts and then be sure to create links between the group of posts. Your post makes me feel better that I am not posting a photo every Wordless Wednesday (which I probably could, as I have lots of old photos). I am just trying to get a few posts in every month!

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Jan
05/15/2013 07:37

Thank-you for such an interesting discussion. I am about to start a blog and this has given me much to think about.

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