Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ponderings on Blog Posts

Recently I have been thinking about what makes an individual want to follow or read the blog of an unrelated person.  I read several and love reading about these other families.  Why? What makes a good blog post?  What is the goal of the blogger?  These thoughts may be the fault a result of the many blog posts about the recent Roots Tech conference and how bloggers were treated to special areas and some were asked to try some of the new products.  The idea of "growing" your blog and increasing readership or making money by writing a blog seems to be the prevailing attitude..  My response to the last concept was, "Really?. . . . You can make money at this!"  Does everyone aspire to increase readership or become a professional blogger?

While I don't regularly read more than a dozen blogs due to time constraints and an aversion to having more than  60 or so  posts "sitting" in my Google Reader, I do read a variety of blogs and I troll a lot.  I read blogs about cemeteries, informational blogs, opinion blogs, but the largest group is the personal history blogs. Why do I (and many other family historians) find reading about the families of complete strangers so compelling that I want to be notified when they post, comment when the stars align and my computer will let me, and occasionally refer others to their post or blog.  My family can be bored to tears when I try to tell them about their gr. grandmother, and a family heirloom sitting in our house,  but when I post about it complete with multiple close-up photos, I get comments!

I love the information, connections, and links I get from some posts, and I always love interesting family photos.  I analyze how others have their blogs laid out and lament that I don't have the knowledge to add some of the snazzy elements they have. Is there a webinar for advanced beginner bloggers?  The blogging community is incredibly generous with their time and advice - like the time I thought I lost the blog post I spent 3 hrs. writing as well as ALL of my previous posts.  Within moments of posting a scream for help, I had multiple suggestions.  In the end it was operator error (Translation: sheer stupidity on my part).

What blows me away, blog after blog is the compelling, fascinating, insightful, emotional, funny, and all round outstanding writing.  I feel so much of a connection that while reading, I often occasionally talk to my computer screen as if the bloggers are in my home with me, sharing their discoveries, and opinions. My favorite blogs are comfortable. . . but I don't have to worry about whether my house is picked up or my hair is combed when I ask them in.

Through blogging, I have discovered that I love to write whether anyone reads it or not (but, of course. it is fun when they do).  I don't ever want to make a dime off of it. The only pressure to post is within me, and  I like it that way.  My father used to say I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle to describe my chatty nature.  That statement should really date me since we no longer get smallpox vaccinations, and my children barely remember phonographs.  I just know that writing this blog is fun.

What do you like best about the blogs you read? What brings you back to your favorites?  Why are some so memorable?  Why do you blog?


  1. Margel,
    You did such a great job of expressing my reasons for blogging. I, too, have no interest in making a dime off of mine. I am just so happy that anyone would take the time to read what I post. I've been envious of other blogger's creativity and lust after some of their writing abilities. Don't underestimate your talent -- I LOVE your blog and this post is an example of why.
    BTW -- I've been panicked at the thought of wiping out my blog, too. Recently, I followed through on one of the ads that pops up on "blog2print". You can find them at As an experiment, I had a book printed. They are constantly running specials, so if there isn't one now, wait a few days. It is SOOO easy. Their software uploads your entire blog in a short time. You then check the box for each post you want included in the book. You can choose to add a cover picture, dedication, cover style, etc. It will then let you preview the book and give you the price. I was so happy with the first one, I ordered a second one on other family lines. I just took the soft cover option. They are BEAUTIFUL and now I don't feel like I'll ever panic again about losing almost two years of work. When my family saw them, they wanted to order copies. In addition, I "wowed" my local genealogical society when they saw them. You may want to consider this option.

  2. I agree with Kathy you write well, and what you said make me want to say me too, I have the same thoughts.
    I definately feel like I talk to myself, but now and then someone comes around, who found it and they go on. [ I gotta get one of those feed burners going, too] I suppose I should comment and keep up with my reading, but it is hard to do and still relay regularly as well as have time to do some resarch.
    I send people to my blog, though I need more butttons and charts for easier finds. And I could simply better.

    I do want to make a dime, someday, cause it could help me fund my research overseas and help me keep as I get older.But I suppose It will take me quite a lot of time to get that good.I need to stick to my love, my personal history rather than blog topics for money.
    I think your doing swell. Keep up the good work.
    Wonderul inspiring post.

  3. I think you hit it on the head: we blog to complete strangers because our own families are bored to tears with our stories. Don't get me wrong, my family is 100% supportive of my genealogy habit. But they just aren't "in to it." All of us that are in to it enough to blog understand the excitement of finding a long lost headstone or the hand-written letters of civil war veteran. The blogger community gets it when my family doesn't. We might not be related, but we are in this together. I understand the work it took to break down this brick wall or track down that maiden name and I love sharing in the adventure. That is why I share successes and frustrations about my favorite hobby with other people that "get it."

  4. I wish I could say I always love reading about other people's ancestors but sometimes I don't. I think photos draw me in and an interesting, well-written post keeps me reading. I enjoy reading about interesting people and times, engagingly written. I also appreciate the background information that other bloggers share - how they found the ancestor, what their thought process was to choose to search a particular place (when searching for a hard-to-find ancestor), etc.

    I really enjoy writing but it's so much better when I know other people are reading what I've written - and even better than that is getting the feedback that comes when people write comments.

    This post leads me back to something I was pondering the other day when Family Tree's 40 Best Blogs was posted: what makes a blog "best?" I haven't figured it out yet....

    You do a great job with your blog. Your posts are interesting and engaging and I enjoy reading (though I don't always comment).

  5. I started my blog as an outlet to talk about genealogy. My family was getting bored with my constant updates, so I started putting them online. I was talking to a computer screen and perfectly happy with that. What surprised me is that some people actually read my blog. Now I talk to them.

    Now I blog to ask questions, share my experiences and of course for the conversation. I've met so many wonderful people this way.

    And you're's nice to mingle with people who *get it*.

  6. Margel,
    I linked this post to my blog.

  7. I started blogging as an incentive to stay focused on a project I was working on last year. Now, I write/manage three blogs and love it.

    I, also, have learned so much from reading others' blogs - from tips on research and technology to finding like-minded searchers. Through various posts I, somehow, feel a kinship even when I have no familial connection at all.

    Keep on writing; you're read and enjoyed:)

  8. My reasons for blogging are much the same as yours, and definitely not to make any money; mostly as cousin bait and to share ideas, laughs, etc. with other people who "get it." I used to hate writing; now I love it. At one point I was worried that I spent too much time reading blogs, but I realized that I was getting so much inspiration from other bloggers that it was worth it.

  9. I started my blog as a bit of fun with old family photos and I really enjoy it - it delights me that other bloggers find me and leave comments. We have a very supportive blogging community. I get excited about other people's research, their weird and wonderful characters and new discoveries - great fun :-) Jo

  10. I love this post. You "got it" and as you always find a way to do, articulated it for so many of us.

    I read other blogs because I love old photos. I'm a sucker for a romance the families didn't like lasting for the next 60 years.

    I root for the underdogs, and do a few searches myself on other people's brick walls. I cheer when someone reports that the "cousin bait" worked. I add to my genealogy resources by reading other people's tips.

    The thing that amazes me the most is how many wonderful writers we have out here who just consider themselves amateurs.

  11. Kathy- Thanks for the resource. I love the idea of a blog book. Is there a way to have a DVD with it so the links work?

    Becky- I think I thought it might help me organize (in small pieces) originally also.

    Greta- I was amazed when I found cousins only a few months after I began my blog. So rewarding.

    Dee- I so totally agree and your blog is a favorite for all of the reasons you mention.

    To Everyone- Thank you so much for your comments. It seems that we are like spirits.

  12. Margel,
    An inspiring post for all of us obsessive bloggers. I started blogging because of the treasure trove of primary documents: letter, diaries, photos, I own that span more than 100 years. I wanted a way to start writing about my discoveries and the meaning I think they have for me and for a broader audience -- and to hopefully encourage others to look into what treasures they may have and have been ignoring (not this genealogy blogging group, though. They all get it. Many friends have told me they have started looking more carefully at family documents since reading my blog). I'm also discovering more about my family's past as I write about it. Kathy, thank you for the timely recommendation of Blog2print. My friend saw her blog temporarily wiped out when a hacker broke into her gmail, sent spam and Google shut down my friend's site as the source of the spam! She has it back not, but what a terror! Margel, love reading your blog!