Notes from the past…

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#31WBGB: Develop an Editorial Calendar

31 Weeks ButtonIt is Week 12 for Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog Challenge and this week’s assignment is to create a blog-posting schedule or editorial calendar. A great idea, as the more structure for me, the better!

Benefits of an Editorial Calendar

Putting all your ideas into a schedule may seem too structured or a waste of time, but it really will help you build a better blog.

  • Never again be stuck thinking, “What am I going to write about”
  • Free up your mind to do the actual writing
  • Help you organize your time (emphasis mine)
  • Give consistency to your blog (emphasis mine)
  • Allow you to identify trends and lulls in your content

My work schedule is hectic and unpredictable (I’m always on call), so I need all the help I can get with time management, as it concerns my research and blogging (among other things). And better time management should naturally lead to an improved consistency of my blog.

The most obvious (to me) type of format to use for my editorial calendar is Google Calendar.

I wouldn’t be able to find my butt with both hands (as my Mom used to say) without Google Calendar! I use it to keep up with bills, appts, pretty much anything I need to remember. I have been using it for years, am very comfortable with it, and most important, it works for me.

So I’ve created my editorial calendar, and it’s not set in concrete: a separate Google Calendar, just for blog posts, 4 per week, with email alerts 3 days in advance. (Note to self: if I don’t post exactly according to this schedule, the world WILL NOT END.)

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And what will I write about on these “post days”?

  • Monday- Last Week’s Research
  • Wednesday- What’s New in the world of genealogy
  • Friday- 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog assignments
  • Saturday/Sunday- Hand In Hand technology and my genealogical research

Again, this schedule is flexible, and if there is something I want to write about on “off days”, I can certainly do so.

Now, to set this new editorial calendar into action, I have scheduled this post for Friday, Sep 23 at 9AM.

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#31WBGB: Come Up With 10 Post Ideas

31 Weeks ButtonThe Week 11 task for Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge is:


Sounds so Dr Who, now doesn’t it? Not really…

Have you ever run out of things to write about?

Coming up with ideas for fresh content is a challenge that faces most bloggers on a regular basis.  We’re going to do an exercise this week to help us identify a variety of post topics to “have in our back pockets” when we are stuck for ideas in the future.

We’re not going to try to come up with completely new and “out-of-the-blue” ideas; instead, we’ll use mind-mapping to tap into what we’ve written recently.  The advantage of this method is the ideas we come up with build on or relate to previous posts, creating a sense of continuity and momentum on the blog.

Ok, I’m game. My “mind-mapping” technique usually consists of stepping away from my computer and going for a walk. I can then see the big picture a bit more clearly. But let’s try Tonia’s suggestions.

We were instructed to draw 5 circles on a page or Word doc and list our 5 more recent posts. Or we could try some type of dedicated mind-mapping software for this assignment. Then we were to extend our posts, take some point or topic within each post and expand on it.

I’m always happy to try out new software, so here was my opportunity. I had previously downloaded a free program called WhiteBoard, basically just to scribble notes or maybe make-shift pedigree charts. I haven’t really used WhiteBoard, so here was my chance.

WhiteBoard is handy for temporary work, but I couldn’t save anything on it. Really good for just doodling. Not what I needed for this task.

So I checked out some of Tonia’s suggestions for mind-mapping software and settled on Freemind, a nifty open-source program. I always go for open-source when possible!

Freemind is pretty simple to download and set-up and easy to get started with. Just how I like it!

I created my last-5-posts “circles”, and then came up with a few topics from those posts to take a closer look at:

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So here are some ideas for new posts, taken directly for my past writings:

  1. Who was Frances Brazil?
  2. Discuss the history of the first Baptist Church of San Saba, Texas.
  3. Discuss the history of San Saba, Texas.
  4. Write a biography of John H “Shorty” Brown.
  5. Was birthday party visitor George C Bennett related to my Bennett line, also living in the San Saba area at that time?
  6. A more in-depth look at
  7. Create a Google Alerts tutorial.
  8. What are the requirements to become a Certified Genealogist?
  9. What genealogy classes are available online?
  10. Write about the Second Life group Just Genealogy.
  11. What are DearMYRTLE’s contributions to genealogy?
  12. Write a biography of Leah Jane Kennedy.

Of these, the most intriguing to me is George C Bennett. I have a lot of Bennett ancestors from the San Saba area…


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#31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts

31 Weeks ButtonThe Week 10 task for Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge is to set up monitoring alerts for my particular genealogy interests, such as surnames or locations.

I have struggled with this assignment. I have been using Google Alerts for some time now, usually set up to follow my more obscure surnames and a few locations, with varying degrees of success. I did review these alerts and modify a few.

I have my blog posts tied to Twitter, but I don’t really “follow” Twitter as such. There are just too many tweets to keep up with.

I was really interested in Tonia’s newspaper. Looks like a great way to monitor and communicate specific subjects. I decided to try my hand at creating a edition about the soon-to-be-released 1940 United States Census.

Problem is, is still in beta, and there are no “getting started” instructions on the site. It was mostly trial and error for me, which is pretty frustrating.

But finally, after several hours of searching the ‘net and reading “how-to” bits and pieces, I would like to present the 1940 United States Federal Census, edition.

It needs some fine-tuning, but as I get a little more comfortable and more knowledgeable with this format, I think it will improve.