Notes from the past…


#31WBGB: 27 Must-Read Tips for Genealogy Bloggers

31 Weeks ButtonI have been participating in Tonia’s challenge, 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog. It has been a lot of fun and quite educational, too. Definitely a must-do!

This is Week 6 and our assignment is to try to pick up a bit of “inside information” from successful bloggers and apply what we have learned to our own blogs. Tonia provides links to 27 posts from top blogs, with instructions to jot down 3-5 tips to apply to our own blogs.

I read through all 27 posts and found some great advice! Here’s what stood out the most for me:

  1. From, “A picture per blog post has been my trick for a while. It draws your eye, whether or not you want it to. We’re wired for it. I use Flickr Creative Commons photos to do that. Make sure you give them adequate credit…”
  2. Also from, “Brevity rules. Can you say it briefly?” And “Use small words. You don’t have to impress people. You have to be clear.” And “Use the word you’re thinking about, not a fancier, or more polite word.”
  3. From Copyblogger, “Keep an idea list. When inspiration for a post strikes, scribble it down in a notebook or a word file.”
  4. From Pro Blog Design, “Left aligning is usually best. Very rarely is centered or justified text going to look better, and I can’t think of any time when right aligning is the best choice.”

A few simple tricks to improve Ruth’s Genealogy blog!


#31WBGB: Contact a Reader

31 Weeks ButtonThis is Week 5 of Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge.

The previous challenges:

What’s our assignment for this week?

#31WBGB: Contact a Reader:

Pay attention to new readers and it will substantially increase the chance that they will return to your site or spread the word about it through their network.  I think this topic is especially important for genealogy bloggers, because our readers may be part of our extended families and they could have information, photos, documents, etc. that we would like to have.  At least part of the reason that most of that most of us write genealogy blogs is to connect with others who are researching our same family lines.

I completed this week’s challenge in reverse, but in doing so proved how vital our blog readers really are!

On this past Sunday, Thomas MacEntee posted a link on his Facebook page to a new genealogy blog, Channeling Grammy. I clicked on his link and visited this new blog. It looked interesting, so I subscribed to the RSS feed. I continued to wander around Grammy until I found a mention of the author’s surnames. One was Appling. A fairly uncommon name, hummm…

I have Applings in my tree, married into my Stanley line from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.

I commented on the blog’s most recent post and introduced myself. The author contacted me almost immediately, through my genealogy wiki. Turns out that we are distantly related, through our Stanley/Appling connection. Another cousin found! All because a blog author contacted a reader!


#31WBGB: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog

31 Weeks ButtonI have been participating in Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog challenge, and it has been great fun! These exercises have really energized my writing and my genealogical research. This is Week 4 of the challenge, but it is not too late to join the fun!

This week’s task is to analyze a top genealogy blog.

The obvious choice for me is Denise Olson’s Moultrie Creek Gazette, my very favorite genealogy/technology/history blog.

Blog? Oh, my!

More like The Wall Street Journal of genealogy blogs! I have a blog; Denise has succeeded in creating a vast, all-inclusive online geneatech portal.  Blog, newspaper, review, journal, tutorial, exposé (not really!)…anything having to do with family history and genealogy-related technology can be found at the Moultrie Creek Gazette.

What does exactly does Denise do at the Gazette that makes it so appealing and successful? Let’s dissect this little slice of genea-heaven:

The look of the site, the theme itself is well-designed, open and airy, the font is pleasing to the eye and easy to read, and photographs or illustrations accompany most articles. Denise is also a talented photographer! All sections of the Gazette are accessible from the home page, just click and go.

Links abound to the various sections of the Moultrie Creek Gazette, but are not overwhelming. How do I explain this? I have been to some websites that contain so many links, and are so “busy” that I get antsy just trying to read the page! At the Gazette, the links are clearly differentiated, yet blend nicely into each page.

The content includes discussion of her own family history, and stories and images of the St Augustine area of northeast Florida. Founded in 1565, St Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States. The history of the United States of America literally begins in Denise’s back yard!

Denise has amassed an impressive knowledge of cyber-technology as it relates genealogy. She is the go-to girl for information on writing tools, photo management and digital scrapbooking. And the Moultrie Creek Gazette reflects this. Denise is also arguably the most knowledgeable person (outside of its creators) of the massive genealogy wiki, WeRelate. She has written an entire tutorial series about WeRelate.

All of this information can be found at the Moultrie Creek Gazette.

Monetization appears to be minimal. A couple of non-intrusive affiliate ads appear on the home page and only a single add on other pages. One section, Creekside Outfitters, is devoted to her Amazon store where genealogy-related items are available.

Simply put, I believe the Moultrie Creek Gazette has set the standard for today’s online genealogy/technology news magazine. Denise’s work here has inspired the development of my own newsletter, and when it grows up, it wants to be just like the Moultrie Creek Gazette!