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

by Tonia Kendrick on August 7, 2011 in And More

#31WGBGWelcome to Week 6 of “31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!”

Our topic this week is learning from successful bloggers.

If you are following along in the e-book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (affiliate link), Darren provides links to 27 blog posts by nine different bloggers.  I’ve included some of those links below, but I’ve also added in some different ones that resonated more with me.

You may not have time to read all 27 posts; if not, pick a few that jump out at you and bookmark this post to come back to at another time.  In fact, it may be better NOT to try to read all these at one sitting, lest you go into information-overload.

31WBGB 27 Must-Read Tips


Entrepreneurs Journey



Seth Godin


PR Daily

Blogging Bookshelf

Social Media Examiner

Pro Blog Design

Reviewz ‘n’ Tips

A Last Bit of Advice from Me

A lot of these posts were written by professional bloggers, which most of us are not.  Don’t get overwhelmed by all of these tips and by the amount of time the writers seem to spend on their blogs.  Take the advice that speaks to you and temper it to fit your timeframes and blogging style.

Action Item

  • Jot down 3-5 key points from the reading that you want to apply to your blog.


If you are just joining us, then “welcome.” You can read the kick-off post about 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog here.  Feel free to start with this week’s reading and action items – you are not behind.


This week’s prize is a Legacy Family Tree Webinar (affiliate link) on CD called “Blogging for Beginners” presented by DearMYRTLE.  The description of this webinar from the Legacy site says:

Step-by-step approach to creating a blog, and making postings using the free service at Blogger.com. A great way to share genealogy research, post your society’s newsletter, share info with extended family members. The webinar will also feature a survey of sample blogs, and links for additional help.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win this webinar, leave a comment on this entry with a few bits of blogging-wisdom you learned from this week’s reading. You must be a US resident to win. The contest ends at 11:59pm on Saturday, August 13, 2011. Winner will be drawn randomly.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan August 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Thanks for sharing all the work that you have been doing on your blog. I appreciate it greatly.


Tonia Kendrick August 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thanks, Joan! I hope you are find some of the tips to be helpful.


Susan Donaldson August 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

These sites sound great, Tonia, and I look forward to browsing through them. Thank you again for all the time you are spending on this project to the benefit of fellow bloggers.
Susan Donaldson´s last blog post ..WDYTYA – UK: Anticipation or Indifference?


Tonia Kendrick August 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Thanks, Susan! Let us know if anything jumps out at you as something you really want to try out.


Susan D. August 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thanks Tonia – I am working my way through the sites and there is a great deal to take in. It was reassuring that I was doing some things right, though I doubt if “brevity rules” is one of them!. I mean to put into practice the tips on headlines, use of questions, importance of 1st line and paragraph, mixing length and type of posts, and using subheadings. And I still have more sites to look at. There is a lot to do! Susan.

Elizabeth August 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

From A Sample Blogging Workflow, I like the suggestion of drafting the blog post in NotePad or TextEdit, because I sometimes spend too much time looking at the formatting and layout rather than concentrating on what I should be writing.
Also from A Sample Blogging Workflow, I like the idea of writing more than one post at any given sitting and scheduling posts. I find that I “get in a groove” and will write two or three posts at a time and schedule them for the week ahead.
There are many good suggestions in 30 Ways to Increase Readability. I like the reminder of putting an image at or near the top of a post; I think it helps make the post more interesting to look at a photograph of the ancestor I’m writing about or to look at a scan of a historical document. And the suggestion below that: blocks of text are bad. This is often a reason why I will not subscribe to a blog; if there’s too much text in a huge long paragraph and not enough images to break it up.
I also like the How to Write Headlines that Work and How to Turn a Lousy Blog Headline into a Great One. Will be referring to those in the future.
Thanks for this collection of links!
Elizabeth´s last blog post ..Military Monday ~ James M. Lysle


Tonia Kendrick August 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Elizabeth, you picked a lot of the ideas that struck me as being useful, also. I’ve been trying out the notepad tip for leaving comments. It helps me remember what I wanted to comment on, so that I don’t lose my train of thought while reading the blog post.


GeneaPopPop (Bart Brenner) August 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Great “27 Must Read Tips” graphic!
This week’s lesson almost seems like a review of some of the previous 5 week’s challenges. You were right, there was much too much information in the 27 blogs. I did my due diligence in reading (and being overwhelmed). I finally focused in on some “basics.” My post can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/3ttf6kf.

Thanks again for all you are doing to help us move through this daunting task of improving our blogging. Ya know what??? It’s working!!!
GeneaPopPop (Bart Brenner)´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: 27 Must Read Tips


Dana August 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Wow, that’s a lot to take in! Good stuff, but I’m going to need to take some time to work through it. And I have to admit, just from reading a little of it, I /have/ gotten a bit overwhelmed and started questioning everything I’ve already written in my blog, my focus, my layout, my content – I may have just gone into a tailspin! Oops? :)
Dana´s last blog post ..Research Outing: Kootenai County Library – Hayden Branch


Tonia Kendrick August 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, Dana! I’m bad about that, too. There is so much I want to do. . .

You might want to pick a couple of things to work on now and bookmark the list to come back to in a week or a month, then pick a couple more things.

Good luck!


Dana August 10, 2011 at 11:47 pm

That’s good advice, Tonia, thanks. I think I’ve found the angles I want to work on, and you’re right – I can just come back to the rest later. I have a bad habit of wanting to do everything at once, both with my blog and my research. Maybe I have genealogy ADD.
Dana´s last blog post ..What’s your genealogy “endzone celebration”?

Mary K McGraw August 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm

What a great listing of sites you have developed this week. There is so much information to take but that is a good thing. I think the main thing I learned so far is to be consistent in your blogging.
Mary K McGraw´s last blog post ..Matrilineal Monday


Tonia Kendrick August 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I’m glad you are finding the info useful, Mary. Consistency is definitely an important factor. I had a “dark period” on my blog last year – I didn’t post for about 4 months – and I had to work so hard to build back up to where I was before.


Linda Gartz August 10, 2011 at 10:00 am

A treasure trove of ideas! The heavy hitters of the Blog advice blogs are here, and I subscribe to many. I always respond to a comment — first on my blog — but who goes back to check? virtually no one — and subscribing to ALL blogs that make comments — well we’d have email overflow. I usually try to go back to the commenter’s own blog and thank them there. Then I know they see it. Anyone who’s new to my follower list gets an emailed thank you. (I’m surprised that often I try to do that — and get a message — “This page is not available.” Everyone should check their settings to be sure messages are getting through. Blogging can be a full time job. It’s tricky. We in the genealogy community have a niche place. Are there ways to reach out to a wider audience? You’re doing it here, Tonia, by offering valuable information to our community. That’s the trick, I think, but it still will only reach family history buffs.
Linda Gartz´s last blog post ..Central Park, NY 1911. I’ve arrived!


Susan Donaldson August 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I could relate, Linda, very much to your points on making comments, because I have often wondered that, if you reply on your own blog, does the reader goes back to pick them up? I suspect not, unless it is a topic like this one, where I am keen to see what others think and how they have taken action. I will follow your practice and reply via the commentator’s blog, I must admit working out how to comment on Wordpress blogs I find trickier. I hope this gets through to you!
Susan Donaldson´s last blog post ..WDYTYA – UK: Anticipation or Apathy?


Linda Gartz August 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm

will reply at your blog so you’re sure to see it, Susan!
Linda Gartz´s last blog post ..Central Park, NY 1911. I’ve arrived!

Linda Gartz August 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Oh Susan, decided to answer here too so that the thread continues.
I think going back to the original blog is best unless there’s a long thread that gets started. Then one just has to subscribe, at least for a while, to follow the thread. That’s another thing I’m doing– and doing here.
Linda Gartz´s last blog post ..Central Park, NY 1911. I’ve arrived!


Elizabeth August 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I find that the different blogging sites handle this differently. When I post to a blog, I try to subscribe to the comments for that post if it’s available (usually by email, sometimes by RSS), but I don’t like to subscribe to all comments for an entire blog, though I’ll do it, as Linda notes, for a while, to follow a thread.
Elizabeth´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday ~ Ethel May Greeley (1875-1931)


Tonia Kendrick August 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I’m loving all this discussion about commenting. Let me ask an opinion. I’ve been considering switching to Disqus or IntenseDebate as a commenting system. If you’re not familiar with them, both require you to register before commenting. By doing so, you (the commenter) would get follow-up emails when someone posts a response to your comment. It also gives the commenter a dashboard, of sorts, of all the comments left on any site that uses Disqus or IntenseDebate, respectively.

What are your thoughts? Do you love or hate either of these commenting systems?

Cindy August 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Hi! I’m new here. I found my way over from Dana @ Just folks.
I love all the info you’ve provided in this post as well as the previous 31 Weeks blog posts.
I have a page filled with notes and ideas already! I can’t wait to implement some on my own blog.
I’m going to start through some of the blogs listed above and hopefully be back with a few things I’ve learned yet this week.
Thank you Tonia for the excellent info!
Cindy´s last blog post ..Do you think my great-grandfather was a mama’s boy?


Tonia Kendrick August 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Hi Cindy! Glad to have you aboard.


Michael Hait August 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

A few days late, but at least still this week! ; )

Here is my entry:

Michael Hait´s last blog post ..31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog Week 6: Must-Read Tips


Cheryl Palmer August 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Here is my Week 6 post ~ http://heritagehappens.blogspot.com/2011/08/31-wbgb-week-6-27-must-read-tips.html
There is so much to think about here! Wow!
Thank you again Tonya for doing this!


Linda Gartz August 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hi Tonia,
I just recently signed up for comment alerts through Disqus. I like being able to follow comments — on posts I’m interested in. Problem is, when so many people comment, I have about 10 emails just from one blog post. If I do more — well, imagine — following just 5 could be 50 emails in an short time. I discontinued following that one set of comments because I didn’t really want to read 50 times “Great post.” or “I do this.” 1 out of 10 comments may have added something. It’s a hard call — I want to follow, but I’ll never get writing done if the emails follow-ups take up so much time – just looking at them!
Linda Gartz´s last blog post ..Central Park, NY 1911. I’ve arrived!


Tonia Kendrick August 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Good point, Linda. All the comments – especially the “great post” comments – can become overwhelming pretty quickly. I’ve decided I have a certain amount of time to devote to reading and following comments, so that I don’t lose focus on the research and writing.


Lisa August 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I wrote about this challenge (albeit in a roundabout way) at my blog http://www.1ancestry2littletime.com/2011/08/12/how-not-to-start-a-genealogy-blog/#axzz1UplIWhWf

Thank you again for this challenge. There is a lot of good information in all of these links, and I can imagine how long it must have taken you to compile it all!!
Lisa´s last blog post ..How NOT to start a genealogy blog


Lisa August 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

LOL compile the info not the links :)
Lisa´s last blog post ..How NOT to start a genealogy blog


Tonia Kendrick August 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Lisa, I spent more time on this post than on any of the other “31 Weeks” posts, so far. But I think it was worth it. These all are posts that I want to revisit and now that I have them all compiled in one place, revisiting will be easy.


Tara Anderson August 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

Tonia, I’m loving this week’s post! I especially enjoyed “Want a Better Blog Tomorrow Morning? Do These 6 Things Tonight” and “How to Turn a Lousy Blog Headline into a Great One.” I’ve bookmarked this post, and I’m going to try to get through all the links over the next week or so.
Thank you for doing the 31WBGB – I feel it is really helping me become a better blogger. :-)
Tara Anderson´s last blog post ..Sentimental Sunday: A brief history of Fridhem Church and Cemetery


Tonia Kendrick August 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I really liked both of those, too. Glad you think it’s helping!


Ruth Stephens August 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

Here’s mine:


Just made it under the wire! A crazy week at my house… :)

Ruth Stephens
Ruth Stephens´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: 27 Must-Read Tips for Genealogy Bloggers


Dana August 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Here’s my entry! This week was a tough one. :)

Dana´s last blog post ..Society Saturday: Howe Came They Here, 1858


Tonia Kendrick September 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Congratulations to Mary K. McGraw of MK’s Family Page, winner of the Blogging for Beginners Webinar.

Thanks to everyone who participated this week. I know it was a LOT of reading. : )


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