#31WBGB: Solve a Problem

#31WGBGWelcome back to another week of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!    This week’s task is to write a post that solves a problem that your readers (or potential readers) have.  This ought to be easy for us, because as researchers, solving problems is what we do.

6 Ways to Identify Problems to Solve

  1. Solve your own problems – there is a good chance that others have the same problems as you.  So, instead of just solving your own problems and moving on, write up the solution as a blog post.
  2. Look for questions in search referrals – if you are using any kind of stats package on your blog, then you should be able to see the terms that people type into search engines to arrive at your blog.  For example, a recent search term on my blog was “how to find marriage records in Murray County.”  Well, shoot, I use Murray County marriage records all the time; this would be an easy post for me to write.
  3. Analyze internal searches – your stats package may give you information about what readers search for after they arrive on your blog (you know, when they click in your search box).  You could use popular searches OR look for those searches that produced no results – there’s an opportunity to solve a problem.
  4. Ask readers for questions – I see lots of possibilities with this, both for “genealogy how-to” posts and for posts related to specific ancestors or places.  There are several ways you could ask for questions:  1) write a post asking for questions, 2) set up a contact form that acts as a questionnaire, or 3) run a survey or a poll.
  5. Look for problems on other sites – this would be a good way to utilize those message boards and forums that we discussed several weeks ago.  Look for questions that are being asked and instead of (only) answering on the message board, write a blog post.
  6. Get ideas from friends and family – this would be a great way to build on the relationships with those distant cousins you’ve met on the internet.   For example, I just got an email from a person who found her great-grandparents on my site and she wanted to know if I was related to them and how.  Of course, I emailed her back, but I could also write a post elaborating on what I know about these folks and what their connection is to me.

Involve Others in the Problem-Solving

Another problem-solving idea is to get someone else to solve the problem.  Maybe there someone who is more familiar with a particular family line than you are – what about asking him/her to do a guest post?   Or maybe there is a thorny research problem that you can’t solve – ask 5 other people what they would do and compile their answers into a post.

Action Item

  • Write a problem-solving post and leave a link in the comments.

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 on CD called “Google for Genealogist” presented by Thomas MacEntee.  The description of this webinar from the Legacy site (affiliate link) says:

Most genealogists are only using 10% or less of the resources behind Google when it comes to genealogy research. Learn from professional genealogist, Thomas MacEntee, about the other 90% and how these Google components can be leveraged for better search results. Google is more than just a search engine – it is a wealth of information much of which goes unnoticed by the average genealogist. Besides search, Google allows you to access maps, books, journals, abstracts, patents and much more. These components may be what is needed to make advances in your genealogy research.

The contest ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, October 18, 2011. Winner will be drawn randomly.

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