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Saturday, 12 March 2011

A Beginner Blogger's Review

I have just passed my first 6 months as a blogger, so it seemed a good time to review how I have been getting on  - what has worked well and what not so well.

  • When I started, my main concern was "Is anyone finding this and more importantly actually reading it?" A few arms were twisted with friends and relations to sign up as my first followers.  I have had tremendous personal pleasure from blogging,  but after all it is all about sharing memories  - and recognition from others is a great motivator.

  • I began by trying to find other British family history bloggers.  Thank you to John of The Wandering Genealaogist for pointing me in the direction of Geneabloggers.com.   I haven't looked back, taking on the challenge of the stimulating blog prompts, eagerly checking the daily blog beats to see if my efforrts have been listed, hoping for comments and becoming part of a great social network.
  • I am allso one of those (sad?) people who actually like analysing statistics, so the number of page views has come under scrutiny.
  • Past experience on message boards etc.  means I am under no illusion that my family names (Danson, Rawcliffe, Weston & Donaldson) evoke much interest, so the blogs themselves have to do the job.
  • My most popular postings are due,  I am sure , to the appeal of the Geneablogger prompts.
    Black Sheep Sunday - Great Grandfather in the Stocks (Dec. 2010)
    Black Sheep Sunday - John Danson's "Said Bastard Child" (Jan 2011)
    Wedding Wednesday - Jennie Danson 1920's Style (Dec 2010)
    Wedding Wednesday - A Shivering Bridesmaid, Dec. 1946.  (Jan 2011)
  •  've tried to follow the online advice about catchy titles, and putting the focus on them,  with the prompt label second.  I thought I was being a bit too obscure with "Barque, Brig, Sloop. Smack and Snow" (Dec 2010) when writing about my Donaldson maritime connections.  It initially aroused little interest but has since moved to the 5th most popular post - or perhaps readers are just wondering what is  it all about!
  • The post that evoked the most comments was ironically one I rattled off quickly without too much thought - "From Book to Blog"  (Nov. 2010) - and that was without the benefit of a blog prompt label.
  • Some postings have been written as much for myself.  I was proud to write a tribute to my mother in "Happiness is Stitching - Talented Tuesday" (Dec 2010) .  It did not result in any comments but has again been slowly gaining more page views.
  • "Eye Witness" (Mar 2011) came about following Susan Petersen's Long Lost Relatives blog with her moving account  of the Challenger Disaster.    It made me think back to events that affected  me such as the Queen's Coronation, the Assassination of President Kennedy, and 9/11.  On a much lighter note "Nifty at Netball but Hopeless at Hockey" (Feb 2011) was composed in my head in bed one sleepless night.  Neither of these postings have resulted in any interest, but you never know they may appear recycled in an appropriate "52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy".  
  • I enjoy looking at old newspapers in my local archive centre and there are many quirky, fascinating reports which I was keen to share e.g. A Slow Stagecoach Journey,  A Female Navie, Female Fashions, A 1913 Society Wedding, among them.  So I began a series entitled "Stop Press" which I quite liked as a header, as opposed to the more prosaic "Newspaper Article".  Howver there has been a singular lack of reaction, so perhaps this again is a series for my own pleasure.  
So what do I like in a blog?
  • Photographs are a fascination,  whether of famiy, fashions, heirlooms, houses  or documents
  • Catchy titles that attract my interest in the long list of daily blogging beats.
  • Ideas and inspiration for future blog topics
  • The weekly bloggiong reviews that point me to other sites and articles
  • Practical tips, such as the recent blog on maximising  search engine impact.  
  • Attractive, artisitc front pages - beyond my current technical ability.
It has been a great 6 months.  My intial target was a posting per week.  I am so hooked, I managed 21 in the month of january!  I am relishing the blog experience of telling my family history stories to a wider audience, discovering a new style of writing, coming up with a title and content that appeals - and making new contacts with felllow enthusiasts.  

Thank you to all the support given by my fellow Geneabloggers.  Onto the next 6 months! 


  1. Susan, (love your name, by the way!), your blog is coming along just great - always enjoying reading your posts in my RSS Reader. Thanks for the mention. I just re-read your blog post about historical events that had an impact on your life. The blogging prompts definitely help generate ideas for content. Like you, I really believe that a picture is worth a thousand words (but a photo doesn't keep me from writing a post to go along with it!). Keep up the good work - we are reading!

  2. Congrats on 6 months, keep up the good work, your momentum has just begun!

  3. Congratulations. I was in hiatus with the transcribing of old letters during your initial posts, but have enjoyed your blog post since my return to blogging.

  4. Good job! Keep it up. I started out really slow and then I started blogging almost every day. It's been a little over a year now and I've slowed down again but still try to get three or four blogs posts in each week. I always worry I'll run out of things to blog about, so I have to keep up on the research end too and keep a list of ideas going always!

  5. Congratulations on blogging for 6 months!

    I particularly like your list on what you like in a blog.

  6. You've had a great six months. I believe when your blog is read in a reader, it will not be included in the statistics. And, as you see from these comments (which probably represent a small fraction of the readers), plenty of people are stopping by! I think that it is also good to include posts that are just for yourself. They may help you organize your thoughts and research or they may attract contacts who are interested in researching the same people. And sometimes a random idea may attract a lot of readers; you never know. Looking forward to reading more.

  7. I think for some of us it takes a while before people stop by to read what we've written. (Sometimes we never know if they've stopped by unless they've left a comment.) Also, I think there's a big difference between writing for oneself and writing for "publication" -- and when we write for publication, there is so much satisfaction in knowing others are reading. I wish I knew what brings others to blogs and blog posts, as in, what makes one "popular" and well-read and another not.

    I like your list of things you like in blogs.
    Congratulations on completing 6 months. Blog on!

  8. I enjoy reading your blog. You are on my reading list, and even if I do not read every day, I always play "catch-up." Congrats on your six month blogging history.

  9. Congratulations Susan - my blog is relatively new as well, but I am enjoying the writing and find the Genie Blogging community very supportive. Looking forward to your next 6 months! Jo :-)

  10. Congratulations on completing 6 months of blogging! I just started in January and yours is one that I've been enjoying.

    I'm nominating you for the One Lovely Blog award!

  11. Dear All, Thank you for such heartening comments on my blog, and also to Kathryn for the award nomination. The support of my fellow geneabloggers is very much appreciated.


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