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Genealogy Blog: The Fast Method of Setting Up a Blog

Here is the fast method of setting up a genealogy blog, or any blog.

1. Write a Plan of Action

As discussed, it’s important to have a plan before you attack. Otherwise, it’s a little messy. Every good plan starts with a good purpose.

The purpose of my genealogy blog is:

  • Displaying our family tree.
  • Sharing family stories.
  • Bringing together family members, news, and information under one resource.
  • Working with other family members to preserve our family history.
  • Sharing our research with others.
  • Providing an avenue for teaching and writing.
  • Helping others learn from our family history research techniques.
  • Provide resources on genealogy research and studies.

From this plan, I can set my categories. I believe in “putting it where you can find it later”. By setting my categories, I now where to put my posts and articles, and it gives me a guideline to start writing for these topics.

Based upon this list, my post categories will be:

  • Family Names
    • Anderson
    • Elwell
    • Farlin
    • Knapp
    • VanFossen
    • Vaughn
    • West
  • Family News
  • Genealogy News
  • Genealogy Resources
  • Genealogy Techniques

I’ve covered the basic purposes of the blog. I’ve got the core last names of the families for which I have information about and stories to share. I can add more names later. I have a category for the family names, which is a listing of all the names in my family tree, and another one for family news. This covers the personal side of the blog’s purpose. For the educational information, I have categories on genealogy news, resources we find as we research, and techniques we learn or discover during our research.

Ah, wait, I’m missing something.

One of the biggest challenges in family history people is finding missing persons, the people in our family’s past we know nothing about. That’s part of the point of having a family history blog. Sure, it’s about sharing information, which will hopefully help others find their family’s missing persons, but also to help us publicize our missing ancestors. I decided to add a category for posts about our missing persons called “Do You Know These People?”

I need some core Pages to fill in with static, go nowhere information. These are not articles but web pages that help people learn more about the site, what we’re doing and who we’re researching, how to contact us (especially if you know of one of our missing people), credits to say thank you and acknowledge people who write and contribute to our family research and the blog, and sources for more information and citations for where we got our information in our family history research.

The list of Pages I need for my genealogy blog are:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Credits
  • Research Resources
  • Research Sources

I might change the titles of the pages as I work on them, but it’s a start.

Family names page with site search links on each nameLooking through my list of categories and pages, I realize that “family names” isn’t a good category. And it’s confusing. I want a listing of all the names in my family name set in links that, when clicked, will generate search results for any articles or posts that include that name. I can do this by whole name, first names and last names, or just last names. There are a lot of ways I can do this, but the point is, this is not post information.

The family name list will be a single page with all the names on it. Not a series of articles about each family name. That will be covered under the “Family” category by family name sub-category. The family name list is more of a directory or index. So it needs to be added to the Page list and taken out of categories.

Knapp family treeI also want to highlight specific family’s ancestors and descendants, as I know them. Family tree lists are very helpful to find out who is related to who. By sharing my own lists, I hope to help others find their ancestors. I also want to give them a chance to correct some of the mistakes I’ve made in my tree, helping me find more relatives along the way. A family tree can be generated by most of today’s genealogy software programs. Basically, it’s an ordered list by generation of “begets”, listing names and dates but no information.

When someone arrives on my genealogy blog looking for information on the Knapp family, I want them to find posts about the Knapp family, but I also need a single page, easily found and accessible, that lists the Knapp family tree as I know it. If I had 20 family trees, a category for “Family Trees” would be appropriate, but so far, I only have a couple completed trees. Now, I need a Page for each core family tree.

After some more thought, I realize that these will fit best under the “Family Names” Page as sub-Pages, connecting the names with the family tree information. A little rearranging and I now have my final family history blog categories and Pages list. Not final as in “will never change” but final as in “this will get me started”:

Family History Blog Categories

  • Family
    • Anderson
    • Elwell
    • Knapp
    • West
    • Farlin
    • Vaughn
  • Do You Know These People?
  • Family News
  • Genealogy News
  • Genealogy Resources
  • Genealogy Techniques

Family History Blog Pages

  • About
  • Contact
  • Credits
  • Research Resources
  • Research Sources
  • Family Names
    • David West Descendants
    • Nicholas Knapp Descendants
    • Arnold VanFossen Descendants
  • Genealogy Research Resources
    • Family Name Resources
    • Genealogy Research Techniques and Tips Resources
    • General Genealogy Research Resources
    • Geographic Genealogy Research – Location

2. Choosing a Blogging Platform and Web Host

The critical part of your blog plan is to choose a blogging platform and web host. I discussed this extensively in Determining What Features I Want in My Blog and The Blog Budget – How Much Does a Blog Cost?, and now it’s time for the final decision.

The rest of this process is controlled by which you choose. If you choose a free blogging service, like WordPress.com, the next part of the plan has limits on what you can, and can’t, do. If you choose to go with a hosted website and the full version of WordPress or another blogging tool, then you have more options.

For the fast version of setting up your genealogy blog, I’ll stick to the basics and assume you are new to all of this and you want to go easy, if not cheap. For those technically savvy, I’ll have plenty of articles coming out to help you rip and tear your genealogy blog up.

3. Ready, Set, Go

With your blogging software installed or set up on a hosting service, you are ready for the next steps.

  1. Enter your categories in the administration panel.
  2. Add your Pages with appropriate content.
  3. Fill in all the blanks.
  4. Pick a look for your blog that matches your blog’s content.
  5. Start writing.

You thought there was more? That’s it.

From here, you start adding posts to each category. Got information on the latest news or conferences on genealogy, then write about it. Have a great technique you discovered for researching your family, start writing. Got plenty of neat pictures of old people dressed up in old clothes back when the only color in a photograph was sepia? Upload and show them off. Have some juicy stories about your ancestors, where they lived, how they lived, and why they did the things that they did, then please share them. We all love a good soap opera, especially when it is about family gossip.

It’s that easy. Ready, set, go. Start writing.

You can also call it “blogging”, but I call it writing. Go write.

Genealogy Blog: Building a Blog Series


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

3 Comments

  1. Yaser
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, you’ve somewhat inspired me to setup a Geneology blog. I never thought about the possiblities since gathering information on these things are usually difficult, but if you can make it an interface for anyone to access, it could help in fully mapping out a lot of confusing things (since I’m from Afghanistan, a very tribal society, even though I live in the States) in the long run. Thanks for the idea! Now its only motivation on my part!

  2. Yaser
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I always remember one last point after I hit Post comment. Nice New Layout! I like the easy to read font and the contrasting blues. Keep having fun with the CSS.

  3. Posted November 4, 2006 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Great article on how to plan out a new site! I am getting ready to set up my own family history site, so this is very timely. If you don’t mind, I’d like to borrow your basic category structure (but not your theme, which is very nice).

    I am also looking into the new WordPress plugin under development that integrates phpGedView into WordPress.


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