Recently I stumbled acorss an interesting non-genealogy blog post — “14 Expert Bloggers Sharing Their Opinions & Tips On Blogging.” It started me thinking about what I have learned in 18 months of genea-blogging. When I began blogging in February, 2010, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been reading a few genealogy-related blogs and clearly heard the many invitations to begin blogging. So, I began cautiously, not wanting to make a genea-fool of myself. It is only recently that I have begun to realize how and why I am blogging. My learnings (bolstered by comments from the “14 Expert Bloggers” mentioned above) are in the form of 6 Be-Attitudes. My thanks to readers who have made comments on this post and, special thanks for the suggestions that have led to two additional be-attitudes (Be Adventuresome / Be Happy).
- Be Authentic! I have learned that I don’t have to be Randy Seaver, Dick Eastmon, DearMrytle, AncestryInsider, Cyndi Howells, or … Those roles (and their respective blogs) are already taken. Instead, I need simply to be me. KIM (Today’s Creative Blog) says, “Be authentic! You’ve got to be YOU! It’s basically the same lesson our mama’s taught us.” A blog grows out of the determination to say something in a way that only I can say it — that story about my gg-aunt Julia (Hoffman) Brenner, what I learned from reading someone else’s genealogy blog, or how my son and I collaborate on our genealogy project.
- Be Passionate! If I don’t care about what I write, no one else will either. BECKY (InfarrantlyCreative) says, “Bottom line – Blog because you love to. If blogging ever loses the joy for you then don’t be afraid to say goodbye.” Yes, information is important. And, the passion to collect and share that information is what genealogy is all about. TennLady’s description of Obsessive Compulsive Family Research Disease (“Another Attack of OCFRD“) and Michael John Neill’s post (“10 Signs you have Genealogy OCD“) are indications of the passion with which so many of up approach genealogy. JOANNA PENN (“The Creative Penn“) sums it up nicely: “write what you love to read.“
- Be Connected! Early on, I avoided participating in community blogging ventures. I didn’t think I was ready. What a mistake! Recently, after a long hiatus that brought about a need to kick-start my blogging again, I joined Tonia’s “31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog” and I have begun to participate in Randy Seavers “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.” Joining other bloggers in those challenges has helped open up my blog (and me!) to the greater geneabloggers’ community. Writing a genealogy blog places one squarely in the midst of a caring, passionate, knowledgeable community of people — my genea-cousins. I have also started leaving comments on the posts of other bloggers that I follow. I learn from them, and apparently some of them are learning from me.
- Be a Learner! As a geneablogger, I am learning blogging and genealogy as I go along. JULES CLANCY (“StoneSoup“) suggests that we “Just jump in! The most fun is in making it up as you go along.” I experiment with this; you give that a try. Then, when we share our experiences, we (along with others in the geneablogosphere) learn from one another — sometimes learning what to do; sometimes, what to try to do; others, what not to do.
- Be There for your Readers! “Write for your readers” was the most persistent recommendation of the 14 Expert Bloggers. I began thinking I was writing my blog for me. Wrong! (Actually, I do have a private blog, just for me.) DARYA PINO (“SummerTomato“) makes it quite clear: “Understand that your blog is not about you. It’s about your readers, and helping them comprehend your little corner of the world. If you value your readers, respect their time, answer their questions and treat them well, they will notice and tell others about the great work you’re doing.” 44 people have signed on to “follow” my blog. As JAMES CHARTRAND (“Men with Pens“) reminds us “Blogging is a long-term commitment to both yourself and your readers.” So I need to understand “what they [the readers of my blog] are looking for, or what they could be looking for.” ( PARKA, “Parka Blogs“).
- Be Adventuresome! Sometimes genealogy seems like a “cookie cutter” venture — that is, there are standard forms for displaying data, standard ways to cite sources, standard ways of assessing data, etc. Greta Koehl reminds us, “don’t be afraid to try something new or different. If it doesn’t work, that’s OK, but this is how we sometimes find what works” Sometimes it is necessary to ‘color outside the lines.’
- Be Happy! Bobby McFerrin said it nicely in his song: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Sheryl’s comment reminded us that it is important to “Have fun!” She also wonders if that might be the “the same thing as being passionate” From my perspective, genealogical passion can sometimes keep us so tensely involved in what we are doing (like trying to break down a brick wall) that we can forget for a while that genealogy is at its best when it brings joy. (I don’t know whether that is true for professional genealogists who are working for a client. I do know, however, that it is true for me as a passionately involved hobby genealogist / family historian.)
- Be a Miracle! This last Be-Attitude is simply a statement from LEONIE ALLEN (“Goddess Guidebook“), “Share your gifts with the world. We need your miracles, dearest.” Each of us has gifts to share. Our authenticity, passion, connections, learnings, and readers all contribute to those gifts and miracles. So… Share! Share! Share!
Do you have any additional Be-Attitudes about your blogging that you would share? I’d be delighted to hear about them.