A Dozen Lessons I’ve Learned from 12 Years of Blogging

Where have the years gone? I began writing this blog on 28 June 2006.  In my first post I outlined my thoughts about blogging and my goal to write about my two favorite subjects—genealogy and writing. 
“Here I’ll share my thoughts, experiences, profiles on some of my favorite ancestors, and other useful information for genealogists who like to write, as well as tips on writing and publishing for writers who happen to be genealogists.” 
Very soon after my first post, I received welcome messages from blogging pioneers such as DearMyrtle and Randy Seaver of Genea-musings.

Celebrating 12 Years as The Accidental Genealogist
The Accidental Genealogist
Twelve years later, The Accidental Genealogist is still an active blog where I continue to share information about genealogy and writing. I have taken some time to reflect on what this blog has meant to me, so I’ve compiled a list of a dozen lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1.    A different style of writing. When I started my blog I was used to writing books and magazine feature articles. I had to master a new style of writing and learn new concepts such as keywords, labels/tags, and other elements. Writing this blog has helped me with focus, tone, and voice.
2.    My true passion is storytelling. My second blog post detailed why I decided to name my blog “The Accidental Genealogist.” I became a genealogist because I needed to research my family history for the thesis I completed as part of the requirement to earn an M.F.A. degree in nonfiction writing. This blog combines my interest in genealogy research with my passion for storytelling. While the research is fascinating, my favorite part of compiling a family history is crafting the stories.
3.    Blogging is more than “cousin bait.” Many genealogy bloggers use the term “cousin bait” to describe one of the benefits of blogging. While I certainly have connected with my share of cousins from writing a blog, I have also attracted followers from the genealogy community and other fields.
4.    I still have family living in Slovakia.  In 2008, I received an email from a cousin who had read this blog and reached out to tell me about her family in Kučín, Slovakia. I eventually had the opportunity to meet this cousin and other relatives when I visited Kučín in 2010. I chronicled my heritage travel experiences in my popular series of posts, Sojourn in Slovakia and Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel.
5.    Blogging is a big time commitment. I follow many other bloggers in both the genealogy and writing fields and have learned that maintaining a blog and an audience requires a commitment to creating interesting posts on a regular basis. I admire those bloggers who post weekly (some even daily), but I have not yet been able to achieve a regular schedule for frequent posts. I do the best I can with the time I have available, choosing to post when I have something interesting or important to share. I am grateful to my readers who stick with me through the dry spells!
6.    I should post more often. See #5. I am working on it!  In looking back over the yearly statistics for my posts, I observed that some years had a substantial number of posts, while others lagged behind.  I know I can do better, so I have started an idea board/blogging calendar using one of my favorite apps, Trello. I hope this will keep me on track for posting on a more regular basis.
7.    Blogging is a fabulous free platform for a writer. As a professional writer, I work for many different publications and clients, each with their own stylesheet and guidelines. However, since this is my blog, I can write about my family stories, or any other topic, my way.
8.    I’ve inspired others. Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog over the years, contacted me via email, or approached me at a conference or speaking engagement to tell me how much they have enjoyed reading my posts. I also appreciate those family historians who have participated in my Fearless Female Blogging Prompts series (started on this blog in 2010) to share the stories of their female ancestors.
9.    I became a genealogist by accident, but I have stayed a genealogist by choice. Blogging has inspired me to continue my work as a genealogy professional. I am fortunate to be able to share my passion for family history research and storytelling with others through my books, seminars, and online courses.
10. This blog is part of my legacy. In my writings and my seminars, I often advise genealogists to leave their “virtual breadcrumbs” so others can find them and read about their research. This blog does that for me. If the popular assumption about “whatever you put online stays online forever” is true, then the words I publish on this blog hopefully will continue to live on even after I am gone.
11. I still have a lot to say. See #6 above. My blogging calendar now has plenty of notes and ideas for research stories and tips I want to share, female ancestors I hope to honor, and a list of favorite writing tools and products I plan to recommend. My goal is to start a more regular blogging schedule soon.
12. Everything changes. Whether it is in genealogy or in the blogosphere, nothing remains the same forever. The tools, platforms, and methods associated with blogging have evolved over the past 12 years. There is often talk about “Is Blogging Dead?” because of Facebook, Twitter and other types of social media. I personally don’t think so. I plan to continue this blog for as long as possible (another 12 years, perhaps?) and look forward to what comes next!

Thank you to my readers and followers!  I appreciate your encouragement and support.

Copyright, 2018, Lisa A. Alzo. All Rights Reserved