Celebrating 15 Years of Blogging as The Accidental Genealogist

Today The Accidental Genealogist turns 15!



Fifteen years is a fairly long time to spend on an activity and I have enjoyed using this platform to share my experiences as a genealogist and writer. 

When I shared my first post “Welcome to My Blog” on June 28, 2006, I really did not know what to expect. I wondered if anyone would read what I shared and certainly did not anticipate I would still be blogging all these years later.

My second blog post (2 July 2006) detailed why I decided to name my blog “The Accidental Genealogist.” I wrote:
“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.” 
I like to think I have achieved my goals of sharing information and inspiration for genealogists and writers. 

Confessions of a Geneablogger

In 2014, I wrote an article entitled “Confessions of a Geneablogger” for Internet Genealogy Magazine (it appeared in the December/January 2015 issue).

In the article, I listed five reasons to blog. Here is a quick summary of that article [used with permission].

Five Reasons to Blog:

Below are five reasons why I think creating and maintaining a blog can be a very positive experience.
1. Giving Ancestors a Voice. One of the many reasons I started my blog in the first place is because it is a forum where I can share stories about my family and document my genealogy research. I don’t have famous pedigree. Most of my ancestors were peasant farmers from Eastern Europe, and not likely to have made the news unless they did something wrong or broke the law. I can use my blog as a platform to write about those ancestors who might otherwise remain in obscurity.

2. Connecting with Cousins. In the genealogy community, blogs are affectionately known as “cousin bait”. Without my blog, I likely would not have made contact with family members I had previously not known. Several cousins have found me because of my online presence, so this is definitely a good thing. I have since met many of these newly found relatives in person.


3. Inspiring and Educating Others. As a writer, instructor, and lecturer, with whom I can share my knowledge about Slovak genealogy, researching female and immigrant ancestors, and writing. I am always grateful for the positive comments and for those who contact me to say they learned something new or were inspired by one of my blog posts.

4. Engaging with Other Genealogists. Many of my fellow bloggers have become some of my closest friends. …We help, encourage, and inspire each other and collaborate on projects or research problems. This is one of the biggest benefits to being a genealogy blogger.

5. Marketing. As a genealogy professional, I feel the need to market my skills and abilities so that businesses, groups, and organizations will hire me to write articles, give presentations, and teach courses. Having a blog is a good way to freely advertise my services and reach a wide audience, although I try to strike a balance, so people don’t stop reading.

I still believe in these five reasons to blog, and look forward to how this blog will evolve as I continue my journey as a genealogist, educator, and writer.

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 appreciate your encouragement and support.
[While I have turned off the comments function of this blog for now, readers are welcome to contact me through the contact form at the top of this page.] 


Copyright, 2021, Lisa A. Alzo


All Rights Reserved
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Celebrating 14 Years of Blogging: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

Today marks the 14th anniversary of this blog!  It seems like yesterday since my first post on June 28, 2006!



When I created this blog, my goal was pretty simple: to share information about my two favorite topics: writing and genealogy! 

My second blog post detailed why I decided to name my blog “The Accidental Genealogist.” In it, I wrote:

“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.” 

A lot has happened in the genealogy world over the past 14 years both in my personal research and in my role as a writer and educator.  I have enjoyed sharing news about my personal goals, books, speaking engagements, research finds, travel to my ancestral villages, and more. I participated in Blog carnivals and challenges, and even created my own blogging prompt series “Fearless Females” in 2010 to help share stories of female ancestors in March during Women’s History Month. 

I have written about research challenges I have tackled and have also had the opportunity to connect with cousins and fellow researchers around the globe.  

On the professional side, I have shared posts about new databases [affiliate link], software, and other technology tools such as Scrivener [affiliate link] to help with the research process, and writing family history, and online education opportunities I provide with my own webinar bundles, and through Research, Write, Connect AcademyThe National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and Legacy Family Tree Webinars [affiliate link].

(See my post “Five Ways to Learn Virtually with The Accidental Genealogist“)

A Look Ahead

As a result of the  COVID-19 pandemic, all of my 2020 scheduled in-person appearances were either cancelled, rescheduled to virtual presentations, or postponed until 2021,  This has provided more time for me to look further into my family history, finish some writing projects, and develop more educational materials. 

As my research interests change and my business evolves, I recognize the importance of being able to pivot and try new things. I have plans to change my websites and newsletter, and I have a new blog in the works too. Stay tuned!

A Word of Thanks

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 appreciate your encouragement and support.

[While I have turned off the comments function of this blog for now, readers are welcome to contact me through the contact form at the top of this page.] 


Copyright, 2020, Lisa A. Alzo


All Rights Reserved

[Thank you for supporting The Accidental Genealogist by purchasing any products mentioned above, which are a part of the income stream for my writing/genealogy business].



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A “Lucky” Blogiversary: The Accidental Genealogist Turns 13

Celebrating 13 Years as the Accidental Genealogist


Today this blog is officially a teenager!  

It’s hard to believe I have been blogging as The Accidental Genealogist for 13 years! 

Image by KreativeHexenkueche from Pixabay 

And I would say that as a blogger “13” is a lucky number!  I view my experience as a blogger as a journey down a long and winding river. For the most part, the flow of words has been easy and smooth, while at times there have been challenging currents and bends along the way.

When I started writing this blog on June 28, 2006, I had very little knowledge of blogging and was unsure if anybody would even follow me or be interested in what I had to say. My goal was to share information about my two favorite topics: writing and genealogy! 

My second blog post detailed why I decided to name my blog “The Accidental Genealogist.” In it, I wrote:

“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.

As I sat down to write this “Baker’s Dozen Blogiversary” post, two concepts kept showing up over and over again: Community and Connection. 

The Blogging Community

As the years went by I connected with fellow genealogy bloggers, many of whom I have met in person at conferences and now count among my closest friends. 

As a solopreneur/creative most of my work days are spent in my home office (aka The Writer’s Cave) without much interaction with the outside world unless I am on a virtual meeting or presenting a webinar.  When I travel to speak at genealogy conferences, I know that I will get to visit with many of my friends/fellow bloggers often over lunch or dinner, and I usually meet many readers who follow my blog. 

Connection

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.

The most important connection I have made thanks to this blog came in 2008, I received an email from a cousin who 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.

I am looking forward to a reunion with this cousin in the fall when I travel to the UK to present at RootsTech London!

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.

If You Write It, They Will Follow

So, if you are thinking of starting a blog but have reservations about what you will write about or who will read it, push them to one side and just start writing!  Your blog can be whatever you want it to be. As long as you have a passion for your topic, you will find others who can relate to your posts. And if you hit those rough bends and currents, just keep writing and you will soon be back on course!

A Word of Thanks

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 appreciate your encouragement and support.

[While I have turned off the comments function of this blog for now, readers are welcome to contact me through the contact form at the top of this page.] 

Copyright, 2019, Lisa A. Alzo. 

All Rights Reserved






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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

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It’s Been a Fun Five Years for The Accidental Genealogist

Today I’ve reached a milestone for this Blog. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts about my two favorite subjects–writing and genealogy–for five years. Due to other commitments I don’t get to post as often as I would like, and I tend to be a bit more selective about the topics I do choose to write about. Here are my five favorite personal highlights from the past five years:

Sojourn in Slovakia – my series of posts about my trip back to my ancestral homeland in June 2010.
Fearless Females – the series of writing prompts I started in 2010 to celebrate Women’s History Month and encourage other genealogists to tell their female ancestors’ stories.
Top 10 in 10 – My Top 10 Genealogical Moments for 2010 (I also did a list for 2009)
Ten Things I Learned From My Father – Posted for Father’s Day 2011
Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Posts from 2009 and 2010 for blogging prompts created by my good friend and colleague, Thomas MacEntee over at Geneabloggers.
When I first created this Blog in 2006, I wasn’t sure what I would write about or how to do it, and I questioned whether my title of “The Accidental Genealogist” would be a good one, but it seems like it was because since that time I have seen it turn up in other contexts, including when in 2009 I learned that another blog with the same title appeared on another blogging platform long after mine was started. Thankfully, it was a new blogger who understood and found another title.
It’s been a fun five years and I would like to extend my appreciation to everyone who reads/follows this blog and those who have commented on my posts. I look forward to sharing more about my ancestors and about genealogy and writing.
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