01 March 2015

5 Things I Learned in Five Years of Blogging

I never thought I would make it two years let alone five, but today is my fifth blogiversary.  I didn't even realize it until I saw the Geneabloggers announcement on twitter.  I want to thank my readers and followers who have stuck with me over the past five years. The genealogy and blogging community is a great thing to be a part of.  It is a great time to be researching and blogging about family history. It truly has been a journey.

I have learned a lot about Genealogy and Blogging over the past five years, here are my top five:

1.  Genealogists are some of the nicest people I have met and corresponded with.
          I love to read and reply to comments. My readers have taught me a lot about blogging, researching and writing.  I enjoy this aspect of blogging.  I have asked questions, sought help, and expressed my frustration over brick walls and have found the answers through comments and emails. Thank you!

2.  Blogging improves my research tenfold!
          I started blogging as someone who had done a few years of research.  I was still learning about conducting quality research, but I knew that I didn't want to put any information on my blog that could not be verified.  I started using sources on my blog very early on.  My first Ancestor Biography post was written in March of 2010, with sources for documents.  I will write posts and conduct some of the research again just to make sure the information is accurate and sourced properly. I am a better researcher because of blogging and a better blogger because of researching.
3.  It Isn't All About Me.
          Some of my most popular blog posts aren't related to my family but to the history of my hometown. I started my blog to document the research I had conducted on my own family.  I figured I would be writing about my family research only.  I didn't have any direct line ancestors that lived in Calhoun county, so I didn't give it a lot of thought. One day I realized that this was my children's hometown. The town that they grew up in and I should share some of it with my readers.  Battle Creek is filled with history and it isn't all about cereal.  I started a "Last Day Local" series where I write about the history of the Battle Creek area on the last day of the month.  I have learned so much about Battle Creek, history and genealogy by doing these posts.  I have been in contact with some awesome people through these posts. I have helped others researching the area and I have learned from them about resources they use.  Blogging provides riches in areas one would never think possible.

4.  Cousin bait really works.
          Blogging for family history has become known as 'cousin bait'.  As genealogists we want to find that one person who has the family Bible, Great Grandma's wedding picture, or the location in Germany that Great Grandpa came from. We blog about our family in hopes that a cousin will find our blog and share the information he or she has.  I have found all of the above and more with the help of cousins.  I have my great grandma Hattie's family Bible, I have wedding pictures, and I have been in touch with a German cousin who helped me with the birthplace of J.August Fredrich. In return, I blog about it and share the information with others.  Yes, cousin bait does work.
5.  The more you write, the better you get.
          I never considered myself a writer and was apprehensive about starting a blog because of this. The first few blog posts I wrote were pretty short.  I found that the more posts I wrote the better I became and I didn't get hung up on it being written perfectly.  Okay, that isn't all true. (I figured my daughter would call me out on that line.)  I still want it to be near perfect, I just don't stress out about it as much.  I do the best I can with grammar, punctuation, spelling, layout, and content, but I know I have errors.  Hopefully, those errors are kept at a minimum.  I wrote 20 blog posts my first month; 158 posts the remainder of that year-nine months; and 183 blog posts my second year.  Regular, frequent writing has made me a better blogger/writer.

Life gets in the way as we all can relate to.  Illness, house projects, aging parents and more sometimes takes priority over blogging, which they should, but writing regularly makes a big difference. The last couple of years my writing hasn't been as regular or as frequent and I can tell the difference when I sit down to write.  It takes me awhile to get in the groove, so to speak. If you are considering blogging, just do it!  It will get easier the more you write.

Whether you have been with from the start of my Journey to the Past or are reading this for the first time-Thank You! It has been a journey that we have been on together and for that I appreciate each and every one of you. I have learned much from my readers and I look forward to the next five years as I grow as a genealogist, writer and blogger. I look forward to meeting new readers and staying in contact with the previous ones.


  1. Happy Fifth Blogoversary! It is always a pleasure to read your posts.

  2. Happy anniversary, Brenda. Isn't it amazing how blogging impacts our research? Here's to another 5 years of great blog posts!

  3. Happy Blogiversary and many more. You are so right about how genealogy blogging is cousin bait--and it works! Keep on blogging.

  4. Happy Blogiversary! My blog is only a few months old, but I hope it will be around to celebrate 5 years - even if it's only half as good as yours. Thanks for blogging.

  5. Greta, Thank you! You were one of my early readers and commenters and I thank you for that. Have a great week.

  6. Nancy, Thank You! Yes, it is amazing. Thank you for reading and commenting throughout the last few years. I appreciate it. I hope you have a great week.

  7. Marian, Thank you! Cousin bait is the greatest! I hope you have had as much success as I have. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I have enough stories in me to blog for another five years.

  8. Tim, You are off to a great start with blogging. I enjoy your book reviews and family game post. I am sure you will still be blogging in 2020! Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

  9. Thanks, Brenda. That's really nice to hear. 2020 seems decades away, but with my baby due in April, I'm sure it will be here in the blink of an eye!

  10. Best wishes in April. Just think of the stories you will be able to tell your little one.

  11. Thanks Brenda. I can't wait. He's already made me get a move on and start a blog about my family history and how I'm going about it!