December 1, 2015

YouTube for Family History: Make and Share Your Own Family History Video

website in screen youtube for family historyI gave a presentation at RootsTech on using YouTube for family history. I got tons of excited feedback from people who didn’t realize a) how much internet users rely on YouTube as a source of information and b) how creatively we can share our family history there.

Katelyn Guderian, a reporter with the Deseret News (Utah), sent me an email afterward: “I genuinely enjoyed your presentation and the suggestions you offered. YouTube can seem overwhelming to users who aren’t familiar with how it works, and I think you did a nice job at making it seem manageable.” Even better, she shared a lot of my comments on using YouTube in this news article. Here are my 6 tips for using YouTube for family history as she shared them in her article:

1. Identify your target audience: Who are you trying to reach? What do they specifically want to know?

2. Create usable content: Create videos that answer questions and bring insight to families.

3. Be authentic: Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Let your personality guide your posts, and people who like it will keep coming back.

4. Keep it short: Limit most videos to 3–5 minutes, with the longest posts being around 10. Leave your audience wanting more.

5. Keep it simple: Make your content direct and easy to understand. Leave your audience with a call to action.

6. Use proper lighting: If you are filming a new video, make sure to have light on your face to eliminate shadows. Audiences won’t watch something they can’t see. Try not to combine natural light with artificial light while on camera.

Thanks for the coverage and the positive comments, Katelyn!

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition cover youtube for family historyEveryone can learn more about using YouTube for family history in a full chapter dedicated to the topic in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, fully revised and updated for 2015. There’s an entire chapter on YouTube, not just on using it to share your family history, but on researching your family history. Yep, that’s right–it’s possible to find some real gems on your family on YouTube, like historical video footage that tells you their story and may even include your relative.

YouTube for Family History! More Genealogy Gems for Making and Sharing Your Own Videos Online

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About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.