Family History Episode 40: How to Start a Genealogy Blog, Part III: Step by Step

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished July 15, 2014

family history genealogy made easy podcast

Listen to the free in podcast in your favorite podcast app.

 

https://lisalouisecooke.com/familyhistorypodcast/audio/fh40.mp3

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 40: How to Start a Genealogy Blog, Part III: Step by Step

In the last two episodes you’ve been hearing from experienced genealogy bloggers about family history blogging. I hope it piqued your interest and got you thinking about the possibility of doing it yourself. As we’ve discussed, it’s a great way to share your experiences with other researchers and potentially connect with long lost relatives.

Well in today’s episode I’m going to walk you through setting up your own family history blog step-by-step. By the end of this episode you could have your own family history blog up and running and sharing your enthusiasm about genealogy with the world. How does that sound? Are you willing to give it a try? And even if you’re not looking to start blogging today, listen in and plant the seeds for the future.

From the Mailbox:

A long-time listener wrote in this last week about the recent blogging episodes:

“The Transcript software mentioned by Denise Levenick looks great – I downloaded and installed it this morning. I am giving a brief software demonstration at the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society’s 30th Anniversary Celebration tomorrow and I am going to let people know about this product.

Episode 38 and Episode 39 have really got me thinking about starting my own blog. It won’t be easy with my 50 hours plus a week civil engineering job, but your podcasts have motivated me. Thank you!” -Will Haskell, Listener to All Your Podcasts

Transcript software is really cool: download the most recent version for free here. And that’s just one example of the kind of great tech tips that Denise Levenick blogs about at The Family Curator Blog!

Follow-up: when republishing this episode, we were curious about whether Will ever started a blog. He did! It’s very cool! Find Will’s Genealogy Blog at http://wchgenealogyblog.blogspot.com/.

Also, listener Anne-Marie had some questions about how to make progress with her Maw-gee research, specifically how to track down their immigration records. She wrote in again to say that she’s going to follow up on our suggestions and let us know what she finds. But she also had some comments about my interview with genealogy blogger the Footnote Maven (Episode 38):

“I have begun listening to Family History and Genealogy Gem podcasts from the beginning again. When I listened the first time I was so novice that I did not always understand what I was hearing. It’s great to have this audio reference guide.”

How to Start a Genealogy Blog: Step by Step

Now before we get started on created your blog let me just say that there are probably countless websites for setting up blogs and certainly countless ways to go about it. My goal in the approach that I’m going to take is to get you up and running in a short period of time for free. This is a great way to get your feet wet, see if it’s for you, and if you decide to get more elaborate with it later you can always do that.

1. Decide what the purpose of your blog is.

When it comes to a genealogy themed blog there are still lots of options – so here are some ideas:

  • A Research Log
  • A Surname Focus
  • Family Traditions, Family Recipes, Photos
  • Genealogy News
  • Focus on a certain record type
  • Provide beginner education
  • Interviews with relatives
  • History of an ancestor’s home or community
  • Have a general all purpose blog
  • Follow a pattern for each day

And remember the Footnote Maven’s good advice – You can’t be an expert in everything, so don’t even try. To me a good way to stay out of that trap is to stay narrowly focused. If you find yourself having to be an expert in everything you’re blog theme is probably too broad. And of course, be yourself. Do what you do best!

2. Use Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) to create your blog. It’s free, and easy to use.

Blogger is owned by Google so if you already have a Google account than you’re one step ahead of the game. If not that’s the first thing you’ll need to do. Then click “Create Your Blog Now.”

Note: As on any website, the organization and features of Blogger change over time. The following description was current at the time of publication. Use this following descriptions and concepts to guide you through the current version of Blogger.

Name your blog. Of course, the name should reflect what your blog is about, but it’s also good to think of one that is catchy, and one that you can get the URL address for. The URL name you pick has to be something that isn’t already being used, so it might take a few tries.

How to Name Your Blog:

  1. Type in the Title Field
  2. Type the URL you want in the “Blog Address URL” field
  3. click the Check Availability link to see if it is available
  4. Type in the word verification code
  5. Click the CONTINUE button.

3. Select a Design Template:

  1. Scroll through the design templates and pick one you like
  2. Click the select button
  3. Click the CONTINUE button
  4. You’ll get a page that says Your Blog has been created!
  5. Click the orange arrow that says START BLOGGING.

There are a couple of more things we’ll want to do with our blog before we get to the business of actually posting blog articles. First let’s just get familiar with the blog dashboard. This is sort of the “behind the scenes,” an area your readers will never see, but where you will actually do your blogging.

There are 4 tabs along the top: Posting, Settings, Layout and Monetize.

Blog Tune Up: From the Posting Tab….Click the SETTINGS tab. Type up a short description of the blog.

Vocab Word: KEYWORDS

Keywords label your blog so that when readers go searching for a blog to read they will find it. So some good keywords for this new blog that I’m creating would be

  • Genealogy
  • Family history
  • Family tree
  • Blog
  • How to

Keywords can be single words or a short keyword phrase such as “family history” which readers will very likely be searching for. Blogger allows you 500 characters.

The rest of your options on this Basic Settings page are mostly about how your content will be labeled and found on the internet. You can take a look through the options but in most cases you will want to leave them on their default settings. When you’re done just click the SAVE SETTINGS button at the bottom of the page. And for right now you can leave all of the other types of settings as is as well. There are about 9 different categories within the Settings Tab that you can tweak, but the default settings on these are just fine for now.

4. Add at least one gadget. Click the LAYOUT tab. I love working with this area because this is where you get to customize the layout and the types of gizmos and gadgets that are on your blog. We don’t want to overdo it but there are some really good ones you’re not going to want to miss.

Blogger will automatically add a couple of gadgets to the sidebar of your blog. They are:

  • Followers – people who use blogger who subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed.
  • Blog Archive – This gadget automatically archives your older blog posts.
  • About Me – This is just a place where you can tell your readers a little more about yourself and include your email address if you wish.

To see what other types of gadgets you can add just click the Add A Gadget link in top side box. That will bring up a window with lots of choices for you:

  • Search Box
  • Text
  • Photos
  • Slide show
  • Video Bar
  • Polls
  • Lists
  • RSS feed
  • Subscription Links
  • HTML / Javascript

Each one of these is very easy to use and pretty self-explanatory. But I recommend not overloading your blog. Only include, at least to start, the items you really think your readers would get some value from. Otherwise it can just be annoying distraction that gives readers a reason to leave your blog.

How to Add a Picture Gadget to Your Blog:

  1. Cick the plus sign on the right hand side of the page for the PICTURE gadget.
  2. This will bring up a page call CONFIGURE IMAGE.
  3. Give the image a title
  4. Type a Caption
  5. Link to an image on the web OR upload from your computer hard drive.
  6. (To upload from your computer make sure the “From your computer” button is selected and then just click the BROWSE button. Navigate your way to the location of the photo on your computer’s hard drive and select it.) Once the image appears that means it has been successfully uploaded to Blogger.
  7. (If you want to link this image to another website, then you will want to type in the address in the LINK field.)
  8. Click the orange SAVE button and we’re done.
  9. Now you will be back at your dashboard in the Layout mode. You will see that the top box on the side is now labeled as the title you gave your image.
  10. Click the blue PREVIEW button at the top and a preview window will open showing how your blog currently looks and it will include the image you just uploaded.

5. Rearrange Your Gadgets on Your Blog. Hover your mouse over the gadget and your cursor will turn into a cross with arrows. Click and grab the gadget and drag it where you want it and drop it in place. Click the PREVIEW button to see how that looks.

Genealogy Blogging Summary

We’ve made a lot of progress on our blog in a very short amount of time. Take some time this week to take the steps we took in this episode:

  1. Decide on the theme or focus on of your blog
  2. Get a Google Account and create your Blogger blog account with your chosen name and secure the URL address to go with it.
  3. Pick your design template
  4. Add at least one gadget from the choices provided
  5. And move the gadgets you have so far around until they are in the order you want.

Next week we will finish up this family history blogging lesson with adding a few more gadgets and details, doing a bit of pre-planning for our blog posts, publishing your first article, and then talking about how your readers will subscribe to your blog.

Finally, here’s a link to genealogy expert (and blogging guru) Amy Coffin’s blog post, “Another Jones Surprise or Why Genealogists Should Blog.” Next week’s episode will include handouts on Amy’s great ideas for up to a year’s worth of genealogy blog posts by societies or individuals—you won’t want to miss that!

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Episode 70 – Getting Started Using Evernote for Genealogy

Doing genealogy research generates a wide variety of research notes: typed and handwritten, audio, photos, video, and screenshots of information on websites. If you want one tool to pull together your current research projects, Evernote might just be the answer. In this video and article you’ll learn the role that Evernote can play, what it is and how to set it up, and your options for using for free or as a subscriber. 

evernote for genealogy tutorial

Evernote for Genealogy Video Tutorial

In this video and article Lisa Louise Cooke will discuss:

  • What Evernote is and the role Evernote can play in your genealogy research
  • How to get started with Evernote
  • Using it for free or as a subscriber
  • Best Practices for tagging, notebooks and more. 

Click here to get started with Evernote.

Use it for free or upgrade to get all the bells and whistles like OCR and use on all your devices. (We will be compensated if you use our affiliate link. Thank you for supporting this free show.)

 

Show Notes 

In my recent videos on how to avoid research rabbit holes that keep you from your genealogy goals, I mentioned that I use Evernote to capture BSOs or bright shiny objects that are interesting but not what I’m working on at the moment. So in this video I’m going to explain what Evernote is, and how to get started using it.

Give Evernote a try with our link

https://evernote.grsm.io/genealogy
(Using our link helps support the free show. Thanks!)

What is Evernote?

Evernote puts all your notes in one place and offers an incredibly fast and easy way to retrieve them.

Evernote is a:

  • website
  • software program for your computer (Win & Mac) that you download for free from their website
  • mobile app (iOS & Android): search for Evernote in your device’s app store
  • a web clipper for your computer’s web browser

Benefits

Genealogy can get a big messy. Information can be gathered from countless sources and in a variety of forms. You could funnel things through a cloud service like Dropbox. However, because Evernote is a note taking app, it offers unique and super helpful features:

  • Create all types of notes
  • From all of your devices. Thanks to Cloud synchronization you can take a note on any device and always have access to the most current version. (Free mobile app)
  • Web clipping – It allows you to clip items from the Internet (rather than saving entire bulky web pages),
  • OCR technology makes notes (such as newspaper articles) keyword searchable (subscription)
  • Data like URLs and the date you created the note is automatically included
  • No total storage limit, just monthly upload
  • You can use it for free, and upgrade for all the bells and whistles.

Getting Started with Evernote

  • Sign in for a free account at https://evernote.grsm.io/genealogy
  • Install the software on your desktop computer (Windows & Mac)
  • Download the web clipper to your browser (app store or Google it)
  • Download the free Evernote app to your mobile devices from the iTunes App Store or Google Play

Features & Costs

(Subject to change. Visit evernote.com/compare-plans)

evernote pricing plans comparison 2021

Evernote pricing plans comparison Sept. 2021 – See the website for the most current offer.

 

Software Home Layout

Evernote’s Home view gives you a summary of what you’ve got going on in Evernote. If Home is new to you and you don’t see it, simply head to the left Navigation menu and click Home.

Home gives you a place to sort of summarize what you’ve got going on in Evernote. It also allows you to add more personalization.

A fun way to personalize Evernote is by adding a background image. Click Customize in the upper right corner, and then click the Change Background button. Here you can add a preset image or add your own.

By default, Home comes with widgets such as:

  • Notes (highlighting your most recent notes, and Suggested notes based on your activity)
  • A Scratch Pad
  • Recently Captured items by type (web clips, images, documents, audio and emails)

While you’re in Customize mode, you’ll see additional available widgets like:

  • Calendar (allowing you to sync your Google calendar with Evernote)
  • Filtered Notes
  • Notebooks
  • Pinned Notes
  • An additional Scratch Pad
  • Shortcuts
  • Tags
  • Tasks

We’ll explore some of these further in a moment. But first, let’s create our first note!

All Notes View – Snippet View:

  • Left column = your files and organization
  • Center column = search for notes
  • Right column = the note you are currently working on

Change the layout by clicking the View Options icon (in Snippet View it appears at the top of the search column). This will give you a variety of layout options.

Change what appears or is hidden from view, and whether the view is dark or light by clicking View in the menu.

Notetaking 101

Create a note by clicking the New Note (+) button at the top of the screen.

Creating a new note is as simple as starting to type. Evernote saves your work instantly and without any extra effort on your part. Notes are saved in “the Cloud” on Evernote’s servers. This means all of your notes are automatically backed up. In addition, all of your notes will sync across all of your various computing devices. And Evernote facilitates sharing notes with others for research collaboration.

Click the Info icon at the top of the note to see the meta-data for that note. You can add and edit this information.

Types of Notes:

  • Typed
  • Sketched
  • Photos
  • Attachments
  • Video
  • Audio

Note Info has changed and can now be found by pressing Control + Shift + I on your keyboard, or clicking the More Actions (3 dots icon) in the upper right corner of the note and selecting Note Info.

Tagging is the Key to Organization

Add a tag based on important keywords associated with the note.

Examples of tags for genealogy:

  • Surnames (Cooke, Moore)
  • Record types (birth, census, land)
  • Locations (Indiana, Germany)
  • Time frames (1900-1909, 1910-1919)
  • Tasks (pending, add to database, follow up, etc.)

To tag a note, click Add Tag at the top of the note and select a tag from your list or add a new tag. Tags will appear in the left column. Click any tag in the left column to retrieve all notes with that tag.

Evernote Tasks

In June of 2021 Evernote added a Tasks feature. It operates just  a little differently than how I’ve been using tasks. Evernote tasks are:

  • To Do Items
  • Note Specific (versus a tag which can retrieve all notes with that task)
  • Often Deadline Driven
  • Assignable to Others
  • Searchable

Where is the Trash?

You will find Evernote’s Trash bin at the bottom of the Navigation bar on the left.

Notebooks

Notebooks take organization a step further. I create notebooks sparingly. I use them to divide Evernote up into workspaces: Genealogy, Personal, Business, etc. I also use them for long-term and collaborative research projects that I may want to share with others.  You can drag and drop notebooks on top of each other to create Stacks, although Evernote only allows one level of stacking.

How to create a new notebook:

  1. In the menu select: File > New Notebook
  2. Name the new notebook in the pop-up window
  3. Select notebook type – usually you would set it up to synchronize, but you do have the option to have the notebook reside only on the computer it was created by selecting Local

The Cloud and Synchronization

Notes are saved on your computer and in the Cloud on Evernote’s servers. This means all of your notes are automatically backed up, and also accessible from your account on their website. Your notes will sync across all of your computing devices that have Evernote installed. There’s no need to manually sync with the new version. It happens automatically whenever you’re connected to the internet.

Web Clipping

As you visit webpages, you can clip just the portion of the page that you want to remember and keep rather than printing the page or bookmarking it. You can type the source citation directly into the note. Clippings appear as images in the note.

How to clip a screenshot using the computer software:

  1. Right-click on the Evernote icon in your computer task bar.
  2. Select Clip Screenshot.
  3. Use the cross-hairs to draw a box around the desired content.
  4. Release you mouse and you will see a quick flash on the screen indicating the content has been saved as a note in Evernote.
  5. In Evernote click on the note to type additional information if desired.

How to download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser:

  1. Go to: evernote.com/webclipper
  2. The download page will detect the browser that you are using and offer the correct web clipper. Click the download button.
  3. The Evernote web clipper will install in your web browser (look in the upper right corner of your browser for the elephant icon.)
  4. Sign into your Evernote account in the clipper.

Using the Browser Web Clipper:

When you visit a web page and find something that you want to clip, click the Evernote Web Clipper (elephant) icon in your web browser. The browser web clipper can save:

  • a full page (even the parts out of view)
  • an article
  • a simplified article (removing unwanted graphics and text not pertaining to the article)
  • a screenshot (where you precision clip with cross hairs)
  • a bookmark

As you clip you can select which notebook to file the note in and add any desired tags. It will also include the URL in the note header.

Search and Retrieval

Type a keyword into the search box and Evernote will locate and display notes that contain the keyword in the center column. This includes typed text from a website clipping or image, as in the example above. With a subscription, OCR technology makes it possible for you to search for words in Evernote to retrieve notes that include those words, both on the clipped image and in printed handwritten text.

Resources

Genealogy Gems Premium Videos including:

  • Organize Your Research with Evernote
  • Making Evernote Effortless
  • Using Evernote to Create a Research Plan
  • Evernote: 10 Projects You Can Do
  • Collaborative Genealogy with Evernote

Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF
Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

 

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