Genealogy blogging for fun and profit

This post has been inspired by Thomas Macentee’s 2012 update to the 2011 “Genea-Opportunities” series of blog posts.[1] Longtime readers may recognize that it was this discussion that originally led to the birth of this blog in its current incarnation. The first topic Thomas has proposed for this week is “Genealogy Blogging – For Fun or Profit?”

I previously discussed the reasons for my own blogging in a post entitled, aptly enough, “Why do I blog? Why do you blog?” The reasons I expressed in that post remain relevant for me, but now I would also like to discuss the general nature of blogging as a professional genealogist.

There are a number of professional genealogists who have been blogging for many years. These blogs have different focuses and their own unique strengths and weaknesses–as do most blogs of any kind. But these blogs are also among some of the most read and recognizable blogs in genealogy.

In the past year or so, I have seen quite a few professional genealogists begin blogging. Part of this, I believe, is due to the “social media” mantra that is prevalent throughout every part of our lives in the 21st century. Businesses–especially small businesses–are expected to have a social media presence.

Unfortunately quite a few of these blogs are not born out of passion. And so they do not develop a voice. The writing is sporadic and doesn’t really say anything special. In other words, it is content marketing–without the content.

This blog has developed to have two main purposes: (1) to discuss important subjects in professional genealogy; and (2) to help educate genealogists toward performing professional-level research, even if genealogy for them is “just a hobby.”

Notice that I did not include a purpose (3) to help “drum up business.” Simply stated, I do not expect to bring in research clients through this blog. It has occasionally happened, but that is not among my reasons for writing. I write because I am passionate about it–I am passionate about genealogy and passionate about writing.

For my fellow professional genealogists, I would offer this advice: If you would not otherwise have any interest in blogging, do not do so just because someone says you should. You do need a website to compete in the online world, but that website does not need to have a lackluster blog. Your blog should be how you communicate your thoughts to the world. It should mean something to you, first and foremost. Write because you feel you have to do so, not because someone else says you have to do so.

Blogs can certainly be a source of income–through affiliate marketing (i.e. advertising) or through promoting your lectures or publications. I have been known to do both of these on occasion. But the revenue generated through these means is not much.

What do my fellow professional genealogists think?

SOURCES:

[1] Thomas MacEntee, “GENEA-OPPORTUNITIES – 2012 UPDATE,” Geneabloggers blog, posted 9 July 2012 (http://www.geneabloggers.com : accessed 9 July 2012). Thomas MacEntee, “GENEA-OPPORTUNITIES (LET’S MAKE LOTS OF MONEY),”  Geneabloggers blog, posted 18 April 2011.

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “Genealogy blogging for fun and profit,”Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 9 July 2012 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Very well stated, Michael. As someone who cares, on the outside looking in, I feel you stated your case extremely well. [As you always seem to do, in my opinion, for what that is worth]. Your self-analysis fits perfectly with what I see you doing, and your advise for others is spot-on. [That latter from the management professor side of me.]. Thanks for sharing this post with each of us who follow you closely! ;-)

    Reply

  2. I have a blog which is currently dormant because I have been ill and then “de-energized,” for more than 6 months. But I planned it as an occasional blog. My purpose is not to bring my presence to the community. I use my blog for two purposes: to talk out my genealogy problems (because by expressing them to the public, I clarify the issues for my self) and to put some family history somewhere in the cloud to share with others.
    I believe that my purposes are valid for me.
    I do not see my purposes as being in conflict with the purposes of other bloggers even though they may be different purposes.

    Reply

    • Any reason that someone wants to blog that is valid for them is good enough for me.

      The point I was trying to make is that professional genealogists should not force themselves to write a blog that they are not passionate about, just because someone says they should.

      Reply

  3. Good post Michael and I especially like the part “I write because I am passionate about it–I am passionate about genealogy and passionate about writing.” I totally agree.

    As for the business angle, I just posted about some of my ideas and practices over at GeneaBloggers at http://www.geneabloggers.com/genealogy-blogging-fun-profit-2012-update/. Even if your main intent is not to drum up business via your blog, your blog still helps establish your brand and offers an effective vehicle for communicating that brand.

    Reply

    • That is a very good point. If a professional genealogist uses the blog to discuss and educate about their specialty, then it will benefit them. And these are generally the good blogs. They have a purpose; the authors have passion and knowledge. Whether or not they directly lead to business is secondary because, like you stated, the blogs help to establish their brand. This is a very important aspect of any business that many professional genealogists forget.

      And I just read your post–great one, and very transparent once again. I don’t know how you do it–I’d be too embarrassed!

      Reply

  4. Great post Michael (not that I am surprised by that). I fully agree with your comments. I just have two questions for you. But first off, I am a wanna-be blogger. I love doing it, but ever feel guilty when I take time away from my other work to indulge in my blogging fancies. Consequently, my blogs are among those that are in the not-so-consistent category. In your opinion, is it better to keep blogging when I can (rare though it may be), or to hold off on blogging altogether until I have the time to do it up right?

    Second question: is it “bad form” to mingle shamelessly the business and the personal in my posts? I tend to do that constantly, but wondered what your opinion would be. I never wonder about that with my personal blog – I say what I want and don’t give two figs if someone doesn’t like it – it is my personal outlet. But my question more relates to those blogs that are designed in connection with our business. Is the personal unwelcome on such a blog, or can people handle the mixing of the two?

    Reply

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