August 22, 2011

Playing Catch Up with 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog

I don’t know about you, but my summer is flying by! Between vacations, an unexpected project, and kids home for the summer, I’ve fallen behind in a lot of things, including blog reading and writing. Tempting as it is to throw in the towel, I’m going to try to catch up, starting with what I missed in Tonia Kendrick’s “31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog.” Tonia is doing a great job with this series, setting up challenges with lots of helpful information and giving personal feedback. And I’m learning so much from the enthusiastic participation of fellow bloggers that I don’t want to let the ideas slip by without trying them out.

So today I’m revisiting Week 4: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog. The challenge is to look at a blog in terms of content, reader engagement, design, and monetization, then come up with some action items for your own blog. I chose to take a look at Amy Coffin’s blog, We Tree Genealogy. Amy’s blog is highly successful—it was named one of the top 40 genealogy blogs of 2011 by Family Tree Magazine, and has over 450 followers. Yet she was one of my first followers, and even leaves me a comment from time to time (as does Greta Koehl of Greta’s Genealogy Bog, who Stardust & Roots blogger Bart Brenner reviewed). That means so much!

We Tree Genealogy covers a nice mix of topics, from personal discoveries to things of general interest to the geneablogging community. Amy’s writing style is friendly, upbeat, and engaging. Her posts are relatively short, which makes them easy to read, and frequent—every couple of days. She uses photographs and formatting to good effect, as seen in her Oklahoma Road Trip series. Three stand-alone pages—About Me, My Surnames, and Disclosures—are easily accessible via tabs.

Amy engages her readers with a conversational style, and because she usually talks about her family or herself, readers feel like they get to know her. She also has her finger on the pulse of the community. One of her posts last week, “Where Keggers and Social Genealogy Intersect,” (what a great headline!) drew 28 comments. Her sense of humor shines through on many posts, especially “Fun with Search Terms.”

Page design is simple and easy to read: posts on a white background, gadgets on the right divided into two narrow columns. A few of the gadgets are for affiliate advertisers, but they’re pertinent and don’t seem intrusive. Amy explains her affiliate associations on her Disclosures page. Older posts scroll continuously after the newest one, so readers don’t have to wait for pages to reload.

I’m glad I took the time to go back and do this challenge. Amy and Tonia have both given me some ideas and inspiration for my own blog. Here are a few action items I want to try:
1.  Keep posts short and frequent; create a series for longer ones
3.  Post on developing news when it impacts me
3.  Refine my stand-alone pages

If you haven't already done so, be sure to read the Comments to #31WBGB: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog for links to more great reviews of popular blogs. Thanks to Tonia, Amy, and fellow participants in the challenge, and thanks to my readers for your understanding as I get back up to speed!


  1. This is a great review, Shelley! Good luck with your action items.

  2. Shelly, thank you so much for profiling my blog! It means so much to me that you enjoy it.

  3. What a great post! I have learned a lot from you! Your three actions are goals that apply to me as well.
    You have a wonderful blog! I was excited to see you are a fellow Buckeye and thought we might share ancestors, but that's not the case. Darn it!
    I've enjoyed your posts and will be back often.
    ~ Cindy from Genealogy Circle

  4. Thanks, Tonia! Amy, the pleasure is all mine.

  5. Welcome, Cindy! I'm so glad you enjoy reading my blog. It's always great to connect with another Buckeye-even if we don't have ancestors in common, we probably share an interest in the same places. I'll look up your blog, too!


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