It’s the end of Australia’s National Family History Month. I started it with a post and I’ll end it with one, too – my answers to Jill Ball’s Bloggers’ Geneameme from her well-known and well-respected blog, Geniaus. I haven’t answered all Jill’s questions because that would make this post far too long, but I hope you enjoy it.
What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s? A Rebel Hand is my only genealogy blog; the url is http://rebelhand.wordpress.com
Do you have a wonderful “Cousin Bait” blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. Confession time. This blog was partly started as cousin bait and it’s working slowly but well. I get emails or messages through my Contact Me page from cousins and their partners and it’s always a thrill to ‘meet’ another Delaney or Simpson descendant. Sometimes we start a long email exchange and I learn a lot from them. Generous cousins have sent me photos and documents which have helped me greatly in my research. It’s a brilliant way of sharing information and I love it. Thanks, cousins!
Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? I was newish to the social media world (except for talking to my group of non-genealogy friends on Facebook) when I started blogging but I wanted to make my website, A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798 more visible. I also wanted to write about much wider subjects than my Delaney ancestors and to add research that I’d come across after my mother and I finished our book, also called A Rebel Hand. I found inspiration from the Australian and Irish genealogy and history blogs that I enjoyed reading. They were friendly and informative and gave me the spark that said: “I can do that, too!”
How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? As you’ll have guessed, it was named, with stunning originality, after the website, which was named after the book. But why ‘A Rebel Hand’ anyway? It’s a phrase from the Irish song Boolavogue, and I’ve talked about why I chose it in a couple of earlier posts. Warning: if you like Irish music don’t click on any of the links there. You could lose a good hour and get left with an earworm.
How do you let others know when you have published a new post? I have a ‘subscribe’ button on my blog so some readers know as soon as I hit the ‘publish’ button. I find that different genealogy pals often prefer different social media, so I also post on Facebook and Google+ and tweet. But I don’t leave messages in the Facebook groups I belong to; that would feel like overkill and I don’t find it appropriate for the way I use these groups, which are less newsy and more about helping each other with research.
How long have you been blogging? I’m in my terrible twos as a blogger; I published my first post on 10th November 2010.
What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? There are two important things I look for (apart from the content) when I visit a blog: information and communication. I like to see a search facility, preferably, or at least a list of categories or tags. I want to know some more about the person or people behind the blog, so I look for an ‘about’ page. A list of families being researched is helpful. As for communication, a subscribe button means I never miss a post, and G+, Facebook or Twitter buttons let me follow the writer if I like their blog. When I read an inspiring (or funny) post I like to be able to comment. It’s frustrating that I don’t seem to be able to comment on blogger/blogspot – I don’t know why. So I’ll just take the chance to say hi to the geneabloggers who use this platform – it’s not that I don’t like your posts, it’s just that I can’t tell you. And I love getting comments!
What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? I started out writing about the Delaney family and Irish and Australian historical background, because that was what I knew most about. As my research expanded into other convict ancestors I posted about them, too. I’m hoping to connect with and interest people who want to read about Australian history of the convict era and the background to some of those convicts’ lives in Ireland and what is now London. I also hope to reach others with a more general interest in genealogy, though that’s not my unique selling point.
Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? I’m proudest of the ones where I had to make sense of a large number of sources and condense what I’ve read into a short (well, not too long) blog post. So ferreting out the details of Nicholas Delaney’s death and the trial of his suspected murderer gave me a lot of satisfaction, as did making sense of the trial of another convict ancestor, James Thomas Richards. The emotionally-charged issue of convict courtship was another post which got my brain cells fizzing. And in this age of washer-dryers and instant hot water I enjoyed the challenge of understanding what washday was like for my great-great grandmother, Mary Maude Delaney (nee Wilson).
Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? Ghost stories and murders are always popular. But I had no idea when I posted about the stories (urban myths?) connected with the grave of my 3x great grandmother, Sarah Marshall (aka Simpson) that it would become the most popular thing I’d written. I have a feeling that some ghost-hunters will be disappointed when they land on a genealogy blog, though.
Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. I started another one, Writer’s Blog, after having a short story published, but I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve neglected it recently. Though I think it’ll get a lot of input when I begin a writing course in September…
What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? You don’t need to be Hilary Mantel or Steven King to write a blog well. Post what you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. And if you don’t know a huge lot yet, write about your journey of discovery. Oh, and spellcheck. Read other blogs, get to know the people behind them and you’ll find yourself part of a generous, informative and lively community. I’ve written more about starting geneablogging here. PS: give up any idea of ‘free time’.
The last word: an unexpected outcome of blogging When my mother died last year I was so busy and so full of grief that I stopped blogging for two months. Then I posted about her legacy to me – a love of family history. I knew that genealogy bloggers were great people (see my last answer) but I was deeply touched by the kindness of people who responded to that post. They helped me get back on my researching and blogging feet and broke down some of the loneliness we feel after a loss. Thank you, everyone.