I really should have been writing the August Passing of the Pioneers post when I clicked on my RSS feed for the Geniaus blog. Jill Ball’s latest post, “The Blogger’s Geneameme” sounded like a bit of fun and it was a chance to have a break from the obits. To see the full set of questions, go to Jill’s blog – Geniaus
1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s?
Western District Families www.mywdfamilies.wordpress.com
2. Do you have a wonderful “Cousin Bait” blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question.
Last year I started writing a post about the people I had come in contact with, related and otherwise,thanks to Western District Families. The post was getter longer and longer and needed fine tuning, so I put it away for a while, well, quite awhile. Finding cousins was never my intention but the number of connections I have made is amazing. I will mention a couple here, but I will get on with my “Finding Cousins” post to celebrate my new found cousins.
The research room at my local library is a place I frequent at times, but it wasn’t until I wrote about my Mortimer family that I found out the research librarian, Edie, is my fourth cousin 1 x removed. We also have a link through the Hadden family through marriage. To think I have been there researching the Mortimers and another Mortimer descendant was only metres away!
Fellow blogger Kerryn Taylor from AncestorChasing is related through the marriage of her gg grandfather George Adams and my ggg aunt Sarah Harman (both second marriages). This is a special link beyond our blogging connection.
Finally I must mention my 1st cousin 1 x removed, Warren Gamble who I have only connected with since I been blogging. Warren is an enthusiastic researcher of the Gamble family tree and connected families and is a great supporter of mine, often leaving comments of encouragement. Thanks Warren. We will catch up in person soon.
3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging?
Over the years I had gathered stories and facts about my various families and I was looking for a way to share or organise everything. Blogging was the answer.
4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s?
I was going to call my blog My Western District Families but I changed it to Western District Families because it gave me room to move with the content.
5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they?
6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post?
I post on Twitter and the Western District Families Facebook page. I also post on Google+ . If the post is specific to the Western District, I will post it on the Western District Families Google+ page or if it is a general genealogy post, I will post it on my personal Google+ page. I also use StumbleUpon for most posts and Pinterest for visual posts.
There are now 92 followers of the Western District Families blog and they either receive an email with each new post or if they are WordPress subscribers, they view each new post on the WordPress Reader.
7. How long have you been blogging?
Just over two years.
8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog?
I think a search box is important, especially with so many family names. I also use a category list, tags and an archive list, just so it easy to find posts. I use all these features myself to get around the blog. The RSS feed and the subscribe widgets are important to get posts out there.
I did have a Trove search box. The graphic didn’t install properly but the search function worked. It had been on the side bar for months when I just had to fiddle. I removed it with the aim of re-installing it, hopefully with the graphic. Bad move. Now the box doesn’t work at all. I have a person to contact at Trove to discuss it, but time hasn’t permitted .
9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience?
The essential purpose of Western District Families is to share the stories of my Western District Families with snippets of social history, with the intended audience those with the same family interests.
The audience has evolved and is now multi-layered – Those with the same family interests, those with Western District families, local history enthusiasts and those with a general interest in history. Passing of the Pioneer posts and the Trove Tuesday posts have broadened the audience, as have horse racing posts and the Adam Lindsay Gordon post.
I enjoy when visitors to the blog are those that would not normally visit a history blog. I have found there is an interest in history out there, but for some the topic needs to be something they can relate to and “hometown history” does provoke interest. I have posted links to Hamilton history blog posts to my Facebook group, “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria” and they’ve been met with interest.
People do like to recall how things were and rekindle memories of their childhood or youth. You only have to look at a new Facebook page Have You Seen Old Ballaarat Town? In just over four weeks it has attracted over 5000 “likes”. It was surprising to see that some of my friends that prefer the offerings of popular culture had “liked” the page before me. A similar page Stawell’s Views by Old Time Photos is pushing 1000 “likes” after a couple of months. Keeping the content light, fresh and identifiable are some of the keys to taking history to the masses.
One of my biggest blogging thrills to date was hearing from Samantha. After visiting Shelly Beach near Portland and reading my post The Sultan of Shelly Beach, Samantha’s primary school age daughter wrote about Shelly Beach, the Sultan and the camels for an “interesting facts about Australia” school project. As a child I read a lot of Australian history and it was stories like those of Sultan Aziz and my many Trove Tuesday animal posts that attracted me. I got hooked and if just one child gets hooked on history because of Western District Families, I’ll be delighted .
10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of?
The posts that involve the most research such as Everybody Happy? about Rupert Hazell, Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare, On the ALG Trail and Ship Mates.
11. How do you keep up with your blog reading?
Finding time to read other blogs has been difficult of late, but the WordPress Reader is convenient to keep track of WordPress blogs I follow. I also have RSS feeds at the top of my browser for the blog posts I don’t like to miss including Geniaus and the Gould Genealogy & History News. Those blogs often lead to me to other blogs of interest.
12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s?
13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software?
It’s not really something I’ve considered.
14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers?
The Fastest Ship in the World
15, Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog?
16. How do you compose your blog posts?
I plan a little more than I used to, so I start off the month by coming up with a working title for each post I plan to write during the month ahead. That’s become easier with Trove Tuesday each week and a monthly Passing of the Pioneer post always scheduled for late in the month (very late this month). Then I only have to come up with another three or four other post ideas. Most times I have drafts carried over from earlier months.
My draft list has ideas that go back 18 months but when I’m short of ideas I can return to them. As soon as an idea comes to me I start a draft with at least a title, just so I remember. Sometimes an unexpected post may come up (such as this one) and I need to reschedule, but I look at on the bright side, I will still have something to write about in following months.
Some posts can take a few weeks, depending on the amount of research involved. The posts I have listed under Question 10. are an example of those. I work on posts concurrently but each post maybe at different points of preparation. I usually begin with the photos or newspaper clippings I have gathered and then put the words around them. The Fashion and Christmas posts have been most time consuming in this respect due to the number of images. Often I find myself composing posts in my head when I’m away from a computer (…very sad) such as cooking dinner, at work, trying to sleep… some ofs my better opening and closing paragraphs have come that way.
17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs.
18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers?
Yes, one of the first things I did.
19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging?
To help with the Western District Families content, obviously Trove and the Victorian Heritage Database have been very important. To improve the blog overall, I keep up with articles I find through Twitter and Facebook about both geneablogging and blogging in general. One of the sources I use for links is the Blog Chicks Facebook page.
20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger?
Just go for it. Don’t take it too seriously and most importantly, have fun. I do!
If you would like to read what other geneabloggers have written, see Jill’s post – Feeling the Love – Responses to The Bloggers’ Geneameme.
Now back to those obituaries…