In Part 1 of my 2013 Goals series — can a series have only two parts? even a mini-series? or is this just a sequel? — I discussed how I would like to approach researching and writing my family history. Goal #5 was “Write shorter posts” so I stopped there. But it’s a good segue into topics that are, for me, more difficult to tackle: The technical aspects of writing and publicizing a blog and a book.
So, more goals. People who are not interested in blogging and social media might want to skip this. (Wait — I’m not supposed to say that! Sending readers away is not one of my goals!)
6. Get more involved in the family history writing community.
I have mentioned several times that, for three years prior to starting this family history project, I was a pet blogger at Will My Dog Hate Me (the blog is live; I still respond to comments, though I don’t post any more). I was very involved in the pet blogging community, and even helped create this blogging challenge.
I had never blogged before and started from scratch, taking an online course on setting up a blog and doing all the things that sites like ProBlogger tell you to do: Finding other blogs I liked and commenting on them; getting a Twitter account and having conversations on it; putting up a Facebook page. Slowly, I grew my traffic and my social media presence and — most important — became connected with a wonderful group of people who were passionate about the same things I was passionate about. They gave me support and advice and, even if I never met them (I did meet several at conferences) became genuine friends.
I haven’t yet completed that transition to my new blogging community. Sure, I’ve done a few things. I joined Geneabloggers. I commented on a few blogs. I started following genealogists on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and even joined a few social media communities. But I’m not entirely there.
I can give you many reasons for that.
Some of them are valid: I’ve been reluctant to limit contact with old friends and I haven’t given up my passion for pet care and animal welfare causes. I have a limited amount of time, and I’m terrible at compartmentalizing.
Some of them are semi-valid: I’ve been having technical difficulties. I’ll get to that in #7.
Most of them are bogus. There’s my sense of impatience — I don’t want to be the newbie again — and then there are the rationalizations. My primary one is that I write about food and Freud as well as about genealogy, so I haven’t found my real blogging niche. But, if I am honest with myself, I know that all of these other topics fall under the family history aegis.
Like pet bloggers, family history bloggers come in all different flavors, from science geeks to stereotypical little old ladies in tennis shoes — many of whom can kick my writing butt. I’ve paid tribute to the pet blogging community here but I’m not going to do that again, though pictures of my dog are very likely to turn up.
You’re my peeps now and I’m going to try harder to communicate with and learn from you.
7. Get my blog’s technical glitches fixed.
Because I had another WordPress blog for a long time, I know how they are supposed to work — or at least how certain features are supposed to function. I’m not talking about bells and whistles and fancy plug-ins, just the basics.
Here are the two issues I can’t resolve (nor can my otherwise brilliant blog designer, Laura E. Kelly. Nor can a WordPress guru I checked in with.)
- I don’t get notified by email when someone comments on my posts though, for some bizarre reason, I do get notified when someone comments on my Pages. And my Contact form works fine.
This is not such a big deal because I obsessively check the dashboard of my blog to see how many visitors I have. But it’s annoying.
- I don’t get notified about trackbacks — when other people link to Freud’s Butcher.
That’s a VERY BIG deal.
Why? Because I want to thank them. It’s rude not to acknowledge people who have been generous to you. And antithetical to goal #6.
I have sometimes found links by accident, i.e., because they are on blogs I subscribe to or they are announced on Twitter. That’s how I found out about the generosity of Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist in mentioning me several times. But sometimes I find links by accident. The other day, for example, I was delighted to find myself mentioned in the Jewish Resources section of Jenealogy — because I was looking through Jenealogy for… Jewish resources.
So if you’ve linked to me and I haven’t thanked you, I’m sorry. I’m working on that. In the meantime, do let me know of any mentions via Twitter or Facebook — or through my Contact form on this blog. Which, unlike the Comments section on my posts, works.
8. Learn new skills that will help improve my blog.
Photo editing is on the top of my list.
And because I’ve already gone on too long I’ll stop here.
So… spill: What are your technical/social media goals for your family history blog?