Apr 18, 2011

Genealogy Blogging – For Fun or Profit?

There's an interesting conversation happening in the genealogy blogosphere, about making money via blogs, and in the genealogy community in general. GeneaBloggers started a week-long series on the subject, with the first installment on the topic of this post. This is something I've thought about a lot recently, because I'm only working part-time right now. One consequence of that has been spending an inordinate amount of time on my genealogy obsession hobby. I'd love to turn it into a career, but I'm not quite sure how.

One thing I do know, I'm not going to make any money blogging. It's possible, otherwise there wouldn't be an entire cottage industry of spam blogs and content farms. As I wrote in my disclosure statement, any ads and affiliate links on my blog are a quixotic attempt at remuneration for time spent on blogging itself (not that it well ever come close to making up for the opportunity cost involved). Producing any significant revenue from ads would require lots of readers. I don't post often enough, nor have any sufficiently profound insights, to generate much readership. But that's perfectly OK with me. I'd keep doing this if nobody at all read my blog (which isn't far from the truth).

I started blogging for many reasons. Previously, I never kept any sort of research log. Now, I'm using blog posts to do just that; to describe how and where I found information, and analyze the sources. There aren't many such posts published yet, but I have several more in draft. Related to that, by posting names and details of some of my ancestors, I have the slim expectation one of my relatives will come across it. Then hopefully we'll be able to share information. It hasn't happened yet, but it's more likely with the information online than just written in a notebook.

Another big reason to blog is simply to write more. Conventional wisdom says more practice will improve your writing. The advice usually goes on to recommend writing a diary or journal, which falls on deaf ears with me. Not that I'm against journaling, it's just not something I'm interested in. (That doesn't preclude my dream of finding diaries from little known ancestors, especially the women, who didn't leave much of a paper trail in official records.) I don't aspire to a full-time writing career, but writing is a valuable skill for almost any endeavor. Of course, professional writing is usually expected to be less snarky, but I am capable of using a different tone. My academic writing is B+ certified, 97% sarcasm-free!

Some of the posts on this topic suggest blogging as a way for potential clients to find you. That might work for professional genealogists who already take clients, but it doesn't help a lot of us who haven't hung out our shingle yet. Besides, writing a pseudonymous blog is no way to attract clients. I'm not going to go into business by myself anytime in the foreseeable future, but more on that in tomorrow's post in this series.


  1. Thank you for this contribution to this dialogue! ;-)

  2. Thanks for your input, I'm really interested to hear all points of view. I came to blogging as well as a way to write more. I don't think anyone starts out knowing exactly what your blog will be. Maybe some do but I think most of us don't. However with time, we learn our strengths and find our purpose, and if you feel it's a option to make a few dollars. Go for it.

  3. Thanks for an interesting post. I, too, am a Minnesota genealogist/family historian who is in the same (or similar) boat, in many respects. This is a thought-provoking topic, looking forward to reading more.

  4. Great post! I agree completely:-)

  5. I'm glad to hear that many genealogy bloggers aren't sure where there blogs are taking them. I liked how you said your keeping a research log. I've wanted to share the stories of my family on my blog, but I probably could also share the journey of the research as well. Hopefully my 'known' family will spend some time there. If I eventually find additional relative... BONUS!