Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to Me!
photo credit:by puffclinty via photopin cc

My first post on this blog was on September 20, 2013. Since then I have made 70 posts; so while it’s not daily, I averaged a bit over once a week (with a hiatus from mid- June to mid- July 2014 while I packed, moved, and unpacked). Well, it was more than once a week until I started the 52 Ancestors series, but since I am a beginning family historian as well as a beginning blogger, I am researching each Ancestor I profile in the week before the post goes up (& not getting a lot of sleep as a result!). But I am so glad I chose to do the 52 Ancestors challenge, even as a beginner because it has pushed me to post each week, pushed me to do more research and utilize more and more sources and pushed me to learn the context of my ancestors’ lives so as to be able to tell a better story.

Blogger provides very interesting statistics on the blog that I can look at set for a day’s capture, a week’s, a month’s, and “all time” – which is one year now! I find these stats fascinating so I thought I would share them with you as a way of celebrating my blogiversary.

While I initially thought this blog would be read, if at all, only by my family, I admit I’ve done everything I can to promote each post. I’ve made the blog searchable, and have loaded each post with specifically chosen search terms, and each picture uploaded is titled with the ‘name of what it’s about.jpg’ so they are searchable that way too & label them so that they always show up linked to my blog name (I see my blog pictures in Google images – too cool!). I put ways to subscribe to my blog on it, ways to share it, and a couple ways to search it to make it easy for readers to find their way around it and to come back and read more.  And after I put up each post, I then post it to Facebook so my family can see it, and to Google+, and to Pinterest, and to Twitter to try to draw readers in general and find possibly find new-to-me “cousins” that might want to share family information,  maybe become friends (yep – it’s cousin-bait!). I also gained readers from those following the blogs doing the 52 Ancestors challenge.  I know that I am reaching more people than just my family because according to Blogger I’ve had 9716 page views this year! Even if my family were reading this, they don’t add up to 9000+ page views! Wow!

Blogger also shows me where in the world my audience this past year lives (or at least where they were reading me from):

Climbing My Family Tree: 1st year audience Blogger Stats screenshot
Screenshot of Blogger page showing origins of my audience this 1st year

I am not at all surprised that my biggest audience is from the United States. But I am drop dead astonished that my second biggest audience is in Turkey??!  Thank you very much, but why?! The next eight countries (countries, wow!) in my audience are: Germany, France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Russia, and Spain (this week I had two from Japan, too!). While I know that some of those are folks who just landed on the page by accident; some stayed and read, and some came back. I thank every one of you who has read or now reads this blog! (For an anniversary present, would you please say “Hi” in the comments if you read this? I’d like to “see” you.)

The top ten all time most viewed, or read, posts this year have been:

It’s too hard to choose my own favorite posts. I love all of them for different reasons. I love the research on the person, and the side research to put them in a bit of context, the writing, and, surprisingly, I really like finding just the right pictures to helpfully illustrate my stories -- although I admit I never imagined I’d have to research French, German, and Canadian copyright law to pick pictures for my blog posts! (Ack!)

But the absolute best thing about the genealogy research and the blog is meeting new friends and “cousins”. The other bloggers I read and comment on have been ever so nice, and have helped me improve my blog or find something I couldn’t (still so grateful Dara found my grandparent’s marriage record) or tell me where to look for something, and just plain encouraged me. And then there are the people I’ve met online, who read my blog or saw my Ancestry.com tree, who I discovered I’m related to in various ways  and who are so nice and encouraging to a newbie, and to whom I’m so grateful for all their help: Jimmie F. gave me the photos of John Erwin and Crawford Erwin and told me stories about the Erwin brothers in the Civil War; Deb G. who just sent me a whole bunch of information and photos on the Erwin’s, especially on a part of the branch that I’d stalled out on; Jeff H. who gave me information for far further up my Hartman branch than I’d been able to nail down; Gary McC who gave me a picture of my great-aunt Etta Genora Hartman Archer after she moved to Oklahoma; Pam B. who sent me a whole book on the Whonsetler/Wonsetler/Wonsidler/Vonsidler Branch (wife of Samuel T. Hartman) and friended me on Facebook [& I had a terrific time meeting her and her husband at the Battle of Johnstown re-enactment last weekend]; Teeny I & Susan S-D who sent me a whole bunch of photos of the Bailey’s and of the Snyder’s – turned out Teeny is Mom’s 1st cousin and she’s told me all sorts of stories about the Snyder’s, and about the Bailey’s, and they both friended me on Facebook; Roger B. who told me how to find Edward Carleton Bailey’s death certificate; Bob T. who gave me all sorts of information from his research into the Henn family and answered questions and gave me permission to use Rosa Henn Strauss’ gravestone picture via email while on vacation in Germany(!); and Kerry R who gave me permission to use the pictures from his Ancestry.com tree of the Wilcox family on my blog posts.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

The hardest part about getting all this lovely helpful material is that each time I get something (the most recent is the information Deb sent), I really want to forsake my current research and dive back into the section to which the new information applies. But when I took on the 52 Ancestors Challenge I did it with the intention of trying to cover representatives of my whole family (the branches up from each grandparent) in this year. Just doing basics, and when it gets hard or complicated, moving on to the next branch, with the understanding that I’d come back to everyone after the Challenge was over. And I told my family I was going to do that, and my Dad has been patiently waiting while I covered Mom’s side of the family and I also want to finish the Challenge with his side of the family before going back and playing with all these lovely gifts I’ve been sent by new-to-me cousins. So I’m going to finish it first.

What do I plan to do in the next year of my blog? Catch up with (I’m 5 behind) and finish the 52 Ancestors challenge. Then starting in January the flavor of the blog will probably change a bit. I don’t intend to do an Ancestor profile a week – maybe one or two a month – as I would like to catch up on my sleep. I’ve gotten very little sleep this year doing this project (you have to realize, even beyond the original research each week, and the finding of illustrations, I only type using two fingers and a thumb on one hand -- it’s not the fastest method in the world [at work I talk to the computer and it types]). I’d also like to read the occasional book. I miss it. J

Even so, I’ll probably actually post more often, albeit shorter posts: following some of GeneaBloggers' Thomas MacEntee’s blogging prompts and shorter piece descriptions of what I’m doing & finding. I also need to update the supporting pages of my blog, especially the favorite blogs and Resources page (I have so many bookmarked pages for Canada, it might get its own Resource page - although I haven't quite decided yet). I intend to start going back through the tree, trying to incorporate what I’ve been sent, and trying to push each branch a bit further back, and blog about that, too. Plus occasional ancestor bios/Ancestor Highlights. I like blogging. It helps me see what I have found – I like seeing it as a story and not just lists of documents. And I really like making new friends via the internet - for an introvert like me who finds it difficult sometimes to talk to new people or call anyone, the internet is a perfect venue (believe it or not, in real life, I’m sort of quiet …until I get to know you). You'd never guess from the length of these posts or my emails, would you?

Thank you for reading my blog this last year, and to those of you who have helped me, G+’d a post, Shared a post, Pinned a post, or Retweeted me, thank you ever so much! It’s been lots of fun! Hope you stay around for next year.


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