In July 2009, GeneaBloggers gathered input from the genealogy blogging community as part of the Genealogy Blogging Survey contest. Today we are releasing the results of the survey to give an idea of the impact genealogy blogging has had and will continue to have on the genealogy community.
Before I get started I wanted to send a special thank you to GenealogyBank for sponsoring the survey contest. I think that surveys and polls can be easily found on many sites and I appreciate the incentive of winning a year’s subscription to GenealogyBank as a prize – it really made a difference since the survey was quite long.
And another thank you to Julie Cahill Tarr who assisted with assembling all the data and producing the beautifully formatted report complete with charts and sidebars. Julie has been working on her family history since 2007. She began blogging about her genealogy in July 2008 (GenBlog). In addition to genealogy, Julie collects old photographs, which she blogs about at Who Will Tell Their Story. Julie is the owner of Design Write Communications, a company that provides writing and graphic design services.
Below are the concluding remarks of the report – you may download the entire report here (in Microsoft Word format).
Who took the survey?
As expected from a survey accessed at a site called GeneaBloggers, almost 75% of the respondents own at least one genealogy or family history-related blog. And blogging is not something new for this crowd—over half have been actively blogging about genealogy since at least 2007. These bloggers are among those that typically participate in various forms of online genealogy research and are often known as geneabloggers.
How are genealogy blogs relevant to genealogy research?
Over 50% of those who own a genealogy blog indicated that their blog helps them share their research with others. Nearly a quarter of genealogy blog owners find that blogging helps them connect with other genealogists and/or family. Many find that blogging keeps them focused on their research, often serving as an organizational and reference tool. And almost half of the respondents said that reading genealogy blogs gave them new ideas and approaches to apply to their own research. Over one-third were able to find new research resources by reading genealogy blogs.
What is the technology quotient of those who read or manage genealogy blogs?
The “TQ” for geneabloggers is high – very high in fact. Almost 80% use a laptop, netbook or some type of mobile device to access the Internet and most likely to research. And social media? They are so there—over 90% are Facebook users and over 60% use Twitter.
Are genealogy conferences still relevant to geneabloggers?
Despite being technically savvy and utilizing many different forms of technology in their genealogy research, geneabloggers have a desire to attend conferences. Why? Besides the educational value, they want the chance to interact and network with others in the field. All the social media tools available including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter can’t replace the real time social interaction that takes place at genealogy conferences. About one-third of the respondents had attended a conference within the past 12 months. On average, they spent about $100 on items available in the exhibitor hall while in attendance.
Almost 50% of the survey respondents plan on attending at least one genealogy conference in the next year. Over 30% said they’d be willing to travel over 500 miles to attend a conference.
What are the obstacles that prevent someone from attending a genealogy conference?
The two main reasons that prevent the survey respondents from attending conferences are cost and time commitment. From a time perspective, many responded that work and family commitments make it difficult to travel. In terms of cost, it’s quite possible, based on several comments, that it’s the cost of travel and accommodations that prevent them from attending, as opposed to the cost of the event itself.
What are the opportunities for genealogy education providers?
While over 50% of the respondents are already college graduates, only 4% have some form of genealogy certification. Geneabloggers have a strong desire for learning and certification should not be seen only as a requirement for professional genealogists. Various forms of certification exist and there appears to be a large market of potential consumers of training in the genealogy field.
Will genealogy as an interest grow in the near future?
With more and more of the Baby Boomer generation retiring each year, genealogy is one of several post-retirement interests that will be pursued by this group. The survey results indicate that 55% of the respondents are ages 46-65 which is in fact that same Baby Boomer generation. And many of these people are online genealogists utilizing various technologies for their genealogy research and to interact with other genealogists.
What is the potential impact and influence of geneabloggers?
Over 200 of the people who responded to this survey own at least one genealogy blog and nearly all of the respondents belong to a social networking site (e.g., Facebook or Twitter). These individuals have thought beyond traditional genealogy networking to create a virtual network that allows them to contribute at their own pace, at a time that’s convenient for them, all at no monetary cost and without leaving the comfort of their home. While geneabloggers do in fact venture beyond their computers and keyboards, their social media skills allow them to have a huge impact from the comfort of their own homes.
Geneabloggers are very serious about their genealogy research. In addition to their blogs, they belong to genealogical societies, attend conferences, take research trips, and subscribe to online databases. Learning is a prerequisite for genealogy, and the geneabloggers have found another way to teach others, learn from others, and promote the field of genealogy all through virtual networking.
Over 25% of the owners of genealogy blogs have been asked by vendors to review genealogy products. With their frequent usage of Facebook and Twitter, geneabloggers will often comment on products, services, practices, and trends in the genealogy field. And geneabloggers are more likely to set those trends since they are often on top of the latest genealogy technology news. A current example is the discussion of using Twitter during a presentation at a genealogy conference.
Geneabloggers have the ability to reach great numbers of genealogists who research online and can do so quickly. Sometimes this involves a call to action in the case of the destruction of an Indian burial mound in Oxford, Alabama or to protest the disbursement of the historical collections at the Michigan State Library.
© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee