Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Genealogy Blogging Buzz - Fun AND Profit?

Wow, has there been a flood of stuff in the last few days about the genealogy blogging world!  Everything from the impact of technology to making a profit...

I'll just throw out my two cents on that last issue, if I may.

I don't believe that more than a small handful of genealogy blogs are making any serious money.  The field isn't big enough to support more than that, and most of us do it primarily as an adjunct to our hobby, not to support it entirely.  In support of that position, let me discuss this blog, Indiana Dillmans.

You may have noticed I have Google Adsense and possibly Amazon affiliate links.  I've run this blog since early January of 2011, about 3.5 months.  In that time I've had just over 1600 page views, pretty small in the big picture, but very gratifying to me.  I wasn't sure I'd get anyone else interested in what I had to say!  Those 1600 page views have netted me (in theory!) a grand total of about $3.00.  Yep, three bucks.  And I say in theory because I have not received a payment.   Google doesn't pay out until you have a certain amount coming.  Granted, by using Blogger I have little or no cost up front in the blog, but I have spent many hours getting it going and continuing to post.  This is not a paying proposition for me.

I don't understand the mindset of those who say we shouldn't profit from our genealogy blogs.  America is the land of opportunity, and people have immigrated here for centuries for the express purpose of creating a better life for themselves by taking opportunities to make money to improve their lot.  Where do people get off saying I shouldn't do that?  Okay, so the tradition of family history (as opposed to professional genealogy) is to share information freely.  I get that, I do share my data when asked.  But I'm not charging for that data on my blog!  Technically, I'm not charging for anything on my blog, I just include some advertising links.  And I try to keep that minimal as well, since I personally don't like seeing a lot of advertising alongside what I'm trying to read.  This probably explains why I've only racked up $3.00.  If you don't like the advertising, I won't be offended if you stop reading my blog.  Disappointed, perhaps. 

What about guys like Dick Eastman?  Consensus seems to be he has the biggest genealogy blog out there, and he does charge for some of his output.  Good for him, if enough people are willing to pay for what he's saying!  We're all free to choose to pay and read, or not.  If his information is really that important to you, then admit it and pay!  Much of the information he's been writing could be found elsewhere, but then it might take you a bunch of time to do your own research and get the same level of information.  If you have more time than money, and that's your inclination, then by all means!  But if your time is valuable, then it might just be worth paying Dick for his efforts in doing the research for you.  I bet he thinks his time is valuable, too!

For some of you, it may be about the money.  Everything costs, these days, and there's never enough money at the end of the month.  I understand perfectly.  I've been unemployed most of the last two years due to the lovely state of our economy.  Sites like have all of those images and lovely data, but I can't afford the subscription at this point.  So, what can I do?  I look at alternate sites.   My public library offers Heritage Quest, which has a lot of images and indexes for genealogical data. also offers a lot of this material.  Both are free.  Would I like the data on Ancestry?  Sure!  And when I can afford it, I'll pay.  But the point I'm trying to make is that there are free alternatives that will get you pretty far, if money is your issue.

I guess my overall position on this is that if you're offended by genealogy bloggers trying to get a little back out of their blogs in a financial sense, then you're not living in the present, you're stuck in the past.  We're at the point, for most of us non-wealthy folks) where putting food on the table and a roof over our heads has become much less of a given thing, and we need to place priorities on our activities.  Things that can make some money will naturally come out ahead in the priority setting.  If you can make a little money with your blog, go for it!

Whew!  That was about triple what I planned to say when I started.  If you've stuck with me and read all the way through, I thank you.  I'm over the worst of my cold, and finished training for my new job, so I should be back to posting more regularly now, and hopefully you'll get more useful content real soon!

UPDATE: I went back and looked at the blog stats, and it's about 1950 views, not 1650.  So, a few more pages viewed, no more money earned.  This is definitely NOT a source of income for me.