Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NEHGS Survey on Blog Reading

I received The Weekly Genealogist newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society this morning, and was interested in the results of their survey:

Last week’s survey asked how many genealogical blogs you follow. The results are:
  • 60%, I follow no blogs.
  • 24%, I follow 1–2 blogs.
  • 10%, I follow 3–5 blogs.
  • 2%, I follow 6–10 blogs.
  • 3%, I follow over ten blogs.

The survey respondents (who are those who receive the email newsletter) are, I think, fairly well "tuned-in" to the genealogy world, and yet 60% of them do not read any blogs!  And only 3% of them follow over ten blogs.  The good news is that 36% follow at least one genealogy blog, and 12% follow more than two blogs.

This matches, to some extent, my own experience with my local genealogical society members - perhaps 20% of them read any blog, and maybe 10% of them read my blog, even though I've been touting it for over five years.

Even with magazine articles about "The Top 40" genealogy bloggers and the conference "Official bloggers," the penetration of genealogy blogs into the consciousness of the average "tuned-in" genealogy consumer (defined as one who joins societies, subscribes to magazines and websites, etc.) is really pretty limited. 

How can genealogy bloggers gain more readers and more exposure?  I think that can happen only by publishing informational, helpful and humorous content on a regular basis.  It helps to get exposure from websites and publications, but for genealogy blogging I think that "Quality Content is King."

It seems to me that only Dick Eastman has a significant following among non-blogging genealogists.  His online readership (about 60,000 people monthly according to rivals that of some of the published magazines and subscription websites.  In comparison, DearMyrtle is visited by about 9,000 people monthly, and GeneaMusings is visited by about 4,000 people monthly.  I doubt that those statistics include email subscriptions, but they may include RSS Reader subscriptions.

What say you, my readers? 
  • How many genealogy blogs do you read? 
  •  How do you read them? 
  • What kind of "Quality Content" do you like best? 
  • What types of posts do you like least?


Dan Babish said...


As you can see, I read your blog. I just counted 18 blogs on my iGoogle page. I probably read 5-10 pretty regularly and check others when I see content that interests me.

Dan B
Columbia, MD

Becky Higgins said...

Very interesting survey results. I've queried my local society several times and find few are following blogs, even our society's blog.

I currently follow or subscribe to 75 blogs and read them using my google reader. They are probably an equal mix of how-to/methodology and personal family history blogs.

What I read on any given day is pretty dependent on my mood:-) that day. I am, however, a sucker for a good story!

Chris Klauer said...

Hi Randy!

I have probably 75 or more blogs that I follow through google reader. If time I go through them everyday but some days they get away from me. They are a mix of topics and I am glad to have them!!! They keep me up to date and provide some good ideas for researching!

Michelle Goodrum said...

I am subscribed to well over 400 blogs in Google Reader. As you might guess there is quite a variety.

Deborah said...

Randy, I follow or subscribe to 7 blogs using Google Reader, and some I view via Facebook postings or e-mail reminders. I like "quality content" such as updates on the latest technology tools, events, new records availability online, and good family history methodology blogs. I especially enjoy your features on various genealogical software programs with the great screen shots! I learn a lot from these.
Unfortunately, I have a hard time keeping up with the few blogs I follow. I also subscribe to 7 quarterly publications (some local, some national) and am staring at a stack of them that haven't been touched! Perhaps I better start pruning!

Diane B said...

Randy I really admire how much effort you put into your posts and I have learned a lot from them. I totally agree that the content is what will draw readers to blogs. Since I was pretty new at this only a few years ago I can still remember what I discovered, when. And I was looking for blogs with two things: latest news about products and resources, and how-to advice. It could be how-to about anything - research methods, document management, software, photos, libraries, local records, societies - whatever. And of course telling stories is always entertaining. But I can truthfully say that it was the top 40 and top 100 lists that I found (can't even remember where those were) that helped me dive into blog reading. It was hard to navigate without that. --Diane

bgwiehle said...

Currently I'm subscribed to 7 blogs. Google+ and the weekly "best of ..." posts are great for bringing specific posts from other blogs to my attention. I read blogs for genealogy news, reviews, methodology, humor, etc. I delete blogs from my feed if the writer seems to have abandoned the blog or the posts get annoying -- continuous rants, an interesting topic but never getting to the point, or most posts directed only at other bloggers.

Ed Hamilton said...

I read 7 as RSS feeds and there are one or two others that I read regularly by visiting the site.

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

I read your blog daily and learn a great deal, even about the comments on Family Tree Maker, although I use Legacy. I read 50 blogs, most on genealogy or history, but a few on photography and writing. I, too, enjoy blogs with good methodology stories. I write for three blogs (one society & 2 family) but am not as prolific as you are.

Elizabeth Handler said...

A couple of weeks ago, when the NEHGS eNews asked about how many genealogy enewsletters I receive, I replied to the editor noting that although I only read a couple of enewsletters, I read many more blogs. In fact, I read eogn as a daily blog rather than a once a week newsletter. I am also fascinated that so few eNews readers follow blogs.

I now follow over 50 genealogy blogs and over 20 non-genealogy blogs using Google Reader. I'm learning to skim those entries that are not of interest to me, otherwise I spend way too much time online.

Martin said...

I find that genealogists are quite compartmentalized. Ask how many subscribe to a scholarly journal and you'll get a low number as well. How many belong to one or more societies? What type of societies, lineage or research? Most are online genealogists who eschew all things but There are a few die-hards who do more, but they are the minority.

Marnie said...

Obviously, your readers read a lot of other blogs. I follow 12-13 blogs using an RSS reader.....and that, I think, is the key. Few people are going to check multiple blogs frequently if they have to go to each site. To increase followers, do a post on RSS feeds now and again and promote RSS at society meetings. Few people know about RSS and how handy an RSS reader can be.

I like your posts on software evaluation, case studies, and how-to topics. I often skip over the kind of announcement that is on multiple blogs and skipping is easy to do with a reader.

Lisa said...

I have 87 in my Google Reader. I thought about this last Friday when you posted about your morning routine. I sit down in the morning with a cup of coffee and open up Google Reader. By the time the cuppa joe is gone, I'm done reading. I sort out the few posts that I need to read further and or research and those that I would like to reply to. With that said, there is no way I could follow that many blogs any other way than via Reader.

Roger R. said...

I am new to Genealogy. Currently getting more "unorganized" information and piling it up. Retirement is around the corner and that is when i will dive into genealogy. I just discovered blogs recently. I read (should say "scan") about three or four. I have started my own, but it is primitive and not timely (blame the full-time job). I like to find new sources and ideas for better research.

Roger R.

Oakville, Ontario