One of the truly delightful things about genealogy in the digital age is watching how people put their personal skills to work to provide a service or knowledge resource that benefits the entire community. One of the first and best examples is Cyndi Howells, the force behind Cyndi’s List. Today we have a growing number of specialists ranging from archivists and legal experts to tech gurus and publishers. The geneablogging community has given individuals a voice – and an audience – to a broad range of expertise.
A sign that geneablogging is maturing is the development of group blogs. The tech world has been doing this quite successfully for some time. A group blog provides a central knowledge point while still allowing each writer to maintain their own personality and perspective. The In-Depth Genealogist is a perfect example, pulling together an impressive group of writers to create a blog magazine that’s both informative and a pleasure to read. They combine genealogy news with in-depth articles on a varied group of topics. And, if that’s not enough, there’s also an email newsletter that will deliver all of this right to your inbox.
I asked for an interview and Jen Baldwin kindly responded to my questions with the following. And, keep your eye on February 15th when they unveil their new format!
On the web site, you describe the beginning of The In-Depth Genealogist, but not how you three met. Was it through your individual blogs?
We met in stages. Terri and Stephanie were the first, finding each other on GenealogyWise in 2010, and discussion on the National Institute Program (NIGS). Terri and Jennifer Alford met initially through social media, then at the Midwest Geneabloggers Get Together in March of 2012. Stephanie and Jennifer Alford realized quickly they were fairly close to each other, and met at a Family Scrapbooking class. Jen Baldwin is the odd ball, living in Colorado, and met all of the other’s via social media networks. Mutual interests, the process of transitioning to a professional level of research and other commonalities soon became friendship between all four of them.
What has the response been for the newsletter?
Our mission, and our passion, is to create something that all genealogists can enjoy; no matter how much they know or how much experience they have. We think we have hit a winning combination with The In-Depth Genealogist, and have found our “niche”. Since April of 2012, we have nearly 1100 subscribers and are increasing monthly. It’s been a fantastic ride!
Who manages the site itself?
Originally, Stephanie and Terri were both knee deep in the site maintenance. As our audience and needs have grown, Stephanie has been able to step into a leadership role in this arena, leaving Terri, Jennifer and Jen to focus on other areas of the overall operation. We have done our best to align our roles in the organization with our individual passions, playing to each other’s strengths.
Can you describe how the digital magazine you’re launching in February will differ from what you’re doing now? Will it be a new format, new content or both?
There are several benefits to the new format. Our digital magazine, with a launch date of February 15, will offer a longer format, better graphics, a more interactive “magazine like” feel, and it will be more mobile device friendly. The newsletter will transition to a more topical and timely resource, providing information and links on other articles and references. The digital magazine will continue to feature all of your favorite writer’s, columns and will add some new features as well. Look for the “Ephraim Answer’s” and “Missing In Action Ancestor;” two unique opportunities for readers to connect and solve problems together.
Is this a labor of love or do you plan to generate revenue through the magazine/site?
Yes. The In-Depth Genealogist is most certainly a labor of love. We are all incredibly passionate about family history, for our own reasons, but we also see a need to create an environment where there is no separation between genealogists at any level. Our goal, truly, is to create that place where all can collaborate and learn equally. That being said, it is a business also. We are looking to expand our product into one that is revenue generating, therefore able to provide even more to our readers. We hope that these efforts will not affect the reader’s experience, except to enhance it with additional educational tools.
Related to the previous question … What are your long-term goals?
Ultimately, our goal is to just continue to be a community that is all inclusive. We want each genealogist to be comfortable commenting on what we offer. Some of our future projects may include eBooks, “meet & greets” at national and regional conferences, and partnering with other fantastic service providers to continue to foster the collaboration among the genealogy community.
I see you have a call for writers posted on the site. What kind of information do you want a prospective writer to include in their story pitch?
Potential writers should review the information provided on the website initially. Outside of that, we are looking for any idea that will ultimately serve us in our mission: “the advancement of all genealogists, professional or hobbyist, we share our knowledge in a friendly, approachable, and entertaining way.” We do have some suggestions on the site, but if you can find a topic that is of interest to you, and you think might interest others, send it in! We have gained several writers from their own suggestions, and we are more than happy to work with you to develop your idea into something that is workable and marketable. The Call for Writer’s currently includes guest blog posts, columns, featured articles and more. Please send a writing sample and a short bio with all submissions.