The Family News Network

Build a family news network with Posthaven.

Are you looking for an easy, affordable and private way to share news, photos and family history in your family? The Posthaven blog platform may be just the thing. Posthaven doesn’t have the whistles and bells offered by the the major blog sites, but it does provide a simple and easy service for posting and delivering content. Posting is a easy as sending an email message. That message is…

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The Family News Network

Are you looking for an easy, affordable and private way to share news, photos and family history in your family? The Posthaven blog platform may be just the thing. Posthaven doesn’t have the whistles and bells offered by the the major blog sites, but it does provide a simple and easy service for posting and delivering content. Posting is a easy as sending an email message. That message is automatically posted to the blog site and delivered via email to everyone subscribed to the blog. And, when subscribers receive the post, they can add their comments by simply replying to the message.

Posthaven Posting
Sample email message and resulting post

Posthaven isn’t free. It will cost you $5.00 a month, but that gives you ten blogs to use however you wish. Don’t think you need ten blogs? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be put to good use. More on that later. I suggest you begin with two blogs – one public and one private. The private one allows your family to share news that isn’t appropriate for public access. This could include vacation pictures or announcing a new arrival. Posting this kind of information on a public blog or social network can result in identity theft, burglaries and other unpleasant incidents.

The beauty of Posthaven for family networks is how easy it is. Subscribers don’t need to remember passwords to see the latest post from a private blog. It’s delivered to their inbox. When others comment on a post, those comments are also sent to all. In our family, we post a “birthday card” – a scrapbook style graphic created just for that person. Once posted and delivered, family members can reply with their own greetings.

A sample birthday card
A sample birthday card

Take advantage of a public blog to post family history stories. This serves several purposes. First, it’s a way to share your family’s history with your family. Stories posted on public blogs are very search-friendly and it’s not unusual to meet a research cousin (someone researching the same family you are) through your blog.

Here are some ideas to put those other eight blogs to work . . .

  • Build a virtual museum of family heirlooms using the blog to post photos and scanned documents along with the stories associated with these artifacts.
  • Posthaven makes a great travel blog. Take pictures with your smart phone and email them with supporting descriptions to your blog. Within minutes, those photos will be delivered to all subscribers.
  • Tired of all those round-robin emails as you organize a large family event like Thanksgiving dinner, a wedding or a family reunion? Task assignments, who’s bringing what dishes and other details are delivered to each person via email while the “master list” is always available at the blog.
  • Give the kids in the family a blog and challenge them to learn about their family history – documenting what they’ve learned on the blog. As site owner, you can oversee their efforts and adult subscribers can offer encouragement and support.

Want to learn more? Download a copy of the Posthaven Primer (PDF) for details on how to get up and running.

Archival Blogging

I love blogging! It has so many advantages for the genealogist/family historian that I can’t imagine trying to research without including a blog in the process. Not only does it allow me to write the stories of my ancestors as my research develops them, it’s also easy to update those stories when new facts come to light. And, it’s amazing how quickly that collection of family stories grows! While even the idea of tackling THE FAMILY HISTORY is overwhelming, blogging “little stories” is a joy.

Blogs are also cousin magnets. Even if your blog stats show few visitors reading your posts, the search engines are keeping a sharp eye on even the smallest blog and will deliver a research cousin in a heartbeat when their search matches your content. Then there is the commenting system included in most blog platforms which have turned blogs into community centers where people gather to share information and inspiration.

There is one issue that has been a concern – a rather serious concern. Most blog platforms have limited backup capabilities and trying to move content from one platform to another is a nightmare. And, there’s the dreaded shutdown notice giving users a short period of time to grab their work before the platform is taken down.

How do you protect your work from crashes, shutdowns and old technology? Here are a few ideas for developing “archival quality” blog posts.

Writing Platforms

This article was written using the Byword [Mac – $9.99, iOS – $4.99] text editing app. It supports Markdown making it a lot easier to incorporate HTML code especially when writing on a mobile device. It also includes an optional Publish feature – a $4.99 in-app purchase. With it you can publish your Byword files to WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Evernote and Scriptogram. Byword is just one of a growing number of editing and journaling apps that support blog publishing. Not only do they make it easier to write articles, you also maintain archived copies of them on your desktop. This is handy when you decide you want to turn some or all of those articles into a published book.

Writing apps that support Markdown have another advantage . . . they produce archival quality text. Unlike word-processing apps, each with its own proprietary data structure, Markdown apps save your stories as plain text with simple codes to define formatted elements like bold, italics, bullet points and more. We all have experienced unreadable “orphan” documents created with software that no longer exists. Plain text hasn’t changed since the beginning of the digital age. Using Markdown insures that future generations will be able to read your stories.

In addition to Byword, you can also take advantage of a number of journaling applications like WinJournal – $40 and MacJournal [Mac – $40, iPad – $3.99] as well as desktop blog editors like Microsoft’s free Live Writer and Blogo [Mac – $30]. Note that not all journaling and blog-editing apps support Markdown.

There’s another advantage to using a writing platform for your blog posts. As your collection of stories grows, you’ll find it very easy to reorganize and repurpose those articles into all kinds of family history publications. For example, you could pull out all the articles on family members who served in the military to create a Veterans Day (November 11th) memory project. Use them to commemorate a special anniversary or honor someone who has passed away.

You’ve done the heavy lifting – researching and writing each story – with your blog posts. Now you can enjoy the fun part of family history publishing – turning those stories into beautiful treasures.

Scrivener for Geneablogging?

Scrivener for Geneablogging? You bet! http://wp.me/pUz7q-46g

Have you considered Scrivener as a blogging tool? For geneabloggers, it becomes not only a workplace for blogging but a local archive for your growing collection of articles which can then be easily repurposed into any number of other publications. Here you see my Family Stories project in Scrivener opened to a story in the Published folder under the Drafts section. Look down the Binder (sidebar…

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Rein In Your Blog Posts

Rein In Your Blog Posts http://wp.me/pUz7q-4n3

Isn’t it amazing how quickly those “little stories” you publish on your blog become impressive family history collections? Would you like to export the contents of your blog into a format that is both readable and easily edited for use in other publishing projects? Then you need to take a look at BlogBooker. BlogBooker takes your blog’s export file (that delightful .xml file that seems to have…

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