Nine Years and Future Plans – Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary!

Yes, blogiversary is actually a real word for a blog’s birthday.

It’s DNAeXplained’s 9th birthday and I nearly forgot.

How could I???

What do you get a blog for its birthday anyway?

History and Changes

I remember the 4th of July holiday back in 2012 – although that seems like about two lifetimes ago now.

I was trying to learn how to use WordPress, my chosen blogging platform, and to become familiar enough with how everything worked so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

On July 11, 2012, I published my first very short blog article, just saying hello and inviting people to subscribe and come along for the ride. And what a ride it has been as we begin our 10th year together.

I was explaining DNA topics so often that I figured if I wrote the answer once as an article with pictures and graphics, I could save myself (and lots of other people) a great deal of effort. I could just link my blog article and not have to retype everything.

Seemed like a great idea…right?

That worked then and still does, well…except for a couple of considerations:

  • Increasingly, people don’t seem to be interested in learning, just in receiving “an answer.” In other words, they often don’t bother to actually read articles. Or, in one woman’s words, “You didn’t answer my question. You just gave me something to read.” Sigh.

I’m mortified when I read some of the answers provided to people on social media – especially realizing that the person asking the question has no idea how to discern between an accurate answer and something else.

Doubt that? Try an experiment. Select any topic where you are an expert. Go to a social media group about that topic. Review the questions and resulting answers. Bash head on table.

  • Things change over time. We’ve learned a WHOLE LOT since 2012 in the genetic genealogy space. Every vendor platform has changed multiple times. New products have been introduced which obsolete older products and their articles. Some vendors and tools have disappeared and new ones have emerged. DNA has become a household word.

The Unexpected

Blogging has resulted in a few things I didn’t anticipate:

  • Sometimes, bloggers becoming targets. This is especially painful when it comes from within the community. Mostly, I refuse to give any of that oxygen. Their hatefulness is really not about me. Still, it was shocking and painful at first.
  • I receive between 500 and 1000 emails every single day. Yes, EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s in addition to blog comments and social media communications. It’s overwhelming, even after deleting obvious spam. This also means that I don’t catch up, am chronically behind, and never really get a break. (This is a big reason why bloggers burn out.)

Communications

Communications fall into several categories:

  • Some emails/communications are people reaching out about my (our) ancestors. Obviously, those emails are always welcome and often make my day. 😊
  • Some people are saying thank you or offering suggestions that I sometimes utilize as future article topics. I appreciate those too.
  • Some people comment or participate in a discussion. Those just require a quick approval and I’m always glad to see people engaging.
  • Some people inquire about consulting services. At this point, I don’t accept private clients and no longer write Y and mitochondrial DNA reports for people. That could change in the future, but right now, I simply refer people to others who I know are qualified based on the topic of the request.
  • Many emails are from someone who wants something. For example – “I’d like to write a guest post for your blog.” Translated – “I’d like to use the platform you’ve developed over the past 9 years, and your followers, to benefit myself.” The answer is a resounding “NO”! Truthfully, I no longer respond to these. The delete key suffices. But I still have to read them.

Unchanged!

Some things have NOT changed:

  • I still love to explain and educate about the marriage of DNA and genealogy.
  • I still love to chase my ancestors.
  • No ad policy – you won’t see embedded ads in my articles. When bloggers allow ads, the ads provide revenue, but the blogger also risks a substandard product being displayed to their subscribers and visitors. There are sometimes relevant, curated, affiliate links within my articles for products that I use, but they never appear as an ad. I am not criticizing bloggers who do adopt the ad model – simply explaining to you why I don’t. And yes, I know I’m foregoing revenue with this decision, but I feel it’s the right thing to do.

Improvements

Almost every aspect of genetic genealogy has improved over the past 9 years:

  • Autosomal test matches have increased and are often of a higher quality as a result of millions of people having tested at the four major vendors: FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, and Ancestry. We probably had an industry-wide total of about 2 million testers in 2012, and now I’d wager we have more than 40 million. More and better matches for everyone!
  • Y DNA testing (for men only) has improved by leaps and bounds, with a combination of SNP testing with the Big Y-700 test and STR testing being able to refine relationships at a very granular level. This paternal line test plus matching is only available at FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Mitochondrial DNA test numbers lag behind other tests, but the Million Mito Project will encourage more testers and refine mitochondrial match results in a meaningful way as well. We simply need more testers, just like we did with autosomal back in 2012. The mitochondrial DNA full sequence test is available at FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Every major DNA vendor has added state-of-the-art, innovative tools over the years.
  • Every major DNA vendor has been sold/acquired and we’ve all managed to survive, despite teeth-gnashing and predictions of doom.
  • FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage both accept transfers/uploads from other vendors, making swimming in all the genetic genealogy pools easier and more affordable for consumers. Click here for step-by-step download/upload instructions.
  • Public consciousness about DNA testing for genealogy, health, and traits has increased dramatically. We see TV and social media ads regularly today.
  • Techniques like triangulation, clustering, and various flavors of tree-matching have revolutionized what can be accomplished with genetic genealogy – both confirming and discovering ancestors. Newly discovered new cousins may be researching the same ancestral lines.
  • People seeking the identity of parents or other close relatives routinely solve those puzzles today, thanks to the millions of people who have tested. That was quite rare in 2012.
  • We are attracting a whole new savvy generation of testers who grew up with and understand technology.

The Future

What does the future hold for me and DNAeXplain? To be clear, DNAeXplain is the underlying business/website and DNAeXplained.com is the blog, but I often use them interchangeably since both URLs resolve to the same location today.

First and foremost, I don’t have any intention of stopping. I’m passionate about genetic genealogy, have been for 21 years now, and love to write articles and share with you. In fact, in the last few months, I’ve added the Y DNA Resources one-stop educational page as well as Mitochondrial DNA.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and meet so many blog followers. Some of you turned out to be cousins. Of course, we’re all related eventually, someplace back in time.

I look forward to in-person conferences again, but don’t worry – I’ll continue researching, writing, and covering topics in this amazing industry.

Cousin Bait

I never considered that I might find cousins through blogging but that’s worked marvelously – both when I publish the articles and later too.

On a personal level, my 52 Ancestors series has been extremely successful for a couple of reasons:

  • Each article forces me to verify and update my research.
  • The articles act as cousin bait. Not only are they findable using Google, or the blog search feature, I post the article links at WikiTree, MyHeritage, and Ancestry on the profile card for that ancestor. I need to do the same at FamilySearch as well.

Upcoming Book

I’m very excited to be able to share with you that I’m completing a manuscript.

I can’t discuss more about the book just yet, but I should have the draft to the editor shortly.

Chapters

The book of our life is written in chapters, just like the lives of our ancestors were.

I’m beginning a new chapter shortly – a move to someplace where it’s warmer.

I don’t know where just yet (I think a villa in Tuscany is probably out of the question), nor exactly when.

What I do know is that I’ve accumulated a HUGE amount of stuff over the decades that I’ve lived in this house. My mother passed away, so I have her things too.

Genealogy books are heavy and require lots of space.

So does paper, as in file cabinets and boxes of documents.

As most of you know, I’m a quilter – and fabric is heavy and requires space too.

Movers charge by some combination of distance, how much space your possessions require in their truck, hourly fees, weight and prep required.

Let’s just say that preparing to move is proving challenging!

Why am I telling you this?

Changes

Over the period of 9 years, I’ve written and published 1442 articles. That equates to one article about every 2.25 days.

That’s even hard for me to believe.

My goal has always been to publish:

  • One technical article during the week. Topics include things like DNA concepts, sales, new features, and various “how-to” articles.
  • One 52-Ancestors article each weekend.

I’ve exceeded that goal.

Needless to say, both of those types of articles take hours-to-days to research, compose and publish.

During these next few months as I’m migrating from one part of the country to another, and one chapter of my life to the next, I may miss my goal of publishing the 52-ancestors article each week. I’ve already compiled the easy ones given that the next one will be number 338.

Those articles require a significant amount of research and right now, I need to focus on reducing the file cabinets and bookshelves of stuff. And of course, like any genealogist, I have to sift through everything one paper at a time to be sure I’m not disposing of something I’ll regret – like, you know, my high school report card. 😊

It’s very difficult to not run down every rabbit hole! Hey, what is my friend in that picture beside me at the football game up to now? Oops, an obituary. What about my co-worker that I had a crush on? What do they look like? Who was sitting at the picnic table in that family reunion picture anyway? I don’t remember them. You get the drift.

The message for you here is “don’t worry.” Some of those emails and messages are from people who care about me and are checking in to be sure nothing is wrong when I miss publishing an article on my long-established schedule. I really appreciate their concern and have been incredibly fortunate to connect with so many wonderful people.

A year from now, we’ll be celebrating DNAeXplain’s 10-year birthday. I hope to be happily settled and writing prolifically again in a new office in a yet-to-be-selected distant location, experiencing an exciting new chapter of life. Maybe I’ll just take you along on that adventure through the power of storytelling! Don’t we wish our ancestors had done that?

It’s going to be a very, very interesting year!!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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37 thoughts on “Nine Years and Future Plans – Happy Blogiversary

  1. Roberta, Congratulations on Blogiversary #9. I especially love your ancestor stories – I wish we had some ancestors in common.!

  2. Congratulations, Happy 9th Birthday. It was this blog that got me interested in DNA. Since then, I have taken Ancestry DNA, Living DNA, 23andMe, and recently FTDNA’s mtDNA & Y-37 (with Big Y ordered), tests. I have become particularly interested in deep ancestry and the movements of our ancestors over thousands of years. What a fascinating journey it has become. Thanks for all your work in keeping us updated!

  3. Happy Blogiverary, DNAexplained! I’m moving, too! Destination not determined yet, but I do have a realtor. Maybe we can move closer to each other :-)! I keep looking at the file cabinets and thinking … I really need to start! Your 52 Ancestor stories are so amazing! I think I started at the same time you did. You are only 337 ahead of me … I do have a second one started, though. Best of luck in your journey to the tenth anniversary.

  4. WOW, a book and a move in your future. Wishing you the BEST — whenever it happens and wherever you land.

    I find myself reviewing your old articles regularly. Right now it’s for my CRASH COURSE in endogamy — no, not Jewish, not Polynesia, not the usual populations for endogamy, but a rural county in North Carolina where every match goes back on multiple routes to duplicate ancestral couples and the amounts of cM shared seem to FLY OUT THE WINDOW in terms of having meaning. I’m trying to help a cousin identify her birth father, but it’s the first “case” I’ve thought I might not be able to solve.

    Thinking of you as you go through this time of change.

    Carol Snow (yes, a cousin, discovered through your blogging)

  5. Roberta, congratulations on your nine-year accomplishment! You have shared so much inspirational and pragmatic information.

    I wish you wisdom and fortitude as you prepare to move. My wife Dee and I moved south from Michigan in March 2020 after my mother passed. As you anticipate, it takes a great deal of effort to uproot and move. I think you will appreciate your new home, even in the heat of summer.

    Thank you for everything you do.

  6. So excited for you as you begin your next adventure. We moved from NC to Southern California 4 years ago. Like you, we had way too much stuff! My genealogy books and materials would be moved with us regardless of anything else that came. We used PODS moving containers and the move was cost effective and the easiest move we ever made.
    Wishing you all the best. We are cousins back in time , Dodson’s and more. Downsizing was just what we needed! Lois
    The BOOK will be fabulous as are all of your blogs.

    • Did you use the PODS for your furniture too. Did you load them? I don’t think we physically can do that.

      • I am using a POD. I packed almost everything in liqour (sp) boxes that I could carry. Lots and lots of small boxes. Have college kids coming to pack the POD of furniture, small boxes I will try to do myself.

  7. I love reading your blog. It is not just the DNA and genetic genealogy information that is so valuable for me, but I so enjoy your style of writing–informative, humorous, thoughtful and honest. Thanks so much!

  8. Congratulations and best of luck to you in days and years to come. I look forward to your next chapter(s).

  9. What a great contribution you’ve made and will continue to make to our international community. All the best for your new home search and relocation! Looking forward to reading your book…. Chris

  10. Congratulations on your blog anniversary. I’ve been a subscriber since Rootstech this year and have really enjoyed reading it. I’ve learned a lot! And I recommend it a lot. Thanks for all you do.

  11. Roberta, congratulations. And the news you share is fabulous. I look forward to buying and reading your book when published. When i come upon a new concept I most often search you site and blog for your insights into the concept.

  12. Good luck!! I am moving this week to a warmer location and have had to downsize about 25%. Not most of the genealogy, though; that will be going with me and I’ll go through it as I unpack. Mostly furniture that I won’t need. Moving is not easy, esp., as we get older. More power to you and I have a lot of your articles filed to read completely when I have more time.

  13. Best wishes on your downsizing and move, Roberta! When you are ready to talk about your book, I would love to have you share with listeners of the DNA Clarity and Support podcast where DNA books/authors are the focus. Thank you for speaking up and not letting the haters get you down! I know from personal experience how hard that is. Most of all, thank you for being a steady resource and for staying true to yourself always.

  14. Roberta, have followed you for years and recommended your blog and newsletter to cousins. I have really appreciated all the information you shared and hopefully will continue to share. Happy Blog Birthday and many more. I will watching out and following to hear about your anticipated moved to warmer climate – choose carefully. Until next time. Mary Jennifer

  15. Congratulations on your blogiversary, and thanks for all you have done. We just “met” recently, when I was learning about the Younger families, and I have been following your posts since. Blessings on your downsizing and move, and on your book.

  16. Congrats on the milestone, 1442 articles is an amazing amount of knowledge provided to us readers. Can’t imagine how you manage it!

  17. Thank you Roberta for all you do to educate us on genetic genealogy. As far as “attracting a whole new savvy generation of testers who grew up with and understand technology,” I gifted my eighteen year old goddaughter (who is the child of a paternal first cousin) an Ancestry kit, and a 23andMe kit. She is interested in genealogy and had already started a tree on Ancestry and is off to many discoveries. I made sure she subscribed to this blog as one way of staying educated and up on latest developments.

  18. Roberta, you never cease to amaze me! I look forward to you being my constant genealogy mentor for another 9 years, at least. As for moving all that stuff, keep the mementos and sell furnishings, etc. I’ve done that 5 times in my 80 years, saved on moving fees, never missed the old stuff and enjoyed buying new stuff in the faraway place.

  19. Roberta, beautiful recap.
    Resist Bloggers Burnout.
    Most of us sincere, kin- searchers love you.
    Best2U. Russ & Jeanette

  20. Label the contents of your boxes really well, since it might be some time until you find space for the contents on shelves, or in cabinets, and find the time to deal with this. I am a fan of plastic tubs of all sizes particularly for paper and material because they are waterproof and can be taped shut. You might need someone to lift them. A hand cart helps, or hire the muscles. Do use a rental storage space or rented container for these tubs and boxes at your NEW location, if possible. You do not want to be stumbling and crawling around boxes and tubs of papers, books, and material as you set up your living spaces. You will have the psychological comfort of not having so much mess to deal with immediately and the comfort of knowing your treasures are safe until you can deal with them in an orderly manner a bit at a time. You want less stress. When everything has been up-ended during a move, psychological, and physical comfort is gold.

    Happy Birthday Blog. I will miss your blog when you do not have time to write it. I have read it for years, and learned a great deal.. Good luck with your move, and your book. Take care.

    .
    .

    • Great advice Rosemary. Right now I’m trying to do a lot of purging on this end. A lot of that is painful. But I’ll be glad to have it done. I’m going to try to write on my normal schedule, but I know there will be some weeks that I just can’t.

  21. Roberta, I have been with you most of the way, and 95% of what I have learned, I did so from you. You are responsible for my education and growth; and you will always have a warm place in my heart. I have been able on an elementary basis to help other cousins along the way because of you. Thank you.

    Florida, even in the northeast, you will only want to visit, NOT live. The hurricanes are too distracting and disruptive, and downright dangerous! If I had an opportunity, I would relocate to Virginia to have the opportunity to explore and tred the paths in the areas of my early Colonists, returning to where they began. “We are, who they were.” What state and location it would be for you in these terms, you would have to decide. If you cannot decide between two places/locations, have a summer home and a winter home.

    We LOVE you and wish you Joy and Happiness!

    • First, thank you. I have friends with two homes and all I can think about is double the maintenance and chores and that’s part of what I’d like to minimize.

  22. Congratulations to you on your blogiversary. Many thanks for the education you have provided with regard to DNA and family research.

    In early 2022, my husband and I will be retiring and relocating to the south, to a more temperate climate but still one with four seasons. We have chosen eastern Tennessee. In addition to being a beautiful part of the country, there is a rich history and much to explore in the immediate area and surrounding states. Moreover, we found that the cost of living is much less than what we have here in the north and the taxes are very favorable to retirees.

    Thanks again and wishing you many more years of DNA and family history blogging.

  23. Congratulations! Nine years is a long run already! Thank you ever so much for this blog, you basically taught me everything on the subject. About these who only want answers, well, as the part of the public who get interested into the topic become always larger, this part of people unsafe about their comprehension of abstract topic will grow, inevitably. And yeah, they probably become quite upset when they don’t get what they expect. Ressources tailored to their needs will probably arise in the coming years.

    Reading the comments here, you don’t seem to know where you want to move yet, just “warmer” is the criteria. You are hardiness zone 6 if I understand well? Looking at the hardiness map, zone 7+ start around the Dixie line and further South for most of the part. On both coast, warmth goes further North, all the way to Canada on the Pacific, about as far as Cape Cod on the Atlantic. Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey are pretty much all into zone 7. Is there a facility for genealogist you would like to live close by? A place with many YDNA and mtDNA matches live where you could join genealogical circles and target directly who you could test? Your Tennessee and Indiana ancestors have been pretty much covered up, you are more digging into your Virginia/North Carolina ones on one side and your New England to Pennsylvania ones on the other side (not to mention the German, Acadian and Dutch lines). Where are your more numerous brick walls? The most sturdy ones? Maybe the North Carolina ones are the most challenging (and most of the state is in hardiness zone 8 too sweeten the deal even more)?

    Or maybe internet is your main tool anyway and you just want to move West? Why hesitate? Chose Hawaii! Hardiness zone 12, plant stuff you never even dreamed to plant! A bit too extreme for your taste? The West Coast could be for you, or even South Nevada or Arizona if you don’t mind dry climate. Hardiness zone 8 to 10. Another warm area would be the the Gulf Coast, Hardiness zones 8 to 10 there too.

    Where ever you chose, I would recommend to stay at least above 30′ for the sea level.

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