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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!!!
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.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA – Autosomal DNA test
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – Transfer/upload your results from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA test
- 23andMe Ancestry – Autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch
- RootsMagic Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Newspapers.com – Search newspapers for your ancestors
- Genealogical.com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – Professional genealogy research