I've been asked by a few people how they would go about creating their own ancestral birthday blog--so here are my recommendations! It's about time to get started on it if you'd like to create one for 2012.
1. choose who the party is for
Start by assessing which ancestors you want to feature. I wanted to do everyone on both my side and my husband's side about whom I knew enough to say something more than their birth and death dates. But a blog featuring one ancestral line a year, or just great-grandparents for example, would also be wonderful. Look at other genealogy blogs for ideas (search here) on content and layout.
2. save the date
Plot their birthdays on a calendar to get an idea of how busy the year ahead will be. I did this manually by looking through my genealogy database, adding them into my google calendar, and using a calculator to see how old everyone would be now. (Turns out someone has come up with an automated way to do that which you can read about here.) I saw that I had a few people whose birthdays fell on the same day as each other, but for the most part about a dozen to fifteen birthdays a month, which seemed like a manageable amount. Print out your schedule so you don't forget anyone.
3. shop for gifts
Start collecting digital copies of the photos you want to use. While I had a number of photos scanned, there were others I had to hunt down from relatives, borrow from my mom's photo album, or beg from my mother-in-law. I created desktop photo folders for each grandparent's line to make it easy to find the ones I needed to upload. (Be aware of copyright issues using others' photos.)
Start collecting writings you want to use, either as summaries or the basis for your own posts--previously published histories, websites found through google you want to link in, old journals, tributes or obituaries already written. I have a color-coded file system with a folder for each couple, which makes it easy to pull out info on the person I'm working on. You can copy and paste from other documents or files, and draft things in advance. (Be aware of copyright issues and fair use restrictions if you're copying from others, and also be considerate of information on living people posted online.)
5. bake the cake
Create a blog. Mine is hosted on blogger which has been user-friendly and easy to navigate. (Enlist technical support from your teenager.) I also paid for some design help from Sadie Olive, who had done my friend's blog, since I had a particular look I wanted to create. Find an image you want to feature, such as the party tree for the banner I purchased from istock. Again, spend some time browsing other blogs to see what kind of format and layout best fit your needs and style. Customize the blog settings so the comments and site feed and posting is done how you want it.
6. reserve a time
The wonderful thing about blogs is you can schedule them to post ahead at a certain date and time. Since my ancestral birthday dates aren't flexible, I work ahead to prepare posts in advance. That way, when I know I have a busy week or will be out of town, I don't miss anyone. (In fact, my month of May was incredibly busy working on this blog, trying to draft most of my summer posts since I knew my time then would be limited with kids home from school.)
7. invite guests to the party
Once the blog is up and running, share links with extended family members, cross-post to facebook, try to get it out there so it can be found by google searches (the technical term for this is SEO, search engine optimization). Many genealogy blogs link in with the geneabloggers community (the writing hand image on the top right of my page). Even though someone may share only two of my dozens of ancestors, I want to connect with that branch. I was thrilled the other day to hear from a distant Perkes relative in Canada who found my blog on a google search. Contact relatives you find online through ancestry.com or familysearch. Especially share links with teens (the technical generation) in the family. (Watch to see how your work is being used or copied through the fair share attributor search.)
It's been very rewarding--celebrate!