Several years ago I found myself looking to pursue a long-time dream of writing and sharing my passion for history. The easiest way to get started was to set up a blog and write regularly. I did that and for two or so years wrote almost every day, amassing a portfolio of well over 600 articles.
Along the way I’ve had folks who love history as much as I do sign up to follow this blog. Every time I posted an article a message was automatically sent reminding them to check out the latest blog article. After I took on the job of editing my local genealogical society’s newsletter I gradually wrote less for the blog. For four years I edited — actually wrote most of the articles — for the newsletter, South Plains Roots, and was proud to have it win accolades at the state level (2015-Third; 2016-First; 2017-Second and 2018-First). The newsletter was runner-up in the National Genealogical Society newsletter contest in 2018 as well.
I reluctantly stepped down from editing the society newsletter after deciding I wanted to write something more substantial — a magazine. And so, Digging History blog became Digging History Magazine. I started out (ambitiously so) with monthly issues throughout 2018. However, after taking on more responsibilities with the care of my parents, I’ve switched to bi-monthly. The latest issue (May-June) is out this week and it’s the biggest issue yet – over 100 pages!
A magazine is a LOT more work to write, edit and publish than either a blog or a newsletter. I’ve had people refer to it mistakenly as a “newsletter”. I had a long-time friend express awe today when I told him how substantial the latest issue is — he too, thought it was “just a newsletter”. No, it’s way more than that — WAY more.
I sometimes re-tool a blog article for the magazine because it fits with a particular theme — not to rehash an old story, but to refresh it with new research, perhaps putting a different spin on it, and provide complete documentation. Such was the case with one article in the May-June issue (“Praise the Lord and Place Your Bets”). In the article I even admitted to originally writing a mediocre article for the blog (Feisty Females: Poker Alice). Why would I do that? I dug around and found better sources and determined what sources I had used (the good old Internet!) had a lot of it wrong. I took the lazy way out originally, but because I work diligently to become a better writer with each and every story I write, the “new” article is much more substantial in length, content and veracity.
I don’t write much for the blog any more simply because all my efforts are being expended in putting out a quality magazine — something I can be proud of and something I hope readers and subscribers find interesting and informative. Most issues are now running between 75-85 pages — just stories, no ads and focusing on history and genealogy. I do post blog articles about what’s coming up in the magazine, or to let folks know of contests they might want to check out. By the way, the latest contest is a real gem — it will end on May 15 at 11:59 p.m. The prize is substantial, worth from $300-350. In exchange for a subscription of any length, new subscribers get a chance to win either a 10-hour block of genealogical research or a custom-designed family history chart (up to 7 generations). Details here.
If you’re receiving these posts (or just stopping by to read an article or two) and would like to check out an issue to see if you might like to subscribe, just send me an email and say “free issue please“: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you tell me what kind of stories you’re interested in, I’ll try to pick an issue which I think you would enjoy. Subscriptions are easy to purchase online (or by check if you prefer) and the best value. I plan to have contests from time to time for subscribers as well — chart giveaways or research as a way to thank subscribers for their support. As I always tell them — “you are a blessing to me!”
If you no longer wish to receive notices about magazine issues, occasional news or contest details, feel free to unsubscribe from this list. I hope you don’t, but I wanted to be upfront with what Digging History is all about these days. A blog was a great way to get started, but I detested the thought of monetizing it with annoying ads as a way to earn some money for my efforts (as many blog writers do these days). I instead chose to publish a magazine which requires a subscription to read new content (Note: many of the original articles remain available on the blog). Stay or go — either way I appreciate the support!
Sharon Hall, Editor and Publisher, Digging History Magazine