This site is dedicated to the memory of my parents and to our ancestors. If you are related to those listed, I hope this gives you a better understanding of their lives. Feel free to comment on anything posted, especially if you have additional or different information. The posts on this page chronicle my
research journey and provide resources and links. Genealogy is divided by parental lineage into Lowe and Bader. You can access these by
category from the menu and side links. Please be aware that this is an on-going project. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

Journey # 10: To Blog or Not to Blog — That Was the Question

I had decided that a website was really the only practical way to disseminate the information I was gathering about my family's history. I managed our company website at work, and I had a travel blog, so I had some experience. But what was the best format and what was the best platform?

I began looking at all the options for free websites and narrowed it down to Blogspot, Wordpress and Weebly. I publish my travel blog on Blogspot and I use Wordpress at work. I didn't know anything about Weebly at all and didn't want to start from scratch, so I eliminated Weebly. I knew that Wordpress had some awesome templates for free, so I thought I would start there.

First, let me explain that there is a big difference between Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is similar to Blogspot.com in that it is a site that lets you run a blog or a website for free from its servers. Wordpress.org develops blog publishing software that you run through a website hosting company or Internet service provider (ISP). While the Wordpress software is free to download, you can't really run it from your own computer without having a special database. So unless you are planning to host your website on your own personal web server, you pretty much need to pay an ISP hosting fees. Still wanting to save my genealogy budget for documents, I knew I didn't want to go this route. That left Wordpress.com.

There are thousands of templates (Wordpress calls them themes) available for Wordpress and many of them appear to be free. Notice that I wrote 'appear,' because I discovered quite quickly that there were catches. Free versions of Wordpress templates offered little in the way of changes. You could add 'widgets' into your layout (which add specific functionality), possibly change background images or colours and maybe even fonts. But if you wanted to make significant modifications, you had to pay a customization fee. You still had to do the changes yourself, you just had to pay for the privilege.

You also had to pay a yearly fee if you wanted to use your own domain name. I then discovered that you had no control over whether ads appeared on your free Wordpress.com site. If you didn't want ads to appear, you had to pay an upgrade fee.  If you want to customize, there's a fee; if you want to use your own domain, there's another fee; if you don't want ads, there's a third fee. When I added up all the fees for the "free" service, I realized that I could pay a website hosting company to run my website cheaper. Wow.

But I persevered because Wordpress is famous for its templates -- created by hundreds (if not thousands) of developers around the world. Some of these developers give away free templates as a way to promote their premium templates. Others develop free templates because it's fun. So I tried to find a free template that I could use as is or with the few allowed changes, but after a few days, I got frustrated.

With Wordpress having left a bad taste in my mouth, I moved on to Blogspot. Blogspot is a free Google service that lets anyone publish a blog – and now also a website – completely for free. Originally there were only a few templates available for Blogspot sites, all of which allowed Google ads to appear on your blog (if you chose to). This offered you and Google the opportunity to make money, which is how Google is able to provide this service for free. If you run ads on your site, and people click the ads, you can get cash. However, if you don't want ads, you just say no – no upgrade required.

I'd already been using Blogspot for a travel blog that I write, so I knew how it worked. Again, I need to point out a distinction. Blogspot.com is the name of the website where the free blogs are accessed – but Blogger.com is the website where you build and publish your free site. Blogger.com is where you sign up, log in, make changes and publish posts. The blog/website that you create using Blogger.com appears on the website called Blogspot.com. A little confusing, but that's how it works. (But at least the two have slightly different names as opposed to Wordpress.)

As I mentioned, Wordpress is known for fabulous templates, but Blogger is running a close second now. Developers are converting Wordpress templates into Blogger templates as well as building them from scratch and more and more appear online everyday. As with Wordpress.com, you can use a free template or you can pay for a premium one, which usually has more bells and whistles. But unlike Wordpress.com, there are NO hidden fees on Blogger. If you want to use your own domain, you simply change some settings and bingo! If you don't want ads, don't include the ad gadget in your layout. If you are familiar with HTML coding and want to make changes to your template (including free templates), you access the Edit HTML section. I believe there are Blogger templates that won't allow changing the HTML, but all the ones I found did.

I downloaded several templates that had the right look and feel and eventually decided on one. It was easy to add the template to Blogger using the Backup/Restore button, which lets you upload a template from a file on your computer after downloading it from a template site. And I was able to make all the changes I wanted, which were plenty since I I knew exactly what I wanted.

Once I made the decision on a platform and a template, it took me about a week to make the changes and begin uploading content. What you are looking at right now is the result.

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