Those of us with a treasured family journal, scrapbook or collection of letters have a window into the personal side of our family’s history. That one or more generations of people took the time and effort to protect and preserve those treasures makes them even more precious. Today, we have a large community of bloggers documenting and sharing their research and family stories. It’s amazing how quickly these “little stories” become impressive historical collections.
That’s the good news.
What happens to all that work when the blog platform you are using shuts down or has a server crash? There are all kinds of disasters that can impact your blog and its content. What are you doing to protect your work?
While most blog platforms include an online editor to make it easy to write and publish your posts, you may want to consider using a desktop (or mobile) editing app instead. There are a number of advantages to using an editor. Besides the obvious backup advantage, an editor will also make it easier to repurpose your posts into other family history publications.
I found two wonderful apps (for Mac and iOS) that support both my blogging effort and my writing projects while protecting both. I use Byword (Mac – $10.99, iOS – $5.99) as my blog editor. Its publishing feature supports posting to WordPress, Medium, Tumblr, Blogger and Evernote. I use iCloud to save copies of each post. I also use the Ulysses writing platform (Mac – $44.99 and iPad – $19.99) to manage my writing projects. Ulysses supports an “external folder” option that allows me to connect those Byword folders for easy access to my blog posts. Copies of any post is easily dragged into a writing project.
Even better … both Byword and Ulysses support Markdown so not only am I protecting my posts from disaster, I’m future-proofing my stories – saving them from the scrapyard of obsolete software.
A digital scrapbook is created using digital tools like scrapbook software and digital photos, images and design elements. The results can be printed on you local printer, sent to a print service, published as a book or presented online. Online scrapbooks can include additional media like music, narration and audio clips and video.
- Memory Mixer [Win – $30] is a delightful platform for scrapbooking. Kits are well-organized and easy to browse, the work area is quite intuitive and the sharing options are impressive. You can use design elements from outside kits, but it will take a bit of effort. Make sure you subscribe to their blog or newsletter to keep up with both some great tips and sales on kits or services.
- Craft Artist 2 [Win – $40] intrigues me. It looks to be in that sweet spot between the simplicity of a scrapbook program and the flexibility of something like Photoshop. Unfortunately for me, it’s Windows only.
- iScrapbook [Mac – $50] is a very nice app, but they hide the contents of their kits so you can only find them from inside the app and make it difficult to use design elements from outside sources.
- Keynote (Mac) and PowerPoint (Windows) are not designed for scrapbookers, but do make a very good platform to create scrapbook-style pages. Both make it possible to export your “pages” as a PDF document for easy distribution.
- pixelbooking.com offers lots of kits and elements packages. They appear to be expensive until you realize that many kits have two or three times the elements found in most kits. (See license page for details.)
- Memory Mixer kits and packages are designed to work with the Memory Mixer software but can be used in projects created using other applications. They automatically install inside the app system, but it’s quite easy to find the graphic files for use in other projects. (See TOU.)
- Scrapper’s Guide provides tutorials, templates and design kits for building scrapbook pages using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. (See TOU in FAQ page.)
When working on multimedia projects, background music and sound effects are always a plus. However, to stay out of legal trouble, you’ll need to stay away from a lot of popular music. Don’t worry, you’ve got options:
- There’s a growing market for affordable royalty-free music.
- As more and more artists decide to bypass the big recording companies and do it themselves, you’ll find they are offering more flexible licensing of their music. Check out Creative Commons. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Learn how to produce, publish, distribute and sell an ebook. This tutorial, narrated by Mark Coker of Smashwords, offers a comprehensive primer on ebook publishing.
When you think of photo books, you think of . . . . photos. Today, photo books can include photos, scanned documents, graphic elements and even lots of text. This makes them great platforms for family historians to capture and share their family stories. Continue reading “Building Photo Books With BookWright”