What’s the Big Idea?
It’s actually a very small idea. The idea that someone who loves history and has a brain could set out to write a book about a historical figure. I don’t have a PhD. I’m not a trained historian. I’m just a writer, armed with a bachelor’s in history, a Master’s in English, and an internet connection. Is it possible that I could write a book about Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden…a woman who lived in a country I’ve never seen, and who spoke a language I can’read?
Sounds crazy when I put it like that, right?
But I’ve already gotten pretty far.
Far enough so that my proposed single book is now one of a trilogy.
And because my day job is in marketing, I can’t help but think of ways to turn this strange endeavor into a business. Podcast? Sure, maybe. Merch? Oh, hell yeah.
Follow this Project
I’ll be posting everything I do in two parts. The research and discoveries about royal women are on my other website, The Girl in the Tiara.
All my process documentation is going to go here.
It’ll be like Henry Jones’s grail notebook in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Every clue I follow, every lead I chase, and every WTF moment as I research, write, and deal with tech issues. It’s surprising how many questions I couldn’t find easy answers to, despite the millions of pages online about, say, setting up an email list, getting a fictional business name, or setting up a Shopify store.
Remember how in school teachers used to say there are no stupid questions? I’m betting that’s true, and I’m going to share all my smart and stupid questions with you…along with how I answered them. Everything I write on this subject will be linked from this page, and included in the History Entrepreneur category on my blog. If you love history and wonder if there’s a way to turn that love into a business, stay tuned!
Post 1: What’s in a Name?
SO YOU’RE RESEARCHING a historical figure…what’s the first step? It’s figuring out all the different names your person held throughout history. I’m researching royal women, so they had the name they were born with (Princess Hilda of Nassau, for example). In most cases, they also got married and took their husband’s name (Hereditary Princess Hilda of Baden). Maybe their title changed when they ascended to a throne (Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden). Maybe they had a religious conversion, a promotion, an abdication, a second marriage, or a morganatic marriage. The sooner you get a grip on all these names, the better. If not, you’ll end up doing what I did…Google a bunch of stuff randomly before you even know what you’re looking for. Bad idea. Read this post, get your search terms laid out, and search without repeating your steps or wasting your time.
Ooh, Free Stuff: Download a search list template (MS Word or fillable PDF)Read Now
Post 2: Historical Research: Forums, Search Engines & Social Media
So you’re just starting out with research on a historical royal figure. Going online is the fastest, easiest way to get started. But how do you sort the wheat from the chaff? Where should you go for the best information? What sources might you be overlooking? I go through the low-hanging fruit of online research on a royal figure, from forums to Google search tips to how to try and find historical footage of them on YouTube. This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll go over how I research royal figures online. In future posts, I’ll also cover government and archival sites, as well as paid sites and databases. But if you’re just starting out, there’s a surprising amount you can learn from basic sources.
Ooh, Free Stuff: Download my PDF tip sheet for historical research on forums, search engines, and social mediaRead Now
Post 3: How to Translate a Foreign Language Video on YouTube
How many times has this happened to you…you’re researching a historical figure, and you find a 50+ minute documentary on YouTube. SCORE, you think. You can’t wait to see who the filmmakers interviewed, which locations they filmed at, and what the interviewees have to say about your subject. Then you click through to the video and find out it’s not in a language you speak (despite the video title being in English because, well, SEO). But there’s still a way you might be able to use that video. Thank goodness transcripts are becoming more common, because they’re a goldmine for researchers no matter what language they’re in. Here’s how to translate a foreign language video on YouTube using the captions feature and its oh-so-tweakable settings.Read Now