Set the goals.
Re-creation of the lives of our ancestors by using the clues they left behind is what genealogy is all about. Genealogy is a rapidly growing hobby especially with the increase in searchable online databases. The first thing you need to do in genealogy is establish a goal. It is difficult to do any research without having an end goal. It is similar to going to a restaurant without knowing where it is. You will get there eventually but you will also face delays. What do you need is a map and your goal provides you with one. Many geologists begin with the goal of placing their entire family to as far as they can. While this can be your final goal and not your first goal. Restrict your goal to something that can be accomplished within a reasonable amount of time and can be measured. You can look at completing a pedigree chart consisting of three or four generations. Once this chart is ready, then you can set your next set of goals. As you keep making discoveries, you will get more experience and change your goals gradually. Do not set an over ambitious goal at the beginning as that can frustrate you.
Figure out what you know.
Before beginning your research online, start writing down all that you know. Fill up as much information as you can. You need names locations and dates for every person on your list. This is the bare minimum that would be needed for your family tree. Some extra information about when they were married or died, might be needed. Once you have exhausted all the information that you already have, get more information from your family. See what all they can tell you. You can contact your grandparents or even great grandparents. You can also check with your other older relatives like your uncles and aunts. Keep a tab on the source of all the information and it’s authenticity.
Document as much information you get. Though there are so many genealogy software packages out there, do not buy them immediately. It’s like buying a car without knowing your driving needs and habits. In the beginning you can just use pen and paper or a simple document or a program that takes notes on your computer. For basic information that has been gathered this is more than enough for now.