Now that you have written out a pedigree chart, started Individual Information Sheets for each member on your pedigree chart and hopefully spoken to other family members it's time to start a Family Group Record Sheets for each family. These will help to keep families together and help to aid in your searches. Sometimes when you can't locate information on your direct ancestor, you can often find information on one or more of their siblings, but to do that you need to keep the family members grouped together.
Before you begin an online search at any of the genealogy sites or go to a genealogy library you should set research goals. A Individual Research Goal sheet will help in setting goals for your ancestor search; what information are you looking for, where should you look.
Now you are ready to start your search. Ancestry.com is a great site with lots of records to search, however there is a membership fee to view records. You can use the message boards freely and often request help with a search or viewing a document if you choose not to become a member. I am a member and am happy to help if I can. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't forget to check for local genealgy societies in the areas you are searching. Many states and counties have such societies and they can be extremely helpful in locating local documents.
During your search be sure to write out a Research Log. This is were you can quickly jot down information you gather during your search and keep track of the outcome. This will help in avoiding a duplicate search.
Now go start searching. I'll post next week on how to keep this all organized and keep names and families from getting too confusing and overwhelming.