The two biggest mistakes that prevent freelance genealogists from making money…
Advertising ONLY to other genealogists.
When I first started out, I made this mistake. I was visiting genealogy websites to connect with others to obtain clients. Why is this wrong? People on genealogy websites are genealogists and they certainly don’t want to pay someone else to carry out their hobby. This strategy proved very disheartening, as I continually encountered other genealogists who were offended by my ‘help.’ I realize now that I was talking down to them and giving them basic information that they already knew. Genealogists and family historians love genealogy. They love research. They love the mystery. This desire sets you apart from non-genealogists. You are special. There’s another huge group of individuals out there that are extremely interested in their family history, but not necessarily the process.
I know it is crazy to think, but there are a lot of people who do not have any desire to research their own genealogy – they just want someone to tell them about their history and hand it to them in a tidy little package. This is similar to the presentations given to individuals on shows like “Finding your Roots,” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and “Who do you think you are?” sponsored by Ancestry.com. So, where do you look for customers? On genealogy forums and blogs? No, no, no. Quit doing that right now! You will not find customers there, you will only find competitors.
The best way is to advertise to different markets -related to genealogy – but not genealogy. The markets will contain overlapping interests. Not everyone enjoys research like a genealogist does. Some people don’t have the patience or desire to sift through documents looking for facts – as genealogists do. So there’s this unique market of people who are interested in their family history, but don’t have the same desire to search.
In my book, “How to Make a Living as a Professional Genealogist” I will present a number of markets to try, but also a strategy for finding those markets yourself. Chapter 2 will also clearly illustrate how to approach and interact with those markets, helping you to establish yourself on the internet, and how to bring in clients.
Charging by the Hour.
There are a couple of fundamental ideas related to pricing strategies that genealogist continually get wrong. First of all, stop charging by the hour! I can’t emphasize clearly enough at how – charging by the hour – is the absolute wrong strategy for a genealogist. When we charge by the hour, we get ourselves into trouble. As the consultant, we fear that it will take us longer than we expected or estimated to complete the work. And the client worries that you worked less hours and they are getting ripped off. This creates undue tension between the genealogist and the client. These strategies will help to alleviate and completely eradicate this tension.
Another huge obstacle that genealogists encounter is forgetting that searching for your family history is a monumental task. To illustrate this point, I want you to try an experiment. I want you to add up in your head all of the hours, months, and years you have spent working on your own personal genealogy. It is an incredibly high number isn’t it? Some genealogists have spent decades on their family history. How could we ever possibly imagine that we could charge someone to perform this same search action? We can’t. How can we possibly ever promise to deliver someone’s complete family history within a short amount of time. We can’t. This is why there needs to be serious consideration to project based fees. There are many ways we can break down genealogy into small manageable projects with a flat fee.
Solutions: Pricing by Project. This leads me to a complex pricing strategy that I created. However, I have broken it down into easy-to-follow steps. These strategies will revolutionize the genealogy industry and allow a greater connection between genealogists and the rest of the world. You will find the complete pricing strategy laid out in Chapter 2 of the book, “How to Make a Living as a Professional Genealogist.” Now most books recommend vague strategies for getting paid as a consultant, but in this book I am going to very specifically lay out a pricing strategy that is specially designed for the professional genealogist consultant.