A lot of it boils down to this...money... okay, maybe a little pride too.
As a professional genealogist, I totally get where some other professionals are coming from and if I was trying to earn all my income from genealogy it could be easy to fall into this trap.
I think some professional genealogists are mistakenly under the impression that their competition for their livelihood comes from other genealogy bloggers...many who are not as accredited or as experienced as they are (or so they may think, though certainly not all, many geneabloggers may be hobbyists, but are often highly skilled). This thinking is flawed.
I do not earn a full-time living at genealogy because that was a conscious choice I made. I know quite well what would be required to earn more, but frankly I don't want to work that hard. My husband makes enough to support our family quite well - I blessed that way and am grateful for that. This has allowed me the freedom to choose how little or much I work. I earn enough to support my genealogy addiction and not have it affect the family income and I have time leftover to pursue my own research and other interests and I like that!
If I was a professional genealogist trying to earn a full-time living this is what I would do:
- Change my thinking from scarcity thinking to abundance thinking. Believing there is enough for all will open you to possibilities and reduce the fear. The Law of Attraction is worth considering here.
- Determine who is your market, where are your customers and what is your niche. Most geneabloggers write for others like them and are read mostly by other geneabloggers. My clients do not come from other geneabloggers. BUT, my posts on my genealogy business website blog, that is targeted for my niche market does drive my website higher up on a Google search page which makes potential clients able to find my website easier. Know how to reach your potential customers and do not confuse all other genealogists as your competition, they can be your greatest allies.
- Network with other genealogists. I have benefited from the contacts I have made and I know that I have personally referred clients and professional opportunities to others that I have met either at institutes, conferences or online through social media. FYI, I am a really good friend to have as I do not hesitate to recommend those I know. lol More money is made in the halls and lunchrooms of conferences than was ever earned in the classroom. People refer those they know and trust. Work on networking and relationships with other genealogists. Generosity will be returned countless fold.
- Determine what avenues of your work pay the highest return. For me, I did a cost analysis of public speaking. Genealogy speakers make peanuts. The amount of time to prepare and present a presentation as well as travel time, does not provide enough of a return to warrant the amount of time it would take me away from where I make the most money. I have a highly specialized niche and can command a higher dollar for research than speaking. It might be different for you, maybe you find most of your clients from speaking engagements, then the low speaking fee is immaterial to the financial return it brings you in the long term. You need to determine what brings you the most return and focus on those activities that bring the greatest benefit.
- Volunteer. I have had several professional opportunities that came from volunteering. I do not volunteer with that end in mind, it is a serendipitous perk though. Give and you will receive.
- Maximize your exposure. Monetize your website. Look for ways to create income that does not require your constant attention.
- Diversify. Have a core niche but see if there are related avenues that you can explore and develop. What about residual income? Publishing an e-book or writing publications for sale on sites like lulu.com are smart ways to add revenue.
- What is your online presence saying about you? Having no professional website or online presence is limiting your earning potential. Spend time learning about how to increase traffic to your website is worth the effort.
- Social media is not just for socializing or telling people what you had for dinner. Today's online market is based upon relationship and trust. Building a social media presence is worth the effort and time to learn how.
- Realize that in a down economy you may have to supplement your income through other non-genealogy avenues until you have enough various streams of income contributing enough income to completely be self-sufficient. This takes a hard in-your-face reality check for some. If you can't make enough right now to live off of, you may need to supplement your income with a part-time job elsewhere.
- Join APG. Many of my clients have come from the APG website and many more have checked to see that I belong to this professional organization. Money well spent.
- Joining genealogical societies and organizations makes you look more involved and professional. Clients may not know what they are, but they will choose someone who looks like they are very involved in their profession.
- Protect your online reputation. Be careful what you post, you might want to read more about that here.
- Provide good and excellent service. Client word-o-mouth is worth gold!