Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Genealogy As a Profession? I Need Some Advice!

For this month’s ProGen Study Group assignment, we are to design our business plan.  Since starting this study group several months ago, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I want to be “when I grow up.”  I have lots of ideas rolling around in my head, but I feel very limited in my knowledge at this point, so it’s hard to make any decisions. 

Back when we worked on our education plans for ProGen, I decided I could focus more on the writing aspect, considering corporate communications is my primary profession and I love it.  I figured it would require the least amount of “education,” since I know how to write and follow guidelines.  Plus I’ve read several types of genealogy articles, papers, and books and I feel comfortable with that aspect of genealogy.  But my main concern is:  Is there a market for this type of work?  It seems like many of the genealogists I know love not only the research, but the writing aspect as well.  I would think that there are others who simply like the hunt, but dread putting it all together in some usable fashion (i.e., a book, paper, article, website, etc.).  At any rate, my educational goals at the moment focus on general genealogy (learning about various record types) and writing.

But in the back of my mind, I still want to help people with their research (I love the hunt and learning all I can about the people I research!!).  The problem is, I am not necessarily well-versed in a specific record type or a specific area or region.  Right now, I know a little bit about many things/areas, but not really anything that I could specialize in.  On the flipside, I don’t know enough about “everything” to be a generalist.  Again, my educational goals are structured to fill this void, but it’s going to take some time (years I imagine) before I would feel comfortable taking on paying clients.  Sure, I can find just about anyone in the censuses using online databases, but there is so much more to genealogy than census records.

So there’s my dilemma, or maybe not.  Perhaps I’m just too close to the situation and my insecurities to find my mojo. 

What do you think?  Is there a market out there for simply the writing aspect that I should pursue?  What about the research side of things?  Should I think about focusing on a specific record type (or set of record types) and/or a specific region?  To all the professionals out there, how did you decide which direction to go, and did you stick with or evolve over time?  I’d certainly love for everyone to weigh in…I’m sure there are plenty of others with the same types of questions.



Lori E said...

Good for you.
I am a researcher not a genealogist by any means. I love the hunt too.

I think it is a good idea to go with what you know best to start out. Specialize and then perhaps expand your field.

I am pretty familiar with the French Catholic records but have had some pretty big successes with completely different family lines.

It is always good to be a "go to" person but of course you should be able to do a complete history for someone.

Ginger Smith said...

Hi Julie,
I totally understand where you are coming from and your dilemma. I am in the same boat. I love the writing aspect that follows the research, however, I think the research part is what makes the money and what offers the customers the bottom lines. There is always room to incorporate both though. I try to imagine what I could see myself doing.

Last year I did a project with deed records. I had compiled research indicating an ancestor had 7 children - 4 boys and 3 girls, however I could not "prove" the existence of the 3 girls with family history alone. I was, however, able to use deed records to prove descendancy of all 7 children without a will or estate records.

The records were gems in themselves, however other researchers would not be able to understand the importance of the records without reading my "essay" which tied together the records and the family history into a cohesive, easy to understand complete story. I've blogged about it in a 5-part series here.

In order to get your writing out there in front of the public, I would recommend you submit these kinds of essays to writing contests, magazines, blog carnivals, and share with fellow presenters, genealogists, and bloggers.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Excellent post and responses. This is something that I have been putting some thought into as well so it's a timely topic for me. Thanks!

  © Copyright 2008~2013. All rights reserved.

  © Blogger template 'Minimalist E' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

  Social media icons are from GraphicsFuel.com

Back to TOP  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...