Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hello, My Name Is… Part 2

Earlier I posted Hello, My Name Is…  Part 1.  In that post I talked about a blog post written by Lynn Palermo and a Facebook comment from Kerry Scott.  In a nutshell, both had to do with letting the world know who you are on your genealogy blog.  Lynn’s was general in nature while Kerry’s was targeted toward professional genealogists.  My previous post focused on genealogy bloggers in general; this post will look at professionals.

There are plenty of professional genealogists out there, but sometimes it’s hard to find one.  And to be fair, for those people who are just starting their family history journey they probably don’t know there is such a thing as a professional genealogist, much less where to find one.  Regardless, the first place many people go to learn more about a subject is the internet (and if they don’t use a computer, they ask their kids or grandkids to look into it on the internet for them).  With that being the case, professional genealogists should have some sort of web presence if they want to generate business.

These days, a web presence can mean different things.  It used to be simply a website.  Now a web presence could also include a blog, a Facebook account and/or page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, or a variety of other social media and networking tools.  While these tools have their place, this post is only concerned with the website and blog aspect.

You would not believe how many professional genealogists do not provide their name on their website/blog.  I had made this observation before reading Kerry’s Facebook comment, but never gave it much thought other than “well, I don’t know who you are, so I’m moving on.”  Did you hear that?  I’m moving on.  That’s right, your potential client just walked out of your store, so to speak, never to return, all because you wouldn’t identify yourself.

I realize that people want to be cautious when putting information on the web.  I can understand how as professionals who work from home, we don’t want to have our home phone number and address plastered everywhere.  There are of course alternatives to that such as PO boxes and a separate phone number, but both require an additional expense.  But at a minimum, you should provide your name (first and last), a short bio, the services you provide, and an email address so prospective clients can reach you.  Whether you have a blog, website, or both, you need to be accessible to potential clients.

Here’s an example.  The other day, I visited the website of a professional genealogist, whose business card I picked up at the FGS conference.  It was a nice website, the design was pleasant, there was a list of services and upcoming lectures, and a contact form.  Now, there was an “about me” page, however, nowhere on the site do you see her name.  The only reason I knew who it was is because I had her business card.  Do you see the disconnect here?  If I had come to her page without knowing her previously, I would have walked away pretty quickly.  And let’s face it, those potential clients are likely to find you on the web before they’d ever see your business card.

As the comments on Kerry’s Facebook comment ensued, there was also mention about the blog and website being one-in-the-same.  Personally, I don’t care how you do it, so long as wherever I am, I know who you are, what you can do for me, and how I can contact you. 

Following are some good examples of a professional genealogy website.  They all include information about the person(s) in business, the services/products offered, and a way to contact them.

And of course, my blog/website, Writing Your Way to the Past (hey, it’s my blog, I can do cross-promotion!).

For those of you who are living a life of online anonymity as a professional genealogist, I do hope you’ll consider making some changes to your website and/or blog to become more accessible to your potential clients.  It’s acceptable to lose a potential client because you cannot fulfill their research needs, or lack a certain specialty, or heck even because your services cost more than the person can spend.  But it’s not okay to lose a client simply because you won’t put your name on your website.


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