I have learned a lot! I am so happy I took Michael’s advice….thanks, Michael….about doing many little projects, even if pro bono, to get to know the tempo of the work. I continue to do 10 hour projects for people (for hire now) but that seems like a good number.
First, here are some things I have learned….
- 10 hours is a nice increment of time for doing quick projects. It’s enough time to get something accomplished but not to much time that you have the opportunity to go “off track”. At first I found myself spending 15 hours on a 10 hour agreement but lately, I have it down to about 12 hours for a 10 hour commitment.
- I enter all information I find in my database (each project is unique). While it is time consuming, I find it assists me in analyzing what I have (and more importantly, what I don’t have.) It also organizes the data in a way I am familiar.
- Each client gets a Pedigree Chart and a Journal report of their known family members in addition to a findings report and a collection of pertinent exhibits.
- The letters of agreement are getting faster to write. The first one must have taken 3-4 hours to write. I did two last night in about 1 hour. Sweet!
- I used to embed the report of findings into the response letter. That doesn’t work for this scale of project.
- Report covers, Table of Contents and a Table of Exhibits are all helpful in making the project look professional.
- If appropriate, I always include a map. Geography literacy is not considered high in the US; therefore, it is important to show the client the locale where his ancestors lived.
- Putting the final product takes longer than I imagined. I will start allocating more time to this use.
- Always use really good paper. I have talked about this before but it is even more important now.
- I send 1 final hard copy and 1 electronic copy of the same thing to the client.
- Consider doing a customer satisfaction survey. I am starting to get responses back and they are helpful. After more responses come in, I should be able to make adjustments in my marketing strategy and improve my client-genealogists communication skills. Mine is only about 7 questions long. In another blog I will outline my questions.
What I have done since my last blog: rewrote my outline for class because I had lost it in a “computer hiccup”, met with Theresa who wanted me to trace her Irish side of the family. While she is excited about what I have found, Theresa said her dad was pestering her as to when he would see the whole document. She has asked me to do some work on her maternal side and to check out what it would take for Irish citizenship. I am getting ready for the NGS conference. Found a little glitch in my hotel arrangments (ie. didn’t have the first night hotel room I needed) and then found another little glitch in the flight home…i.e. it left the conference a day early. Not sure how that happened. We hope to get that fixed so I can stay for the final day, but honestly I might be ready to go home on Saturday. I expect genealogy overload!