08 February 2011

Dancing With The One Who Brung Ya

Loyalty is what that phrase is about. And if I am nothing else in this world, I am true blue to those with whom I have established relationships. Especially in the business world.  When relationships fail, and they will from time to time, you just have to chalk it up as a learning experience.  

By now, everyone has heard about Ancestry.com's decision to shut down their service called Expert Connect. I refuse to rehash the fallout other than I was among the providers. It wasn't a perfect service for clients or providers, but for the most part it worked.  I have to say that I had "better than expected"  luck using their service.  I would say that about 30% of my business was coming from E.C. in the year and a half  I was there.  

It puzzles me why there are so many genealogist who are still whining about how devastating  the end of the service is to their business. It puzzles me why those genealogists depended on that service as their only means of obtaining clients.  I am no wizard when it comes to running a business, but it makes sense to me to have a wide and broad client base that come from many different places..  Why limit yourself to one venue when there are so many opportunities to get your name and your work out there? 

The 70% of business that did not come from E.C. came from many different places.  I leave my business cards anywhere and everywhere.  The local library has my name on a list of researchers that they give to their patrons.  The Sutro Library in San Francisco has a bulletin board in the lobby and invites researchers to attached their business cards to it.  As a public service, NARA maintains a listing of independent researchers who conduct research at any NARA facility.  My last two projects came as referrals from the local historical society.   

Even with all of those opportunities, I wanted something more.  I came across a site called Genealogy Freelancers.  At first I thought that it was a E.C. knockoff and in a "shirt-tail cousin" kind of way it is.  But there are a few major differences.  The biggest one is that Genealogy Freelancers act as a Yenta, matching clients with providers.  No more time is wasted with the daily wading through all the projects that have been posted by clients.  Gone are the days of clients inviting you to bid on a project where a provider has no experience or interest.

Having nothing to lose, I contacted them and asked for more details on how things worked and was pleasantly surprised with an almost immediate response.  Two of the principals of the site - Deborah Irwin, CEO and Elaine Bostwick bent over backwards to explain things to me and how registering with their service was a win-win for everyone concerned.

Getting set up at the site was so very easy and stress-free.  I appreciate the fact that they take the time to check a provider's credentials, education and associations.  I was asked to provide proof of all of the above.  While anyone can claim that they are a professional genealogist, I doubt that many (if any) would falsely claim experience, education or association with an organization but from a consumer's point of view not having to worry about that part of the deal is great.  If I were a potential client, I would be more apt to use a service that did this.

I got dumped by my first date to the dance.  Ok, ouch.  But I got myself another beau and hopefully I won't get my toes stepped on.  I am ready to give it a whirl.