Beginning a New Client Project

by Sharon

I’m sure you have all heard the old adage “Plan your work and work your plan”. This applies especially well to the genealogy business. It is one thing to work on your own family, you will remember facts because they are often passed down from your family. However, when you are working on someone else’s family tree it is a very different scenario. They have been living with their family memories and history for years, it is all new to you. So, how do you begin to absorb all this data?

Starting from the beginning is always best, and you already know that. However, as you work with clients they will want you to zoom ahead to where they are stuck, without giving you the benefit of retracing their steps and confirming their results. This is wrong for so many reasons.

When you set up your new client there would have been an understanding between you of the time and costs involved. Use these numbers now to plan your approach and strategy. State your clients’ goal, in writing on the top of the page. Refer back to this as you work out the scheduling of time. Unless your client has given you all the time and money you need, you will want to keep a very close eye on the clock and goal.

Start to plan how you are going to breakdown their history/genealogy into reasonable sections and set up a chart of your intentions. Use a checklist and ask yourself the same questions you would if you were looking for your ancestors. Zoom in on what era you will be examining and set the scene timewise and location wise.

Working your way through the file you will notice that you are starting to become more familiar with the characters and events, which will allow you to employ your genealogical skill sets to determine where you go next.

If you are just starting to do this work as a business it will take you longer to get to the report stage and the compiling of the report will also take longer than you thought. This is normal and should be considered as part of your training. If you are experienced but still find it hard to manage your time comfortably it might be wise to review how you are researching. What is your methodology and do you have the will power to stop when you are out of the allotted time? Or, do you keep going because you just know you are almost there? We both know the answer to that one!