Monday 10 November 2014

The Scottish Genealogy Network CPD day in Edinburgh

Saturday 25 October saw the fourth bi-annual continuing professional development (CPD) day of the Scottish Genealogy Network. The event was hosted by the Southern Cross Café which is conveniently situated on Cockburn Street, Edinburgh. The friendly staff kept the tea and coffee flowing and also brought us some rather delicious carrot cake!!

In the past our CPD days have covered topics which focussed on research in specific record sources. The programme this time was a little different, as the theme was running a successful business. It seems that there is an occupational hazard that all of us have fallen  victim to. We get so involved with the projects that we are working on that we spend far more time on some projects than we charge for! This may seem great if you’re an individual who is looking for a researcher, but if you are a genealogist trying to earn a living it’s not really very practical.

Most of us began our businesses because we love genealogy. so we’ll never eliminate the problem entirely. When we’re working on an interesting project it can be a pleasure to spend extra time on it; we don’t always see this as a problem.

The day focussed on how we can earn a living from genealogy. We started with three talks looking at how we can diversify from standard client research and how this can help us to have a regular income.

First up was Scottish genealogist Chris Paton, who is well known as a genealogy author, as well as his popular blogs and magazine articles. He gave us some helpful tips on how to get started in writing and explained how this can give a regular basic income, something which is very important to anyone who is self-employed.

Kirsty Wilkinson, who you may have seen on Billy Connolly's episode in the recent series of Who Do You Think You Are?, gave the next talk. Kirsty explained that by being a member of the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Record Agents (ASGRA), she has attracted a different type of research and the work has proved quite steady. ASGRA is an accrediting body and as such, some legal practices use only ASGRA members for their research. Whilst this is not true of all legal firms, being a member of ASGRA can prove to be an advantage.

Graham Maxwell gave the third talk, looking at how indexing historical records can help your business. As with writing and legal work, creating online indexes can attract clients and also provide a basic steady income. Graham began publishing genealogy indexes 13 years ago and over that time has built up a large database. If you’re just starting out even a small index can help get your website noticed.

After these initial talks we had a variety of discussion groups lead by Scottish Genealogy Network members Emma Maxwell, Jane Harris, Anne Callan and Lorraine Stewart. A variety of helpful tips were brought out as well as discussions on how to use social media effectively to promote your business.

All in all, it was a very productive day which we hope will assist SGN members to run successful businesses which provide an income to their family and a good service to their clients.

If you are already working as a genealogist in Scotland, or are considering launching a business, please get in touch with our secretary to ask about joining the group. The next meeting will be in Paisley on 5 December 2014.