google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Starting Your Genealogy Business

Rarely does someone ever start a business with all the skills and tools they need to become a success. Large businesses hire an array of employees working in various departments with a variety of skills. Marketing and branding experts, tech experts, writers, all come together to make a business successful.  However, if you’re starting a genealogy business, then most likely it’s just you.  

Genealogists are proficient at finding dead people; that’s most likely you too.  However, perhaps you bring a few other skills to the table. Maybe, you’re a great writer or you’re creative and have a few marketing ideas. But most genealogists don’t often arrive with all the skills to start, brand and market their businesses. Often a steep learning curve is involved, and this can take time, money and resources. Of course, the longer it takes you to learn these various business skills, the longer it takes to start earning money. 

Enter Thomas MacEntee at GenBiz Solutions and his collection of valuable guides for
genealogists who are ready to turn their sleuthing skills into a business.  These guides will position you to fast track your family history business.  Thomas has done the work for you, so you don’t have to stumble around sorting it out. He has assembled some great advice, resources and templates to help give your genealogy business the best possible chance of succeeding.

Not only are these guides perfect for the professional genealogist looking to start a business, they are also wonderful guides for small genealogical societies who need some business guidance.

This collection of guides covers a wide range of topics from the basics of starting a genealogy business to marketing, branding, running contests and giveaways along with email and blogging outreach. These guides provide insightful information; with a variety of links, resources and references. They include value with downloadable templates, like the Blog Planning Spreadsheet and Blog Editorial Spreadsheet. Thomas has listed the help of several authors and genealogy business owners to add their expertise to these guides.  You know these are genealogists who have done the hard work. It’s not easy starting a business, but it’s easier with help and mentoring, and that’s what the GenBiz Solutions Guides provide.

The other lovely feature of these guides, you choose the ones you want or bundle them together, they are completely flexible to your needs.

Here’s the list of current guides available at GenBiz Solutions to help you get your genealogy business started.

Marketing: What’s Your Brand? 
Marketing: Contests and Giveaways 

Each guide is priced at $4.95 and downloads in an easily readable pdf document. You will refer to them time and time again as you move forward with your business and are confronted with various decisions.

While you might be great a finding dead people, you may not have all the skills and knowledge required to start a genealogy business. I can confidently recommend to you the GenBiz Solutions Guides as your first resource to starting a genealogy business.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of GenBiz Solutions Guides in exchange for this review. 

5 Steps to Proving Your Family History

As family historians we often see ourselves as detectives, uncovering the past for future
generations. However, as the family history detective it’s important for you to provide a strong case for your research, to be able to provide proof of your theories and back up that proof with quality evidence.

How can you be sure your family tree is accurate? How can you know your sharing correct information with others?  Today, we explore 5 steps to proving your family history. 
By employing these initiatives, you have the assurance you are not only adding the right ancestors to your tree but you can share your research with others confidently and accurately. 

These aren’t any five steps; they are commonly known as Genealogical Proof Standard and are the foundation for professional genealogy research. GPS, as it is commonly referred to serves just as its name suggests - a clear set of steps, a path to your final destination – to prove your family history. It is not restricted to professionals and can be employed by beginner genealogists to ensure solid research techniques at every turn.  Let’s take a look a the basics of GPS.

Step 1 - A reasonably exhaustive search.

What does this mean? It means you have examined a variety of quality sources which relate to a specific item. This item may be a relationship, an identity, or an event or activity. In attempting to prove that item you will do a ‘reasonably exhaustive search’ and by doing such you reduce the chances that new evidence may be uncovered at a later date that is likely to disprove your swift conclusion. This does not mean you have uncovered every piece of evidence necessary to prove the situation, only that you have gone to a rationale means. 

Step 2 - A complete and accurate citation of the sources for each item used in proving an identify, event or relationship.  

By documenting all of your sources you can stand behind your research with confidence and provide future researchers with the necessary sources to understand your conclusions. It provides them with the breadcrumbs to prove their own conclusions and understand your theory. 

Step 3- Analysis of the collected information’s quality as evidence.  

Essentially, step 3 is asking you to analyse the quality of your evidence. Is it original or derivative, primary or secondary source, direct or indirect? We must analyse which sources are probably correct and compare to those that are in conflict. 

Step 4 - Resolution of any contradictory or conflicting evidence. 

When you have conflicting evidence, proving a relationship or an identity can become difficult. Step 4 asks you to re-evaluate your evidence in relationship to your theory. Do major conflicts still exist; perhaps additional research is required to resolve your outstanding variances. 

Step 5 - Write a conclusion supporting your hypothesis. 

Document your conclusion based on your evidence. Your written conclusion offers a clear explanation of your theory, why perhaps it is more credible than any opposing evidence that may exist and it provides transparency to future researchers. 

This is but a brief overview of Genealogical Proof Standard.  We will continue to explore GPS in future posts and how you can employ it in your everyday research. 

The following resources provide an in-depth examination of Genealogical Proof Standard.

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Board of Certification of Genealogists
Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose



Reality Check: Would Your Genealogy Research Survive This?

Today is genealogy back up day, a common practice in the family history community of protecting
our data by copying it to a portable hard drive or cloud service. Have you backed up your family history today? I certainly hope so.

However, I want you to look beyond your digital files.  I don’t want the act of backing up your genealogy data to give you a false sense of security. Ask yourself, have you really done everything you can to protect your research and family history treasures?

Consider for a moment --- Do you keep your years of hard-earned family history research in a cardboard box? Where do you keep your primary documents? In a file cabinet?  Do you store your photos in plastic totes; you know the ones you haven’t gotten around to scanning yet? And where do you store that portable hard drive when you’re done backing up your computer - on your desk, exposed and vulnerable? Here's a reality check ---you stand to lose all of it, should disaster strike.

I know you never think it’s going to happen to you but it’s crazy to think it won’t. Pipes burst, basements flood, and a catastrophe can wipe out your precious family history treasures, items that have been handed down through generations, primary documents, pictures, artifacts, all sitting in cardboard boxes and plastic totes completely unprotected from a household disaster like a fire or flood, not to mention something more ominous like a hurricane or tornado. 

Take a moment to watch this video, would your genealogy survive this? 

It’s time to consider more protection for your family history. I am thrilled to introduce you to the newest tool available in protecting your genealogy from disaster - The Guardian Storage Box from Sentry Safe.

A month ago, I received a Guardian storage box from Sentry Safe to help protect my family history research and treasures. I was completely impressed with the structure, the size and the quality workmanship of this product. In fact, a few days after receiving it, I was headed on vacation and I immediately filled it with my most precious family history items. The ones I couldn’t imagine loosing in a flood or fire. 

In my Guardian storage box I included my portable back up hard drive that contains all my family history research and photos from my computers as well as my writing projects on a flash drive. I also included some cds of pictures, my mother’s christening gown, jewellery handed down from my mother-in-law, and many primary genealogy documents that can’t be replaced.  The only problem with my Guardian storage box; deciding which items took priority placement in the box.  I clearly will need more.

Water Damage Protection
The Sentry Safe Guardian storage box is no ordinary box.  It is water –resistant. If that pipe breaks damage will be kept at bay, don’t take my word for it, check out this video.

Fire Protection
It also offers reliable fire protection that will secure your family history documents for up to 20 minutes at 1200F. (Verified by a third party)

When latched securely, The Guardian will keep your valuables safe from environmental damage. You can stack them up to 3 high for convenient storage when space is limited. It will accommodate letter and legal size paper, so you can fill it with all those family history files.  The storage box is 15.8 in x 12.6in x 19.8in in size and has a capacity of 29.4 litres. It comes with an inventory label so you can easily keep track of your research from the outside of the box.  Family historians love organizational tools and this storage box will not only keep your research organized, it’s going to offer the ultimate in disaster protection.

While I may not be able to save everything should disaster strike, the Guardian storage box does give me some piece of mind. I know that those one of kind items which are irreplaceable and an integral part my family history now have the best possible chance of surviving a fire or flood in my home.

Protect Your Genealogy Business 

I know some of you have filing cabinets full of family history and some of you have genealogy businesses. Would your business go up in smoke with your client’s research if a fire broke out in your home?  Perhaps, you’ll want to consider the FileGuard. The FileGuard fits easily into any standard vertical and lateral file cabinet or any desk drawer and offers fire protection for up to ½ hour at 1550F. Water resistant design ensures that the water from sprinklers and fire hoses will not damage the contents in case of a fire.  And the littlest details like the removable tray for easy access to flash drives, DVDs, CDs, and other critical items make it convenient for everyday use in your home office.

You can purchase The Guardian and the FileGuard in the Sentry Safe online store, but they are also available at a variety of stores such as Amazon, Staples, Lowes, Costco and Home Depot. Click here to check out where you can find Sentry Safe products near you.

With the incredible protection offered by the Guardian Storage box and the FileGuard, it only makes sense that family historians will want to start replacing their fragile cardboard and plastic storage boxes.

Let's ensure were guarding our family history treasures for future generations by protecting our research and artifacts in a manner that provides them with the greatest chance of survival.

I believe that Sentry Safe products are the newest tools family historians should be reaching for when it comes to protecting their personal archives. Please help me in welcoming Sentry Safe and their incredible line up of products to the genealogy community! 

Disclaimer: I was contacted by Sentry Safe to consider their products. I was impressed and believe their products will be of great value to the genealogy community. Sentry Safe provided me with a Guardian Storage Box to examine, use and review. 

Tools for Starting a Genealogy-Related Business

If you're interested in starting a genealogy-related business and not sure where to begin, you'll definitely want to take a look at the newest project from Thomas MacEntee. Thomas is creating a variety of guides to help you find your way through the business side of your genealogy business. Here is a recent press release from Thomas with all the details. 

Innovative solutions for genealogy-related businesses
GenBiz Solutions Guides Released
Chicago, Illinois: GenBiz Solutions Guides hit the marketplace today to meet the demands of the business owner with a genealogy-related business focus. Independent of developing genealogical research skills, today’s successful genealogy-related business owner must develop or enhance specific business skills. Each GenBiz Solutions Guide, geared towards the business side of genealogy, addresses a specific business topic. Initial guides released include:
·         Starting a Genealogy Business
·         Creating a Marketing Plan
·         Building a Business Blog
·         Building Media Relationships
·         Creating a Sales Process
Each guide is priced at $4.95. Now through September 30, 2014, use the promo code FALLSALE2014 to get 10% off on all purchases. In addition, purchase the All In Bundle – all five introductory guides – for only $19.95, a 20% savings. Visit for more information.
Filling a Need for Business Education Materials
“Genealogy-related business owners come to this industry from a variety of backgrounds and with a mix of experience. Because there are multiple aspects to running any business, as well as aspects uniquely applicable to a genealogy-related business, we saw a need to devise a way to allow each business owner to select educational materials specific to their situation,” said Thomas MacEntee, owner of High Definition Genealogy. “Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as hanging out your shingle and starting to perform research for clients. Today’s genealogy professional is faced with making decisions about business structure, what services to offer, how to attract clients and how to compete.”
Real Advice from Real Genealogy Business Owners
“Tapping into the real life experiences of current business owners, we’ve created GenBiz Solutions Guides. Guides are authored by a group of diverse professionals and each examines a relatively narrow topic. This approach allows the genealogy-related business owner to select a guide or multiple guides specific to their unique needs, for a very minimal investment.” continued MacEntee.
GenBiz Solutions Guides are delivered electronically in a digital format; they offer knowledge, practical advice and include specific tools and templates for the business owner to incorporate into their practice.
About GenBiz Solutions
GenBiz Solutions is an innovative series of guides for genealogists seeking to establish or enhance a successful genealogy-related business. GenBiz Solutions is a partnership of genealogy professionals, coordinated and led by Thomas MacEntee. To purchase GenBiz Solutions Guides or for more information, visit:

Expanding Your Genealogy Comfort Zone

We all live in a comfort zone; a place in our mind where we create limitations for ourselves, a
place in our mind that establishes what we believe about what we can or can’t do.

What is your genealogy comfort zone?

You’ve taken up the hobby of genealogy and you’ve garnered a certain amount of knowledge that has allowed you to arrive at this point in your research.  You feel most comfortable where you are and you continue to research and seek out answers within that comfort zone.  However, you soon find yourself at a standstill, you have too many brick walls, nothing is budging and your interest is waning because nothing new is happening.  Perhaps your brick walls and your weakening interest have more to do with your comfort zone than a lack of available resources. Your personal comfort zone can be changed and certainly you can change your genealogy comfort zone as well.  

Expanding your genealogy comfort zone means taking on new challenges, challenges that may make you a little uncomfortable but would expand your knowledge and therefore your ability to grow your family history tree. Those new challenges may come in the form of stepping out from behind your computer and seeking out relevant archives. Maybe your new challenge comes in the form of adapting to the new technology surrounding genealogy research. Perhaps it requires you to attend a class, either in person or online or attend a conference. Perhaps travelling to distant archives and ancestral hometowns would require you to step out of your comfort zone.  Or maybe writing your family history stories is a challenge that pushes beyond your current level of comfort. We all have a comfort zone where we are prepared to conduct our research.

We were all beginners once and to become great and knowledgeable about anything requires going beyond what others are prepared to do, setting new limits for yourself and discovering new territory.
I remember when all I knew about genealogy came from my early days on This is not a bad thing but it was my starting point and I soon realized I needed to expand my horizons. I learned to step away from my computer and head to conferences to expand my knowledge.  I felt completely out of my comfort zone when I visited my first archives and avoided it until I realized my research would not move any further.  Now I’m a volunteer researcher in my local archives. Writing about genealogy was equally a challenge, this was probably my biggest leap outside my comfort zone, but the experience and knowledge has been abundant and has brought me to a new career. The constant expansion of my comfort zone has aided my knowledge and depth of my genealogy research. For many newcomers, genealogy can be a very intimidating hobby. We are surrounded by experts and it can be difficult to ask those initial questions for fear of looking foolish. Do you feel sometimes like you are back in school, scared to raise your hand? You're not alone and this is may be a sign you are confined by your comfort zone.

How do you expand your genealogy comfort zone?

Rather than research from a comfort zone, find your 'genealogy growth zone,' where you are challenged beyond what you've previously done. Perhaps your family history began in your local archives and you’re not very familiar with internet genealogy. Maybe you’ve been to smaller archives but not to a larger national archive, that's just too intimidating.  Possibly, you never taken a genealogy class, gone to a genealogy conference or attended a webinar? These are all opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and embrace growth in your genealogy endeavors. If you don’t challenge yourself and only conduct research from within your comfort zone, you won’t grow, and if you don’t grow, your tree won’t grow.

Make a list of items that fall outside of your comfort zone and within your genealogy growth zone and begin to make plans to check them off. Once you start to tackle that list you will have greater opportunity to expand your boundaries, grow your confidence and your family tree.