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

How to Use Video in Your Genealogy Business

Videos are a huge part of business these days. It’s nearly impossible not to be using video in your business either through your website and blog content or through marketing your company and products.

There are a number of reasons why you should be using videos in your business. I’m also offering up a couple of ideas of how you can use video in your genealogy business.

Videos build trust. Videos are engaging and ignite emotions. Consider a video 15-second testimonial from a client that will share the satisfaction and emotional reward they received from your services. Or create short “thank you” videos from yourself to new customers.

Videos allow you to present material in a conversational format. Videos are great for explaining your research services or products. Film a screencast demo of your product.

 People like videos to solve problems. When people are looking to solve a problem, they are more likely to watch a video. Turn a how-to blog post into a how-to video. Use video to share a client success story or to explain your product.

 Google loves videos. If you have a video embedded on your homepage you are more likely going to show up higher in a google search.  Do a short introduction of your company, your mission and vision. Tell potential customers who land on your homepage how you can help them.

Mobile users also love videos. These days it’s all about mobile. Most videos are watched on mobile devices, and so video is must because everyone has a mobile device. Consider using live video from an industry event, conference. Etc.

Consumers find it easier to watch a video than reading a blog post. We live in a time of quick consumable information. We would rather watch a video than read a blog post. I’m not saying all your blog posts need to be videos but change it up from time to time. Maybe once in awhile do a live video or have a Q & A via Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts. Instead of writing a genealogy tip or writing a story about a genealogy find, share it via a recorded video.

Videos are more likely to be shared across social media. Facebook loves videos. If you’re using video, you’re more likely to get shared. Consider filming one of your presentations with Q & A and then offer it up for free to watch across your platforms. Or consider a quick Facebook live event or a behind-the-scenes look at a genealogy field trip.

Here are some of my favourite video tools.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started in video. Like I said earlier it’s not about perfection but rather about useful, engaging content.

Screencast-o-matic – for recording my screen and for teaching. I also use it for editing videos. I keep trying new editing programs but always return to this one.

Adobe Spark – is an awesome program for creating short videos.
Smartphone/ Go Pros – They are my go-to for recording myself on video. You really don’t need expensive, complicated equipment to get started. However, I do recommend a tripod with a remote, (affiliate link) here’s the one I have. It really helps to cut down on the editing.

Wistia – I use Wistia to host my videos and to brand them and embed them into my emails and websites.

Want to know just how much video can influence your business. Check out this video for some interesting facts.

Develop a Genealogy Research Plan with 7 Simple Questions

In our previous post, we looked at 10 signs that indicate you might need a research plan. Plenty of you could identify with the signs on the list.  And if you did, then it’s time to start using a research plan to reign in your unfocused approach to genealogy research and stop the aimless wandering.
 Today we will look at 7 easy questions you can ask. By answering each of these questions, you will be on your way to developing a robust research plan.

By the way, we have a template you can download that coordinates with the following questions. Fill in the template as you work through these question. When finished you’ll be armed with a solid research plan and a good chance you’ll have better luck tearing down those brick walls.

Research Plan – Download Here

Question 1 – Who am I researching?

Seems pretty basic, but it’s crucial to identify the ancestor you are researching and develop a plan for each ancestor. Too often we research a surname, a couple or a family group, but each ancestor should have their own research plan. You even want to go so far as filling out one of these templates for each question that needs answering.

Question 2 – What do I know about this ancestor?

This is an important step that often gets overlooked. What do you know about this ancestor? First, by taking the time to identify what you already have in your research, you refresh yourself on what you have.  This will eliminate wasting time searching for information already in your possession. Creating a complete outline of what you know will also help you to identify those gaps in your research. Often, we do so much research we don’t even realize we may have the documents and answers in front of us. So, take the time to look at what you know and create a list.

Question 3 – What is your research goal?

Identify precisely what you want to learn or need to have answered about this ancestor.  What questions are outstanding? The unanswered question is the goal of your research plan. That goal may be to identify a marriage date? Perhaps to identify the parents of an ancestor? Or when an ancestor immigrated? Keep your research goal as specific as possible.  There is nothing wrong with having more than one research goal for an ancestor but deal with them as separated quests with separate plans so that your research time is focused and you stay on track.


Question 4 – What is your working theory?

Before you get into researching, write out what you believe to be the probable conclusion to your research goal. What do you think is the answer to this goal?  By stating your working theory, it gives you some parameters under which to begin to prove or disapprove your theory.

Question 5 – Where can I find my answers?

Brainstorm the various resources that might provide the answers and where you might find these resources. Start with your living relatives, do they contain clues or solutions in their boxes of stuff or perhaps their memory. Next go online and if so which databases might have these records. After that, a trip to archives might be necessary.  Many archives offer online finding aids and indexes. You may be able to collect call numbers, microfilm roll numbers and names of specific collections before going to an archive. Don’t just show up at an archive without doing your homework. Email your archive in advance with your particular research question. Give them what you know so they can help do a thorough search when you get there.

Question 6 – Have I recorded my research results both positive and negative?

Track your research progress. So very important.  You would be shocked at how many of us duplicate our efforts because we forget we’ve already checked a particular resource. Again, seems basic but many do not do this and end up retracing their steps with the same results or aren’t able to determine where a particular piece of information originated from. Don’t let that be you.  

Question 7 – What are my conclusions, or do I have to reassess my theory?

 Now go ahead and write up your conclusions, do they coordinate with your working theory? Or do you need to reassess and develop a new theory and begin the research process over again?

Repeat this method for all your ancestors and their unanswered questions, and you’ll have a very focused and organized process to researching. 

The Genealogy Entrepreneur: Branding Your Business

Branding is a significant aspect of any business, and your genealogy business is no exception.  Developing a brand and creating a brand strategy is going to give you a leading advantage over your competitors. It should be one of the first steps you take when starting your genealogy business.  The process of developing your brand will, in fact, be a journey in business self-discovery.  However, if you didn’t work through this phase when you started your genealogy business, then it’s never too late to take a step back and consider how you want to move forward with branding your genealogy business.

What is Branding?

Simply put, your brand is your identity to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from you, your products and services. It is your uniqueness, what differentiates you from your competitors.

This especially applies to genealogists, as we are most likely the single face of our business. For example, unlike Ancestry, you can’t put one face to the company. But for a genealogist starting out who wants to take clients, conduct classes or speak, you are the brand, and that should always be front and centre.

At first, I know it can be a little uncomfortable. You want to run a business, but you’re an introvert. You ‘t run a business without having to show your face and let others get to know you.

Your brand is a product of who you are, who you want to be and how you want people to perceive you. You are the face of your brand. Your brand is you!

Are you the ground-breaking ninja or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product high-end, high-quality or do you offer a value-added product? Do you like to overdeliver?

You can’t be all things to all people, so you must take some time and decide who you want to be based on who your target customers want and need you to be.

As we discussed last week the basis of your brand is your logo. However, it also includes your website, packaging, promotional materials and social media outlets. They all should integrate your logo and communicate your brand.  If you have several sites and they are all genealogy topic related merge them. If that’s not possible, then they should be branded similar and linked in some manner.

In the best-case scenario, you want to keep your brand to one website, perhaps under your name, a great example, is  Amy Johnson Crow. Your target market may come to know you under a pseudonym like The Armchair Genealogist or Ruth Blair, The Passionate Genealogist or Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems.

What is a Brand Strategy?

A brand strategy is how, what, where and when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering your message. Where you decide to advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels (advertising, paper, radio, tv and social media) and what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy. 

When you are consistent with your brand, it adds value to your company’s products or services. For example, Coke is a powerful brand. If you compare Coke to a generic soda, you’ll see Coke can charge more for its product. Its customers are willing to pay for it.

Defining Your Brand

There is a list of core questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to determining your brand. You need to take some time upfront to define who you are about and what you want your company to be about.

Download this branding worksheet as a starting point to help you figure out your brand.  

Branding Worksheet 

Once you’ve completed the branding worksheet, consider the following:

  • Create a mission statement
  • Identify how your clients benefit from your products and services
  • If you’re an already established company how are you perceived by your customers and prospective customers?
  •  How would you like others to perceive your company

Get a great logo. We talked about this last week. It’s an essential aspect of your brand, and it's necessary it shows up everywhere.  

Write down message. What are the fundamental ideas you want to communicate about your brand? Keep it visual to you and your focus until it becomes second nature.

Coordinate your brand into all aspects of your business. Branding extends to every point of your business--how you answer your phone, how you dress at a conference, your e-mail signature, your website, your social media pages.  Everything.

Create a "voice" that reflects your brand. The voice you create should be applied to all forms of communication, written, visual both online and off. What is the voice of your brand? Friendly? Be conversational. Is it luxury? Be formal. Get the idea?

Develop a tagline.  Your business should have a meaningful and brief statement that captures the spirit of your brand.

Create a style guide for your brand. You want to choose a colour scheme, logo, fonts that will help create the look and feel throughout as aspects of marketing your business.   By creating a style guide, your communication will remain consistent.
Pinterest is a great place to create a mood board, grab pictures, colour palettes and font examples to begin to get an idea of the look and feel you want. This is also a great way to communicate with a graphic designer. You can create your own style guide with this brand management software at Frontify. They offer a free 14-day trial.

Be consistent. Branding is consistency. When you are unwavering with your messaging then in your consumer's eyes your brand is reliable.

Recommended Resources
Want to learn more about branding your genealogy business,  here are some books I recommend. (affiliate links)

What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business

Did you miss Post 1 in this series

  5 Ways to Invest in Your Business

10 Signs You Need a Research Plan

1. My research isn’t organized.
 I haven’t taken the time to organize my research. I have a software program and digital files, but they're not up to date or well coordinated. I really don’t know what I have and what I should be researching.

2. I don’t know what I need 
Up until now, I’ve been a collector, grabbing documents and information here, there and everywhere.  I haven’t defined the gaps in my research. My research is unfocused.

3. I don’t know what records might reveal the answer 
I’ve recognized what’s missing, but I haven’t developed a well thought out approach to what records might hold the answers and where I might find those answers.

4. I don’t have a research goal 
I don't determine a clear objective when I go looking online or head to an archive. I tend to just throw a name out there and hope something sticks.

5. I don’t have a strategy 
What’s a strategy? How do I create one?

6. I randomly jump online and start digging 
When I find myself with a few minutes, I hop online and do a little digging. But it’s random an inefficient and when I'm done it feels like I've wasted valuable time.

7. I research a lot of different lines and ancestors at once 
I spend my time investigating a wide variety of ancestors not giving anyone ancestor my full focus. 

8. I don’t find my research time very productive 
I can spend hours never getting anywhere. I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels.

9. I catch myself looking at the same information over and over again.
I don’t record where I’ve searched, and so I end up going back to the same resources repeatedly.

10. I have so many brick walls.
I feel like that’s all I have is brick walls, and I’m at a standstill with my research. 

If any of these sounds like you, watch for next Tuesday's post.

5 Steps to a Research Plan with a free downloadable template. 

The Genealogy Entrepreneur: 5 Ways to Invest in Your Business

I've always considered myself an entrepreneur.  As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a planner, a creative thinker, a self-motivated leader from my first lemonade stand to backyard carnivals to raise money for local charities.  When I was sixteen, I started a catering company, which I operated for 10 years before moving on to being a manager and trainer in the restaurant industry. But that was a lifetime ago.

Since beginning The Armchair Genealogist 9 years ago, (yup anniversary coming up in a few weeks) I often get asked questions about different aspects of my genealogy business. So, I decided it was time to add another feature to The Armchair Genealogist blog, The Genealogy Entrepreneur. 

This is a new series for anyone thinking of starting up a genealogy business.  Or if you’ve been in the genealogy market for a while, perhaps you started on a shoestring budget, and you're ready to take your business to the next level, then you too may benefit from The Genealogy Entrepreneur.

Don’t worry, we’re still blogging about researching and writing our family history, but dispersed among those posts will be tips and tools for those of you who want to turn your passion for genealogy into a business.

Investing in Your Business

If you’ve created an online presence, a blog or website, if you’re taking clients, or conducting genealogy classes or speaking then it’s important to continually invest in yourself and your business.

Advancing your business might mean a financial investment, or an outlay of your time, often both.

In this first series of The Genealogy Entrepreneur, we’re going to cover the following 5 ways to invest in your business. They don't all require money, some will purely be an investment of your time. 

  1. A Logo
  2. Branding
  3. Videos
  4. Google Analytics
  5. Facebook ads

Let’s get started.

Why You Need a Logo

1. It Identifies Your Business
When you have a smart logo, it helps to reveal your identity to possible clients, followers and consumers. Imprinted on your products, your business card and your website, your logo communicates ownership. It tells the world/potential customers who you are, what type of product or service you sell, or what benefit you offer consumers.

2. Invites Customers to Get to Know You
Your logo will mark your website, your products and should be designed to draw interest. It should induce the curiosity of potential customers through its design and colour. Your logo should encourage them to at least stop to take a look and hopefully stick around to read a post or two and eventually enlist your services or buy a product.  

3. Distinguishes You From the Competition
A graphic designer can help you to design a logo that echoes who you are, but it should also differentiate you from everybody else. A good logo will set you apart from the rest. In the genealogy industry, trees are a symbol often used in our industry. That’s fine! But how you are going to distinguish your tree from everyone else?  A good logo should strive to be different. How will you stand out in the crowd?

Seek out a graphic designer either in your local community or online. Your designer should take some time to get to know you and your story, your services and your demographic. A logo will address all of these aspects of your business through the symbols used in the logo, the colours, and the fonts.  

A good graphic designer will also investigate other businesses in this space. You don’t want your logo resembling that of a competitor. Invest some money and time in developing a logo that identifies your business while at the same time separating you from the pack.

If your designer is not taking these steps move on to someone else.

Coming Up Next

Your logo is an essential part of your overall brand identity. Stay tuned for our next post, on Branding Your Genealogy Business, what is it, why you need it and how it affects your marketing strategy.