Genealogy work is real work.


View from Tintagel Castle in Devon

I’m sorry I’ve been away from my blog for awhile. It’s been tough trying to maintain my household, 2 part time jobs (that I need because my genealogy work isn’t paying the bills) and surviving the job of being mom to 16 and 20 year old young men!

Guess what people? Genealogy IS a real job! When I went back to university to get my Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (which took 2 years), I had this pie in the sky idea that once I had graduated that I’d magically have enough clients to make a living. I marketed myself through my blog, my business Facebook page and my website. I have written articles and contributed to many events. It just never ceases to amaze me that whenever I get a request from someone to help them solve their family history story that they are shocked at what I charge. Really??

I work for my clients after my other jobs well into the night. I travel to archives and libraries and subscribe to many databases to help  find the information they are looking for. I spend way more time on their reports than I charge for and yet there is this feeling that what I do should cost less. Almost every time I get an email request there is the question of what I think it will cost and then the almost certain response that this is a lot more than they were planning on paying.

Some of these people have been doing their own genealogy work for decades and are stuck. They want the advice and help of someone who knows how to help but are hesitant to pay for it. I’m not bitter about their reaction, just frustrated.

My work is my passion. I LOVE IT! If I could do genealogy full time (24 hours a day) I would! It’s almost always on my mind. It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job but yet it IS a job. It’s my time and my effort and my skills that are being paid for.

If you want a shocking example….here is one. I work part time as a nanny. I make $20/hour to watch an infant and the same amount to watch 2 toddler siblings. $20 cash….per…hour. People are begging me to do more jobs for them because they need reliable help for their precious children. I get that. I DO! I have 2 sons who I stayed home with for 18 years so that I could give them my undivided attention. I get that I was one of the lucky ones and that some people can’t afford to stay home.

Why can’t potential genealogy clients see what I do in this field as equally important. We are talking about finding information about ancestors that they’ve searched for -for decades-and couldn’t find. There are gaps in their family history or questions that need answering and it’s driving them crazy. I can help. But I need to get paid!

maddalena matias_b_1707

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Italian entry in baptismal record from 1707- transcribed by me!


Yet, when I ask for $30/hour for my genealogy work it’s almost always a shock. Maybe there is not enough information out there on what it costs to be a genealogist or how much it costs to hire one. The popular shows out now like Who Do You Think You Are and previous shows like Ancestors in the Attic have added to the already huge trend in genealogy as a hobby. I’m very pleased we are getting more attention because I used to have to actually explain to people what a “genealogist” was in the past. I was a hobby genealogist for 20+ years and I know how exciting it is when you first start. All genealogists share information from time to time and try to help out in volunteer chat rooms or societies to add to the community but at some point we all have to pay our bills.

If you know of anyone who is trying to do their family history, by all means help them if you can. But don’t give away your skills and time for free. Your time and effort are worth something. Everyone is good at something. I’ve invested in my genealogy and now I’d like to try and make a living at it.

There….my rant is over! Lol, sorry if I’ve offended anyone but this post is a long time coming and I work hard for my clients.


Have a great weekend everyone!


About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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5 Responses to Genealogy work is real work.

  1. chmjr2 says:

    I wish you all the best in your work as a genealogist, and hope you get so many clients that you have to turn some away. I never thought about the cost of hiring a genealogist and to be honest $30.00 an hour seems at first a little high. But when I think about it I can understand all the hidden cost that you have to cover. I have been researching my family history for over 40 years and have helped and been helped many times. This is the backbone of genealogy people helping people. However many times we will come to a roadblock or that brick wall that stops all our progress. Then we have to decide if we can afford professional help and if the result is worth it to us. That is where you come in and I hope you find a way to make it work so you can do this full time. By the way I live in central N.Y. if I can be of help let me know.


    • Thanks! Yes, I’m not opposed to helping in any way possible for free when I know that it is for the better good of our “genealogy community”. I’m glad you realize that at some point (and I’ve been there myself MANY times), you have to ask someone to do the research for you and that costs money. The person you hire has the expertise in whatever they specialize in, and that’s why you contact them. I’ve spent a lot of money on genealogists in Europe for my European ancestors and never regretted it.


  2. By the way, you have a great blog!


  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
    I too invested time and money into an education, earning a PLCGS.
    We should be paid for our time and expertise just like
    any other professional.


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