Money Changes Everything – Or Does It? A 2012 Update

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[Editor's Note: this is the fifth and final post in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities - 2012 Update.]

What I Discovered During The 2012 Update

Out of this week’s conversation which started here at this blog and carried over to Facebook, Twitter and other social media, here is what I’ve observed:

  • When I first ran this series of posts in April 2011, I received some downright nasty emails.  I remember one in particular and actually it is one that I keep printed and posted on my office wall: the person said that I was “ruining genealogy” and that I was “the Rupert Murdoch of genealogy” with all my crazy talk and my new ideas.  However, 15 months later, there was quite a bit of engagement with others in the genealogy community and lots of great input. My belief is that people understand that my main goal is to advance the genealogy industry and one way of doing so is to not just analyze what is going on, but tap into the community and solicit their input.
  • For each individual post, I made sure to post it in an email to the Transitional Genealogists Forum and the APG mailing lists.  I realize that many of the participants may not be active blog readers and I wanted to make sure they had an opportunity for input.
  • I greatly appreciate all the other bloggers who posted replies to my posts and offered their own perspective.  Especially Michael Hait of Planting the Seeds, Caroline Pointer of BloggingGenealogy.com, and Randy Seaver of GeneaMusings who also provided their own series of posts.
  • Based on the comments, posts and feedback, I’ve determined that the genealogy industry still is in a working mode on defining itself and its components.  Last year’s heated discussions have transpired and transformed into a more collaborative working of offering ideas and suggestions.  One I like in particular is Michael Hait’s suggestion that a person who focuses more on non-research work within the genealogy industry could be called a “genealogy professional” instead of a “professional genealogist.”
  • Once again I’ve tried to be very transparent about what I do for a living in the genealogy industry and how I do it.  What was downright “scandalous” last year now is being treated as valuable information to be studied especially by those entering the genealogy industry. And as I’ve said, I don’t expect anyone else in the business to be as transparent – it is just something I am comfortable with.
  • And finally, once again I couldn’t have done this without you the reader.  Please know that I greatly appreciate every comment, every email, and every bit of feedback. There are days when that is what keeps me going. You are the best.

Conclusion

Money makes the world go round and I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to keep genealogy attractive to the general public and especially to newcomers, the money-making side of the genealogy industry must continue to grow and expand.

That growth comes not just from new ideas and new products, but also by honest discussions among the genealogy community about:

  • How we see ourselves as well as how we are perceived by the public as genealogists.
  • How open we are to new ideas and to change, especially when it comes to technology and marketing.
  • How to develop new products that do more than just “sparkle” and attract the “bright and shiny object” crowd to our field, only to see them exit out of that revolving door in short order.
  • How to not just attract new consumers but how to set them on the path of sound genealogy research and full enjoyment of all that genealogy has to offer.
  • How the genealogy industry will look in 5, 10, 15 years from now and beyond.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

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