Money Changes Everything – Or Does It?

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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 (Let's Make Lots of Money).]

Money. Moohla. Filthy lucre. Bread. Dough. Change.

Money was one of the “big three” topics that you just didn’t talk about, at least that’s how I was brought up. The other two, politics and religion, I was admonished to not talk about with anyone but family.  But money – well, it seems you couldn’t even talk about that with family.

For the most part, I save talk of politics and religion for my personal genealogy blog and I rarely discuss it.  I think some folks would be kind of surprised if I did talk about those topics. Like how I attended a seminary for almost a year.  Seriously.

What I Found

Out of this week’s conversation which seems to have rippled across not just the genealogy blogosphere but over to Facebook, Twitter and other social media, here are my observations:

  • Not everyone followed the conversation and in fact several folks sent me some very pointed and not-so-polite emails. That comes with the territory and sometimes you just need to let these things roll off your back. Such vitriol is not a reflection on me but on them and their behavior.
  • I’m still just realizing – believe it or not – the impact that my voice can have here at GeneaBloggers.  Often I see myself as a very small voice in the community believe it or not. I’m just Thomas. I need to choose my words carefully so as not to muddy waters, confuse or hurt.  I seek clarity at all times and I hope you’ll be patient with me.
  • Speaking of words – I’ve come to realize that as a genealogy community we need to work on our terminology and vocabulary.  Perhaps things are moving so fast that some of the terms we use – like “hobby genealogist” or “amateur genealogist” – are not adequate and can’t keep up with changes in the industry. Many terms come across with a negative connotation, such as “for-profit genealogy conference.” I think a future post on terminology here at GeneaBloggers with input from the community would help determine an accurate vocabulary.
  • Despite my best efforts, several groups feel as if I portrayed them negatively or vilified them.  If so, that was not my intent.  As I said in Us vs. Them earlier this week, I think we as a community are still working on “perceptions” of what constitutes genealogy and family history, who is a vendor or is the better word “provider,” what or who is a professional genealogist, etc. As someone who was made to feel “small” most of my childhood, I ask that you never, ever let anyone make you feel small.  Don’t give anyone that power.  Ever.
  • Perhaps I’ve been too honest and too transparent. Someone suggested I snag the domain name for The Naked Genealogist.  Still available from what I can see. But I think this is something that had to be done so folks understand the realities of trying to make a living in the genealogy industry.
  • And I didn’t even touch upon the darker side of what it takes to try and make it in this business. How about the lack of health insurance? How about the stress and strain on family relations as your spouse and/or children help to support your crazy dream? Much credit has to be given to those that support us and prop us up. I know I wouldn’t be here without my support system.
  • Finally, 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.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So what’s next? Well, here is what I have planned for the future, both immediate and long-range:

  • I’d like to create a “pro” site or sub-site of GeneaBloggers where professional genealogists and those transitioning can exchange ideas, post forms and templates, and just converse in a safe place with like minded folks.  Is this fracturing the genealogy community or the genealogy blogging community? I don’t think so. I do want GeneaBloggers to keep its focus on genealogy blogging for everyone.  If folks want to participate in a “pro” discussion they will need to agree to some ground rules and access the site – for free – with a login and password.
  • I really like these week-long series and I think there is even a way to extend the conversation perhaps with a tie in to GeneaBloggers Radio or other outlets. I’d like to host a discussion about genealogy conferences next week here at GeneaBloggers since we are coming up on the summer conference season. We’ll discuss everything from being an exhibitor, to being a conference planner, to what happens at a conference and how to prepare for a genealogy conference.  I hope you’ll join me.

Conclusion

But I seem to have broken some barriers and some taboos here at GeneaBloggers this week with my talk of money and genealogy and trying to earn a living in the genealogy industry. Whether this is a good thing or not, time will tell.

But I’d much rather have conversation and dialog than to not talk. I learned this, unfortunately, a little too late in life and now I seem to be making up for lost time. Too many times I did not speak up and I can tell you that if I have any regrets in life, that would be the major one – remaining silent.

©2011, 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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