What sorts of things do I need to learn for my genealogy business? Being in business for myself (and by myself), I have to know accounting, marketing, time management, in addition to the regular genealogical skills of researching, writing and lecturing. Small business owners wear ALL the hats, as they say. For my volunteer positions as Membership Chair for the Rhode Island Genealogical Society and Editor of the American-French Genealogical Society's journal Je Me Souviens, I need to know Access (I learned that last year, and that's a whole other blog post), Word, and a bunch of other stuff that doesn't have much to do with genealogical research, specifically, but helps in our technology-based world. And it always feels like I should know how to do more, especially related to the technological aspects of genealogy, software, databases and web stuff. Since it seems that everything these days is online, and that one of the first things that people do when they have a new business is set up a website, I should probably know something about it. And, as usual, I know just enough to be dangerous. Happily, I got on the Internet back in the early 90's, and really love using it, but I've never felt the inclination to be a webmaster or administrator or whatever the savvy computer people are called these days. But as a genealogist and small business person, I should know SOME things.
I do have a website. I had a graphic designer set up my website for me (see www.shelleemorehead.com), and I really love it. He had done some work for my husband's company, which I liked, and thought that he could do the materials for my business as well. I liked the concept he came up with, and the results are great. It does what I need it to do for me, I like the layout and the images are from my own photos. It provides basic information about what I do, how to contact me, and what's happening in terms of my lecturing and publications. It's not fancy, but it links to the Association for Professional Genealogists website and the Genealogical Speakers Guild website (http://www.apgen.org and http://www.genealogicalspeakersguild.org/). I'd like to link to this blog, but at this point, I'd have to email the "web guy" to do it for me. Does that mean that in order to be able to update my website, I always need someone to do it for me? Do I need to learn how to program in HTML?
I sure hope the world doesn't come to the point of me having to program anything or learn HTML. That would be disastrous all around, but it seems a waste to have to call the web designer every month (and be charged for his time) to have simple updates made to the pages, like changing text and adding links. The result of me not knowing how to do the basics for my own website is that I don't update it as often as I should (monthly seems reasonable, as my speaking schedule changes, or as I add new lectures) or it costs my business money for what should be simple changes. And what about being to add tidbits about my personal research, such as family stories, photos or pedigrees? Can I do that myself, now that I've got it all set up? Or is that beyond me? I hope not! I like to think, even a Luddite like myself, can learn something new.
Unfortunately, the first, and last, time I tried to update my website on my own was the week before the NERGC 2011 conference in Springfield, MA last April. I wanted to put the lectures that I was going to be giving on my site, as well as add that I had spoken at the New England Family History Conference in Franklin. Let's just say, it didn't work out very well. I managed to somehow delete my entire homepage, and have the third page on the first page AND the third page. It was something about saving the whole thing before you make changes and upload it. Oops. A panicked email to my "web guy" (thank you Ryan, you're a life saver!) resulted in the fix and updates that I needed, but it can't be THAT hard, can it?
We'll soon find out. I've been hankering for a challenge, Hurricane Irene wasn't enough for me this week, so today, or at least in the next few days, I'm going to update my own website. I suggest that anyone who hasn't visited it yet, check it out before I "update" it. And when I get back from the FGS conference in Springfield, Illinois next week, I'll let you know if I've had to have my "web guy" save my website. Again.