No Need to Adjust Your Screen

No need to adjust your screen. After three years, I finally decided to give Bayside Blog a new look.

I had many reasons for doing so. The old blog layout was so skinny, in terms of the column width that was allotted for actual blog post content. All photos appeared very small. The header graphic was very large and pushed a lot of the content too far down the page. Most importantly, I heard that it was not a very accessible design for those with vision problems. The text was a light gray (a setting I couldn’t adjust) and hard to read.

The new look, I hope, is more visually pleasing and I know it will be more flexible in terms of what I want to be able to display. The wider main column will especially be helpful.

I’ve added a couple of new features. There is a link to my Facebook page for my house history section of my business. I also added a widget that displays the complete list blog post categories, for easier browsing.

Please let me know what you think!

Diving in Thumbs First: My Take on the Paid Genealogy Debate

Apparently, there’s a hullabaloo going on in the genealogy community about trying to make money as a genealoglist and as a genealogy blogger in particular.

Seriously?

The thread starts here and has proliferated widely. I’ll admit I have had trouble keeping up with the entire discussion — I’ve caught snippets here and there on geneabloggers.com, Facebook and Twitter.

Like many, I got started in genealogy by working on my own family research. Then, I went to library school and while there, learned that librarians could work for themselves doing research for hire. This appealed to me. I enjoy researching people and old things. I saw the light. I could do genealogy research for others and get paid. What could be better than doing something you love and earning money for the privilege?

I opened Bayside Research Services in the summer of ’09 and started blogging shortly after that. I’d never blogged before, but I knew it would be a good marketing tool. It has turned out to be so much more. I love the Geneabloggers community and hate to hear there’s strife right now.

For what it’s worth, I’m not currently trying to make money off this blog — I don’t host ads or affiliate links. This isn’t because I don’t want to. I just haven’t had the time to devote to this yet.

Also, I actually have two blogs. This one is more of a personal blog where I discuss everything from my personal genealogy projects to new technologies I’ve discovered. My company web site also is a blog and there I post sale information for the photo solutions company that I work with (Creative Memories) and I post updates about my research projects. That is where I actually try to make money — by connecting folks to my CM web site and by featuring my investigations and skills so that people will consider hiring me.

As others have mentioned in their posts on this subject, it is difficult to find a way to live solely off of genealogy research. I have yet to find the magic formula that will work for me and so I haven’t given up the “day-job.” That pays the bills and provides health insurance and other benefits. I love my day-job too, but if I had my druthers I would prefer to spend my days in archives, brick-and-mortar or online, researching days gone by. It may yet happen.

As to the kerfuffle currently going on, I’m not quite sure what the trouble is. There certainly is room for hobbyists and paid genealogy researchers alike. I know we have a lot to learn from each other and we certainly can help each other out. Many hobbyists must rely on paid genealogy researchers to help them bust through brick walls or access far-flung records. Paid researchers enjoy networking with hobbyists at national conferences and local historical society meetings. Let’s work together to continue to build our community.

I’ve also seen at least one comment from a hobbyist considering “going pro.” It’s a scary leap, starting a business, with accounting and other tasks a business owner must undertake. That’s where you can learn from your fellow genealogists. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all genealogists are information professionals and if you are considering opening your own business, please look into the Association for Independent Information Professionals. There you will find not only several genealogists who are members, but professional accountants, marketers, business mavens and other types of researchers who are there to help. I can’t emphasize enough the value of this organization.

I also recommend picking up a copy of Mary Ellen Bates’ book, Building and Running a Successful Research Business: A Guide for the Independent Information Professional, Second Edition. It’s a step-by-step guide for setting up everything from your stationery to an LLC.

Follow Friday: AIIP Conference Tweets

Next week (April 7-10) is the 25th Annual Association of Independent Information Professionals Conference in Vancouver, WA. Be sure to follow #aiip11 on Twitter to keep up with all the sessions. Several genealogists are members of AIIP and I encourage anyone who has a genealogy business or who is thinking of starting one to look into this group. The conference is just one of the many benefits of joining. You’ll get a taste of what you can learn from this wonderful group by following conference tweets.

Still need convincing? Take a look at my recap of last year’s conference.

Bayside News of the Day

A big thank you to Gini Webb from Ginisology for writing up a wonderful profile about me for GeneaBloggers! Check it out here: “May I Introduce You to… Missy Corley.”

In other news, my post about volunteerism and the Internet Public Library is included in the Carnival of Genealogy, 88th Edition. Thanks to host Creative Gene, et al, for including my post!

Entrepreneurial Follow Friday

Most of my fellow genealogists/historians are trying to make a go of this as a business. Below are the tweeps I follow for business advice and resources, especially for small business owners:

@SmallBizBee: posts links to helpful marketing and other strategies

@BootstrapMD: focused on Maryland/Mid-Atlantic small businesses

@mdchamber: The Maryland Chamber of Commerce; advocacy group that posts helpful info regarding laws and other matters affecting Maryland businesses

@AIIP: The Association of Independent Information Professionals; wonderful professional organization — great support and information available from other members

@mtechumd:  Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute; runs dozens of events throughout the year for Maryland entrepreneurs

@smallbiztrends: posts helpful links and does regular Q&A sessions over Twitter on various topics. [late addition: missed this one on my first pass!]

I’m curious to know who else my fellow genealogists may be following along these lines. Post comments here and I’ll do a round-up at a later date.

Photos and Lessons Learned from my First All-Day Crop

100_3818smOn Oct. 3, I attended my first 11-hour crop, Celebrate Northern Virginia, at the Fredericksburg Expo Center. What an awesome and fun experience! There were more than 900 scrappers – all Creative Memories consultants and their customers. I completed dozens of album pages over those 11 hours, attended classes, tried out new products and got tons of new page design ideas. I’m sharing a few of them here. Check out all of my photos from the day on flickr.com.

100_3819smHere is my four feet of table space at the crop. I worked on a 12×12 album about beach vacations my family has taken over the years and then I began work on an 8×8 Christmas album. I used the Power Layouts system before the crop to organize my pages and photos so I could quickly assemble the pages at the event.

100_3795smThere were hundreds of album page layout ideas on display for us to photograph. Here is a creative one that made use of Creative Memories’ puzzle-piece shape maker. The pieces are laid out on one of the Discover papers.

100_3796smI think this might have been my favorite layout idea. This page is gorgeous and uses Jewel Heritage paper and journaling boxes. This paper is available while supplies last…

100_3799smI am including this one because the little frog in the middle is the cutest!

100_3813smOne of my upcoming projects will be an album about my elementary school days and I really liked this layout idea for that kind of album. This uses Graduation Perfect Fit paper (also available while supplies last on my site).

100_3826smThere were make-and-takes stations at this crop where you could try out the different shape makers and other products. I tried out the new Stardust Maker and Precision Point Adhesive when I made this little Christmas tree.

100_3827smOne of the classes I attended was about taking advantage of small scraps of paper to make embellishments like this flower.


100_3824sm

Lessons learned:

  • Sort your photos ahead of time.
  • Take a pillow to sit on!
  • Attend the classes (my friend Sandra, above, taught one on using wallet-sized and other small photos in your layouts).
  • Walk around. Take pictures of layout ideas. This helped to break up the day and moving around kept me from feeling too stiff.

The same site has already been reserved for another crop on October 2 October 16, 2010 (new date!)I plan to attendlet me know if you want to join me!

Treasure Chest Thursday: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Wooden Halloween Art

Wooden Halloween Art

There is no doubt that my entrepreneurial spirit comes from my mom. She was a stay-at-home mom for most of the time that I was in school, but she created a workshop for herself in each of the houses we lived in. In fact, the house we lived in from 1985-1994 was chosen specifically because the basement level afforded her enough room for a workshop and showroom space for her fledgling business.

She sold a variety of crafts over the years, everything from room boxes done in miniature (she could recreate a dollhouse version of any room in your house based on a photograph), gift baskets, country-themed wooden pieces like the ones pictured here, Tole painting, tiny dioramas molded out of clay — the only art medium that I never saw my mom make money off of was photography.

Trick-or-Treat Detail

Trick-or-Treat Detail

I’m so glad that I have some of her handiwork — I’m including a couple of examples of wooden pieces she decorated for Halloween now that it’s October. I have similar pieces she did for Thanksgiving and a couple of Xmas ornaments as well.

Each of my aunts and many of my friends have pieces that my mom created. At one point, she would paint a person’s pet or house from a photograph to scale on a piece of wood cut into the correct shape using a jigsaw — when my best friend’s cat died in high school, my mom painted a wooden replica of Tabby from a photo I happened to have.

I’d like to think I may have inherited some of my mom’s talent, or at least the desire to work with my hands. I can’t paint as effortlessly as she could, but she always encouraged me whenever I expressed an interest.

Signature

Signature

I’ve thought about my mom an awful lot over the past couple of months as I have launched my own business. I marvel at the courage she had as a single mom to pursue her home-based business as a way to support our small family, stay at home with us and do what she loved.

I treasure the pieces pictured here not only because they remind me of my mom and how talented she was, but also because they inspire me to follow in her footsteps and make my own way doing what I enjoy most too.

B-O-O Blocks

B-O-O Blocks