If you are thinking of taking your genealogy hobby to the next level and become a professional genealogist you need to look at the entire picture. It is important that you have several years of experience doing research, and helping others with research. Many genealogist enthusiasts have this already through volunteering at the local genealogical society.
It does help business to have credentials as you open your business. While it is not required many people are more comfortable hiring a genealogist that is board certified or who has a degree in genealogy. It is not difficult to do both of these things. There are distance programs that focus on starting up a genealogy business that would help to address all aspects of the business.
The second thing you will need to do is get a business license through your local municipality if it is required. This can be considered freelance work, so you may be exempt according to some local laws. You should check with your city and follow the local guidelines.
You will need to keep close track your financial records. You should open a separate business checking account to help keep your finances separate. You should keep careful track of the business costs so that you can deduct them, and you may want to have an accountant do your taxes for the first few years to make sure you understand everything.
When dealing with customers you need to maintain a professional demeanor. Setting up clear contracts will protect both you and your customer. Be clear when you list the cost, expected number of hours, and what you will do if you go over those hours. Make sure that you charge enough so that the work you complete is worth it.
This type of business can be advertised on genealogy sites, in local directories, at your library as well as through word of mouth. You do not need to spend a lot in order to advertise effectively. As you build a client list many clients will come to you as referrals.
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