How do professional genealogists set fees?
Just like lawyers, genealogists charge for their time and expertise, not for products. This is because the end result of our efforts is not an obituary, or an ancestor’s name, but rather the efficient execution of a research plan. We are expected to know the region, time period, and records we have been paid to consult. Our training helps us to analyze the records we find (or don’t find) and reach sound conclusions with a high degree of confidence.
Fees are set based on number of research hours plus any direct expenses incurred as a result of the research. The rate itself is influenced by a number of factors: experience level, credentials, specialized knowledge, immediacy of the request, and more.
How much do you charge?
I wish I had a straightforward answer! However, what I charge depends on the number of research hours you need. It’s difficult for clients to gauge how much time is needed on a specific project, which is why I include a suggested timeframe in my estimates based on the information you provide me. Then, you get to decide what works within your budget. If it’s beyond what you’re willing to invest, then we can adjust your research goals to set a timeframe that works best for you.
How does an estimate work?
Before providing an estimate, I ask that prospective clients complete and submit a research request worksheet. This is a really helpful exercise to assist you in identifying all the information you have already collected, and narrow down your research question.
It’s important that you be as detailed as possible about your research request and what information you have already gathered. You do not want me to waste your time and money searching for a birth record that you already found.
Once I’ve reviewed your research request I will provide you with an estimate of my services. This includes time, cost, an overview of the services that will be performed, as well as terms and conditions. If you agree to the estimate then I will send over a contract for you to sign. Contracts are legally binding and help to protect the genealogist and clients in the event of issues arising.
Send your completed research request worksheet to firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you guarantee results? What will I get for my money?
Yes, you are guaranteed to get results for your money. The results will come in the form of a report explaining the genealogist’s research findings. If any documents were uncovered you will receive a copy of those, along with a transcription, and an analysis of how they relate to your research question.
It’s important to remember that sometimes research delivers “negative search results”, meaning we were unable to find the document or ancestor in question. This does not mean that the research was a waste of time, but rather that you now have results that can rule out previously held assumptions, and provide new direction for further research.
You can see samples of client research reports here. [Coming Soon]