Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charging for Genealogy Research?

We had a small genealogy meeting last night, but I was encouraged to possibly become a "professional genealogist" or at least a genealogist for hire. The county historical society occasionally gets requests, as well as the library. Plus I have gotten a few of my own. So I have questions for my fellow genealogists.

1. How much do you charge? Per hour? And do you charge if you don't find anything? I have no qualifications yet, so I was thinking $10 an hour or so.

2. I do quite a bit of research out of kindness; how do you know when to charge? I know for this one individual, if he bugs me for anything more, I am going to charge him. I have helped him locate a marriage and my gravestone photos are already posted for free. I did not order the marriage license, and I won't unless he pays.

Then for me, I need to decide whether to keep specific hours, and therefore might need some daycare or just to fit it in. I didn't think I was going to start this for a couple years, when at least one of my children is in school.

I live in a somewhat rural area, so I'm not sure I will have loads of business. However my idea that I've had for about a year is incorporating genealogy with another business, which for me would be taxes. I am good with details and numbers, but then again, I don't have qualifications for tax preparation either.

Any suggestions or comments are welcome. I thank you in advance. If you don't want to comment, you can message me on Twitter, Facebook or email.


  1. Hi Beth,I saw your tweet, I charge in 5 hour blocks for general research 150.00 plus documents that I would have to pay for, and that is being generalized. I do alot of free research also - It all depends - I will not pay for documents that are not mine and always get approval from the client before I purchase anything, and keep them in the loop weekly. Before I accept a client - I do ask for general information and I perform a preliminary search free of charge- this way I can tell the client what to expect or what not expect, I also note that there are no guarantee's in genealogy.

    I hope that is helpful for you.

  2. I occasionally do research for friends at no cost. I do it to get more experience. It also helps me expand into new research areas that I haven't yet explored in my personal research.

    As far as rates, I haven't had paying customers yet. I've researched other genealogists' rates and figured what I needed to make it worth my time.

    My plan is to charge $15 an hour for research to begin with, and adjust my rate as I gain more experience. Document retrievals will be charged at a flat rate, provided enough information is provided to make it reasonable (like names, location and approximate date for marriage records). If there isn't enough information to make the search reasonable and I have to resort to page by page searching of microfilm, I'll charge at my hourly rate. Fees charged by repositories or vital records offices for copies, etc will be passed on to the customer.

  3. Yes you charge even if you don't find anything. People are paying for your research services, not for results.

    If you're going to do professional genealogy research (which you are if you're going to charge people for your services) I encourage you to get a copy of "Professional Genealogy" and join the Association of Professional Genealogists (apgen.org). APG has a mailing list that is very helpful in answering all the questions you have. Good luck!