Friday, February 20, 2015

The Path to Professionalism

This week, I hope you'll pardon me for taking a break from story-telling so I can give you some updates on what I'm up to behind the scenes.

As I've said elsewhere, I have been interested in genealogy for as long as I can remember, and I started actively trying to learn how to do proper research after my oldest child was born in the mid-1990s. Now that I've been at it for almost 20 years, in earnest, I've been asking myself "what next?"

One option - the one that motivated me to start this blog - is to explore ways to take this hobby and turn it into something more professional. I mean that in both senses of the word - yes, I want to bring a little more rigor to my hobby, but I also want to figure out how to do this for a living.

As far as the rigor goes, I've been taking time away from doing research to read about HOW to do research. A lot of what I'm reading can be summed up by this chart:

Click to see original version - copyright Mark Tucker,
Of course, as anyone who has followed me for any length of time can tell you, I've been on the Evidence train for a long time. (See "Following the Evidence" on my other blog for, well, evidence.) What I'm really learning is that I'm not as organized as I probably should be. Since I know myself pretty well, I know better than to try to make drastic changes, so I'm taking small steps to correct that.  I've started following other genealogy bloggers (note the "Fellow Searchers" section in the right-hand column) and trying to glean tips and tricks from them.

Ideally, I'd like to carve out the time this year to start working towards the degree I never finished. I think an actual history degree would be most helpful to me. Doing the work necessary to get a degree would force me to bring that rigor to my research - and I will probably need it if I'm going to make the jump from pushing a mouse for The Man to making a living doing research and writing.

I've also decided to make a concerted effort to publish some of the work I've already done in book form. I'm looking at self-publishing, and I'm learning as I go, so I don't want to make any promises that I might not be able to keep. But so far it looks like I have the means and the material to put a couple of neat little projects together.

While you watch for updates on that, I'll also point you to the Patreon account I've set up. Patreon is a way for artists, writers, and other creative types to reach out and give their fans and followers a way to support them with small, regular donations. I've created a page there, and outlined some goals just to learn my way around.  You can see the link in the right column of the blog - look for the section labeled "Become a Sponsor" - and if you feel super-generous, anything you decide to donate will motivate me to keep going.

Most importantly, I want to encourage any of you who are reading this site regularly to join the conversation. I can tell you're a shy bunch, but don't be! Let me know if you have questions or if there is something in particular you would like me to study, research, or write about.

And I will keep you posted - that's why they call these "posts"! - if you only keep reading.

I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am!

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