Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter Projects – The Genealogy To Do List

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I always wind down right before Thanksgiving. Winding down this year includes finalizing projects, closing the books for 2009, and writing a list of needed changes and implementation strategies for 2010.

This year I sent a 72 page genealogy Christmas booklet to ColorMark, the local professional printer, the Monday before Thanksgiving. Right on time. I’ve already finalized the printer’s proof, and when the printed pages are complete it will be bound in burgundy leatherette with gold foil typeset from Engle Bindery. My goal is to deliver it to the customer the first week of December, but at least it is off my desk.

Because I like to eat, I did take on a small freelance job, writing for an online Genealogy magazine (Genealogy Archives). This is the only project I have for the month of December with the deadline of December 19. Then off to holiday heaven.

Although I will enjoy a short vacation from the cold weather, in Kansas City, I go into hibernation in the winter due to breathing issues that are exacerbated when exposed to the cold weather (and the heat, and wind, and too much pollen – you get the picture). But, it’s during this time of being locked up in the home/office, that I get to do research, finish the last chapter of the Morris book, make changes to and publish the Tinberg Tales, and work on my to do lists.

Ah yes the “to do list.” I keep it for 12 months of the year, and tackle as much as I can between December 19 and the planting of the onions season. Here in KC that is March. I will update forms, research conferences, work on blog topics, close up personal genealogy projects, work out volunteer efforts at the Mid-Continent Genealogy Center in Independence, schedule spring/summer speaking events, etc. All of this, in addition to working on new/repeat customer projects that pays the bills, must be accomplished between the planting of garlic (Dec) and the planting of onions (Mar).

The best part about the winter months for me, is I get extra hours in the day, since I’m limited on distractions. I love snowy cold days…work, work, work. It’s my most productive time of the year. And I hope it will be yours too. Start planning now and began listing all of your definite, hopeful, and maybe projects now!

Hope you make the best of winter!

Kathleen Brandt
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Under Priced a Project?

As I worked on the rush of hardbound family books, I found myself making notes of the things I need to change, update, and renew. I will have to alter my price structure for these 40-75 page books I create. I often price by the job based on my estimated hours. And in one particular case, my old calculation, lost me about 25-30 hours of work. That’s a lot of dough!

Allow for Growth in the Contract
One project began with the Tinberg and Schmotz families, but grew to include wives. In the end, the customer received an overview of six families: Tinberg, Andersson, Schwarz, Schmotz, Waymire and Sieg. My pricing structure was not specific enough for me to estimate my costs. Of course Tinberg was married to Andersson, she couldn’t have just dropped in from the sky, so background info, social standing, etc., was needed to make the text cohesive.
Lost 15-20 hours

Allow for Scanning and Cropping Pics
The customer provided over 100 family pictures and newspaper articles that she wanted to be considered for the text. Whether or not I use all of them, each photo had to be scanned. My current price structure did not take this into consideration. Even though the high tech scanner used can scan 10 pics at a time (and place them in separate documents) is fast, I still had to name each file, crop each picture, and have a few cleaned up for publication.
Lost: 3 hours of pay.

Give Client a Checklist
I actually have a personal relationship with this client. And although I believe every client should have a special relationship it is difficult to reign in the time spent over labeling pictures at her dining room table. A checklist of things needed from the client may have assisted in cutting out the excess time with post-its. So, my newly created checklist includes: “client must label each photo on the back or with sticky notes, or distinguishable file names.” I even provide examples. Maybe next time, I can enjoy that peach tea over a chat at the table, not for work.
Lost: 6 hours.

Outline Binding Options
This client began with a GBC book, which is standard, but through her excitement, she upgraded her family book to hard-bound, preferably leather-bound. Just working with the client in choosing, working out minimums, and working with various binders, requires a surcharge.
Lost: 2 hours

How to Recoup Your Losses
But all is not lost. I will be publishing this booklet, with the client’s permission of course, so that it will be accessible to others through the Interlibrary Loan System and available for sale.

In the meantime, my price list for these kinds of projects, will include options, but with the pricing itemized. My per project pricing will better reflect the hours worked.

Hope you never under bid, but, the more you publish, the more clients you will have.

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