Bit cheeky but would you look at my website and let me have your comments?
Historian · 06/01/2010 11:17
It is very cheeky I know, but I would be realy grateful for any comments on my website. I have just decided to try and make a bit of money doing freelance family/local/house history work (I have had a couple of commissions already) and I have put together a website. So far the only people who have commented on it have been friends and family, so all I have learned so far is that it is the best website ever created
So I was hoping you would give me the benefit of your opinion, and have posted in Family History as obviously I would like to appeal to FHers.
I am a reg but have changed nickname for this for obvious reasons.
The website is here - be brutal, I can take it I know that the lack of images makes it look a bit dull, must get some sorted ASAP.
hocuspontas · 06/01/2010 21:16
Well I like it!
I like the background colour and the olde English style font of the headings. I don't like the 'mumsnet' style font in the main body though - it's too utilitarian. Is there another 'old' style one you could use?
It's clear and concise on what you are offering. I would consider you if I was in the market for a researcher.
Should there be apostrophes in drapers and grocers?
Good luck - I hope the venture is successful!
ArizonaBarker · 06/01/2010 21:16
I like it.
Neat and professional.
Will def benefit from pictures though and perhaps some examples/case studies?
jollydiane · 06/01/2010 21:33
Do you have any testimonials/case studies that you can use? You come across as genuine an enthusiastic, a few graphics would help.
Hassled · 06/01/2010 21:44
I don't like the grey. Very cold - you need a warmer, more welcoming colour.
I don't think the money stuff should be quite so in your face and on the home page. Can you tuck it away somewhere on its own page? Or say prices on application? It's just a bit much as it stands.
Agree that some testimonials would be good.
Drapers' stores and grocers' stores (I think).
But overall I like it lots - not waffly, to the point, interesting.
Pointless aside - I briefly lived in Clarendon Park - Thurlow Road. It's a lovely area.
Historian · 07/01/2010 09:00
Thanks very much - I really appreciate all your comments and will take them on board. I thought that being very upfront about the money would be clearer for potential customers and avoid timewasters, but I can see how it might be off putting. I will find a better place for it.
Adding testimonials and case studies is a great idea and I can organise that easily. I'll rethink the font and colours and get some images in ASAP. And I will check common usage re the drapers and grocers...I was a bit unsure
jollydiane · 07/01/2010 20:58
Personally I quite being told how much things cost without having to make an application.
juneybean · 07/01/2010 21:02
It looks good, I see that you have put you're in the Leicestershire area, would this mean you'd only deal locally.
Or would you assist online? If so you could put that somewhere?
glasjam · 07/01/2010 21:37
I like it. It's very clean and you are clearly well-qualified to carry out this research - your credentials are great. A few photos would be good just to enhance and lighten it up slightly.
I'm in two minds about the pricing. In a way, I didn't object to it being so upfront but I probably didn't mind as much because I suspect that you would do a very good job for the money. If you could do a few sample house histories for someone and then get a testimonial or two that would be great.
Good luck with it all. Sadly I have no relatives in Leicestershire (just Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Northamptonshire and Shropshire)
Historian · 10/01/2010 14:37
Thanks again for your comments and sorry I haven't replied sooner (my DH has had an operation so I am on nursing duties). I think what I am going to do is take the cost details off the home page and leave them on the other pages, so that the information is still there but doesn't hit you the very minute you visit my site.
Glasjam those are the very counties my own family research is centred! I spent a very rare morning at the Shropshire archives over Christmas when we were visiting relatives and the gods were smiling on me as I found loads of baptisms and burials.
llareggub · 10/01/2010 14:47
This comment is related to your website but the product.
I commissioned someone to do some family research for me as a present and I was very disappointed with the presentation. The report was printed on a cheap desk-jet printer with fading ink and presented in a floppy plastic folder. I think if you make bit of an effort you can produce something that will look like a great present. I know the content is what matters but I did feel a bit underwhelmed by the report I was sent, even though the research was spot-on.
Are you able to expand your research a bit wider than Leicestershire? Presumably you could get to Coventry and Warwickshire and other neighbouring counties without too much effort?
Historian · 10/01/2010 15:39
Llaregub that is a great point and it is one I had to consider just before Christmas when I did the history of someone's house. I printed my report on good quality paper and the ink certainly wasn't fading, but beyond making sure that it read well, nice fonts, was divided up into meaningful chapters and illustrated where appropriate....I will admit I was a bit stumped. What would be a good looking product in your opinion?
I am limited to just Leicestershire at the moment because I have a 3 year old who goes to nursery for 3 sessions a week and a BF 12m who isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future Oh, and no car. DH is a teacher so I have weekends and holidays, plus odd half days when MIL can help out. Once DS2 is 3 I will also send him to nursery for the same amount of time and will be able to branch out to other record offices. At the moment I am just looking to find my feet as a researcher so that I can build it up as a useful source of income once the children are at school.
I have had some other ideas pinched from other people's websites, such as doing talks for groups, getting together handling sessions/boxes with local material and dealing in local memorabilia. All for the future.
justagirlfromedgware · 10/01/2010 16:56
Very professional looking site. I'd check though if it is readable for people with vision problems (grey on grey is probably not disability compliant).
Concuring with the images comment.
Presentation wise: I would advise you get yourself some smart (heavy) plastic folders, perhaps also some coloured art paper for printing a front cover on.
Some good sources for architectural/landscape images (but obviously check copyright):
Images of England www.imagesofengland.org.uk/; Picture library - Royal Institute of British Architects www.ribapix.com/index.php; Heritage Image Partnership www.heritage-images.com/
I would also (if I may) recommend you check you're not underpricing yourself. I'm sure I read an item in one of the weekend supplements (Times or Telegraph) a few weeks ago about someone who offers a similar-sounding service who was charging something in the order of £600 for the most basic service.
justagirlfromedgware · 10/01/2010 17:04
As for your house package - are you including a map of the location? You could obtain them quite reasonably from 'The Godfrey edition' ? reprints of old ordnance survey maps: www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/.
N.b. Leicester University has an archive of searchable trade directories at www.historicaldirectories.org/.
glasjam · 10/01/2010 23:52
Ha! That's the thing about family history research that is THE most frustrating - I found myself interested in it once I had a family of my own and started to wonder about the line of mothers that stretched out behind me! Then I realised that I was in the least able position IN MY ENTIRE life to actually research it (once I got beyond all the internet/census research material).
All those times I could have got on a train and spent a day in a library/archive lah di dah - get a coffee, wade through the microfiche etc. GONE. And then the next peak time for doing it is when you are retired. When all the relatives that you could have spoken to are long dead and you are basically not that far off contributing to the "history" aspect yourself
I also agree on the presentation qualities. It usually means, keeping it simple but doing it well. If there has been a fantastic photo that you have unearthed, then use it - but copy it well and reproduce it well. Also, there must be an element sometimes of stumbling across a story that is quite fascinating that might require you to pay for other sources and spend more hours on it. I think basically as long as you are honest and enthusiastic with people and try and do deals as and when is appropriate you will do well.
I think there are a lot of people out there who might like to think they can be good family historians because they know their way around the relevant internet sites and are regular visitors to the archives. These people do not necessarily do the best job.
Please keep us updated about how you get on. Perhaps I might need your services if any of my families cross their Midland's borders!
Historian · 11/01/2010 14:59
Oh goodness yes - I sometimes look back on my youth (ie pre children days) and wonder what I was doing with my time. I could have nailed every Warwickshire ancestor by now and be working on the Irish ones. In fairness, I did spend quite a lot of time in record offices, but I definitely didn't appreciate how lucky I was to get that peace and quiet. And I used to get SO annoyed with people who dragged their poor, bored, noisy DC to record offices....now I have the feeling that it will be me doing it in the not too distant future
Justa - thanks for the links. Yes, I know I am underselling myself but it is more important to me to get work at the moment than to get money, if that makes sense? I want to build up experience and a reputation. Gawd knows how anyone gets people to pay them £600 for doing what a records office archivist would do for half that amount.
On the positive, I have almost certainly got some FH work that promises to be exceptionally interesting....a suspected British Intelligence officer. I have just got a book of NA sources and am dying to get stuck in. Half of the problem with this kind of work (for me) is that I would happily do it for free because I find it so fascinating.
Elizsmith · 11/01/2010 15:06
Just a few things - some of which have already been covered:
definately include testimonials - gives prospective purchasers confidence
needs some photography/lifestyle images to break up copy
consider suggesting it as a gift, or offer gift voucher. a friend received a voucher for researching family history and was delighted
consider partnering with other suppliers eg artists who could paint property being researched - with links to each their websites. this will help prospective purchasers to find your site
with regard to presentation of reports, I'd emphasise that this becomes a family heirloom, print on archive quality paper
I like the general look of the site, think the font is fine, colour does look a little dull at the moment but its a lovely heritage colour and am sure will look great following addition of images
Historian · 11/01/2010 17:20
Great suggestions thanks, Elizsmith, especially offering a voucher and pairing up with other suppliers. It's things like that that don't occur to me TBH. I think I need to borrow a book from the library about promoting myself. So far I have had some postcards made up and published the website, oh and announced myself on facebook (that is how I have got the work I have had so far). It is my NYR to get on with promoting myself and get some work lined up.
Nevergoogle · 11/01/2010 17:22
I like it but think you need to put the costs of service on a seperate page.
You are too quick to say how much money you will charge before you've really sold the product.
Ivykaty44 · 22/01/2010 19:39
can I be brutatal
House histry you use census, TD and electoral registers - If it is house history I will e able to go to the library and look at all these thing - yes in 1841 it may be a bit more difficult but will you not use other sources - maps, os maps, greenwoods if the brothers did one, will you use the valuation books/often refered to as the doomsday books, as they will have a lot of information about the house including a map and the owners along with forms 37 which will state what the house was constructed
Being brutal for £100 I would expect you to use more than just the three you mentioned - you may well do, it may be worth mentioning it?
TheProvincialLady · 29/04/2010 14:20
Sorry, I have just seen your message Ivykaty.
I have to say that I think £100 is very reasonable for looking at these sources. To give one example, to look at the electoral registers for one property I researched which was only built in 1929 took me 5 solid hours. To look at the TD took me a further 2 hours, and obviously in this case there were no census returns to look at. So that is 7 hours plus writing up (another 3 hours) = £10 per hour for my time. I am not expecting to get many requests for house histories for buildings this late, so the amount of work and therefore my hourly rate goes down.
As it happens, I did a lot of other research around the subject for the 1929 house and came up with a lot of interesting information, as I felt a bit bad that they were not getting as much for their money as someone with an older house. But I am not prepared to advertise it because I still think it is a reasonable rate for the work. An archive service charges at least £15 per hour for the same work in my area.
But thanks for your comments anyway, it is good to have honest opinions and it make me think!
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