This year seems to have flown by and I can hardly believe it is time for my Christmas newsletter.
The business is slowly growing, with a number of clients contacting me from abroad, which is good. A quick check with clients suggests that most find me through my Yell advert, whilst others have found my website and Facebook page.
My website needs to improve in the Google rankings, so I have been busy trying to understand SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). There are businesses that will do this for me, and I get a huge amount of spam email from some of them, but apart from charging a fortune. I am not sure how much I can trust an unknown company with my business. Although hard and time consuming I felt it was better to try to do this myself.
As part of this initiative, my website, email and online course were all transferred to a new faster server earlier this year. At the same time the website and online course were given the more secure https certificate. I would like to thank Matt and Dan from ConsultDan for all of their hard work in making these changes with limited impact on my business during the short downtime incurred. When you access my website you will now see the padlock in the address bar which is the sign of a secure website.
I have also added a Frequently Asked Questions page, so if there is a topic you would like me to address, please let me know. https://leavesfamilyhistory.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions
Other areas that help the SEO are social media and online reviews and to that end I have set up a Pinterest page and a Trustpilot review page . For the review page all you need is the reference number on your invoice/receipt. You can add a review without this, but it helps me to be sure that real clients add a review, rather than someone adding one even though they have never even contacted me. If you would like to add a review but do not have the reference number please just email me and I will give it to you.
Those who actually know me will be aware that social media was totally new to me before I set up the business, so Pinterest is still a learning curve. I would appreciate some constructive feedback, especially if you are more than a Pinterest expert than I am.
My other social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus all need more followers, so if you do not already follow me, please think about doing so as this will help to boost my Goggle rankings. More importantly, my SEO counts on your engagement with my posts so please ‘like’, comment and share. You can really help me to build my business so more people know about me. You can use the links at the bottom of this page or in the sidebar on my contact page (https://leavesfamilyhistory.co.uk/contact).
I now have a YouTube page and wish to thank my very good friend Dawn for agreeing to film and be filmed. We had great fun doing it and I hope you like the results. Some of the videos are also on my website. Please note the Hull2017 videos were test pieces and will be replaced after Christmas.
Away from the technical side of the business, I have been busy on a couple of voluntary groups. I serve on the Communications Team for the Register of Qualified Genealogists (RQG) and the Advisory Board for Free UK Genealogy . FreeUKGenealogy is the umbrella company behind FreeBMD, FreeCEN and FreeREG. Both have been very interesting and help me to see another side of the genealogy business.
As a part of the RQG team, I also helped on their stand at the Who Do You Think You Are? Show in Birmingham this year, and helped to film the mini talks given. I edited the footage and the results can be seen on the RQG Facebook page.
Sadly this was to be the last show the WDYTYA? team would arrange, so my RQG colleagues are in the process of setting up a genealogy conference in York towards the end of next year.
Professional development is an important part of any occupation and when you work for yourself it is even more important to ensure you keep your skills and knowledge up to date. There is a saying that “if you do not use it, you will lose it”, and this is very true.
Palaeography is the skill of reading (and transcribing) old handwriting, and although many online records have already been transcribed original images in the archive offices many not have been. To keep my skills in this area up to date, I enrolled on a four week workshop at the Hull History Centre. Regardless of how much you think you know there is always more to learn, so the course proved to be very interesting as well as useful.
One of the topics briefly mentioned was about the level of literacy in the past. I did further research on this and you can read what I found on my blog “Could your Ancestors Read and Write?”. You may be surprised at the truth.
I also attended a very couple of interesting workshops on ‘Criminal Ancestors’, looking at different aspects, from the criminal, the crimes they committed, their sentences and the police officers who caught them.
Speaking of blogs, last year I was asked to write another series of blogs for AncestorCloud. The theme was on holidays so I wrote blogs on Christmas, Easter, Bank holidays, Guy Fawkes Night etc. AncestorCloud are undergoing a transformation at the moment and have acquired the US based Genealogist.com business, so some of the blogs are still on the original website whilst others are on the new site at: https://genealogists.com/genealogy-blog . I have also just started a shorter commission for them on genealogy research, with my blog on Newspapers . They will be republishing my Christmas blog on Christmas day.
My own blog page has been added to on a monthly basis.
So that rounds up a busy year for Leaves Family History Research Services. I just want to thank everyone I have worked with (clients and colleagues) and wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018.