Genealogist Fees – How Much Should You Be Paying To Build Your Family Tree?

When I realized that I was able to solve genealogical mysteries with a very high rate of success for many of my friends, I realized I had a knack for solving family history mysteries and decided to create this website.  Now, the ancestors of all 4 of my Grandparents came to Brooklyn starting in the 1850’s, from Sicily, Ireland and Spain, so throughout all the many hours of my own research I have spent virtually all of my personal research time searching in Brooklyn, which is why I targeted my services as a Brooklyn and New York Genealogist.  By the time I had solved my own case, I had many connections in cemeteries, churches, etc.  And I was able to unearth several incredible databases and sources of priceless information available on the internet that allow me to almost always find what I am looking for.  After I would find out that my grandparents or great-grandparents had brothers or sisters, I found myself so curious about the descendants of those newly discovered family members that I took a course on locating people in the modern day, and I have been able to help may people find their birth parents, long lost relatives, etc.

 

With all that being said, one of the first things I needed to do was come up with a rate to charge customers.  I love helping people, and honestly a lot of my sources are free to me, and I can sometimes find information very quickly.  I don’t need to be charging all that much money, so I decided at first to charge $15 an hour, with the first 2 hours free, if I wasnt able to find anything in that time.  The client was able to decide they did not have faith in me since I did poorly in the first 2 hours, and could just walk away without being invested and losing money.  Since that time I have had to change things up a bit, mainly do to all the “free” 2 hour introductory periods that people had me do only to tell me they didn’t have any way to pay me even when I did produce results ( my current $5 for the first hour is just to confirm the client has a paypal account), and my $25 hr rate for a 2 hour block is mainly to encourage larger blocks of time to be purchased.  It sometimes takes an hour of that time just to get all the information a client provides organized since it is a new case and the first time I am looking into this particular family.

 

I consider my rates to be pretty fair, and when I look around the net and see the prices these genealogy services are charging, it aggravates me.  I want to take a few minutes tonight and show my readers just how ridiculous some of the more popular Genealogy researchers are.

 

Heirlines.com

Ancestry Research Rates
Heirlines.com

The first website I want to mention is Heirlines.com. The information is pretty straight forward. If you are only willing to pay for 10 hours of research, you better be willing to pay $800, $650 more then I would charge you.  The only thing I see on their site that I do not offer, is they send you a physical copy of the document.  I’ll tell you what, if you want me to print out the documents for $.05 a peice and mail them to you for an extra $650, just let me know and I will do it.  Or you can just print them out yourself when I E-mail them to you and save the $650.

Pro Genealogists

Ancestry.com's Service
Ancestry.com's Pro Genealogist Service

Your next option is from Ancestry.com‘s own “Pro Genealogists“.  As you can see in the Image above, the Pro Genealogist website considers their fee’s “affordably priced” and “Straightforward research” costs a Minimum of $65 per hour.  I would imagine no matter how straightforward your research is, they will have some reason to pump up your fee closer to the $135/hr range.  How many people have paid their hard earned money to have some “Pro Genealogist” log into Ancestry.com and pull up some census reports for $200?

LegacyTree.com

The last website I want to touch on is LegacyTree.com.  In the graphic you can see the minimum order is 20 hours, for $1250.  That is over four times as much as our rate.

Genealogy research rates
20 hour minimum!

To be fair, if anybody is getting in their car and spending a day in some records hall searching through files in order to find that one impossible link, then a rate much higher then my $15 / hr is called for. The issue I have is that most cases can be solved online, and if you are paying for 10 or 20 hours of research, in 90% of cases a genealogist would spend that much time exhausting all of the online resources and databases at our disposal, before ever getting into a car. After that point, it might make sense to charge the higher rate that travel expenses and the higher level of research expertise would call for. If you are going to hire a genealogist to build your tree from the start, breaking down those brick walls, finding distant relatives, or whatever else you might need, please look around before hiring one of these overcharging websites. It would be well worth the few hundred dollars a website like this one would charge before paying the thousands these other sites demand as a minimum and then can not even guarentee they will find the information you are looking for.

4 thoughts on “Genealogist Fees – How Much Should You Be Paying To Build Your Family Tree?”

  1. For many years I’ve been unsuccessful in being able to trace the birthplace of my g. g. grandfather, Rev. Alban Hooke, who lived in Chester Co, PA. from 1810-1812 to about 1860, and established several Methodist Episcopal Churches in that area. Several local (in the Chester Co, PA area), genealogists have come to a dead end in searchging for his birth place. I feel I need to hire a very experienced, professional genealogist in order to proceed further, because the problem may involve searching in several states.
    What are your thoughts regarding this problem, and do you agree I need someone who may need to travel to uncover what is needed, and who may need to charge accordingly? Many thanks. Bill Hooke billhooke@aol.com

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