Friday, March 31, 2006

Striking a Genealogical Balance

Image obtained from iStockPhoto.comAs 2005 came to an end, I thought about possible resolutions for 2006. One of the things that has bothered me lately are the emails I get complaining that Genealogy Today is just another paid site.

It always strikes me as odd, when the site (launched in 1999) didn’t have any subscription databases until the end of 2003. But when visitors voice their impressions, I do listen.

While I am not a Buddhist, I do put a lot of credence into the philosophy that everything should be in balance. I follow this in my personal life all the time through the holistic therapies and remedies I use for any ailments. So, why shouldn’t I apply it to my business.It made me think back to June 2000, when acquired RootsWeb. The announcement said, “the acquisition will provide the site the financial backing to expand its focus on preserving, sharing, and exchanging family history research. The site will expand with additional technology tools, increased family research content and a greater range of genealogical resources.” Did RootsWeb really need to be supported? Or were there higher powers at work trying to put MyFamily back into balance?

Well, this was unlikely a holistic action to balance their growing collection of subscription information, but it did give me the idea for my resolution. Well, at first, it just made me wonder what the ratio of subscription versus free data was.

I’d always had plenty of free content, both organic and through acquisitions, but never thought to monitor the quantity of free versus paid names. So, I added a feature to an administrative page that I have to show me the exact counts of all paid a free databases. And, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the site was not too far out of balance at 56% paid.

So, since then I have been resolved to getting (and maintaining) the site’s data collection at a more exact balancing point. And I am pleased to share that since February this goal has been achieved and the ratijavascript:void(0)o has stayed at 50% (+/- 0.75%) ever since.

Whether it’s the free vs. paid issue, or original content vs. affiliate links, you should always try to maintain a reasonable balance. Have you looked at your own site lately? How balanced is it?

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