“I don’t know exactly how your business works.”
Whenever I hear someone say that, like I did recently, I think, “Fair enough!” The word “Genlighten” doesn’t really tell the story, does it?
So, here I am this rainy Southern California Wednesday afternoon, thinking about a concise and easy-to-understand way to explain it.
Here’s one idea:
Genlighten.com is a marketplace for genealogy research. Providers create webpages to highlight their expertise and experience. Clients search and/or browse those pages with a project in mind to find the right person to hire. All projects are tracked on the site which means that message conversations are easy to follow, payments are secure, and documents and reports are delivered online.
Reading this from the perspective of a person who is new to Genlighten, four questions come to my mind, so I’m guessing others might wonder, too.
Why don’t providers just create their own websites?
Some do! For them, Genlighten is just one more way to advertise their services. It doesn’t cost providers anything to create a profile page (other than our 10% commission if they get work through us), so it’s a good way to broaden their reach.
It’s also a good way to build reputation. Genlighten clients leave feedback ratings and reviews for providers when projects are complete and this helps future clients feel confident in hiring.
And then, for researchers who don’t want the cost and challenge of maintaining a separate website, Genlighten offers a really easy way to establish an online presence.
Why don’t clients just Google to find research help?
Try Googling to find someone who can search for obituaries at the Indiana State Library. Or someone who can copy divorce files in Chicago. Or someone who can take digital images of Civil War pension files for a reasonable fee.
You might be able to find someone to hire that way, but it’s likely to take you a good deal of search time and some back and forth by email before your project is underway.
We have providers on Genlighten who can handle these three research tasks and finding them through the site takes just a minute or two. Sending a project request is just as quick.
We don’t have a provider suited to every project (although we’re working on it!), but it doesn’t take long to check to see if we do, so we’re a good first stop when it comes to hiring a genealogist.
Why not just contact the providers directly?
People have been successfully arranging research projects off Genlighten for years–true!–but there are some advantages to using our service to arrange and track your projects.
Messages go through the site and so important conversations between providers and clients are documented and easy to find. There’s never any question of who said what when and messages don’t get hopelessly lost in overflowing inboxes. Just log in and they’re there.
Fees are paid securely through the site–no need to mail a check or worry about someone having your credit card information. We never see it and it isn’t saved.
Reports and associated document images are delivered online (with a few exceptions) and so nothing gets lost in the mail and there’s always a backup copy available.
And, most importantly, we want you to have a positive experience when you hire a Genlighten provider. Most times, everything goes smoothly, but if it doesn’t, we do our best to help clients and providers bring projects to a mutually agreeable close. As a safeguard, we hold new providers’ fees in escrow for up to seven days in case a project needs to be reviewed (although we can make the funds available immediately if clients post positive feedback for a project) but, thankfully, we’ve rarely needed to step in to help in that way.
How much does all this cost?
Or, in other words, how do we make money? We currently charge providers a 10% commission on their fees. If someone completes a $25 project, we keep $2.50 and credit his or her account with $22.50.
We also charge clients a 5% fee on their payments, but for most projects, that amount just covers the transaction fees that the processing company charges us.
So, why “Genlighten?”
We chose the name “Genlighten” because it includes “lighten” as in “we’d really like to make the process of finding research help easy” and “enlighten” as in “we’d really like our providers to help you shed light on whatever research challenge you send their way.”
How am I doing? Do you have a better idea of how Genlighten works now that you’ve read this post? What questions did I leave unanswered? Let me know and I’ll go to work on them!