Starting a Memory Saving Business

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in blog | 0 comments

It is easy to catch the memory saving bug.  Interviewing others about their life stories and the stories of their ancestors is fascinating and the joy people express when you hand them their final product is deeply rewarding.

So how do you start if you want to be a memory-saver?  Basically there are two things you need to get in place in order to get your business going.

The first thing is to choose the product you want to sell.  Let’s say that what you would like most to do is interview others and capture their memories and stories for them and future generations of their family. Personal Historians basically come in three varieties: those who produce books, those who make audio recordings, and those who are video-biographers or video documentary producers.  Some do large projects that take many months to complete.  Others do smaller projects that capture one story, one part of a life, or are created for one special event like a 90th birthday, a special anniversary, a graduation. Ask yourself which kind of personal history you would most like to do.

Once you make a choice (book, audio, video; large, small, medium) the next thing to do is to get the equipment you need and practice, practice, practice!

I suggest you start out small so you get an immediate chance to do a project from start to finish, say a single hour of interview turned into a book with pictures, an edited audio recording, or a video with as many bells and whistles as you want to offer.  While you are at it, keep track of ALL the time you put into the project.  This will be immensely valuable later when you start figuring out your pricing.

If you are thrilled with your project and you want to go to the second level, the next thing you need to do is assess your business skills, particularly what I call the Five Essential Skills You Need To Find Clients. These essential skills include:

  1. STRATEGIC PLANNING: being able to plan your business, set goals, and navigate your business growth
  2. BUSINESS COMMUNICATION: being able to talk to anyone, anywhere, any time about your business.  This includes verbally, digitally, and in writing. It includes especially speaking in a way that will attract your target clients’ rapt attention.
  3. MARKETING:  Marketing is an ongoing process by which you get in front of your target clients or people who could refer them to you.  I suggest that personal historians have 3 to 5 strategies that reach out in different ways and are done consistently to attract potential clients.
  4. SALES:  Selling personal histories is very different from selling furnaces, for example.  When a furnace breaks in the winter, people replace it.  A personal history is more of a discretionary purchase and sometimes the cost is high.  It is a good idea to learn how to sell personal histories specifically.
  5. ORGANIZATION AND TIME MANAGEMENT:  Especially if you have never run your own business and worn ALL the hats at once, it is a good idea to learn how to manage your time wisely as a sole proprietor (perhaps even working at home with all its distractions) and stay organized so that everything, especially your marketing, gets done.

In the 15 years that I have been helping people get a personal history business up and running I have found that those who are interested in people are wonderful people themselves. Like any start-up business the first one to two years can be difficult, but if someone keeps at it, finds their niche, and gets known in their community they can count on years of “saving people’s lives…. one story at a time!”

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