Worried About Paying the Bills Between Major Projects?

What do you do when you’re between major personal history projects and your bank account is dwindling?  If you’re like me, this can be a stressful time. One solution is to look for smaller projects that can be done relatively easily and quickly to tide you over.  Here are a few things I’ve done:

  • One-hour audio interviews. These are delivered unedited on a labeled CD and packaged in a plastic case with generic cover. I let the client choose the topic or suggest possible themes.
  • Transferring old home movies to DVD. The footage is lightly edited and enhanced.
  • Memorial photo video. Preparing a collage of photos combined with music that conveys the life story of the deceased.
  • Story editing. Working with  clients to provide some editing to enhance the structure of their personal history.

Depending on your unique set of skills, there are other small projects that you can market. I had the good fortune of attending a workshop called Small Projects, Steady Income at an Association of Personal Historians conference. It was facilitated by Julie McDonald Zander of Chapters of Life and Maia Fischler of LifeWriter. Here are a few of their ideas which they’ve kindly allowed me to share:

  • Histories of homes and buildings
  • A Grandparent story-reading or story-telling CD
  • History of a family heirloom
  • Transcribing/editing diaries
  • Scanning of photos and memorabilia
  • Cover designs for books, CDs, and DVDs
  • Digital photo organization
  • Life-writing classes or workshops
  • Mother’s or Father’s Day one-hour interview
  • Legacy letter
  • Tribute/memorial booklets
  • Family reunion booklets and videos
  • Recollections for a milestone anniversary or birthday

What small projects have you used to keep going between major jobs? Leave your comments below. I always love to hear from you.

Photo by Josh Fassbind

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8 responses to “Worried About Paying the Bills Between Major Projects?

  1. Dan,
    As I read this excellent post, it also reminded me of an excellent list of small project that might be ‘starter projects’ for folks just wanting to ‘dip their toe in’ of doing such work for hire, rather than for fun. It is low risk to do a good job on of one these projects for a friend or acquaintance, or a relative, do it well, and receive some compensation in the process – and some buzz or publicity for future work. ;-)

  2. Dan, Dr Bill,

    Just what I need as I await for ProGen Study Group to start soon.

    Thanks for writing this Dan. And thank you, Dr Bill for pointing us.

  3. Great ideas. Thanks. You’re always so encouraging. This is of tremendous help. I haven’t given up. Just doing it more for family & friends until I get a good footing.

  4. Thank you all…this is valuable information. I am retired and just starting a new business in the realm of personal history. I am passionate about “story”, energetic and hard working…but have few specific skills in this area. I want to start out with just a simple model of providing opportunities to record 1 hour unedited CDs. I’m practicing with my friends and loving it. As I move forward toward a business plan….I am finding that I am in a quandary as to how much to charge for this service. Any ideas?

    • @Marsha Barr. Thanks for your comments, Marsha. How much you charge really depends on how much you need to make to maintain your lifestyle. And you want to take into account what the market will bear. You might find my previous article useful How Much Should You Pay a Personal Historian? http://tinyurl.com/yah7qgl
      All the best with your new business!

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