Dear Jennifer. 🙂
My question isn’t exactly about baby names, but more about baby naming. My name is Emilia, I am from Poland and am now at such a stage of life where you usually think about your career. I’ve loved names for almost my entire life and I like to think about myself that I am good at naming people with names that fit them – be them my fictional characters or other people’s kids, as I like to help others on different forums to find the best name for their child, and consider baby naming really fun.
A few years ago I’ve heard that there is such a profession in US as baby namer and I thought it would be such a cool job for me, but I didn’t think about it seriously for a long time, it seemed so niche. I wonder though, is it actually something relevant to people, do they really need baby namers?
As a baby namer, do you think this profession has a future? Are there many baby namers in the US? Do you think it could be a useful and relevant job anywhere else? After all there are so many websites, books, apps, forums and boards about baby names, and people around the world seem to rely so much on their family members as well. I’ve heard there are only celebrities searching for a professional baby namer’s advice, would you say it’s true?
Does baby naming require good mathematic skills? As a baby namer, can you do all your work online? That’s a pretty important criterion for me as for my job, because I myself am blind and have several other disorders with which actually the only way I can work functionally is from home. And, rather just of curiosity – I’ve read somewhere that a baby namer can be paid 30,000 dollars for naming a baby. That sounds quite unbelievable, or maybe I am just too skeptical. 😀 Is it really true? What do they do so special that people are willing to pay so much?
Dear Emilia, 🙂
These are great questions and I hope to answer the best I can, at least for here in the United States. I believe there are people who consider themselves “baby namers” and make a career out of it. Perhaps someone has charged $30,000 for it, but I’d venture to guess that would be only for the elite or famous. Just like Hollywood psychics, gurus, and other advisors that cater to the rich and famous – if that’s the clientele you want to reach, you probably have to have some kind of connection or “in.” You also have to establish yourself as an expert in the field. But all it takes is one client to say you’re wonderful to the press, and that is established. Because you’re not located in the U.S. I think that would be a very difficult clientele for you to reach.
Now I’ll tell you my experience in the business. Being that we had the traffic, the perfect customers, and the credibility/authority, we tried doing personal name consulting for a couple of years. We experimented with the fees and charged anywhere between $95 to $795 per consultation. We found that the more we charged, the less orders we got from the general public. Mind you, that’s with MILLIONS of people visiting our site per month.
For those who did hire us, about 80% was after the baby was born, when they were panicked because they could not agree or decide on a name. A couple clients were not the parents but the in-laws/grandparents who wanted us to talk the couple out of a name–or basically support them in their baby name views. When the actual parents hired us, it went one of two ways:
1. They already had a name that they wanted validated by a “baby name professional” because either they didn’t agree on it, or something put doubt in their heads about the name. No matter what we said, they just wanted us to agree with them…
2. We got into the never-ending circle of suggesting names for their baby and the parents vetoing the names, for any number of reasons. Perhaps because of #1, or maybe because we just didn’t know them well enough to know their personality.
My conclusion to shut down the consulting service was this: no one can really choose a baby name but you. You know your history, your likes, your dislikes, your preferences, your family and friends’ names, that “guy you don’t like at the office” etc. We can’t possibly know all of that. Parents can get input, but ultimately they need to do the work and come up with a baby name themselves that they love.
That being said, I think there is value to input. Can it be a career here in the U.S.? Possibly – but until you’ve built up some notoriety and expertise, I’d say keep your day job and do it on the side. I’m sorry I cannot speak to the culture or careers in Poland.
Jennifer Moss (she/her) is the founder of BabyNames.com, author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.
Jennifer entered the tech arena in the 80s as a software developer and database architect, and became a pioneer in the Internet industry. In addition to operating BabyNames.com, Jennifer owns a web development agency in central California.