We know you have lots of questions. Below is a list of the most common ones we receive from our members and our visitors. But if you don't see the answer you need, we invite you to please contact us anytime!
it is your journey
it is confidential
it is safe and secure
no ongoing fees
it is family owned
A Footprint will preserve your life story for your children and your grandchildren - forever.
Your Footprint is totally private. You will always have 100% control over who can see it, and when.
We do not store any of the billing information you provide. We don't even store your phone number.
It is FREE to become a member, and there are NO annual or recurring fees with our paid memberships.
Our commitment to building a platform that is worthy of preserving your story will always be our top priority.
Q: What is a Footprint?
A Footprint is a digital summary of your life that you build in private (no one else has to know about it until you are ready). It is a short story of major events, milestones, accomplishments, and challenges that you have endured throughout your lifetime. It is a 'message center' where you can leave personal messages for your children, and even individual friends and family. It is a small archive of photos, videos, and documents that you would want future generations to have access to.
But above all else, it is a place where you can pass down the life experiences and wisdom to your children, your grandchildren, and even your great grandchildren. It simply gives them a chance to know more about the life you once lived.
This "mini-memoir" is something you create over time, and thus becomes your final legacy that the current and future generations can remember you by. Ultimately it is a digital profile that becomes a permanent part of your family's history. Your "Footprint" will tell your story for a long time to come ... continuing your legacy long after you've said goodbye.
Q: Why should I create a Footprint?
Because your Footprint will give you an opportunity to leave something behind for your children. You can share the stories you never got a chance to tell them. You can give them the wisdom from your lifetime of experience. You can even record a video of you singing "happy birthday" so they can play it back year after year, even when you aren't there to share it with them.
You should start a Footprint because everyone has a story to tell. Your life is unique and significant in some way. You have likely endured great hardships, experienced incredible milestones, and achieved great successes...many of which will be forgotten as time goes on. And the future generations of your family will be eager to learn about these adventures you once took.
You should create a Footprint because regardless of fame, fortune, or status, we ALL have a story deserves to be remembered in our family's history. And that is why we are proud to give you a way to share your life story with the future descendants of your family, long after you say goodbye.
Q: Can I create a Footprint for my child?
Yes! As part of your own Footprint, you can add a Mini-Footprint that can represent the journey your child(ren). See the FAQ below titled "What is a Mini-Footprint?" (Footprint Logistics section) for more about how these work. You can also visit our Sample Footprint for more information.
Q: Can I create a Footprint for a deceased relative?
Your membership grants you access to a single Footprint (for yourself) and Mini-Footprints (for your children). If desired, you can always sign up for another new membership using a different login ID...thus allowing you to share the story of anyone from your family who is no longer alive.
However, we do not recommend this simply because a Footprint is designed to be *your* story...as told by you. If you create a Footprint for a deceased relative, future generations may question the validity of the information provided since that person was not the one who designed it.
Q: Is this just another family tree or genealogy website?
NO. AmericasFootprints.com does not have any connection to other genealogy websites, and was not built to become a family tree profile that connects you with your relatives. We are very unique. We provide a platform that enables you to preserve the poignant moments in your life story...in private...and to ultimately leave behind a digital legacy that continues to tell your story to the current and future generations of your family.
Q: How is this different from ancestry sites?
Ancestry and other government / DNA sites link people through genealogy with a heavy focus on connecting you with your past. But at AmericasFootprints.com, you are creating a way to connect with people of the future. So when your children (and even your great, great, great, grandchildren) want to learn more about your life...they can view your Footprint to see the legacy you chose to leave behind.
Q: Is a Footprint just like an online diary?
NO. Online diaries are for your private thoughts. They are not typically created with the intention of sharing it with others. Instead they are usually very personal and aren't read by anyone else.
A Footprint on the other hand is a profile that you build in private (no one else will know you are creating one). And unlike a diary, you are creating stories, adding photos, and preserving memories that you want your children and grandchildren to read about one day.
This is the one thing you build in private and ultimately share with the future generations of your family.
Q: How is this different from social media?
Social media is focused on 'day-to-day' activities. As a result, these profiles instantly become cluttered with thousands of daily posts, random pictures, comments, and other junk. And when we pass on, those profiles are ultimately lost in cyberspace, forgotten, deleted, or deactivated.
At AmericasFootprints.com, a Footprint is not based on daily events. It is a tightly-knit, concise summary of your life...the way you want it to be remembered. It becomes a complete story about you...and it is something that will never be forgotten, lost, or deleted.
Q: How is this different from what I can do on my own?
A legacy can be left behind in many ways. You might decide to write a book, autobiography, memoir, or create a photo album . It could be in the form of a secret storage closet. Or it could just be via the memories people may have of you. But eventually those memories fade. Eventually those "material items" get lost or forgotten through the generations. And eventually...your life story will no longer be remembered.
At AmericasFootprints.com, the Footprint you create and the story you share is never deleted, never forgotten, and never lost. Thus the digital legacy you leave behind will continue to live on for a long time to come.
Q: Do I have to live in America/Canada to create a Footprint?
If you live in another country and would like to join America's Footprints, you must be a legal citizen in either the US or Canada. But it is not necessary to have a current address in America or Canada in order to create a Footprint. For example, if you currently live in another country, but at some point in your past you resided in the United States or Canada, you will still be able to create a Footprint.
Q: What types of information can I enter into my Footprint?
A Footprint is a summary of your life. So you can feel free to share whatever you would like the future generations to know about you. But we always encourage honesty because this will become your final legacy. This is how you will be remembered as time goes on and memories fade.
Depending on the membership level you select, you'll have a wide array of options for creating your legacy. For example, you can share educational and career history, as well as short stories about the milestones, achievements, and even the hardships of your life. You can leave "final messages" for individual friends and family. And you can upload photos, audio files, video files, and even documents you wish to create, preserve, or pass on. You can see an example of a Footprint profile from here.
Q: How often should I update my Footprint?
A Footprint is a profile that should always be evolving to stay current with the events in your life. So you should regularly log in to your account and continue updating your information and/or add and edit content.
Q: Why are we limited to how much content we can add or upload to a Footprint?
A Footprint is meant to house your most pivotal moments, your most important messages, and the most precious memories that you would like to pass on to future generations. It is not meant to be a daily archive of events, and is not intended to become a depository for anything and everything.
The membership options each grant a different level of storage capacity, but even the highest one still has a cap. Keep in mind the objective of a Footprint is to become a tightly-knit, concise summary of your life. A simple, easy-to-read, more manageable profile will help the future readers better understand the legacy you wanted to leave behind. Maintaining a limit to how much we add to a Footprint profile will help ensure anyone who sees it in the future does not become confused with "information overload".
Q: What is a Mini-Footprint?
These would be used to securely store information about a living child under the age of 18. For example, if you are a mom with three kids 17 years of age or younger, you can create three individual Mini-Footprints (one for each child). Similar to your own Footprint, you will have the ability to enter information about your child such as their hobbies, major achievements, and a few photos...thus creating a short story (aka short legacy) about your child(ren).
Mini-Footprints are an extension of your main Footprint (almost like the branches of a tree). and they follow the same privacy settings as the main Footprint they are connected to.. .
Q: Who can see my Footprint?
Only AmericasFootprints.com members can physically view the details of another Footprint. However, ALL Footprints remain 100% private for as long as you wish. Members have two options for controlling their Footprint visibility:
a) Keeping it permanently hidden forever. If this option is chosen, the only people who can view your Footprint are those who have your unique Footprint ID, which is found on your Footprint Authenticity Certificate. This certificate is typically printed and stored with your other end-of-life documents (such as a Last Will). It helps to ensure that when our final day comes, your next of kin and close family (or whomever has access to those documents) can immediately view the Footprint you left behind for them.
b) Keeping it hidden until a date of your choice. For example, you can choose to make your Footprint visible to the general member public on January 1, 2050. Until that date, it can only be viewed by those who have the unique ID found on your Footprint Authenticity Certificate.
Q: What is a Footprint Authenticity Certificate?
When you begin developing your Footprint, you are automatically provided with a digital Footprint Authenticity Certificate. This certificate will contain a unique 20-digit alphanumeric Footprint ID, your complete name, and instructions on what to do with it. We recommend printing and storing this certificate in a safe place with any other "end-of-life" documents (such as a Last Will and Testament).
If something should happen to you, this certificate will provide your friends and loved ones (or those who have access to these end-of-life documents) with specific steps on what they can do to view (not edit) your entire Footprint. Ultimately your Footprint Authenticity Certificate helps to ensure the legacy you left behind is immediately viewable by those who were closest to you.
Q: I like to keep my life private. Why would I want to share certain parts of it?
Think of a Footprint like a miniature autobiography. It simply provides is a way to continue telling your general story...long after you say goodbye. When we are no logner around, it is a place where the people you leave behind (and the ones who are yet to be born) can visit to learn more about the life you once lived. It is something you build and have complete control over. Thus you ultimately decide what to upload, write about, and share.
Also, we never ask or encourage you to enter any personal information (e.g. we do not store a phone number, street address, or any other "identity-specific" information). And starting in April 2015, members now have the option of keeping their Footprint private forever (only allowing those with your unique Footprint ID to see it), or members can choose their own go-live date (e.g. Jan 1, 2050; the date your Footprint becomes publically viewable by other members).
Ultimately you decide exactly who can see the details of your Footprint, and when.
Q: Can I keep my Footprint hidden from other members permanently?
Footprints are designed to tell your story to the future generations of America. As such, we usually like to recommend our members designate a specific go-live date in the future, even if it's 100 years from now. It's truly the only way to ensure your story will eventually be known in history.
However, we completely understand and can appreciate the desire to keep your story private, and perhaps only make it available to family members or close friends when the time is right. And that is why we implemented a new feature in April 2015 that gives you the option of keeping your Footprint private forever. This essentially means NO other member will ever see the Footprint you left behind. The only way for someone to view it is via the unique ID found on your printed Footprint Authenticity Certificate.
Q: What are the costs?
AmericasFootprints.com is now FREE to join! You can become a member at absolutely NO charge with our First Steps Footprint to begin preserving your journey in history. You may also choose one of the paid memberships which will unlock many additional features in your Footprint. This will incur a one-time-only setup fee, and unlike most other membership websites, there are NO monthly or yearly renewal charges at AmericasFootprints.com. You will be billed just once when you sign up, and will then remain an active member in our database - forever.
There are no hidden fees, taxes, or any other costs associated with becoming a member and maintaining your account. And ALL Footprints are also backed by our 100% money-back guarantee for the first 14 days! If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund the entire setup fee - NO questions asked.
Q: Can I ever upgrade or change my membership?
While members cannot downgrade a membership, you can always choose to upgrade to a higher membership level at anytime. Selecting an upgraded membership will require you to again enter the same billing information to cover the one-time upgrade cost.
Q: Why do you charge a setup fee for certain memberships?
There are plenty of websites out there that claim to provide a 100% free service. But in reality, there is almost always a catch. Many times what they do is get you to sign up and begin building a profile about yourself. They then take the information you provide and will sell it to third parties and marketing companies. These organizations will use that information to learn more about you and your interests, and will then add you to various lists that begin targeting you for certain products and selling strategies.
Other times these websites will "hook" you in with a free offer to use some of their basic features. But most times this access eventually expires. And when you finally realize you'll have to pay in order to do what you really want to do, that's typically when a monthly membership payment is required.
But America's Footprints is different. We will never share or sell your information to anyone, and we will never mislead you. It is completely FREE to join, and the one-time setup fee that we charge for the higher memberships helps cover the costs of securing your Footprint in our server. There are no ongoing fees and annual renewals. This setup fee also helps us bring you continued website enhancements, upgrades, new features, and personalized support. And you can rest assured that whatever you add to your Footprint is safe and will never be used for any other purpose.
Q: Do you offer refunds?
YES! We offer a 100% money-back guarantee for the first 14 days. This gives you an opportunity to start building a Footprint profile with no risk whatsoever. And if you are not completely satisfied during this time, we will refund your entire setup fee - NO questions asked!
Q: Do you offer membership discounts?
Throughout the year we occassionally offer discounts and promotions for new members. If you are interested in joining and would like to see if there are any discounts available, you can feel to contact us anytime.
Q: Do you store my billing information?
NO. During the signup process you are asked for a method of payment (credit card or Paypal), billing address, and phone (as per the merchant's guidelines). However, none of this information is ever stored in the AmericasFootprints.com system. Once your payment is processed, all of the billing details you entered are permanently removed. We don't even store your phone number.
Q: Can I purchase a membership as a GIFT for someone else?
Absolutely! In Fall of 2014, we introduced a new feature that now allows you to purchase a membership gift card for family, friends, and loved ones. A membership to AmericasFootprints.com also makes the perfect gift (and perhaps the most unique gift) for parents and grandparents alike!
The gift of leaving behind a digital life legacy is one that will long outlast any other gift you can think of. Simply visit our GIFT CARD page for more information and to make your purchase!
Q: This seems like a place for writers. But I don't like to write or type.
That is what makes America's Footprints so great! Because the Footprint you design is not done with the intent of publishing it to a massive audience. It is done simply to preserve the memories in your journey that you wish to pass down to your children.
Thus future generations won't care about things like grammar or spelling, and will be overjoyed at the fact that you left something behind for them in the first place. In fact, most of our members (including our company's founder) do not have a writing background. They are merely entering memories from their life that mean something to them, and are telling these stories the best way they know how.
Additionally, with the help of tools like Windows Speech Recognition, you don't have to type anything. Just plug in a microphone and begin talking. The text you dictate will automatically be converted to a written story for you.
Q: My life is too busy. I don't have the time to document it.
Unlike social media where we may feel compelled to check / contribute to it several times a day, a Footprint is there for you when you're ready. It doesn't matter if you log in once a day, or once every few months. Even if you just spend five minutes a month updating it with a memory you would like to store, that's still five more minutes worth of information about you that your future descendants will thank you for.
Q: Does anyone monitor the Footprints being created?
Q: Can you help me create my Footprint?
We understand there may be folks who want to create a Footprint, but may not have the means or capability of doing so. Therefore we are happy to help anyone who may need assistance. If you would like us to create your Footprint, write your story, and/or produce a video of your legacy, please contact us for more information (extra fees apply).
Q: What happens to my information if you go out of business?
The owners and staff of AmericasFootprints.com have no intentions of going out of business, and have taken precautions to ensure this website and the profiles you build will be around and permanently available to you for a very long time to come. AmericasFootprints.com is here to stay - FOREVER.
That said, should an unforeseeable circumstance cause us to close our doors, we will package everything you have documented in your Footprint into an electronic and downloadable file format, so you can continue building your Footprint in history.
Still have a question about AmericasFootprints.com? Contact us directly for the answer!