Are you one of those bloggers who have a fair bit of technical savvy? Want to explore a potential revenue opportunity? Casual scanning of the blogosphere for nearly three years suggests to me that some people are more likely to be willing to pay for technical support than, say, a WordPress theme or plugin. In fact, you could probably make more money helping newbie bloggers install WordPress, WP themes, or WP plugins (or whatever) than trying to sell themes and plugins you’ve created.
Marketing genius Seth Godin is surprised at the lack of digital coaches and thinks there’s a market for people who can help others over the Internet doing simple technical support. Here’s a very rough outline of how you could set up such a virtual business.
- Remote assistance software (RAS). Install Teamviewer, Copilot, or some other similar “remote assistance” software on your computer. Most such software is either free for non-commercial use or have “day passes”. I’ve only tried the free Teamviewer and I like it, though it only has monthly plans. Keep in mind that your customers will need to install the same software, as it’s all proprietary. I’m not aware of any remote assistance software standards.
- Promotion. Promote your services on your website/blog, on business cards, etc. You can also promote yourself on Seth’s Digital Coach lens at Squidoo by either listing yourself or building your own lens. (They’ll remove spam listings.)
- Initial contact. You’re probably best off using Skype VoIP software to discuss the work to be done. (See the “Billing” item below to understand why.) However, you can also manage using IM software. I prefer AIM, though it tends to be something geeks are more likely to use. There’s also Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger. (I have them all, just in case, but that’s an awful lot of RAM you’ll need to run them simultaneously.)
- Preparation. Using your preferred means of communication, determine the work to be done, agree to a price. Ask the customer to install the preferred RAS. (If you think they’ll be awhile, you could end the call/ chat session and have them call you back. If they can’t do that, there’s little you can do to help.
- Billing. Skype VoIP software last year introduced a means for users to send/ request payment via PayPal (they’re both owned by e-Bay). The customer would have to have Skype and a PayPal account as well. They call you on Skype, you make a payment request using the PayPal button. You can either charge a flat support rate, or by the hour.
- Support session. Now that they’ve paid you and have RAS installed on their computer, support can start. In your call/ chat session, ask them to start the RAS and give you any codes you’ll need to connect. You will have to supply them with your code, to activate the “tunnel” between both computers. Now you can perform the support session, and they can see what you’re doing. If the work takes longer than a predetermined time, you can request further payment.
This is only one of many ways that you can launch and maintain a Digital Coaching business, and it needn’t be only for helping newbie bloggers. This side activity can even supplement an advice column on your blog.
My suggestion is that you stick to one area of expertise until you’re comfortable supporting people remotely. As a former teaching assistant, support person and corporate trainer, I know that support work can be very frustrating even when the other person is sitting beside you. Having patience is key to success, and if your clients seem satisfied, ask them if they’ll give referrals.
Greggo: The only reason I didn’t mention Gaim or any other IMs was because the coaching process needs an easy way of payment that also satisfies the psychological need of both parties to feel safe about that payment. In other words, because Skype has Paypal pymt built right in, that’s why I suggested it. I personally prefer AIM or even Gaim. Unfortunately, none of the Skype alternatives can handle Skype nor currently offer Paypal pymt (at least not that I’m aware of).
you can also manage using IM software. I prefer AIM, though it tends to be something geeks are more likely to use. There’s also Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger. (I have them all, just in case, but that’s an awful lot of RAM you’ll need to run them simultaneously.)
Check out Pidgin. http://www.pidgin.im/ It used to be called Gaim. One program that handles most (all?) IM protocols/networks. I use it for my AIM, Yahoo, GTalk, MSN logins. Not only does one program auto-login to all the networks for me, it has the added benefit of avoiding annoying ads from the AOL client.
you’re never too old for much. Actors in their 60s are getting into/continuing stunts. I plan to be an entertainment mogul in approximately 2.9 years. Far as I know, you’re younger than me. And if you wait 5 years and change your mind, you’ll be 5 years older than you are now. Or something like that
Right now I’m helping (consulting and talking) with a number of the companies that are central to bringing it all together. I’ve also been evangelizing in person with a lot of writers, bloggers, artists, actors, etc. Helping to light the way, and make it happen.
Plus, I’ve been working to repackage the entire industry so that it is palatable and productive for advertisers without sacrificing artist integrity. This isn’t a website or a tool that you can send people to to sign up and start doing it, it seems to be something of a convergence of many different people in different industries coming together.
I think my role is going to end up being one of a facilitator at the end of the day. I could package it up into an IPO, but I’m getting a little old to run an entertainment monopoly. 😉
So you’re already tapping into to these digital opportunities — or at least letting people know about them. Excellent.
Yeah, it would take a little editing work, and maybe filling in the gaps with a few generalities to tailor the video to a wider audience. You could even edit it down significantly and use it as a teaser within a portfolio to convince future clients to hire your tutoring / mentoring services. In an age of Bittorent and mash ups, you would need to put together a subscription / traffic driving play of course, because someone will nab it every now and then, but that’s life on the internet.
As to where have I been . . .
I’ve been traveling a great deal, selling businesses on the concept of the power of freelance writer content and helping the industry of podcasters, videocasters and bloggers evolve out of the labels of podcasters, videocasters and bloggers and into what they really our freelance content creators.
Most of us are not ready for it yet, but there is a HUGE opportunity in the content industry right now, a major gap to fill int he marketplace and most of us are zeroed into the day to day grind and missing the boat. I’m trying to bridge that gap on several fronts.
So I’ve been to California and Vegas too much lately for conventions and meetings. I may be headed back to Vegas this month for an Affiliate convention and I’m very likely to go to South by Southwest in Austin in early March. To me it seems to be time to gather the forces of the creative types from all walks of life together so that we can start collaborating and competing for the real money.
Of course, we all have to pay the bills on the way there . . . .
Brett, where have you been?
Not a bad idea. YOu may have to do some “editing” of the recorded session and pad it out with images, and text. I suppose it depends on what you are recording – a screencast of the teamviewer/ copilot session?
Long time no comment. 😉
The first thing I thought of when I read this article was to package up the session and sell it. After all this is the internet. If you can do it once, you can do it 10,000 times.
For those of you without the wherewithal to do digital coaching, there are actually other solutions for teaching newbies. However, unless you have the correct infrastructure in place, you will not make any money. Can anyone guess what I’m talking about?
The uses of Copilot and the other similar programs can extend to more than just installation. I’ve had to teach people how to upload pictures for a WordPress post.
And you’re right, patience is a must.