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.