Take a moment. Consider the vast and deep experience you've gained in your life -- through your work, your research, your studies, and how you have transformed yourself, and helped other people.
Chances are good that, by applying smart strategies, you can turn that into a full-time living, from home or wherever you have internet access.
I'm writing from the perspective of my own experience. For the past 7 years, I've earned a full-time income, as a solopreneur, by teaching/coaching my expertise. And I've coached hundreds of clients in their quest to do this.
In this blog post I list 7 popular ways you might consider to monetize your expertise.
I will list the ways starting with the lower-priced offers...
Create an Info Product
The most common type of an "information product" is a book.
However, if that feels intimidating, then begin with a more casual info product such as a shorter e-book. You can sell it from your website using a payment tool like Gumroad (which also can put it into their directory.)
You could also sell your e-books on Amazon Kindle, which has a much bigger audience, but just know that you may get mixed reviews on Amazon unless you've thoughtfully written your book with your ideal audience in mind and branded it correctly. When you are ready to publish on Amazon Kindle (using their CreateSpace platform), there are many people on Fiverr who can help you do this affordably.
Formats you might use to sell your knowledge as info products:
How your content might be packaged:
Remember, success in business is all about experimentation. You won't really know if a format is right for you unless you attempt to offer it. As you look at the above options, what are you inspired to try?
Your options are limited only by your creativity, and what you find your audience loves most.
Create an online course/class
Many people love step-by-step programs. Consider whether your methodology, your transformational framework, could be taught in an online course.
What's the difference between an info-product and an online course? Students expect a course to be multi-media... that is, to include at least some video. Possibly some live (teleclass) interaction. Students expect some interaction with you, at minimum being able to ask a question through an online forum or email (for the limited time of the course.)
At this time, the most popular and lucrative platform for uploading course material is Udemy which has over 9 million students, taking courses on hundreds of different topics.
Whatever you want to teach, you can teach it there. It's free to upload course material and the software already includes a private forum for students. And through the Udemy website or mobile app, students can enjoy your course anywhere.
If your course has an attractive title, promo video, and in-depth description, you'll likely get many new students just from the Udemy platform itself.
The only real drawback of using Udemy is that you won't be able to export your students' email address. You'll have to communicate with students only via the Udemy "instructor announcements" protocol. However, within your Udemy course, you can reference your blog posts or other materials (as long as your Udemy students can access it without having to opt-in on your site.) When your students visit your website, they might then want to subscribe to your email list.
I personally know several people who are earning multiple thousands of dollars a month just uploading their course material to Udemy. Course length is typically between 90 minutes and 3 hours. The more courses you upload (i.e. aim for 1 per month) the more money you'll make on Udemy.
Selling courses on your own site
If you already have your own audience -- or are confident that you have other channels to promote your course -- you could sell courses though your own website, and thus have full control of being able to contact your students about anything.
Tools that I've seen others use to do this successfully:
Teaching online courses is a popular way to earn money from one's knowledge.
Create a membership or group program
This is where people subscribe to access a private website (or even a private Facebook group) where you regularly deliver premium content, such as new info products or new courses you've created.
Membership or Group Program = info product/courses + additional ongoing benefits.
Additional benefits may include:
My membership/group program that you might want to look at:
Authentic Business Community (ABC)
1-1 Coaching or Counseling
This is privately supporting your clients, typically one to four sessions a month.
It can be via phone, video (using Zoom or Skype), or in-person.
In the past 7 years, most of my clients have met with me online rather than in-person. I've been able to work from home, or anywhere I have stable internet.
As an example, here's my 1-1 coaching description page.
Sometimes, coaches/counselors include info products, courses, or group benefits as part of their private client experience. Experiment and see what your private clients most need besides your 1-1 presence.
Coaching packages sometimes include "VIP Days" or half-days where you spend 4-8 hours with a client, either via video conference or in-person, to really clarify and work through a series of issues, or to make progress on an important project.
The more time you spend with your client, the more it becomes consulting...
The difference between coaching, counseling, or consulting depends on how you've been trained.
For example, some coaches never want to offer advice in their "coaching sessions", but only asking powerful questions, and letting clients come to their own answers.
Consulting is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's where you are offering your expert answers to your clients. In many cases, the consultant does some, or all, of the work for the client.
Think about whether this would be helpful, possibly even necessary, for your audience. It’s the most engaging--and also the most personally demanding--option on this list. But sometimes it takes the years of expertise (that you have) in order to execute a project that your client needs to accomplish.
As a result, consultants bill more hours for each client, sometimes dozens of hours a month, but usually at a much lower hourly rate than a coach/counselor who only spends 1-4 hours a month with a client.
Some service providers combine elements of coaching & consulting and may call themselves "coachsultants."
Create offline events
Options to consider include:
Of the 7 ways to monetize your knowledge, creating offline events has the greatest cost, because you'll need to pay for the venue, and your own travel/housing expenses.
However, it is often the most rewarding of all the options, because of the in-person engagement and the ability to experience creating a community/tribe feeling, even for an afternoon.
When you're first starting out, it's tough to build enough interest to get people to your offline events, so you may want to begin by offering your workshops/trainings to other audiences (other companies, organizations, experts who have audiences).
You'll also build you your own audience as you market your info products, courses, or 1-1 services. With enough of an audience in specific geographic locations, creating offline events in those places will become a viable option.
How the methods are organized
Thus far, I've listed 6 ways to monetize your knowledge:
1 to 6 in the list above goes in this order:
In other words, if you're offering 1-1 right now but are wishing for more freedom in your time, consider moving "up" the ladder towards info products.
If however, like me you had been offering such products and wish for more engagement with your audience, move "down" the ladder, towards 1-1 or even offline events.
From Lower to Higher Risk
Sometimes people find it easier to start spending a little bit of money with you, e.g. through buying your online course, before they're comfortable considering you for 1-1 work.
However, sometimes people are looking directly for the most personalized help they can get, right away. It will depend on whether your ideal audience has ever bought 1-1 service like yours before. If so, you can start offering that level of service right away.
Otherwise, it may be wise to begin with lower-priced offers.
Advertising, Sponsorships, Commissions
This is the 7th way you might consider earning money from your knowledge.
Once you have built an audience, an engaged tribe of people that you can easily communicate with, such as through an email list, then other people and organizations might love the option of paying you to reach your audience with a message.
However, do carefully consider the benefits of getting advertising income, compared with how your audience will respond. Is it in their best interest? Will they love the experience of seeing the ad? Consider what they expect of you, the basis of their trust in you, and whether a particular ad (or paid advertising in general) would add or detract value from your message, brand, and tribe building.
Once you’re sure that advertising is the right move for your audience, there are a number of options for you to try.
You'll usually first need to reach out to potential advertisers to interest them in the idea. You'll need to share with them the demographics (and maybe psychographics) of your audience, how many people will see their ad, and why their product/service will be interesting to your audience.
After you start having a few advertisers, it's gets easier to interest additional advertisers.
Another type of advertising is a "sponsorship". This can be simply an advertising logo or message on the event page, or an actual commercial message in the event itself.
Yet another option is "sponsored content" which is where you co-create content with the advertiser, such that your audience would be interested in the content and yet the advertising message is also clear. An example is my Client Feature Stories.
Lastly, another common advertising method is sales commissions, which is when you get paid only when someone from your audience buys the product or service of the advertiser. Sometimes this is called affiliate marketing or "joint ventures" (in the internet marketing world.) An advertiser might teach a webinar to your audience, or write a post for your blog, and when someone clicks through to their website and buys, it is tracked back to you through an affiliate link or because it was a special landing page just for your audience.
I used to make a lot of money using affiliate marketing / JV's, but a few years ago, I decided to stop because it no longer felt true to me. If you're curious, here's why I stopped doing affiliate marketing.
You don't really know, until you try...
As you can see, there are many options for you to earn a livelihood from your message or expertise. Don't assume one way is better for you, or another way "must not" work for you.
Test all the options if you can. See which ones have an alignment between your gifts (what you love to offer) and what you can see is in the greatest service of your audience.
Also, notice which people and businesses you buy products, programs, or services from. If you admire how they're doing business, it may be a clue for you that you would also enjoy offering that format of product or services.
Remember: finding your authentic business is about doing enough experimentation. Try different things and observe what works for you. Go for it!
If you would love personal coaching to help you mindfully experiment, and strategize your best models, I invite you to contact me about 1-1 business/marketing coaching. If I can't help you, I will refer you to someone who can.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.