Wouldn’t it be nice to have a new source of income in 2015 for your small business or solo practice? If this idea appeals to you, then set time aside to think of two things:
1. What expertise do you have – business or otherwise – that could be used by people you’re not reaching now? For example, if you’re a public relations professional like me, you have a wide range of knowledge that can help businesses or nonprofits raise their public profile. But it isn’t only consultants who have expertise to offer. Have you been running a small retail business for decades? If so, no doubt you have expertise on any number of retail management topics that would greatly benefit those who are just starting out in your field.
The expertise you identify doesn’t have to be restricted to business, of course. For example, if you run a garden center, you have expertise on the plants to do best in your region; this is information that could be monetized. No matter what your field, the possibilities are endless if you just take time to think about it.
2. What methods can you use that will enable you to reach a wider audience while adding to your income? Here there is good news. Today we all have more options than ever before when it comes to monetizing our expertise. I’ll talk about two obvious options and one not-so-obvious possibility to get you starting thinking about this:
• E-books: Thanks to the publishing revolution that the Internet brought, everyone can now put their expertise into book form. E-books have major advantages over traditional publishing, not least of which is that an e-book can be any length you want it to be. When I first started ghostwriting business book, publishers demanded manuscripts of at least 40,000 words. Now, if you choose to publish a series of 50-page booklets on your field of expertise, you’re free to do so.
I have a client in Denmark who is an expert on open innovation. He’s had books published by traditional publishers and has also done e-books through Kindle Direct Publishing. Ask him which process and outcome he’s happier with and he’ll say the Kindle books. The process is speedier and you have full control. Plus, given how little traditional publishers spend on marketing books that don’t have name-brand authors, you gain very little these days going with a traditional publisher.
One word of advice I would offer if you’re going this route is to work with a graphic designer who is experienced with creating e-books. You want your finished product to look its best so rely on someone who been through the process before. My client used my long-time friend and colleague Pat Mullaly of Circle Graphics to help with his e-books.
• Workshops or seminars: Offering your expertise before a group is another way to monetize your knowledge. The possible venues for doing this are unlimited, although, of course, not all venues pay. To get started, you may have to give free workshops so you can add this skill to your resume. Once you’ve got some experience and you’ve found that you actually enjoy it, you can work to find venues that will pay. Public speaking is not for everyone, of course. But if you’re talking about a topic that you really know well, I think you’ll often find that your enthusiasm and love of the topic will carry you through. Also in this vein, don’t forget the possibility of doing webinars, either through your own website or for another organization.
• Apps: Here’s an exciting new possibility that you might be able to take advantage of: creating an app that relates to your field of expertise. Let’s go back and think of that garden center owner I mentioned previously. That person could produce a gardening app – perhaps one that would remind people of when it’s time to plant various plants. A shop that offers products for bird lovers could create an app that would help birdwatchers identify birds in the wild. I have a lot of experience in event planning and management, so perhaps I could create an app that would help nonprofits create and track the to-do list for their fundraising events. Not sure how to create an app? On this website you can purchase app templates that will radically shorten both the development time and costs associated with creating an app.
One additional thing to note about all of these methods and any others you might come up with: It’s possible that none of them will directly bring in a huge amount of money. However, they can often lead to income from other sources merely by putting your name in front of new audiences. For example, while the sums I’ve earned from giving workshops is relatively low – rarely more than $100 a workshop – I have subsequently been hired to do public relations work by people who have heard me speak. So think of these new products – whether it be an e-book, a workshop or an app – in terms of not just what they may pull in by themselves but also in terms of how they may raise your value and your visibility of an expert.