Google Helpouts: an Interesting New Way to Save & Make Money
Google just launched a new service last week called Google Helpouts. It’s been a bit under the radar compared to many previous launches for Google, but it has some interesting tie-ins to personal finance in that it can be used to save money (through relatively inexpensive or even free Helpouts) and make money (through hosting and charging your own Helpouts).
The best way to describe Helpouts is that it connects those who have a skill/knowledge they would like to share with those who would like to learn that skill/knowledge, via live streaming video. You need a Google+ account to use the service and if there is a price for the Helpout, you can pay with Google Wallet.
Despite just launching, there are hundreds, if not thousands of Helpout service providers already. Want to learn the fundamentals of playing rock guitar, tai chi, how to cook an egg, computer programming 101, how to tile a bathroom, high intensity workouts, and makeup application? There are Helpouts for all of the above.
There are already dozens of offerings within categories for each of the following general subjects:
- Art & music
- Computers & Electronics
- Education & Careers
- Fashion & Beauty
- Fitness & Nutrition
- Home & Garden
Sadly, no personal finance category yet… but lets give it some time.
You choose the Helpout you are interested in, schedule an appointment, and do a one-on-one video stream. Simple.
Using Helpouts to Save Money
Google Helpouts is a way to connect with experts worldwide in just about any subject. Because it is a new service, many of these experts have agree or are willing to build their Helpout reputation by offering free Helpouts. Here is an early list of some of the top free Helpouts, which include guitar lessons, Home Depot DIY tips, computer programming basics, cooking, farming, and even pet health advice.
To get one-on-one consultation in any of these areas locally would cost you money – and may even require you to sign up for an extensive course. With a free Helpout, there is no risk, no location-based logistical issues (might be hard to find a tai chi instructor in the backwoods of Idaho, for example), and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home or spend money to drive somewhere.
Why would anyone offer a free Helpout? What’s the catch?
I think it’s a combination of things, right now:
- Google has partnered with many of the initial “Helpouters” (can I coin that?) to get them involved early, which probably involved some sort of agreement to offer free Helpouts. Pure speculation, but seems likely.
- Many of the original Helpouters realize that in order to some day get a healthy stream of paid Helpouts, they will probably have to build up a list of referrals from those who are appreciative of a free lunch.
- Free lowers expectations and increases positive reviews (Helpouts can be rated) for future paid Helpout business. In other words, it’s unlikely you will get a poorly rated Helpout review if you offer your time and help to someone for free.
- For some, it may be the first time they have trained or gave advice to others and they want to build up their confidence in this mentorship role before charging for service.
- Others may just be giving human beings that simply want to help/teach others and not charge for it.
Whatever the case, snatch up the free help while you can to save money vs. the alternative (and if it was valuable, give the host a glowing review).
Using Google Helpouts to Save Money
In the past, I’ve talked about making money from marketable hobbies so that you can get paid to do something you love (something I have been able to do with this blog). While Helpouts won’t help you sell a jar of strawberry preserves or home-made necklace (try Etsy or your own ecommerce store for that) – it provides a medium that facilitates making an income from skill and knowledge based hobbies and interests. And who wouldn’t want to make income from sharing something they love with others?
The easy part is sharing what you love. The hard part has always been the business component. Prior to Helpouts providing that medium, you would have had to create your own website, drive new customers through marketing, and handle the technology and payment hassles on your own. Google has greased the gears of that type of business transaction with Helpouts.
If this is an interest of yours – I would recommend getting in early. Right now, you must request an invitation in order to provide a Helpout. The first adopters who build up the best reviews in the beginning are likely going to be the ones who truly succeed long-term in getting the most business from Helpouts, if this offering takes off. Good ole’ early bird gets the worm theory, enacted.
Maybe you’re not sure of yourself and your ability to get paid for offering advice yet. No harm in setting up free Helpouts and challenging yourself to find out if you have what it takes! You can even record a session to see how you did and look for ways to improve your next Helpout.
I’ve already requested an invite – not sure what I would teach yet, but odds are it would be helping others with money. Any interest?
Google Helpouts Discussion:
- Have you facilitated or joined a Google Helpout already? What did you think?
- What ideas for offering or taking a Google Helpout do you have?
- Do you see Google Helpouts as a legitimate way to save or make money?
- Do you think this service offering will ultimately take off or fail?