There are bits of video all over the Internet that show you someone else doing something you can’t, it’s easy. TikTokkers show you how to dance, LinkedIn posters will tell you all about how to sell software, Instagrammers explain how their sponsor makes them beautiful, and YouTubers can apparently do anything at all, from changing a faucet to building a functioning rocket.
You may even be one of those experts.
Each of these creators has expertise that most everyone else will never have, and, while they can walk readers and viewers through the basics of replacing a spark plug or filling out the application for an LLC in Kentucky, they aren’t really spreading their knowledge as far or as wide as they could.
Let’s be honest: once we find an online source, whose general knowledge is helpful, we always wonder whether they’d answer a DM, and maybe even become someone we could chat with all the time. And when we, ourselves, are the expert in question, there’s often that wistful draw: could this possibly be a way to make a living, if only I could connect with all those viewers and commenters?
Professionally, the same thing happens on LinkedIn. We read something particularly useful or inspirational, and just wish we could get the author onto our calendar every couple weeks or so to talk through our challenges. And those lucky, smart, or intriguing enough to have collected a massive following ache to turn that audience into some kind of business.
In other words: we know there are people out there who want to share their expertise, and plenty more who would like to tap into it. Yet, somehow, there’s no way to connect them.
When you think about the situation, it’s bizarre. In the age of the app and the smart phone, finding someone to date has become almost perilously easy – yet connecting an actual expert into a follower’s extended social or professional circle is as hard as it ever was.
Social media platforms are, for the most part, one-way publishing mediums. One individual posts content, an indefinite number of other individuals consume the content, rinse and repeat. Comments are, essentially, just an excuse to express presence – it is rare indeed that something useful shines through on an open comment thread – and most creators are wary of DMs, as they are way more likely to be toxic remarks or solicitations than they are authentic connections.
As a result, most of today’s platforms do an exceptional job of making it possible for casual users to discover experts and inspirations – but do nothing concrete to help followers and creators to turn that uncovered synergy into a meaningful connection. Rather, the creator’s is forced to make their primary goal not building tight connections with a dedicated audience but creating a boatload of content that will attract more and more lightly attached followers, so that their eyeballs can be auctioned off to the highest advertising bidder.
To be clear, this hurts expert and follower alike:
- The follower, who would like to learn more about and from a creator, is unable to dig deeper
- The creator, who could benefit from a professional or social relationship with their followers, is unable to focus their energies so narrowly for fear of losing advertising revenue
There is, though, a better way. Here are five steps to solving the problem, from the perspective of the Creator:
- Build an audience on regular social media.
- Create a QP account and build subscription channels.
- Add the QP link to your bio across social media, inviting serious followers to join your paid subscription channel
- Publish exclusive content on QP.
- Most importantly, create channel options that include direct communication privileges. This way, followers who want to plumb the depths of your expertise can do so.
Based on trends across the web, it’s reasonable to expect that between 1% and 5% of a popular creator’s audience would be willing to connect on a paid basis. For a LinkedIn creator with 30k followers, that’s 300 to 1500 individuals who would likely be happy to pay $5 - $20 a month for an insider’s view. Individual communications – phone advice sessions, say – can be priced higher, and bring value to both sides: that individual trying to get their heads around their new Marketing Plan, or fixing the tumble dryer, or making a winning crypto investment strategy, will gladly pay a generous fee for immediate advice from an expert. Meanwhile, the expert can pick up extra revenue by exercising their expertise and build out their network of influence at the same time: one successful call can easily lead to others, not to mention referrals and early word of mouth advertising for upcoming events or publications.
In economics they’d call this a non-zero-sum opportunity: neither expert nor follower ‘wins’ while the other ‘loses’. Instead, those with expertise can use it to advance their lives, while those who need help can call upon trusted advisors. And each can choose who they will maintain in their extended social circle, and for how long, making this something that finally approaches the ideal the Web has failed to deliver for years.