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Seeking your thoughts on business idea


savignon
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Hi, Everyone!

In the next few months, I would like to start an advice-column-like business.  The way my 'product' would differ, is that instead of it being a more public forum (think: Dear Abby, etc), it would be a private 1:1 email exchange addressing the asker's question/concern.  I have no idea (yet!) how to get this started, but wanted to ask your thoughts on a few of my wonderings below.

My experience giving good advice comes comes as a result of my own counseling and therapy to resolve childhood traumas, healing through a divorce, mindfully co-parenting, and generally giving good advice (source: my friends- ha!).  In other words, I'm not a professional, however I have been lauded in particular for how I co-parent, for healthfully moving past some toxicity in my family of origin while being able to maintain those relationships, and for creating financial stability after years of being drained by debt and other financial responsibilities. 

My idea is that a client would email me with a detailed account of a problem on their heart.  I would respond within 48 hours with a spiritual (not religious) and mindful assessment of the issue at hand and what the client can do, and could consider, that would serve the highest good of all involved.  I would consider myself in this role to be a "critical friend" who would gently and firmly offer the tough love we need sometimes to consider our own needs, those of our loved ones, and what we can/can't do/control to come to peaceful resolutions.  My thought is to charge $20/email reading.  I would clarify that I should be viewed as a private sounding board for 'everyday issues', and that any advice I offer is not to replace seeking professional help as needed.

My questions/things I'd like you to help me consider are:

  • price point ($20/email).  Too high?  Too low?  Just right?
  • my experience.  Would you/do you think people would pay for good and thoughtful advice from a non-professional?
  • suggestions from self-starters: Does this sound like a blog with a link to this service?  A website?  Any ideas for getting started?

Other things to know: I have a paid, full-time job that I love.  This would be a part-time 'work of heart'.  I have received a lot of motivating counsel over the years and know what a difference it can make in setting someone on a different path.  It would be so gratifying to help others move towards increased peace and contentment.  

I am so grateful in advance for your thoughts on how I can grow this into something meaningful and fulfilling.


Thank you & Happy Holidays!

-Sav

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Interesting idea but I would not pay for it as I can come here or other online sites for free and get thoughts of others who are not professional therapists etc.

There are lots of people here from the School of Hard Knocks (me included) who offer good advice for nothing as they have lived thru so many varied situations so other guests get the benefit of their experience.

Perhaps if you had a degree I'd feel differently about paying.

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3 hours ago, melancholy123 said:

Interesting idea but I would not pay for it as I can come here or other online sites for free and get thoughts of others who are not professional therapists etc.

There are lots of people here from the School of Hard Knocks (me included) who offer good advice for nothing as they have lived thru so many varied situations so other guests get the benefit of their experience.

Perhaps if you had a degree I'd feel differently about paying.

^ I second the above post in its entirety.  I would not pay for an advice service if it's not by a qualified professional.  ENA has quite a number of amazing members who give brilliant advice (wish I could name them all) and over the years I have seen a number of people asking if some of them are professional counselors. 

I guess it depends what people are looking for.  If it's a really serious issue I would imagine a person would choose to see a professional.  If it's just ordinary minor everyday stuff people usually turn to advice forums such as this one, but I can't see anyone wanting to pay for it.

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8 hours ago, savignon said:

 This would be a part-time 'work of heart'.  

"Works of the heart" don't cost $20 for a charlatans opinion.

Volunteer. Go to a hospital, hospice, homeless shelter, veteran's center, nursing home, etc.

 

Edited by Wiseman2
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Thank you, Melancholy and Capricorn. I appreciate your thoughtful feedback. I agree that this site is a fantastic resource for free advice and that it’s members can be so good as to be confused for professionals. 
I do think I have “something” else to offer the world outside of my main career, I just haven’t arrived at it yet. 
Thanks again!

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I would not for the above reasons plus you really could face a lot of pushback or legal troubles if you're doing things that require some sort of license or certification plus exposing yourself to people who may have mental health issues, won't like your advice or be offended and will retaliate because they know how to contact you or contact the various local agencies that take complaints.  Also what would your refund option be? What if the person scams you while pretending to pay? Will you have insurance? What kind of safety protocols would you have so you don't get scammed when doing the exchange of money? Can you afford to pay for all of that protection? What if the person is not who he says he is and is a minor child? 

My dear friend, who passed away young many years ago -had your gift.  From when she was very young.  She got her PsyD and became a therapist.  I got her advice for free lol because she was my friend.  I will be forever grateful.  (Not therapy though!).  Your gift can be used in a variety of ways including therapy and other sorts of health care businesses and even non-health care because if you are a good listener and empathetic and insightful you'll be ahead of the pack in getting jobs and advancing in a number of industries. Good luck! I know you already work. 

Your financial assets/property could be at real risk if you do what you are suggesting for money, with strangers, without the proper background and certifications and licenses.  To me that's just common sense -have no knowledge of the laws whatsoever let alone where you live.

Edited by Batya33
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There are help lines people call when they are in crisis.  Why not volunteer for one of those?

I agree with the others, people will not pay for what they can get for free.  The only exceptions are those "Get your ex back, guaranteed!!!!!1111" scams that take advantage of desperate, heartbroken people to make money.  I'm sure that's not what you had in mind.

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Cyberspace is saturated with free advice so keep in mind, people are wary of spending $20. more or less for advice. 

I agree with Batya33.  You could be liable should you give the wrong advice or if something catastrophic happens to someone's life dependent upon your paid counsel. 

Stick with your day job. 

I agree with others volunteer in your community (food banks, feed the homeless or whatever) and do charitable good works on the side. 

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I felt I had something else to offer outside of my main career and in particular in the months following 9-11-01.  So in 1-2002 I started volunteering weekly at a homeless shelter reading to the children there.  I did this for 7 years.  I stopped because the program ended. 

Then I did the Children's Aid Society training and started doing weekly tutoring at a local high school of a troubled teen - he was a typical teen as far as affect etc but I got through to him not in a huge way but we only had a couple of sessions.  Then I found out I was pregnant.  I went back after that but the school custodian needed to do his cleaning right then.  With harsh chemicals. It wasn't going to work.  I stopped volunteering but resumed about 5 years later when my son was 4 -this time I did phonathon fundraising for a local public radio station when I could.

I've been doing some sort of volunteer work since the early 1980s with yes some years-long breaks in between.  I highly recommend it as a way to complement your career and contribute to others, your community and/or the world. Or why not get trained as a mediator?  I once looked into that -to do it for a local arts organization -to mediate disputes between people in the art world/entertainment industry -that certainly takes your types of skills.

I share this because I too had something to offer and had to proactively look for ways to use my skills.  It's totally worth it!

  If you really need extra money I'd get a weekend part time job even in food service where people desperately need workers and your insight and empathy and listening skills will make the customers' days brighter I'm sure.  I'm not understanding completely what the financial angle is for you here since you're full time employed which is why I raise this.  

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4 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I felt I had something else to offer outside of my main career and in particular in the months following 9-11-01.  So in 1-2002 I started volunteering weekly at a homeless shelter reading to the children there.  I did this for 7 years.  I stopped because the program ended. 

Then I did the Children's Aid Society training and started doing weekly tutoring at a local high school of a troubled teen - he was a typical teen as far as affect etc but I got through to him not in a huge way but we only had a couple of sessions.  Then I found out I was pregnant.  I went back after that but the school custodian needed to do his cleaning right then.  With harsh chemicals. It wasn't going to work.  I stopped volunteering but resumed about 5 years later when my son was 4 -this time I did phonathon fundraising for a local public radio station when I could.

I've been doing some sort of volunteer work since the early 1980s with yes some years-long breaks in between.  I highly recommend it as a way to complement your career and contribute to others, your community and/or the world. Or why not get trained as a mediator?  I once looked into that -to do it for a local arts organization -to mediate disputes between people in the art world/entertainment industry -that certainly takes your types of skills.

I share this because I too had something to offer and had to proactively look for ways to use my skills.  It's totally worth it!

  If you really need extra money I'd get a weekend part time job even in food service where people desperately need workers and your insight and empathy and listening skills will make the customers' days brighter I'm sure.  I'm not understanding completely what the financial angle is for you here since you're full time employed which is why I raise this.  

I love these ideas. Kudos to you for finding ways to fulfill that part of you that wanted to do more.  And I hadn't considered getting trained in something- I think I would find the extra education rewarding as well. Thank you for sharing!

Edited by savignon
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38 minutes ago, savignon said:

I love these ideas. Kudos to you for finding ways to fulfill that part of you that wanted to do more.  And I hadn't considered getting trained in something- I think I would find the extra education rewarding as well. Thank you for sharing!

Volunteering came naturally to me from a young age.  Covid has meant my son cannot yet get involved as much as I'd like him to but he has done some.  It really can enhance your life and allow you to pursue talents and skills that might not be easily transferable to a paying job, while also contributing to the community, etc. 

We have a family friend who was in his family business for many years - nothing to do with helping people.  In his 50s when his first wife was dying and he was caring for one of his children who was severely disabled, he went back to school for a psychology degree.  There he met a woman who eventually would be his second wife.  They now own a couples-couples therapy practice.  You never know.

Edited by Batya33
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I do think I will need some additional skills to be able to do what I'd like to do, and that I also have some 'gifts' like all of us here have (sympathetic listener/able to offer a perspective without judgement, etc.)  That's why I posted- am I on the right track?  What haven't I considered?  Is this something people would want (namely the privacy, as sometimes on a public forum we can be subject to some cutting and/or unhelpful remarks and judgement)?  Are there other ways for me to offer the same with the skills/credentials I already have?  Do I need further training?

Since this is a place people come for advice, I knew it would be a good place to hear from 'seekers' and see what else I can learn.  The responses have offered lots of good food-for-thought.  Thanks, everyone!

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Just now, savignon said:

I do think I will need some additional skills to be able to do what I'd like to do, and that I also have some 'gifts' like all of us here have (sympathetic listener/able to offer a perspective without judgement, etc.)  That's why I posted- am I on the right track?  What haven't I considered?  Is this something people would want (namely the privacy, as sometimes on a public forum we can be subject to some cutting and/or unhelpful remarks and judgement)?  Are there other ways for me to offer the same with the skills/credentials I already have?  Do I need further training?

Since this is a place people come for advice, I knew it would be a good place to hear from 'seekers' and see what else I can learn.  The responses have offered lots of good food-for-thought.  Thanks, everyone!

Good! If you truly want to do this for money and without getting certified or licensed I'd consult with an attorney first (so budget for that expense).  

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savignon, try PrestoExperts.com or a similar platform first. They can provide you with proper technology, large user base that will be very helpful for marketing etc. Maybe with a powerful platform like that it will work, doing it alone... I am sorry I don't see it. 

Are you comfortable talking on a camera? Any video production experience and skills? If so maybe try to start your own youtube advice channel. I know multiple people personally who did so in the last several years with tremendous success. Of course a youtube channel will not generate revenue until you reach x number of subscribers, view hours etc. but those are very doable with proper and good content.

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12 hours ago, kamurj said:

Are you comfortable talking on a camera? Any video production experience and skills? If so maybe try to start your own youtube advice channel.

I would agree with this. Though youtube is unreliable now in terms of income, there are many so called "experts" giving advices through it. Many of them for free if you dont count that youtube income. And a lot of them are very successful. 

No offense to people here, but Forums and emails are a dying breed today. Its all social networks in terms of advertisement and money through it. Even though people today are paying for a lot of things, dont think you would have somebody pay you 20 bucks so you would answer their email. What are your qualifications? Are you an expert on anything in particular like maybe dating? Do you already have a network of people who would watch or pay for what you want to say? People do it for free for years before they maybe make something successful and other people notice them. Then you can maybe start asking for cash. You can always set up a Patreon before you monetize channel. But again, nothing guarantees that you will one day have a network of people ready to pay for your stuff. 

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Most YouTubers are not making any money or are making very little. But since this would be your side gig maybe it wouldn't matter.

You'll need a decent camera or a really good phone and a mike. Plus a nice background for filming. You'll also need editing software and a lot of time for editing. And you'll need a consistent upload schedule, say twice a week on the same days, so people know when to expect your videos. And a long time should be expected before you see any income.

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On 11/27/2021 at 8:57 PM, savignon said:

 

My experience giving good advice comes comes as a result of my own counseling and therapy

  • price point ($20/email). 

There are quite a few problems with this business model. 

Repackaging your therapists advice. Quite unethical.

Do they pay you before the "advice"? If so, what if they don't like it? Refund?

 Once you enter a one-on-one fee-for-service situation, it's a contract. That means you have liability, even as a nonprofessional.

 If for example, you're a YouTube dating guru, you have not entered a contract with whatever views/readers (same as TV quack doctors or self-help books). 

The field is oversaturated. Gurus, tarot cards, coaches, bartenders, hairdressers, priests, friends, you name it.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Guest Anonymous said:

The field is oversaturated. Gurus, tarot cards, coaches, bartenders, hairdressers, priests, friends, you name it.

This is 100% true. Most YouTubers have very few views and make little to no income.

A couple of YouTubers I watch get maybe 300 views per video. Their videos are monetized but it's like $20 per video. They upload once a week so they're only making about $80 per month which probably doesn't even cover the cost of the equipment they had to buy. And that's why they have full time jobs aside from YouTube.

But if it's a labor of love and you don't care about making any money then it's more of a hobby than a source of income. It wouldn't be a "business".

 

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If you have the free time and income, I don't see why you aren't pursuing this as a profession. It sounds like your day job is unfulfilling and not exactly what you wish to do. I would not pay anyone for advice via email especially without required certification in the field and accessibility to reviews online. This reads as a scam or someone trying to pull a fast one where collecting money is involved more than a valid business that I would rely on. I'm not judging you as a person but the concept. Please don't be offended. 

Take some introductory courses or attend some info meetings on a program at your local community college and see whether this is what you truly wish to do. Make a career change if that's feasible. Volunteering is fine but I think half the challenge and the practice is knowledge gathering and being connected with your professional peers (professional organizations) or up to date in current practices. I hope you pursue this if this is genuinely your calling.

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3 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

I would not pay anyone for advice via email especially without required certification in the field and accessibility to reviews online. This reads as a scam or someone trying to pull a fast one where collecting money is involved more than a valid business that I would rely on.

Agree. Try a craft website (ETSY, etc.) and sell real stuff there. It seems like a scam. Even coming to an advice forum perhaps looking for "business?"?

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