Can Small Businesses Make Money on Google Helpouts? - Page 2

By James A. Martin | Posted December 04, 2013

Can You Make Money With Google Helpout?

According to service providers we interviewed, Helpouts are a great way to build your online reputation, expand your services, and develop a client base—both in the U.S. and internationally. Just don't expect to make a lot of—if any—money, especially at first.

For one thing, Google Helpouts are still so new, many people aren't aware they exist, says Ben Matlak, a certified strength and conditioning coach from the U.S. who is currently based in South Korea. As a result, there's not a lot of demand yet.

Secondly, many Helpout providers offer their services for free. "Originally, I listed my services for a fee," says Matlak. Even though he says his fee was "in the middle range" of health and fitness coaches, he didn't get any takers.

As a result, Matlak decided to offer his service for free. His goal: Build up a reputation by gaining a foundation of solid reviews (customers can rate the service providers with comments and up to five stars). Then see if he can get some paying customers through Helpouts.

Chris Hubbell, another Helpout provider, makes his living providing tech support. But thus far, he says it hasn't "increased my business at all."

Only a few people have paid for a Helpout session, he says, so he currently offers his services for free. As with Matlak, Hubbell says Google Helpout is "a great opportunity to build my reputation and show people the value of my services."

Another potential limitation, according to Hubbell, is that some people aren't comfortable with video chat. "I get a lot of people who connect with me, realize it's a video chat, and then hang up," he says.

In addition, Google Helpout requires a slight learning curve, especially for people who aren't experienced with video chats, says Hubbell. "Some potential customers just won't go through the trouble to learn it," he adds. While Helpouts won't replace phone calls or email, for some specialized businesses, the face-to-face video chat has potential, Hubbell says.

Helpouts' Small Business Benefits

Among the benefits, Google Helpouts can help solo proprietors develop new lines of business. Laura Gomez, a career counselor, previously worked in human resources and recruiting. "I thought offering career coaching Helpouts could be a cool way to use my past training as a recruiter for a good cause, helping others with their job search," she said.

Also, Gomez noted: "I'm undergoing a bit of a career pivot myself right now. Having recently studied software development, I'm now designing and building a Web app to help job seekers. So (being on Google Helpouts) is a two-birds, one-stone thing for me. I'm conducting research on some of the biggest pain points that job seekers face while building a small side-coaching business."

Through Google Helpouts, Gomez says 40 percent of her clients are outside the U.S., and they range from recent college grads to middle managers to top-level executives. She's still trying to figure out the best way to monetize her services, which as of this writing are free.

"I'm very comfortable with Google's 20 percent cut," Gomez added. "With Google's expansive reach, combined with such a feature-rich Helpouts platform, 20 percent feels extremely reasonable. I'm excited to be a part of this experience and look forward to seeing how it evolves."

Ultimately, Google Helpouts can help small businesses expand their online reputation, develop new lines of service and test them online, and reach new potential clients around the world. Hubbell advises that small business owners might want to give Helpouts a little more time to mature before jumping in.

"Right now it's pain-in-the-neck time," he said, "Everyone's still figuring out what Helpouts is or can be. But there's no doubt that down the road, this will be a great way to connect people who need help with those who can provide it."

James A. Martin is an SEO copywriter and content marketing specialist based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter, @james_a_martin and Google+.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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