Google Helpouts: sell your expert advice online

Updated on 14 November 2013 | 1 Comment

Google Helpouts allows users to get expert help on everything from plumbing to yoga from the comfort of their own home. Could you make money from it?

Back in the dark days before the internet if you wanted plumbing advice you’d have to fork out for a pricey plumber to pop round your house. People wanting medical advice had to go to the doctor.

The internet changed all that. It soon became possible to research anything and everything online with websites, articles and discussion forums coming up with the answers.

But Google’s new service, Google Helpouts, goes one step further than generic advice. Instead of Googling your query and taking advice from an anonymous, unqualified blog poster, it offers one-to-one video chats with an expert of your choice.

We’ve taken a look at how Google Helpouts works.

What is Google Helpouts?

Google Helpouts allows the public to pay for consultations on everyday hobbies and problems from the comfort of their own homes.

A Helpout is like a Hangout video chat, but instead of speaking with a friend, the user is connected with an “expert” in whatever field they need help with. Google describes it as “real help from real people in real time”.

There are currently eight categories of Helpouts: art and music, computers and electronics, cooking, education and careers, fashion and beauty, fitness and nutrition, health, and home and garden.

For providers of medical consultations, Google says it will conduct background checks to ensure that the provider has valid credentials.

Some experts will have slots for instant chat, while you’ll have to book appointments for others. Sessions might be just a few minutes long or last hours.

Users will have to pay for some of these services, while others will be free of charge.

As well as individuals offering help some large brands are also offering video sessions. Dieting firm WeightWatchers and language tuition service Rosetta Stone are already on board.

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How much does it cost?

Experts set their own prices on Google Helpouts and the cost of one-to-one help varies considerably.

45 minutes of yoga instruction with yogi Mark Giubarelli will set you back $60, while a 30-minute prenatal personal training session with fitness expert Jennifer Myers will cost $35.

In the computer and electronics category a 15-minute session about Photoshop will set you back just $2.99, while learning computer coding costs $0.75 a minute.

In the home and garden section a consultation with Jordan Parnass, an expert in “small space sustainable living strategies”, will cost an eye-watering $100, while a 15-minute consultation with a plumber cost $10.

There are lots of free sessions too – Currys’ Know How service is offering free printer set-up and support, as well as PC software and hardware advice.

However, many of the experts I checked out seemed to be based in the US which might make booking a consultation at a convenient time a bit tricky. It could also make finding someone to help with UK appliances difficult – my search for Glow Worm boiler (the bain of my life) proved fruitless.

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Can you make money from it?

If you’ve got a skill to sell – from anything from teaching English to hair and make-up advice – you can apply to be a provider on Google Helpouts.

You’ll need to be aged at least 18 to sell your services. The first step is to request an “invitation code” and then Google Helpouts will process your request.

Once set up you can set your own fees and schedule when you’re available for consultations. Google takes 20% of the fee with all payments handled by Google Wallet.

If you pay for a Helpout and it doesn’t meet your expectations, Google says it offers a full money back guarantee.

Will Helpouts catch on? Let us know what you think.

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More on ways to boost your income:

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Private eBay sellers now face fees on postage

How to give yourself a pay rise

Three simple ways to earn cashback


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