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Expert Advice Sites


Mark Cuban has an unusual way of screening his calls. The entrepreneur, who sold his social marketing firm Flowtown to Demandforce last year, charges $10,000 for an hour’s chat. On the other hand, you can pay just $4.17 per minute and call top Silicon Valley venture capitalist (and “nose-picker extraordinaire”) Dave McClure. Both donate their fees to charity and both dispense their advice and the benefit of their experience through Clarity, a service created by Mark Cuban that allows experts to sell their knowledge.

The service isn’t unique. There are now lots of different ways for people who need specialist information and advice to pick up the knowledge they need from successful types with experience. They also allow experts — and often anyone who wants to call themselves an expert — to make a little extra money sharing their knowledge. Here’s a rundown of some of the different ways you can learn from the best or teach the rest.

Clarity

What is It?

Clarity is a phone-based service that allows users looking for answers to call experts with knowledge. The service is said to have signed up 1,200 advisors and to have already placed more than 4,000 calls. In addition to Dave McClure, other contributors include Josh Elman of Greylock Partners and Eric Ries author of The Lean Startup.

Who Can Dispense Advice?

Anyone. Although Clarity has manage to land some well-known personalities, signing up as an expert is as simple as using Facebook Connect. Anyone can dispense advice.

How Do You Find an Expert?

Finding an expert isn’t simple. Clarity doesn’t yet have a directory and the featured experts only show a small share of the people available. The service depends on users sending in questions which an algorithm then matches to a short list of specialists.

Costs and Fees

Fees for calling are usually in the hundreds of dollars for an hour’s  chat but about 80 percent of experts who charge donate the revenue to charity and only about 15 percent of experts have chosen to charge. Clarity takes a 15 percent cut of any money not donated.

Benefits

An easy way to find experts often for free, and to sell advice. The service’s technology also makes scheduling for both callers and experts convenient.

Disadvantages

Not easy to find experts and the site’s open sign up means that you can’t always tell the pedigree of the person handing out the advice.

 

Startup Plays

What is It?

Startup Plays sells step-by-step guides written by selected experts that explain exactly what other entrepreneurs have to do to grow their website, build a community or get seed funding, among other specialized topics.

Who Can Dispense Advice?

Startup Plays is selective. To become a Startup Play author, you have to apply and make a pitch.

How Do You Find an Expert?

The site currently has a small, easily browsed library of about eighteen plays.

Costs and Fees

Although the site has one or two free, sample plays, prices range from $49 to $299.

Benefits

The plays are simple to follow and unlike a phone call, they provide something that users can take away with them and turn back to over the long term. They’re also practical and goal oriented.

Disadvantages

The number of plays available is still small, they’re expensive and they’re not as personal as a conversation.

 

ExpertView

What is It?

ExpertView is one of a number (together with GLG Research and Alphasights) of advice services that specialize in the finance sector — for ExpertView, that currently means the Media and Entertainment business.

Who Can Dispense Advice?

Experts must complete a three-page form that includes details of their expertise and current employment. Applications take 72 hours to process.

How Do You Find an Expert?

You don’t. ExpertView does the matching for you, acting as an intermediary that brings together clients seeking financial advice with experts willing to dispense it for a fee.

Costs and Fees

ExpertView negotiates a consultancy fee with the expert. The experts don’t get to set their own rates, and clients have little option to shop around.

Benefits

ExpertView’s role as an intermediary, and the specialized nature of its expertise, means that clients are getting carefully chosen advice that can help them make decisions with serious financial consequences.

Disadvantages

It’s specialized, and ExpertView’s micromanagement offers little freedom for experts to charge rates of their choice and pick their own clients.

 

MinuteBox

What is It?

MinuteBox is a communication tool that allows anyone to make themselves available to give advice. Experts get a widget that they can place on their website and set a fee for their calls.

Who Can Dispense Advice?

Anyone can sign up for MinuteBox. The company provides the technology and a place where users can find experts but there are no background checks or reviews. Information is pulled in through LinkedIn and other social media sites.

How Do You Find an Expert?

MinuteBox has a directory divided into categories but the site expects experts to market themselves, using their widgets to add a revenue stream to an already successful online presence.

Costs and Fees

MinuteBox’s experts set their own fee, using Paypal to charge by the minute. Rates range from fifty cents to ten bucks a minute.

Benefits

For experts, MinuteBox makes paid expertise a very simple option. Potential clients are able to speak directly to a person whose knowledge they respect — provided they’re using the service.

Disadvantages

The service’s open nature means that many of the “experts” could have little more than basic or professional knowledge. Marketing relies largely on the expert’s own connections and platform.

 

Quora

What is It?

Quora is a question and answer website that uses crowdsourcing to vote up or down answers, and has a reputation for winning replies from leading experts.

Who Can Dispense Advice?

Although there are no restrictions on contributors, the site has manage to persuade experts including CEOs, top investors and experienced specialists to answer complex questions. The best answers are voted to the top of the response pile.

How Do You Find an Expert?

Questioners can’t ask specific experts. They can only ask a question and hope that the biggest expert weighs in.

Costs and Fees

Quora is free for both users and experts — and members are usually both.

Benefits

Quora is known for generating answers from the most relevant sources. Ask a question about AOL in the 1990s, and you might get Steve Case weighing in. The social voting also pushes the best answers to the top.

Disadvantages

No guarantees about the quality of the answers and no way to take payment.


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