Knowledge is power (and income)

2 Sep

IndieBizChicks founder Crissy Herron shows you how to make money from what you know

By Amy Schroeder

Want to get paid to share your mad skillz?

“Believe it or not, there are people out there who want to learn what you know,” says Crissy Herron of

This Michigan-based independent business lady knows what she’s talking about. In fact, she earns the bulk of her income from dishing out entrepreneurship tips on her blog and other information products, such as ebooks, workbooks, Mp3 recordings, online classes, and consulting.

As Herron explains, selling your knowledge isn’t as complicated as you might think. The trick is to nail down what you know, how to format it, and who to market it to. Ready to get started?


Do you make red-velvet cupcakes like nobody’s business? Know Flash like the back of your hand? Are you the best listener in town? If you’re able to summarize your skill in a handful of words, you’ve tackled the first step.

Just be sure to avoid one of Herron’s pet peeves, which is claiming to be an expert or guru, unless, well, you really are. “Just be yourself and let your knowledge shine through,” she says. “People will be much more drawn to an honest person giving helpful tips than a person telling everyone how smart they are. This isn’t about you—it’s about how you can help others.”


Invest time into understanding your place in the market—whatever it may be. Whether you’re targeting over-the-hill skateboarders or vampire-loving teens, you need to figure out if people want your knowledge and whether you’re up against competition. There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition—you just have to offer something better and/or different than the pack.

We could dedicate an entire column (and we will at some point) about knowing your target audience like the back of your hand, but to keep this post snappy, we recommend that you put yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes (not literally).

Say, for instance, you want to teach underwater knitting. Ask yourself questions like, “If I’m an underwater knitter and want to advance my skills, what’s the best way to learn?” and “Who else is teaching underwater knitting tips online, at the local Y, via apps, etc.”? Once you know what’s missing from the market, you’re on your way to filling in gaps with your educational business.


When it comes to market strategy, think practically. “For example, if you are great at photography and photo editing, some ideal students would be new moms who want to document their baby’s life, bloggers who want to learn to take better photos, and small-biz owners who need product photos for their sites,” Herron advises.

After you’ve taken the practical route, think outside the box to see what else is up your sleeve. “If you’re a crafter, you may think your only outlet is a craft store,” Herron says. “But what about daycares and senior-citizen centers? Activity directors are always looking for something new to do, and this could be a great way for you to earn a consistent side income.”


Is writing not your thing? That’s fine—don’t waste time writing a blog. Could you give a speech in your sleep? Rad—consider marketing yourself as a public speaker for hire.

While it’s important to hone your skills via the most logical format, also keep in mind that technology is constantly evolving. Plan for the long haul by being flexible and on the lookout for the new opportunities and media formats. Ever thought about creating an app or a workshop series?


Not sure if you’re a good teacher? Before you attempt to teach the world everything you know, do a trial run on your friends to see if they “get” it. If they lose interest after your blog post’s first sentence or if they look confused after the first five minutes of a presentation, ask them to provide honest feedback—and use it to improve your game.


Connect with like-minded folks to spread the word about your info business and form valuable relationships. Herron recommends contacting bloggers who target your goal audience and ask them if you can write guest posts that link back to your site. “Also, use the Twitter search function to find out who is talking about the kind of thing you teach, and follow those users. In many cases, they will return the favor and follow you back,” she says.


If you are just starting out, getting your first few clients may be the hardest part, Herron says. “When I started, I gave away some of my products and services for free, in exchange for testimonials. I’m not saying you should go broke doing this, but if you could get three solid testimonials, it would give you a lot of credibility.”

Confident about your curriculum and ready to expand your client base? Consider ways to beef up your resume and promote yourself like a publicist would.

“Don’t be afraid to give a class for ‘free’ while marketing your products and services,” Herron suggests. “For example, if you are great at search-engine optimization, offer a free class at your local library, small-business organization, or community college. Pass out a tips sheet with your business info on it. Some of those people will just as soon hire you to do it for them, rather than try to learn everything themselves.”


2 Responses to “Knowledge is power (and income)”

  1. Crissy Herron September 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    This article came out great! Thanks for interviewing me!

  2. seema October 16, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    nice article

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