I have been talking the idea over with some trusted colleagues and it’s passing the sniff test. The idea has also evolved some since I first conceived it on Tuesday.
The original idea was to copy the retainer-based/subscription solution of DesignJoy. That was just another way to reinvent me as a freelancer. But as I dug deeper into the problem I wanted to solve for myself, I could see this being an issue for others too.
An expert is someone who is familiar with a domain or situation and knows;
- What to do
- Why you do it
- How it gets done
- Who needs it
There’s probably more, but I think of those 3 things have to be missing before you realize you need an expert. Most people know one or two of the above. It’s when they fail or get confounded by the 3rd they realize it’s time to call in the expert or the fixer.
Someone with only skills may know all three, but they’re not paid to care about all three. Skills-based help is transactional and that’s why it’s always looked at through a time x rate lens. And that make sense to make that a subscription. You pay in advance and reduce the cost and turn it on or off as needed. I like knowing I have this skill when I need it and I have idea what it’ll cost me whenever I use it.
Time put in, is an essential ingredient for an expert. Not to be be ageist against young people, but it’s nearly impossible to become an expert in something [useful] in a matter of a couple years. It’s likely that person just has well-developed skills.
Back to the problem, I have. Again, I’m an expert. It’s not a boast. I’m just saying, I have seen a range of problems over and over, and have had to address them. I not only have skills that I’ve acquired doing the day to day work, but I also have amassed a large reservoir of knowledge. I don’t know it all, but I’m way ahead of others when it comes to knowing what the surface area looks like.
I use WordPress as an example. I’m an accidental expert in that platform. I never set out to do it for others. I developed all my experience and expertise having to use it for myself and my businesses, and some clients.
There are tens of thousands of themes and plug-ins for that platform, which is great. However, 90% of them are a waste of time for various reasons.
Plenty of people know may know the what, the why, or the how of a WordPress site, but it’s that imbalance that leads them to need help. If they knew all three, they would do it.
Supply-Side & Demand-Side
Right now, subscription is the hammer. But marketplaces and platform are either supply-side or demand-side driven.
Supply-side relies on an over abundance of experts. The more you have in your platform, the better you look to clients who are reassured by quantity. This is like Netflix. $18 a month for an all-you-can eat buffet. This drives down the price of the expert and reduces the value they can deliver. For example, an executive coach can be hard to find. Putting them all in one place makes them compete and regresses to a mean. Supply-side forces an apples to apples comparison when it’s really apples to oranges.
Subscription vs. Prescription
The subscription model makes sense (I guess) in supply-side and demand-side models. It’s a way to commodify the provider and commodify the solution.
As an expert, people don’t tell me what to do. They are asking me what should we do? When you subscribe to a magazine, you are making a trade-off. I could buy the magazine whenever I find it interesting, or see something I need. But it’s $7 on the newsstand. But if I subscribe to it, I pay $12 and get a whole year. Bargain. I may never read it, but I take comfort in knowing I could. Same thing with memberships.
This hurts the expert. I am negotiating up front a way for you to reduce your cost. You get predictable, but lower income. If I don’t use you to your best ability, that’s my loss. Never mind they expert doesn’t build skills.
The prescription is different. It’s telling people you need to do this. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. This will make your problem go away or mitigate it. It’s proven or at least tested.
Don’t believe me, that’s on you. Go ahead and get a second opinion. You may or may not come back. Are there other treatments? Probably. Do they work the same? Maybe. Do you have time to find out and experiment on your on? No. Okay then…
Here’s your prescription. It costs X. Can I try to find it cheaper? Be my guest. I found someone that will do it for half of what you said. Okay. Thanks for not wasting my time.