by Marcia Yudkin
Whether you're a former retail store owner known for your creativity, a championship bridge player, or a psychotherapist with a long current waiting list for openings, if you possess expertise that makes colleagues and aficionados want your pearls of wisdom, you can create a new income stream with an online mentorship program.
Such a program charges a fee for people to sit at your feet and learn from you. The program would have a special focus (not for everyone) and offer information, resources, advice, insider tips and problem solving. While a mentorship program could take place in the "real world," it is especially easy to set it up, promote and run it online.
Before I created my online mentorship program, MarketingforMore.com, in the fall of 2003, I did extensive research on fees and features of other programs. I looked most closely at seven examples whose fees ranged from $30 a month to just less than $600 a month.
At the lower end of this spectrum, $30 a month didn't give members very much personal access to the expert around whom the program revolved, while at nearly $600 a month, a member received just about unlimited private access to the expert. Likewise, the program with the lowest fee accepted anyone who applied, while the higher fees required application, with no guarantee of acceptance.
Features in the online mentorship programs I looked at included some or all of these:
- Topical teleclasses or conference calls
- Member newsletter
- Member-only articles
- Feedback and advice from the designated expert
- Discounts on products and services
- Free books, tapes or reports
- Free in-person meetings
- Group discussion board
You should do this research yourself to see who has a program similar to yours, what they charge and what they offer. Join a couple of mentorship programs and learn from what you like and don't like in what they do.
When you decide to go ahead, you can either buy a readymade software program for running such an online program or create your own web site. Membergate (www.membergate.com) is the best and most reliable such tool, with a one-time licensing fee of $3,500 and up. Since my husband is a programmer, we built our own site with a password-protected area and an online application for prospective members to fill out.
However much or little you decide to charge, it's essential for members to feel they're getting their money's worth, and that means that you must offer quite a lot of member-only content, with fresh material added often. I not only quit one mentorship site but also asked for my money back because it didn't live up to the promise of listings that were updated daily and the site owner appeared to be nowhere in evidence.
Be flexible in what you're willing to offer members. I started off thinking that a member-only discussion board was the best way for members to get feedback and advice from me, but I learned that while some members loved that, others preferred the exchange of ideas in a live conference call. So I added those to my program.
Because I thoroughly researched and planned before launching my online mentorship program and have remained determined to have members think they're getting an unbelievable deal, MarketingforMore.com got off to a successful start and has continued to grow. Good luck cashing in on your expertise!
Marcia Yudkin <[email protected]>
is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and 10 other books.
She runs an online mentorship site, MarketingforMore.com, which supports business owners who are growing their businesses.
Download her free report, "Charge More & Get It," at
Or find out about her upcoming Marketing for More seminars at http://www.marketingformore.com/seminars.htm .