The digital age is transforming our civilization and taking it towards the knowledge economy. The term ‘knowledge economy’ was first used in 1960 and represents a shift where the production and use of knowledge are imperative.
Unlike the traditional economy where wealth generation depended on natural and physical resources, in this new economy, wealth is created from information and knowledge. In this knowledge-based economy, a majority of the workers of developed countries are involved in knowledge-related work. In other words, they use their brains more than their muscles.
The knowledge economy is being fuelled by the power of technology and the penetration of the internet. Some of the essential characteristics of the knowledge economy are the prevalence of ‘smart products,’ the increasing value of intangibles, and the growth of knowledge industries such as software, education, management consultancy, online information services, etc.
As the world shifts at a mindboggling pace, the importance of knowledge for businesses is increasing exponentially. It allows companies to sail turbulent times and facilitates them in decision making and innovation. The fortune 500 companies, for example, incur a loss of around $31.5 billion per year because they fail to share knowledge.
Some of the ways the internet is helping knowledge commercialization is in the form of online communities, e-learning, online events etc. The importance and demand for knowledge has created an opportunity for knowledge commercialization, which means packaging knowledge and selling it.
Established knowledge markets such as publishing and broadcasting as well as management consultancy are already present. Today, knowledge commerce is the combination of the power of internet and e-commerce, which has resulted in innovative ways to sell it.
The proliferation of knowledge commerce can be seen from the fact that the global e-learning industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.2% over the next ten years.
By 2025, the industry is expected to reach $325 billion. This boom can be attributed to rapid growth of online content and cloud-based solutions.
The e-learning industry is also expanding on the back of small and medium-sized companies that have limited resources and leverage technology to train their employees.
In fact, large MNCs are also utilizing knowledge commerce for employee training. In the US, around 77% of companies offer online training for their employees, while 81% of learners participate in online learning for personal development.
In 2016, Infosys announced that it is partnering with the three infamous e-learning firms Udacity Inc., Coursera Inc. and edX Inc. to train its 194,000 employees in artificial intelligence-powered technologies. The key vendors in the market include McGrawHill, Oracle, Adobe systems, and Coursera Inc.
Why you should sell your knowledge?
New sources of revenue
In an interview with Forbes, Dorie Clark, a consultant for big names such as Google and the author of Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive explained how people can monetize their expertise.
She first wrote the book and learnt how other people were monetizing their content and then applied the same model to her business.
After she was done with the book, she created an online course with the knowledge she had gathered and launched it by the name ‘Recognized Expert.’
She was able to add new sources of revenue and increase her income by $193,000. Selling e-books through your website at a premium can reap you higher profit margins and a passive source of income.
By sharing your knowledge, either through online courses or e-books, you establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
Video tutorials are more efficient than e-books; you won’t only attract people who want to take your course online, but also people who want to hire an expert to conduct the course.
Dorie Clark also advocates the benefits of content creation. According to her, if you want to become recognized, you need to get your ideas known.
In her book Stand Out, she says one should select an area of interest and do whatever she does best, be it blogging or podcasting, but it’s important to tell the world.
Selling expertise today is not a difficult task. You can easily become a self-published writer and sell your books online.
All you need to do is create a masterpiece on your computer, convert it into a PDF format and share it on Amazon Kindle. Other than Amazon Kindle, there are a host of online platforms out there that let you to set up and teach online. Most even allow you to do it for free.
How can you monetize your knowledge?
A study by the Babson Research Group shows that around 5.8 million students take online courses nationally, and the growth in the number of students has been consistent over the past 13 years.
There are platforms where users have been able to make more than $400 million by selling their expertise. Also, most of these tools allow you to include multimedia, and you can even insert your e-book along with it.
You can also place your video courses in an online market place such as Udemy. Udemy has more than 20,000 instructors and 48,000 courses on its platform. The benefit of placing it on Udemy is that it promotes your course through multiple channels. Some other platforms include Zeqr. It’s an online learning platform where people can offer live coaching classes in their area of interest. Zeqr has three different plans that you can choose from. In the free plan, Zeqr keeps 20 percent commission, while the monthly premium plan costs $30 per month, but Zeqr’s commission is 17 percent.
The average number of e-books read by US consumers has grown from only 69 million in 2010 to 221 million in 2016. E-books can be very lucrative for entrepreneurs as they not only are a passive source of income, they also increase a business’s reach to potential customers.
Individuals, especially bloggers, can also benefit from this trend since there is no cost of distribution, they have access to a global market, plus the profit margins are also high.
Many self-published authors are making it to the New York Times best-selling list. Colleen Hoover, a self-published author, was able to beat e-books published by some famous authors such as James Patterson and Karin Slaughter by ranking in the eighth place on the New York Times list.
Another author Amanda Hocking became a multimillionaire after publishing her supernatural thrillers for teens. She soon landed a $2 million contract with St.Martin’s press.
You have two options for publishing e-books. You can take help from a well-established platform such as Amazon Kindle or Apple to do the job or you can do it yourself on your website.
Platforms such as Amazon can be a bit expensive since they take around 30% commission, tax cuts and also pay slowly.
If you publish yourself, you can use a payment platform such as Seiz.com. It is easy to setup, the payment is quick and only deducts 5% fee, which means you can take 95% home.
Webinars are becoming increasingly popular these days. They allow multiple users to watch a teacher tutor without the need for in-person classes. Initially, you can offer your webinars for free. Once you build an audience, you can start charging for attendance.
Remember, your return on investment from a webinar will depend on how effectively you pitch your product during the session. If people sign up for your webinar, it means that they are already interested in the product or service you are offering.
The best way to make money is to offer personal coaching classes against a fee. You could also offer a downloadable guide or an online course. However, you need to protect the value of the product you offer. If you are offering them something for free, you can hike up your attendance price a bit. This will ensure that you get enough return with small volumes.
Knowledge commerce has made it easier for small businesses and new entrepreneurs to establish themselves. It has also given an opportunity to people to make money with small investments.
But before you decide to sell your expertise, you need to craft a strategy, otherwise your effort and time can go in vain. For starters, you need to determine your area of interest and target audience.
Once you have done that, you need to determine the value of knowledge you’re offering and consequently the price. The most important part of selling knowledge online is coming up with a marketing plan. You will only gain customers if they know that your product exists.