Drew Connelley has a five-star rating. He’s a networking expert for a major consulting firm based in Macon, GA, and has managed major system migrations for organizations across the country. Since October 2000, Connelley has also offered his expertise through EXP.com. His five-star rating at the site means the people who’ve asked him technical questions think he’s done an excellent job of answering them.
EXP.com is an online marketplace that connects people seeking advice with experts and service providers in more than 300 topic areas. The site claims more than 1.6 million visitors every month.
The topics fall under three broad categories: Business, Personal Interests, and Technology. Within the Technology category, you can sign up to offer your expertise in such areas as networking, software, hardware, Web development, databases and languages, multimedia, and operating systems.
Signing up is free, and you set your own fee for your advice, but EXP.com will take a cut of up to 20 percent. The services you provide can range from answering simple questions to leading complex projects. You can offer expertise via e-mail, phone, and online chat.
In this article, I’ll tell you how EXP.com works and how you can use the site to promote your consulting services.
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How does it work?
First, you create an online profile listing your education, experience, skills, and trade affiliations. (The site then allows to you choose if you’d like to have your credentials verified by a third-party firm, World Information Network, LLC.) You can also list the services you want to offer through the site. Connelley, for example, offers migrations, troubleshooting, and installation. He promises to “offer advice on most basic issues, but I do charge per problem for more than basic information. I will manage or be part of a project team.”
EXP.com’s registered users look for profiles of experts they want to hire either by performing a keyword search or browsing the site’s topical categories. If a user is considering hiring you, he or she will contact you through your personalized My EXP page on the site. Your response will appear on the user’s page.
After someone hires you and you deliver your advice or service, you create and send an online invoice. The user will pay EXP, which will take its cut and send you a check for the rest. After the transaction is complete, the client gets to rate you on a five-point scale and provide comments on your service. EXP.com publishes an average of your ratings and the number of questions you’ve answered in your profile.
Don’t quit your day job
EXP.com is promoted through affiliations with other Web sites and organizations. To promote your own individual services, the company offers several suggestions:
- Participate in a Direct Link Program, which lets you add a link to your EXP profile through your own Web site.
- Build name recognition by responding to Public Questions users post in open forums on EXP.com.
- Build a client base by offering to answer basic questions for free.
Although it certainly is possible to land big projects through EXP.com, Connelley said you probably shouldn’t rely on the site to generate a substantial share of your income. “I don’t generally get a lot of work from the site,” he said. “It seems like the majority of questions come from the general public. I do not expect to make any money at it because a majority of people are not willing to pay my asking price for information.”
Still, Connelley noted that his experience with the site has been positive: “I would recommend the site to other IT professionals,” he said. “I find it important for the IT community to share information and be available for those people that do need help. An online service like EXP.com is a great opportunity just to get your name out there…and to prove your worth without having to sit in front of an interview board.”
Thomas Pack is a freelance technology reporter.Have you found a great resource for IT consultants? Tell us about it! Post a comment below or send us a note.