There has been a lot of discussion over the last 12-18 months about how all these web 2.0 start-ups that we regularly see sprouting up intend to monetize their virtually based businesses. Whilst some dream up complex advertising models in order to monetize the likes of YouTube and Facebook, there is a new startup called ether which is developing web 2.0 driven technology that will enable anyone with an Internet connection to monetize an area of business that has yet to be perfected online: word of mouth consultation.
E-commerce shopping carts became the solution for the ‘tangible product’ sale over the Internet and Ether plans on being the simple solution for the very ‘non-tangible’ services that have been hard for the smaller businesses to sell over the web. Consultants who want to leverage all the marketing benefits that the Internet offers can use ether in conjunction with a traditional website to ensure that they get paid for their valuable ‘talk-time’.
The way that ether works is remarkably simple. You sign up and receive an ether phone number that will look something like 1-888-MY-ETHER. Using the ether account manager interface you set up this number to be forwarded to any phone number that you choose- a cell, home, work anywhere you like. You then set your rate, this is the cost that will be charged to people who call you to tap your knowledge over the phone. It’s worth mentioning at this point that ether makes their money by taking a 15% commission off the fees that you earn.
When someone calls the ether number that you have advertised everywhere (website,blog,business cards, email etc.) you will be presented with an automated message:
- Press 1 to take the call now and earn your $(your rate) for the hour you talk
- Press 2 if you can take the call within 3 hours, and earn the $(your rate) when you’re ready
- Press 3 if you cannot take the call now nor within the 3 hour time window
You can also mange your availability using a calendar feature in your ether account interface. By using this function you can ensure that you only get phone calls when you want them.Getting paid by ether is reasonably simple, working in much the same way as a standard affiliate program- direct debit or cheque by mail are your two options. I have to say an option for payment via PayPal would be a nice addition to the ether model.
Ether is currently available for use in a wide variety of international locations, including my home town of New Zealand. If you’re consultant of any type, why not try some ‘ether-commerce’?