Derek Sivers

Semi-experts: profit by saving us time


Here I am, thinking, “Just tell me what to do.”

Chris Guillebeau is visiting every country in the world, on a surprisingly small budget. He shares what he’s learned in two great e-books: “The Unconventional Guide to Discount Airfare” and “How to Become a Travel Ninja”. They’re filled with advice on how to get the lowest rates, which airlines and airports are best, how to fly around the world for $1000, and much more.

Matthew Bennett writes a monthly newsletter called First Class Flyer full of strategies on how to get first class seats for the same price as economy.

They’ve both done a great job at summarizing thousands of hours of experience into a quick overview you can read in a few hours.

But what if I don’t even want to spend a few hours?

I need to go to London, Australia, and India for three conferences in July, September, and November.

I want someone who’s thoroughly read and understood these guides to hook me up. Get me a free upgrade to first class. Make me a Platinum member. Get me a pass to the red-carpet lounge. Take advantage of every loophole to get me the best possible deals.

A commission-based travel agent couldn’t take care of all of these loopholes. They get no commission for getting me these freebies. So it needs to be someone who knows all this info, so they can tell me what’s best for me.

I’m sure if I were to call Chris or Matthew they’d know off the top of their head. But that doesn’t scale.

But thanks to these great summaries, someone can become a semi-expert for under $100 and a few days’ time, then offer their semi-expertise at $20 per hour to all those people (like me) who just want someone to tell us what to do. They could be anywhere in the world, working from home in their spare time. At that rate, anyone who travels would be silly not to spend $10 for them to tell you the benefits that apply to you, or another $10 to have them take care of it.

This applies to all industries. There’s so much info out there, so cheaply, that anyone looking for a self-employed career could become a semi-expert at anything.

For example, someone could read How to Be Your Own Booking Agent, Tour Smart, and The Tour Book in a week, and become a pretty good booking agent the following week, available for $20 per hour. Hundreds of musicians would use them.

The pitch is a humble one: “I’m only doing what you could do yourself, if you felt like taking the 100 hours to learn how. But if you don’t, I’ll be glad to tell you what to do, or do it for you.”

Know anyone doing this?