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I’ve been stuck in Iceland for the last 18 days, and as a result I’ve had a lot more free time on my hands than I normally do. Today my sister’s husband, Chris, and I were bullshitting around and started talking about Quora.

Quora has been great for me - a large amount of traffic comes my way via Quora, and I’ve been able to directly share my expertise and help tons of people by writing answers. But I also know that they are, like many tech companies, struggling to figure out how to make money with their heavily-used platform.

They’ve been dabbling with ads, but I suspect that ads will mostly alienate users and I personally have doubts about their potential effectiveness.

Here are 11 ideas we came up with that I think, as a contributor to Quora, would be either better than ads or an effective supplement:

  1. Allow experts to sell products directly on Quora - People like me are always posting links to websites in the hope that people will click through and buy products from our websites. But it would be extremely valuable to everyone involved if you could save potential customers that extra hop and simply offer the products directly through Quora. I’d happily give up a few points off the cost of my products for reducing buying process friction like this.

  2. Offer coaching from experts - Right now you’re advertising for some coaching/mentoring/whatever services, while you could just be offering it directly yourselves. Allow experts like me to sell coaching services right on the platform and collect a fee.

  3. Offer cash for specific answers - It’s not unusual for people to send me questions that I just don’t have the motivation to answer, but if users could offer me a “bounty” of some kind then I’d definitely be motivated. Again, take a piece off the top of whatever the expert gets paid.

  4. Pay to send a blast direct to followers - Right now, followers aren’t worth nearly as much as they could be. Yes, they will see answers that I write, but I’m potentially getting lost in the noise of everything else that person is seeing on Quora. If I had some way to send a blast to my followers - it could be in the form of an email from Quora or some area on the platform - that would be extremely valuable to me. It’s analogous to having a large, interested mailing list.

  5. Premium analytics - The analytics in Quora are pretty weak. It’s pretty much just quantities of users, without any kind of demographic information that would be useful for targeting. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I would pay for far more detailed information about the people who are visiting my answers/following me.

  6. Send out curated newsletters for followers - You already have a digest for Quora overall, why not allow users to create curated newsletters that get sent to followers of a specific person. This could either be an extension of the earlier idea about paid blasts, or an automatically-generated newsletter that simply groups the highest-quality posts from a specific author. Again, I would pay for this.

  7. Collate best answers and put them in a book - This would be an easy win for you guys. Just take the highest-quality posts, collate them into categories, do some light editing and sell it as a book (or multiple books) every year/quarter/whatever. Most of it could be automated and even if you only charged a few bucks it would be an easy few points of profit.

  8. Create curated collections of answers and charge for access (books, subscriptions) - An extension of the idea above, where you simply have paid collections on the platform with high-quality content collected into easy-to-follow structures.

  9. QuoraTV - A lot of experts are spamming their low-quality YouTube videos on answers in order to get more visibility, and frankly users would get way more value out of curated video content. Don’t charge for access, just advertise on the videos and/or charge experts for access to the platform.

  10. Quora courses - Rather than linking to companies that offer courses or course platforms, become one. Give experts the ability to offer their course materials right on the platform, so users can jump straight into learning about a subject if their interest has been piqued by an expert’s answers. I would personally love to learn from some of the expert neuroscience people on Quora like Yohan John and Clayton Bingham.

  11. Quora curriculums - If you didn’t want to go whole hog and offer entire courses, allow experts to build curriculums that at least point people in the right direction. I’ve talked about this before: there’s so much information out there that people now need structure and direction in their learning more than anything else. Why not simply allow experts to do that right on the platform, especially since they’re doing something similar already? There are so many questions about “how to learn X” or “where to start learning Y” that it’s an easy sell for a large number of users.

Like any of these ideas? Tell me on Twitter!

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