Google Shutters Helpouts Program – What Went Wrong?





Google is shutting down its Helpouts service.

Never heard of Google Helpouts? That’s part of the problem, the company suggests in announcing its retirement.

Google Helpouts utilized the Hangouts video chat service to connect users one-on-one with experts in a variety of subject areas. Users would typically be charged for this one-on-one video advice from a Google-selected expert, though some advice was dispensed via Helpouts for free.

In some ways, Google Helpouts was not unlike Skype Prime, a directory of advisers — “call providers” — who offered advice or skills training over Skype. Calls were charged at a rate that both the callers and advisors agreed on. The service was discontinued after Skype 4.0, several years ago.

For some small businesses, Helpouts was a service that got them the one-on-one help from an expert to solve a particular problem. For experts, it was a potential source of revenue for helping others in their markets or fields of expertise.

Certainly the service will be missed by some, as tweets following the announcement showed:

Helpouts were available in a variety of categories, from the arts and fashion, to healthcare, to computers and electronics.

The problem is, not enough people took advantage of what was seemingly a quality service being offered by Google.  On a Google FAQ page explaining the shuttering of Helpouts, the company says:

“Since launching in 2013, Helpouts has been a home for people to connect with experts on topics they want to learn about or seek advice and solutions to everyday challenges. The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected. Sadly, we’ve made the tough decision to shut down the product.”

Google says the last day that Helpouts will be accessible is April 19, 2015.

Starting on April 20, a Helpouts history will be available for download using Google Takeout. Unfortunately, that excludes any Helpouts given in the Healthcare category, due to privacy issues.

As of now, Google is not accepting any new Helpouts help providers. And existing help providers are no longer able to display their Helpouts profile.

Google will continue to pay Helpouts providers through May 15 for work completed up to the site’s shutdown.

The service was well designed and clearly of some benefit to freelancers and small business owners.

But despite aggressive (some would say “spammy”) outreach by Google to push the service, it clearly was not a success.

Image: Google

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Joshua Sophy


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Assistant Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, Joshua got his start in the rough and tumble newspaper business of Pennsylvania's coal region. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a beat reporter covering daily news. He eventually founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown. Joshua supervises the day-to-day operations of Small Business Trends' busy editorial department including the editorial calendar and outgoing assignments.

6 Reactions

  1. Never knew it existed in the first place

  2. As a HelpOuts Provider, if you’re seeking to interview any of us to hear about our exexperiences with the platform, I would be happy to talk to you about it.

    • Hi Meloney

      Would love to know more about your experience as a Hangouts provider. We could connect over email, if that works for you.

      Thanks
      Hari

  3. Check out skillschat.com. It’s new but designed to function very similar to Helpouts. Post your profile for free!

  4. Helpouts was very useful to manage your schedule, take payment and provide one-to-one solution at the same time.

    With Easyconsult, we offer a technical solution for experts looking for monetisation tool. We are French high tech company and have video-chat and phone solutions for former Helpouts experts. Our technology already served more than a million paid sessions.

    Don’t hesitate to take a look !

    http://easyconsu.lt/google-helpouts-replacement

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