THE Internet boom might have long been over, but many plucky entrepreneurs are still finding new ways to tap the limitless potential of the World Wide Web, be it through starting a new online venture, creating an online presence for an established corporation or simply advertising services to an online audience.
Cashing in on such aspirations have led to the rise of Internet training coaches who offer a multitude of courses on online marketing, ranging from one-day classes to some lasting for more than a year.
These coaches who claim to make the technical workings of the Internet more accessible have also found ways to bridge the information gap by providing bite-sized information together with tried and tested ways of doing business online.
Unsurprisingly, many of these proclaimed Internet experts are fast becoming choice advisers for local businesses, property agents and individuals seeking to develop an online presence.
'More people . . . want to seek an alternative source of income. As for business owners who are looking to grow their shrinking customer base, going online is the cheapest and fastest way to grow the business.'
- Ms Siow
Many of these experts have also taken to advertising in the newspapers and on online forums, and are attracting people by the hundreds.
K C Tan, an Internet marketing consultant and founder of WebSprout Consulting, has been providing workshops on creating successful websites since 2005 and even offers free training sessions so that participants can get a taste of what his classes are like.
"Most of my workshops are free because I believe in adding value to others first and they can then find out more about my workshops if they are interested," said Mr Tan.
A sizeable chunk of his income comes from corporate training sessions, which cost $2,500 a day on average. During these, he shares skills and tips on leveraging the Internet to grow online presence.
According to Internet and business coach Pam Siow, interest in online marketing courses exceeded her own expectations, especially during the recession and weaker economic times.
"More people are being retrenched or are frustrated and want to seek an alternative source of income. As for business owners who are looking to grow their shrinking customer base, going online is the cheapest and fastest way to grow the business," Ms Siow explained.
When Ms Siow started her first website in 2008 - a classified advertising service for music teachers - she was heavily in debt over credit card bills and was seeking a way out of her predicament.
She was working as a marketing professional but realised that the salary her job offered would be insufficient to clear her debts quickly.
When her debt forced her into action, she started taking personal finance courses that led her to discover the concept of earning a passive income.
"I attended a lot of seminars and after one particular Internet marketing seminar I decided to launch a three-page website. I was earning enough and decided to quit my job," explained Ms Siow.
Within one year, Ms Siow cleared her debts and started making more than $10,000 a month with her online business.
Encouraged by its success, Ms Siow launched a separate coaching business specialising in helping individuals grow their business online and has trained close to 2,000 people to date.
Although such courses may be gaining popularity among Singaporeans, especially since the value proposition is that a successful person is giving away secrets of success, associate professor of marketing education at Singapore Management University, Seshan Ramaswami advises prospective clients to critically assess the objectives of the workshops.
"You do have to question why the course instructors might do that, why they would fritter away their own hard-earned advantages in the marketplace and generate competition," said Prof Ramaswami.