Demand Media is adding to its media business as it prepares to split in two.
The Santa Monica company announced Tuesday that it has launched eHow Now, a subscription service that provides one-on-one advice from experts in a variety of subjects.
The platform is an expansion of Demand's eHow business, which features how-to articles and videos on everything from cooking a turkey to changing a headlight.
While eHow is free for readers, eHow Now will charge $20 per question or a $10 monthly subscription fee. The service provides people with an online chat tool where they can ask questions of experts in six categories: auto, tech, health, legal, personal finance and pets.
Dan Brian, executive vice president of media, said eHow Now is meant for times when people have urgent questions that can't be answered using eHow's database of articles and videos.
"Life's everyday questions may be so specific to you that the exact answer you're looking for might not be on the Internet," he said. "And when it comes to important things – like your car, dog or child's health – you really want to talk to a person."
The company tested eHow Now with more than a million people, Brian said, and many used the service to consult with doctors about health concerns or mechanics about car repair.
This is not Demand Media's first foray into subscription services. The company purchased subscription do-it-yourself business Creativebug in March and followed up with paid workout videos through its Livestrong website.
By adding premium subscriptions, Demand Media is placing a stronger emphasis on high-quality content. That can be seen as a way for the company to move past its stigma as a "content mill" that churned out low-quality articles.
The new services come as Demand's media properties prepare to split from domain registration business eNom later this year.
Brian said eHow Now is part of the company's progression.
"For Demand it was a pretty easy and natural step for us to help our experts grow their personal brand and make money," he said. "It was also a way for Demand to create a new direct-to-consumer offering."
Demand is scheduled to report second quarter earnings on Wednesday afternoon.