No idea is ever guaranteed to be successful. The product may flop, the business may fail. I may end up right back where I started. You’re certainly not the first to have these thoughts.
When it comes to building a freedom-based lifestyle by teaching online, they can be emotionally paralyzing. ‘Do I have what it takes? I’ve never done this before, and don’t know where to start.’
What am I an expert in?
Everyone is an expert in something. I know, I know: this sounds like something your second-grade teacher might say.
But to make money teaching online, you’ve got to hone in on what it is that is, or at the very least, what you do better than most people.
What are you passionate about? What really gives you that burning desire to help people?
Boil it down to one direct skill or base of knowledge that you have that most people don’t. Once you’ve grasped this, identify the target niche that could benefit from that skill or knowledge.
Perhaps you’re looking to teach an online course. This is a great option for how-to instruction on a software program or maintenance project, as well as professional guides.
Top guide sites like Udemy walk instructors through the process of setting up their course and provide plenty of guidelines to make the process as easy as possible.
Contracting with an existing site or company (or online school) is an option and not a terrible idea for getting your feet wet.
Learning how the online teaching world works takes some research and practice, and working alongside existing cohorts is a great way to gain some insight.
Owning your own business and website, however, brings the opportunity to make real money while increasing your personal freedom.
So you’re ready to get the process started.
This is the most important step. Once you’ve identified a passion that others might take value from, it’s time to figure out why you are qualified to teach it and how to go about doing so.
I suggest turning this part into a game. Open a Google Doc or Word doc and title it “How I Learned To X.” (“X” being whatever it is that you hope to teach.
The doc will be broken into three sections.
First is the “How I Got Started” section.
In a bulleted list, write down your process of getting started with this activity.
- How were you introduced?
- What was the first thing you learned?
- What was the first piece of equipment you obtained, and how did you obtain it?
- What was it that made you fall in love with this activity?
- Anything else that comes to mind regarding how you got started and how it became a regular part of your life.
The next section is all about progression.
Here you’ll note the concrete steps along the way that took you from being a beginner to being an intermediate and advanced player in this field.
- What pieces of feedback or advice have you received that really stuck with you and made you better?
- At what point did this activity become a regular part of your lifestyle, and what steps did you have to take to incorporate it into your schedule, buy anything necessary to progress, and/or
- Describe the moment when you knew you’d graduated from “beginner” to intermediate. Then, describe the moment you became an expert.
The final section is about this activity’s legacy in your life.
You may get a bit more long-form on these answers because this is where the big picture really starts to come in.
At what point did this activity become a “lifestyle” more so than just a hobby
Turning what you’re good at into profit
Now that you have this list in front of you, save it. Back it up on the cloud. And then close your computer for the day.
It’s time to let this sink into the page and into your brain. Your mind is likely reeling, and this is a good point to take a break and let everything settle. If you think of anything super important between now and the next session, jot it down on paper or into a note on your phone.
Ok. Onward to the next session.
This time, we’re going to think forwards instead of backward. Open that same doc, and on a new page, create a section called “The Next Level.”
Here, I want you to start by noting the next level of progression in your activity. For a skier who is at an advanced level and looking to progress even further, that might be to venture into the realm of backcountry skiing.
Underneath this, create a bulleted list of the actionable steps it would take you to get there.
- What research do you need to do?
- What equipment/skills do you need?
- How long will it take?
- What else is necessary to get there?
Now that I have you daydreaming about your favorite activity, we’re going to switch course and go back to square one.
Starting at the top of your document, go through and apply this same line of thought to each step along the way, that took you from fresh beginner to where you are now.
The idea is to apply a progressive method of thinking and growth to each step along the way, and get you thinking about exactly what was needed in each step.
This is what you will be teaching to your students. This will turn you into the “hindsight master” that I mentioned above. The student doesn’t have the benefit of being able to look back on years of experience to ensure they learn this activity the right way.
You are giving them that chance. That’s what they’re paying you for, and that’s how they are going to progress in an efficient, productive manner.
Your document is likely to get quite long as this is going to be the building block of your lessons, course, or whatever medium you choose to teach through.
Bring this concept to life
Now that you have the completed doc, it’s time to figure out how to go about teaching this material to someone else.
There are a number of ways you can do this, and I suggest you do thorough research to determine the best platform and strategy for your situation.
Perhaps you create an online course, and market that to people in your niche. Maybe you contract with an online school or offer 1-on-1 lessons to students on your own.
Online teaching platforms: A quick overview.
We’ll get into these platforms more in this article and others, but these are the three primary ways to make money teaching online.
- Online video courses: If looking to create a guide that can be applicable to a large number of people, an online course may be the best route. Sites such as Udemy are a great place to learn more about the world of online courses and find out if recording yourself teaching your expertise is right for you.
- Teaching and tutoring schools. If looking to help students with a specific subject. Or you are hoping to get a job teaching at an online school or university.
- Starting your own company. ESL teachers, music instructors, and tutors often wish to work solely for themselves. By forming your own company, you’ll have complete freedom over the material, rates, and profit.
A bit of inspiration
In order to market yourself and your business, draft what the brand will look like.
The key here is to separate yourself from everything else that’s already out there and make it obvious why your services are better. I’ve had immense success by letting my personality shine through all aspects of the business.
Let me tell you why:
- My career experience has helped to shape the way I present myself.
- No one can replicate my specific personality and quirks.
- People respond positively to what they see as personable and real. Even a professionally designed teaching website can’t overshadow an instructor that is in over his or her head. Students or mentees will see right through anything that seems fake or copied.
The overall goal is for YOU to make money by teaching YOUR base of knowledge. Always play the part of the expert, and project your expertise in a confident and compelling manner.
The next step is to take your passionate skill and place it outside of the proverbial ‘box.’
Maybe you played guitar in a rock band. Why not look into teaching beginner music lessons online? Are your friends and family members always coming to you for advice? Maybe you’re keen on psychoanalyzing people’s situations and drawing a path forward?
Becoming an online mentor or lifestyle coach might be a valid option.
Here’s a GREAT LIST of websites that can help put that passion into entrepreneurial action.
See how others doing similar things are presenting themselves as a brand and working independently.
Always keep your focus on the step right in front of you. Watch what successful online teachers are doing.
Go to networking events and chat with people further along than yourself. Try new things. Some will work, others won’t.
Now you have a basic feel for how to teach online. Remember: In the world of freelancing and entrepreneurship, no one is going to come hounding you to work harder or get more done.
It’s all for you! YOUR income, YOUR lifestyle freedom, and YOUR success are a result of YOUR hard work and commitment. These words are scary at first, but the underlying theme is this: