If you’ve ever felt you had something to teach others — from a passion such as dancing or cooking to a skill such as editing or providing investing strategy — you might be able to make money teaching classes online. You don’t need an advanced degree or special credentials to teach either; you just need a willingness to prepare awesome content to deliver to your students the right way.
Experts recommend some of the following strategies to get you started:
Identify a Problem and Solution
Before you leap into online courses, Keno Hellman, CEO at Midnightdrummer.com suggested, “It’s helpful to outline a concept, find a technical solution and warm up your existing audience with ideas before launching your first course.” Testing out your ideas on a potential audience, either at a low cost or for free, will provide helpful feedback to make your course a success. “You should ask your audience what their major pain is. Creating polls can help build a great outline for online courses and lessons people are really looking for.”
Invest Time in Prepping Content
Between good ideas and earning money teaching, however, lies content preparation, and you can’t skimp on this portion because it will be your bread and butter. “The most time consuming part of online teaching is creating your content, but once this is done, you are good to go,” said David Bowen, CEO and content manager of Bordeaux Undiscovered.
“When you are planning and designing your content, you will need to design it in a way that promotes quick learning. It is also a good idea to reuse known and proven methods and resources, as you can be confident that they won’t fail.” Also, always solicit and listen to feedback from your students so you can tailor your course to their needs. “This will only increase your chances of making money.”
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Choose the Right Platform
Once you know you have a great idea, put some serious thought into the platform you should teach through. If you choose something simple like teaching over Zoom or uploading videos to Vimeo, for example, you won’t have to share your profits. Hellman recommends using WordPress to build a website that is “a good course environment” as a starting point.
However, you can also sign up with existing teaching platforms such as Teachable, Udemy or Skillshare, though they will cut into your profits. “Teachable, for example, can increase monthly costs and margins decrease immediately,” Hellman said.
Laura Jimenez, owner of Ishine365 suggests you start your own YouTube channel and upload videos for free. “Once you have quite a good number of subscribers and viewers you can start earning from the ads.” However, Jimenez also feels that going your own way is likely to be the most profitable. “A much better way is to build your own brand new teaching website and start teaching there. This will have full control over the things you want to do. You can also hire others to teach from your platform.”
One path to teaching that you might not have considered is blogging, said Derek Warburton, CEO of Mr. Warburton Magazine. “Blogs are one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal and the most effective way to begin your career as an online educator.”
According to Warburton, blogs can serve as a portal to other resources, such as articles on topics that you teach a class around. Additionally, they can be used as a way to get people to sign up for your mailing list. “With a blog, you can cultivate your own audience. That is critical because once you have amassed an audience of true fans, there is no limit to how much money you can earn.”
Get Business Details in Order
If you’ve decided to take online teaching seriously, it’s important “to sort out the legal stuff before you scale your business,” said Tyler Wall, President & CEO of SD Bullion, one of the largest precious metal eCommerce retailers in the world.
“Decide on your business structure — sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation — have a business bank account so that you separate your business income and expenses from your personal finances, get a website and market your services.” The reason for this is that earning anything more than $600 per year from a source requires you to pay taxes to the IRS, and you could end up owing money in unpaid taxes or penalties if you don’t do this correctly.
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Narrow Your Focus
If you’re a passionate person with a lot of ideas, or big ideas, you might want to narrow your focus to help attract a specific audience, according to financial advisor Will Myers. He gives the example of offering a time management course. If you keep it general, “you blend in with every other time management course and online class out there.” If you narrow your focus to “time management for sales professionals,” you’ve identified a specific audience and can increase what you charge for the course.
“Narrowing your focus to specifically who you can help will dramatically increase your income. You can teach the same content, but now that it’s narrowed to a specific individual and problem, they are willing to pay more.”
Create Classes That Will Make Other People Money
In order to make money yourself, you might be better off helping other people make money too, said Cliff Auerswald, president of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. in Orange, California.
“As much as we’d like to hope that people go into learning for learning’s sake, the truth is that many people are looking for ways to grow their businesses. Create classes that encourage people to start their own businesses or expand their knowledge in their current careers. The more you market your classes as options to make more money on the side, the more people are likely to take your classes.”
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