Today we’re going to answer a question that so many people are wondering about now that the world has primarily moved online: Is it worth it for me to become an online instructor?
Online instruction has always existed, but 2020 has made it as popular as toilet paper (too soon?). The shift to working from home has also opened up doors for more businesses to move their services online, opening up their products to not just other parts of the country, but the world!
So you may be wondering, as someone with a skill - is being an online instructor worth it? What are the pros and cons? What do I need to do to get started?
Start by asking yourself these questions:
#1 - Do you have time available?
The first and most important question to ask yourself is do you have time available? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself - what kind of time? This will help you to assess if you’re available for full-time education (Monday - Friday during normal working hours), part-time education (usually in the evenings a few days a week), or more flexible options like tutoring or recorded instruction.
#2 - Is your skill something that other people want to learn?
This one can be tricky! I bet that almost everyone has a skill that someone would be interested in learning. For some it’s easier to identify - of course, people want to learn to code or have an interest in Data Science, but what about some of the other more obscure skills out there? Our friends at Skillpop have created an entire business teaching other people skills - everything from how to budget and build credit, to how to decorate your home, or how to care for your houseplants!
If you’re questioning what skills you have, try sitting uninterrupted for 30 minutes (seriously, set an alarm and sit down without any distractions) and make a list of things you think that you are good at, things you are proud of, things that you enjoy doing, and things that you have been complimented on in the past from friends, family, or colleagues. If you are really struggling then ask your friends what they think you could teach.
If you need more inspiration the folks at Yondo put together a helpful list of the Top 25 Money Making Subjects to Teach Online. Spoiler Alert: Programming is number 8!
#3 - Would you like to boost or supplement your current income?
This is a pretty awesome “choose your own adventure.” The benefit of teaching online is that the world is literally your oyster. This is a blurb from one of my favorite designers, developers, and generally creative folk Mike Bifulco in his weekly newsletter Tiny Improvements:
“How much do online courses make? Have you ever taken a course online, or thought about making one yourself as a side hustle? This is a tool that lets you peruse the aggregate statistics of various course topics across Udemy. Did you know that on average, courses on Next.js make $40/day? Pretty wild!”
Otherwise, you can research online educator salaries at https://revenue.sixfigureinstructor.com/.
#4 - So the next question is - how much do you want to #WERK?
Let’s rank teaching options in order of the amount of legwork required:
If you’re looking for less work upfront, look for a company like us (Tech Talent South) - we provide the curriculum for you. All you have to do is review it in advance and show up ready to teach! We pay an hourly rate for your commitment with part or full-time options available. It’s an excellent way to explore the world of teaching (or assistant teaching), build your confidence, and pad your wallet.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a little bit more ownership over the content you may want to explore partnering with a company like Skillpop. You get the benefit of their advertising and they pay a percentage of revenue based on how many students attend each of your classes so you can help to drive the outcome by cross-marketing. It’s also a great way to build your own business, brand, and awareness.
- It’s Leg Day
And then there are the folks who choose to go it alone. A really fascinating case study that I’ve loved to follow is Daniel Vassallo. A friend who knows I hate Twitter (unpopular opinion, I know) encouraged me to take Daniel’s course “Anyone Can Build a Twitter Audience” in April of this year and I was stunned. Daniel created his own recorded educational video outlining his (successful) experience building a Twitter audience in detail and giving anyone who paid for the recording access to tips, tricks, and wisdom to do the same. To date, that course has brought him over $150k in profit and he continually shares his experiences online.
#5 - Are you able to communicate the skills and concepts that you know to new learners in a way that they can comprehend?
As an educator, you are responsible for the student experience inside and outside of the classroom. We’ve found that teachers who are excited about the subject they teach but also open to learning new things as they go tend to be the teachers that students resonate best with. One of our instructors, Gary Jackson, has the motto “I teach to learn.” He recognizes that not only does he bring value to his students, but they in turn teach him something every day.
Taking the time to prepare for your course is critical to the success of the class. Don’t be the teacher who just reads off slides - take the time to make sure you understand the content, you can clearly communicate it in a way that new learners can comprehend, and look for patterns that indicate you may need to explain something differently.
A happy and successful student is going to be your best referral for future students in their reviews, social media posts, and job announcements!
#6 - Does the idea of changing other people’s lives excite you?
If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, chances are that becoming an online teacher is a great fit for you! If you’ve got technical chops we would love to talk to you about teaching for Tech Talent South. If you’ve got skills in other areas there are some great resources for you peppered in this article and readily available with a quick google search.
If you answered no to one or more of these questions and you still think you want to do some sort of online instruction, there is still hope! Start by taking a look at the questions that you answered “no” to and asking yourself what small steps can you do to change this in the next 30 days? Commit to yourself and keep going, we believe in you!
Confidence can sometimes hold us back from applying for a job. But we'll let you in on a secret: there's no such thing as a 'perfect' candidate. We want to help you develop - it’s at the core of who we are. So however you identify and whatever background you bring with you, please apply to be a Teacher or Teaching Assistant if this is a role that would make you excited to come into work every day and you believe you can make a strong contribution to the success of the team.