Get the wooden desks and dusty chalkboards out of your mind. This is the new age of teaching, and the opportunities to share your valuable knowledge, establish yourself as an expert, and extend your platform go far beyond traditional classrooms.
Tons of professional writers offer consultations (in person, online, or by phone), e-courses, lectures, tutoring, coaching, conference presentations, and workshops in places as diverse as their own living rooms and large auditoriums.
If you’re not terrified of a more traditional teaching environment, there’s also the option of working for colleges and universities as a part time instructor.
The topics you can teach are just as varied as the methods of teaching.
Of course, you can teach writing courses, as I do. You can also use your experience to teach on topics such as productivity, personal finance, balancing work and life, self-promotion and marketing, or anything that allows you to position yourself as an expert.
“Teaching” comes in any package you’re creative enough to invent. Here are some perks and tips to get you started.
People generally assume that if you’re teaching on a topic, you have a relatively high level of expertise. You’re more of an expert than the students.
Of course, you don’t actually have to be the “definitive” expert. You just have to tailor your services to an audience you’re comfortable teaching.
- If you’re not already used to giving talks or teaching, wet your feet by giving lessons to beginners. You might be surprised at how much relative expertise you have compared to the people who show up to hear you speak or sign up for your courses.
- Once you’ve delivered a few successful lessons, add your teaching credentials to your resume and About page. This helps you get new clients because teachers in general are seen as reliable, ethical, and skilled.
Even though I had no journalism experience, I interviewed with a local magazine editor who was impressed by the fact that I taught writing courses to college students. My teaching status was verification of my ability to learn and master new writing styles.
You should also consider that teaching a subject helps us master the subject and understand it on deeper, more nuanced levels. Teaching won’t only make you better at what you do, but, in explaining your subject to others, you’ll increase your expertise.
Blogging is a preferred platform these days, but there are tons of people out there who want to learn in person. They want to engage face-to-face. They might want one-on-one consultation to address their unique concerns. That’s where various modes of teaching can help extend your platform.
Depending on your teaching style, needs, and goals, you can teach as frequently as you want.
Delivering a presentation at a popular conference can generate all the publicity you can handle for a year. Other modes of teaching, like in-home workshops, may require more frequency to reach the same number of people.
- Offer your teaching services as part of an established event, one that naturally draws a crowd.
- Team up with an organization or business to offer talks or workshops, and ask them to include your name and contact information on their promotional materials and website.
- During the event, offer an easy way for people to subscribe to your email list, and be sure to mention it during your presentation. A simple, low-tech signup sheet usually does the trick.
- Have a book? Set up a table or booth to autograph and sell copies. Many writers share booths with other writers to disperse costs and draw a larger crowd.
- Co-teaching is another way to increase attendance and attention. When an out-of-town writer was planning his tour, he asked me and other local writers to join his event. His logic was that local writers would help bring in the crowd.
As you can see, there’s really no end to the marketing potential of a teaching gig.
Diversify Your Income
You may volunteer your services as a way to market yourself or support a worthy cause, at least in the beginning. As your credentials increase, people will be willing to pay for your talks, lectures, or presentations.
Other methods of teaching, such as consulting and e-courses, allow you to start charging right away.
Then there are the part-time faculty positions that offer a more regular income.
Because teaching is always in high demand, most writers will find opportunities sooner than later.
We’re all “teachers” in some form or another. If you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others, you’re definitely a teacher.
The key is leveraging your teaching as an asset to your writing career.
What do you think of the various forms of teaching? If you’ve tried any of these methods or others, please share in the comments how they’ve impacted your career.