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If you are a teacher, or an expert in any subject at all, you could very well earn a significant income from your knowledge by teaching other people online. There are many websites where you can do just that, and in this article I’ll list five of them.
Teachers are remarkable, aren’t they? From our first memories, teachers often hold a special place in our hearts. Almost everyone has a special teacher they remember – an inspiring mentor who reminded us to dream big as we traveled forward into our preteen and teen years. Of course, when you get older and even after you enter the workforce, the need to learn never stops. Also, once you obtain a certain degree of skill in your field, you also become capable of teaching others.
These days, with declining job markets in different industries, there are a lot of people looking to change jobs, and sometimes changing a job means learning a whole new skill set. This demand, and the growth of the Internet, resulted in a brand new approach to “going back to school” using online courses. Now, it’s possible to take college classes right on the Internet. How cool is that?
Even better, there’s now an endless array of websites where you can learn things like web design, computer programming, a foreign language, how to sew…the list goes on and on. Do you think that people actually sign up for those courses? Better yet, do you think people pay for them? You bet they do. Which means that the teacher who is sharing that knowledge with paying students is making a decent income in the process. And guess what, if you have specialized knowledge that you could share with others, you could make some decent income as well!
Making Money as an Online Teacher
As with starting any business, you do need to keep realistic expectations. You won’t be earning a six figure – or probably even a five figure – income in the first month. Don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise. Starting a business takes dedication, perseverance and hard work.
There are plenty of reputable reports from around the web detailing how the “top teachers” at sites like Teachers Pay Teachers (see below), are earning five figures in sales. When people read that, it’s pretty exciting. I mean, that means it’s possible to make actually, cold, hard cash working over the Internet from home? Yes. It is. However, those are the top teachers. There are plenty of teachers on that site that are earning just a few thousand or a few hundred in sales. Again, every business takes time and hard work to build up into something truly profitable.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few of the sites where you could get started making money by teaching what you know to other people on the web.
As mentioned above, Teachers Pay Teachers is one of the most well-known places where teachers can go to earn money either on the side, or as a full-time business. The amount of resources available here is just off the charts. This is a marketplace filled with teacher resources created by professional teachers around the world.
There are things like guided reading activities, printables for the classroom, lesson plans and other things that teachers usually need to create on their own. With the ability to purchase these resources, it can save teachers a great deal of time and effort. The fact that the people creating the resources are licensed, professional teachers means that the resources are credible and often also align with common core standards.
The flip side to this if you’re looking to earn income as a teacher, especially if you’re particularly good at creating these resources, is that you can create an account and start your own teacher storefront, selling your teaching goods to other teachers all across the world who will put your stuff to use in their own classroom.
If the act of teaching is what you love, then you might want to turn to a site like Udemy, where you can sell your knowledge to people who will sign up for your courses. Udemy already has an impressive collection of courses, covering topics like languages, music, business, education, and even crafts and hobbies. Regardless of your expertise, you can likely find a niche here and start selling your courses immediately.
Just check out the “Popular Courses” category to see the sort of prices people are getting for their courses.
If you’re interested in creating your own online courses to sell, just click on the “Teach Online” link in the menu bar to get started.
The courses you create can include all sorts of content, including videos, text documents, and quizzes. You record your lectures and create your course materials, and then upload it all to your account on the site. These are organized into sections and you can load them into the category that best matches the topic you’re teaching.
There are some cool lectures on the site. Check out the sample course to see what a typical video lecture looks like and to get some ideas on how you might want to shoot your own. A plain background is usually a good idea, unless you’re drawing on a dry-erase board of course. It’s also important to speak slowly and clearly.
If you want to attract and maintain a strong base of students to your courses, you want to make sure to create professional, high-quality courses that people will remember and tell others about. Courses at this site range from $49 up through $199, and there are even some free courses if you’re looking for a few that you want to check out before getting started on your own. Cost of selling your courses here – you pay a commission of 30% to Udemy for every course you sell.
Probably the fastest and easiest site to get started creating and selling courses is a site called Coursecraft. Unlike Udemy, you don’ t have to apply to create and sell a course, and there are no startup fees to get started. On your course creation page, you quickly set up the price that you’ll be charging each student for the course over in the right hand column.
Add a cover photo for your course, and then click the “new lesson” button to get started with creating the first lesson within the course. Like other course-creation websites, you can upload a variety of formats for course materials – video, image audio, or files that you want to let your students download. These files might be sample programs or course document.
Coursecraft is one of the best when it comes to ease of creating a course. Also, CourseCraft is one of the most affordable course-selling sites on the web, only taking a commission of 5% from each sale, as well as Paypal fees per transaction. This low-cost solution can save you a lot of money once your online course business really starts to take off and sales begin to grow.
Pathwright is another course hosting solution, but it has many more features that support you as an online instructor, including credit card processing, resources and support with things like designing the courses and branding, and more. To get started, you can sign up for an account without any sign-up cost. You can choose the name of your “school”, and then see if you can land a pathwright.com URL within your field. I got SEO.pathwright.com! Woohoo!
Creating a course here is actually just as easy as any of the other course-hosting sites. You just step through the process and upload the content within each lesson. Really, the hard part of building any of these courses is going to be creating the content itself – writing up the documents or creating the video lectures.
A carefully crafted course could become a valuable resource for anyone trying to learn the topic that you’re an expert at. Try not to race through the process of creating your course. Make sure your material is detailed and useful, and you’ll discover that news about your courses will spread quickly through word-of-mouth.
Pathwright charges a “pay as you go” fee of $7 per course registration plus a 4% commission. There’s also an option to prepay commissions for a small discount.
Another site for creating and selling courses that is both quick and professional is SkyPrep. I really like this site because there is plenty of training material available to walk you through the process of creating your first course – the learning curve isn’t very steep at all. The site tries to fill two niche areas of online courses – businesses that are looking for course hosting platforms to train their users, as well as regular independent teachers looking to create and sell courses online.
The course creation is just as simple as any other site. The layout is clean with course settings, course items and registered users accessible on each tab.
Like other course creation sites, you can upload a variety of course materials like your own videos or documents. You can also embed YouTube or Vimeo videos right into your coursework – although those videos should be your own content if you plan on selling the course, otherwise you’d need permission (or pay commission) from the original video creator.
As you can see, there are lots of resources out there to start your own online school in a matter of a day. Signing up and hosting is the easy part, the hardest part is just creating your content and making sure that it results in a high-quality, valuable course that people will want to take. Provide these courses, promote them through all of the usual channels – social networks, blogs, etc – and then interact with your students and make sure that they have the best learning experience possible.
In time, you will become known as a valuable and effective online teacher. Who knows, one day you might even become so popular you’ll be asked to do a talk at a conference! Hey – it’s been known to happen!
Do you have knowledge that you could potentially market as an online course? Would you ever purchase such a course? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!
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