I'm Teaching a Class, You're Teaching a Workshop, He's Teaching Too! (Tips On Teaching For Small Business Owners)
I'm noticing more and more that small business owners, like writers and photographers, are using education as a source of income. I'm even teaching a class on how to preserve and restore old photographs and negatives at Centralia College in October, through their Continuing Education Program.
Teaching what you practice is a great way to diversify your income and connect with your audience. I'm not saying you should give away your trade secrets, but there are a growing number of Do-It-Yourselfer's who would like to give things a try. Once they have tried their hand at it, and they know you are an expert (cause you taught them how), they will turn to you and your services because they know you can do it better!
Teaching is great, but it's not for everyone. You have to know what you are talking about. You have to be prepared, and you have to teach something that other people want to learn. Here are some tips for those of you who want to explore teaching too!
The very first thing you should consider is your own knowledge base, and be prepared to learn more. What do you know, that I wan't to know? I don't think that you need to know everything about your topic, but you should know a lot, and you should be willing to dig deeper in the preparation stage.
For example, I know how to restore and preserve photographs, but I haven't done much with negatives outside of a dark room. I went and did loads of research and I feel pretty confident in my technical knowledge of what to do with negatives. Now, I am going to practice BEFORE I teach it. I want to be sure I know how to do it before I get up in front of a class!
When you consider teaching something, you need to think about your audience. As a small business owner, you probably already have an audience. In order to be successful in business, you need to be familiar with that audience. Whether you connect with them through the internet, in person or both, ask them what they want to learn.
I am one of those writers/photographers who likes to take every class I can about nearly any topic, but even I am drawn to things that I know will help me out in my life. I'm not going to take a class on underwater basket weaving, unless I have a very good reason for it.
I've been asked a few times by a handful of people how to preserve/restore photos, so I decided to teach a class. I am so excited about it. Excited and nervous! Since I've made that decision, I've had nothing but positive responses. I believe I've hit the nail on the head on picking a topic.
Next you'll need to figure out how you are going to present your information. You can have a physical class where people come to a designated classroom, you can have a virtual class, using videos and or chat rooms, or you can write a book. Really, you can do all three, but I recommend picking one and exploring each option one at a time.
I chose to go with holding a physical class for a number of reasons, and I found that if I set up the class through the local community college, I could be helping them out, and I could get a better response from the public.
If you choose to do a virtual class, you'll have some other things to consider, like quality of equipment, how to get the word out about your class, and more. Just remember, folks typically don't know where you are, or what you are doing, unless you tell them.
The last thing that I will mention, is that you NEED to be prepared! Nothing will rob you of authority and respect faster than standing in front of an audience (whether digitally or physically) and stumbling through your lesson, or stammering that you don't know the answer to a question.
I am preparing to teach that class on how to preserve and restore old negatives and photographs. I have never taught a class outside of church, so I looked up how to write a college lesson plan. It was not very complicated to figure out how to put one together, and now I have a format, a plan for my class.
I started last month with my preparations. I looked up all the information I could and found videos. Now I am working to put the information and my demonstrations together, a month before my first lecture. I will practice each lecture and demonstration before hand so I won't be nervous when I actually have to stand in front of people.
And here's my favorite thing, I have a response ready for when someone will ask a question that I don't know the answer for: "I'm not sure, let's look it up!"
There is nothing wrong with not knowing something.There is everything wrong when you let pride get in the way of doing something about it. And besides we have a world's worth of information at our fingertips. At the very least you can help point your students in the right direction.
Now go out there and do it! If you know something that other's want to know, if you can learn more about that topic, and if you are prepared, there is no reason why you can't teach a class, too! So go out there and explore another source of income and connections.
I have been writing all my life. I started a regular journal when I was 12 years old. I've written everything from poetry to prose and all the stuff in between. I've been getting paid to write for a little more than a year, though. Boy! has it been an amazing ride so far.
Recently, I attended a writer's group meeting where I met a person who literally gave me the push I needed to jump into copywriting.
Her name is Jane. Jane has been freelance writing forever. At that writer's group meeting she shared a lot of advice, but the thing that has stuck with me the most was that phrase I used for my title. She said, "You have to pay attention to what feeds you, and what drains you. Follow the rewarded path"
Such great advice, huh!?
When you are doing everything that drains you, and nothing that fills you up, eventually you will become empty. Lifeless. On the flip side, if you are always being filled and never drained, you will feel useless and unimportant, which is altogether draining too!
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am the opposite of lifeless. I try hard to keep it that way. It is very important for me to feel involved, and to participate in life. I want to be a useful, happy, and contributing member to society. I have made it a goal to find balance in the things that drain and fill me.
I never want to be useless! I never want to be lifeless!
Recently, I made the decision to quit working for Copywriter Today. When I was working for that company, I was not following the rewarded path. Every day was stressful. I felt terrible about life, and I was a bad mother. I neglected playing with my children. I yelled at them for silly things because they were distracting me from meeting my deadlines.
The company is still a great company, and all of the people there were great. I learned a lot from them and from the articles that I was writing, and I don't regret a minute that I spent with them. BUT I wasn't happy. It didn't help that I was paid hourly, for a set amount of time per article and I always took longer than was allowed by my employer. I didn't feel like I was using my time wisely.
I asked for a pay raise. I made suggestions for changing the time limits. I wrote while everyone slept. I stayed up late and woke up early and tried to fit everything in. In the end, I knew that this one thing was upsetting the balance between my filling things and my draining things, and I made the decision to cut it out of my life.
SO! I would like to offer you the same advice:
'Till next time my friends!
I am currently helping a client to write an inspirational memoir in her own voice. I've discovered a few challenges along the way and I'd like to share them with you. Maybe we can both learn from them.
The Biggest Challenge:
The biggest challenge when collaborating on any creative work will always be a difference in opinions. The thing you have to remember is that this is THEIR story. They HIRED you to create something for them. They are the boss. You have every right to share your opinion and persuade them to see "The Right," but in the end you are not in charge. Giving up that control can sometimes be really hard, but you can do it. Just remember not to give up the control in your personal writings!
Asking For the Right Fee:
If you really want to know how much to charge, take a look at what other writers are charging and double it, especially if you are good. With that in mind, be willing to work for less if you really feel passionately about the project. The current project that I am working on is not paying me enough to pay the bills, but I believe in it, and I feel like my employer deserves a break. Be careful not to do this too much, though. You may never be able to climb out of the low-priced jobs if you aren't willing to charge EVERYONE your "normal" price.
Make sure when you are quoting times and deadlines that you are being realistic. Remember that it's better to overestimate the time it takes to do a project than to underestimate. People like getting things early, but abhor getting things late.
Keep Communications Open:
The most important part of any relationship is to keep communications open and honest. If you can manage to be completely transparent, you will gain clients for life. Not only that, but they will tell their friends and they will tell their friends, and so on. Keep your relationship with your client strong by giving them realistic deadlines, telling them as soon as a problem arises, and by treating them with respect.
That's it for today folks. Good luck with your writing and may we ever be successful!
I first want to begin by saying, I have been writing my whole life! I started keeping a regular journal when I was twelve years old. I wrote poetry throughout my school years, I wrote lullabies when each of my children was born, and I even took a few news writing classes when I was in college.
I have always done it, but I never actually DREAMED of doing it as a career. I always dreamed of making money as a photographer. I started my own portrait business when I was 19. I loved taking real photos of real people. I helped to make memories last. That was my slogan anyways. I never could bring myself to ask the ridiculous fees that other portrait photographers were asking so I was undercharging and way too busy for my family.
When I became a mother, I decided to put my photography on a back burner. I believe that family should always come before career. Pretty soon though, I was bored. Plus my husband asked for a little help making ends meet so I tried to find alternative ways to make money.
I didn't trust those get rich quick schemes. We had just moved to a new place and I didn't really have anyone to watch the kids while I worked on photo jobs. Not to mention a lot of the jobs that were on the work-at-home-websites, really were boring or terrifying! I mean, who wants to stuff envelopes, or sell various products to complete strangers!
One day I drove past the office for my local newspaper, and I remembered my experience with newswriting from college. I thought, "I can earn money writing articles... It won't be much but it will be something!" And it's true. The pay is low and it's very time consuming, but it was something! Plus, I have been able to connect with members of the community, which will pay dividends, and my husband is getting some help with the bread winning, which is priceless. Writing for the news paper also helped me to think more about the other ways that I could earn money writing; books, articles for magazines, blogs, and more.
I had never realized all of the possibilities, but the truth is that a lot of writing jobs just don't pay well. I knew that. I had been hoping that someone would pick up one of my children's books and offer me a million dollars... someday. That was when I discovered the wonderful world of copywriting. I did a lot of research. I spent a lot of time pouring over the different copywriting courses. Now I can work from home, help bring the bacon, and enjoy myself while I am doing it.
Why do I write? BECAUSE I CAN!
About the Author : Lindsay Hodge
I am a writer and a photographer, a stay-at-home-mom, a wife, a homesteader and I am interested in all things sustainable. My husband and I own our own homestead... If you like that sort of thing, you can check out my OTHER website.
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