Many Americans are rethinking their approach to personal finance. This includes considering a side hustle: Almost three-quarters, 70%, of U.S. adults say they are thinking of adding another source of income to become more financially stable, according to a January 2021 survey of 2,006 adults by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Nailing down which side hustle to try can be tricky, but one that’s gotten increasingly popular is online teaching. Thinking about your background, life experience, and talents can help you figure out possible subject areas. “Everyone has something to teach,” says Chris Haroun, whose courses on Udemy, spanning topics including business and content creation, have helped him make millions.
Here are three pieces of advice from successful online teachers for anyone curious to try it out for themselves.
Brett Stevens picked up online teaching in 2015 after adopting three siblings, Eric, Wyatt, and Thad, and realizing her 9-to-5 job just wasn’t working for her family. Instead, she started teaching Chinese kids English on sites like VIPKid, which pairs English-speaking teachers with students for 25-minute classes and pays $7 to $8.50 per class.
Piecing together classes from VIPKid and other sites ultimately helped Stevens make $5,000 per month. Her advice? When you’re figuring out which platforms you want to teach on, try different sites.
Brett Stevens. Courtesy Brett Stevens
“Back in 2015, there were tons of kids in China who were looking to take classes and there were very few teachers,” she says. So there wasn’t a lot of competition. Today, the market is flooded with teachers vying for the same positions.
Stevens suggests trying to teach on both sites that have been around for a long time and new ones that have just gotten started. “That’s your best bet to get your foot in the door,” she says.
Jade Weatherington started teaching essay writing on Outschool, a platform offering classes for kids ages 3-18 on subjects ranging from arts and crafts to geometry to LEGO, after her daughter asked to be homeschooled. Weatherington had been teaching on an array of platforms for years, but by her third month on the site she’d made $5,000 from just two courses and realized she should focus her efforts on Outschool.
She’s now teaching nine courses on the site and netting $10,000 per month. Her advice? Work on building relationships with kids and parents.
Jade Weatherington. Courtesy Jade Weatherington
To do so herself, Weatherington shows students “appreciation that they came to [my] class” by thanking them directly, she says. She also sends messages to parents to say, “Thank you so much for signing your child up for my class. I hope to see them again.”
This kind of effort not only helps ensure these kids sign up for more of her classes, but encourages parents to spread the word about her work. “Word of mouth is the biggest part of my success,” she says.
Single mother of three Danira Cancinos started her baking business in 2012, selling to friends and her local community and slowly growing her customer base. Among her signature baked goods were her caramel apples, created with a recipe that allowed for the caramel to be soft instead of hard and chewy.
After years of requests from customers, in 2019, Cancinos finally agreed to teach people how to make her caramel apples online using Facebook Live. Running the course just twice grossed her more than $126,000.
“I never imagined being able to make this type of money,” she says.
Danira Cancinos. Photo by Nataly Lemus
Starting a new venture can be scary, and growing an audience can take a long time. But looking back, Cancinos thinks there was one big thing that held her back from growing her business. “I didn’t believe in myself enough,” she says, “and it kept me small for a long time.”
Her advice for anyone diving into a new venture is simple: “Believe in yourself.”
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