Side gigs are ways to supplement your main income. In online world, it has never been easier to create side gigs for teachers or just about anyone else.
Write about it.
Build a business (online or not) around it.
Now, before we get started, I want to spell out something as boldly as I can.
Building any of these into side gigs can be fun and, potentially, quite rewarding.
BUT… because most people who’ve never built a business before often think that if they build a good product, people will just show up.
You know… the old saying: Build it and they will come.
Ahh, Grasshopper, not so fast there.
The real work of your business is the marketing… because no matter how good your stuff is, ya just gotta figure out how to get people to find you, and that requires marketing.
A LOT of marketing.
And, over and over. No, I’m not saying it requires any sort of high-pressure sales tactics, but you have to be comfortable getting your name, product, or face out there. It just is that way.
So, if you’re the “I just want to create” kind of person and leave all that nasty business stuff to someone else, unless you have tons in your bank account or a guru marketing partner who’ll be in it with you for free, then you might not want to be creating a side gig to begin with.
But, that’s for a different time, and a different topic.
If you’re ready to hustle, read on…
So, are you up for building your own side gig?
Onward to more details on my three favorite ways to create side gigs for teachers and other smart people who know stuff.
Teaching What You Know As a Side Gig
I guarantee you that whatever you know, there is someone out there who’ll pay you to learn it.
Still a little skeptical? Maybe play the top progressive casino games or read on?
Check out just this one online learning portal — Udemy — where they have over 55,000 online courses on thousands of different topics. Bet you can’t find a topic where they don’t have at least one course.
Or what do you think about this research study from Global Market Insights that puts the online learning industry at close to $200 billion a year?
Yup, lots of people creating and taking online courses.
If you’re a teacher, check out the 1,000+ short courses at SimpleK12, most of which are created by teachers and school administrators, as side gigs!
Want to present a course for SimpleK12? Here’s where to go to learn more.
And, that’s just online. What about in-person presentations for professional development?
Virtually every industry has one or even dozens of organizations which provide training and professional development, either at organizations’ places of work or at conferences.
Check out my conversation with my friend Scott Paton about creating and selling courses online, especially with Udemy.
In addition to Udemy, here are some other course creation and delivery platforms you may want to investigate, in no particular order:
Academy of Mine
Another system I’ve been looking at closely is Kajabi, which is a completely integrated online course creation AND marketing tool. Remember my comments above about it all coming down to marketing? That’s what makes Kajabi something worth looking at, because it creates a one-stop base from which you can run your online teaching operation. (And, the guys who created Kajabi did so with marketing foremost in their plans.)
You may want to check out this webinar to learn not just about Kajabi, but the whole online course creation and marketing world as well.
If you’re still hungering for more, here’s a Kajabi review.
Cautionary Note: If you want maximum control, and not have to worry about a third-party platform going out of business or presenting you with strange or uncomfortable demands, you’ll want to think heavily about building your own site in WordPress (there are tons of great modules — called plug-ins that let you create environments similar to all of the platforms listed above) or another language or tool.
Writing About What You Know As a Side Gig
If you can teach, you can and should write. Now, not all writers make good in-person or online teachers, but all teachers should be good writers.
If you can teach, you can explain.
If you can explain, you can organize your thoughts and put them on paper or the screen.
So, if you’re just at the beginning of your writing quest, get yourself around other writers, take a course on how to get published, send out your ideas to publications (book, magazine, and online), and most of all (shocker!)… write.
Start a blog.
Also learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can about the business of writing.
You can start with the granddaddy of the writing business, Writers’ Market, which will give you more than you ever wanted to know about where and how to sell what you write.
Then you may also want to follow writers who write about the craft and business of writing. You can learn a lot from mega-published author Jerry Jenkins right here.
The whole writing and publishing industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. For book publishing, in the dark ages (pre-Internet) you pretty much had to go with the classical traditional book publishing route… you’d pitch your book to a “major publisher” (or an agent, if you could get one), wait weeks or months to get a decision from them, and then — if you were the 1 in a 1,000 selected — you could go through a one to three year (or longer!) process of getting the thing written and published. Then, if you were lucky beyond all hope, you’d see your book in a few bookstores.
Oh, and then, you might get 10 percent of the total sales of your book.
Sure, the big publishers are still around, but if you’re business minded and you don’t mind the production and marketing side of creating books, you can skip all that, set yourself up as your own publishing company (can be done in less than hour via online LLC company creation services), and have your books printed on-demand, in batches as little as one at a time.
Amazon — which is where everyone, big and small, wants to be peddling their books — has even integrated the whole print-on-demand and sales process in one through its Create Space subsidiary!
Of course, that’s just one option, of dozens, for setting up shop on your own… do a search on print -on-demand and you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s a good article from the Self Publishing Advice Center on a few of those print-on-demand options.
Side Tip: If you’re a teacher, go ahead and send a short article about your classroom insights or experiences right here at SimpleK12.
Building a Business Around What You Know As a Side Gig
Building a business, especially around stuff you know or love, could require a book in itself. Shoot, you could even write an entire series of books around this topic.
So, let me just give you a couple of places to check out to see if if they suit your interests, and then share a story about something that intrigues me as something worth investigating if you’re a product-oriented person.
If you’re artsy, think about selling your creations and wares via Etsy.
If you want to have your own online store, you’ll certainly want to investigate Shopify. Their tagline tells you what they cover, and it’s broad: Whether you sell online, on social media, in store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify has you covered.
If your skill set lends itself to the marketing side of things, and you know your way around the online world quite well, you may want to investigate the thousands of affiliate programs out there — when you’re an affiliate, you essentially put banners and other links in your social media, emails, and site(s) to drive traffic to the merchant’s site.
Here’s a good background article on affiliate marketing from Acceleration Partners, an affiliate network that brings merchants and affiliates (that would be you in this scenario) together.
If you work with teachers or have a site that attracts a lot of teacher traffic, check out the SimpleK12 affiliate program.
My Favorite Way to Make Money Online
When you become accomplished at something, you will often find opportunities to help other people do what you do with coaching, consulting, or some other type of advisory service.
My friend Al Secunda, known online as The Muffin Man, has a small, yet quite successful, side gig selling his products — he focuses on baking and home-related accessories — on Amazon.
Al, and thousands of others, has set up shops for their own products — whether they make them themselves or source them from manufacturers and artisans — right on Amazon.
A few years ago, Amazon created their Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service, and here’s how the company describes it:
“You sell it, we ship it. Amazon has created one of the most advanced fulfillment networks in the world, and your business can benefit from our expertise. With Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and we pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products.”
FBA gives Al and all of these other side giggers a huge amount of flexibility. Because all of the products go straight from the manufacturer (in Al’s case) to Amazon, he has no need to store physical inventory, he doesn’t have to ship and bill customers, nor does he have to deal with customer service. I put all of those things into the “yay for me!” category when it comes to having a side gig.
Perhaps most importantly for many side giggers, wth something like FBA, Al doesn’t have to be at a specific place at a specific time.
In fact, Al goes about his day (he’s a stay-at-home dad, a professional musician, and he has three or four different side gigs) and works mostly from his smart phone, even while out on his walks with his daughter and dog and while at the park.
Now, because Al has learned so much about running side gigs on FBA, so quickly, he’s had people ask him for his advice. Well, because that smelled like another opportunity for Al, he’s in the process of setting up yet two other side gigs — he’s creating courses to teach people how to get up and running on FBA and he’s acting as a consultant to larger companies who want to move from brick-and-mortar retail operations to becoming online merchants.
If there’s one downside to FBA and to the whole “wow, this is a really easy way to get into an online side gig business,” it’s that — while the mechanics are easy and can be learned — you simply cannot guess at what products you should be selling. Consequently, FBA is ideally suited for someone who is analytical, loves data (lots and lots of it), and is dogged enough to go through various tests and iterations.