As the world shifts into a more digital landscape, many professions are migrating into the online world. This change was made more urgent when the pandemic hit. As much as we want to forget about this grim part of our history, it has forever changed the way we interact with everyone else. Thankfully, there are ways you can take advantage of this transformation and earn an income doing what you love.
Even before the pandemic, experts in various industries already saw the potential of offering their expertise via online courses. If you’re looking for a side hustle where you can earn income teaching about the things you’re passionate about, this could be what you’re looking for. Here’s a brief but insightful look into the world of online courses and how to become an online professor. Read on!
Why Teach Online: Checking the Current Trends
People visit the internet for a lot of reasons: to socialize, connect, be entertained, etc. There’s a large percentage who go online to learn. It’s the preferred method for many since they can do it at home in their own time. Online learning is not a new concept. In fact, it has been around since the 1990s, but it didn’t become a mainstream topic until the 2010s.
Back in the first half of the 2010s, sites like Patreon, Udemy, Coursera, and Masterclass started to emerge, gaining traction over the years. These platforms allowed professors, industry specialists, and other professionals to connect with learners by posting courses in video format. These were accessible via subscriptions or up-front payment for every class.
This way, many users were able to attend classes on their own time. Since every professional can create an account on these websites, people from various fields were able to upload classes and interact with users. Some of the most popular industries included computer science, cooking, intrapersonal skills development, web development, and social media marketing.
It wasn’t just the convenience of online classes that allowed the industry to flourish. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, students were forced to shift to online lessons to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. There was a huge adjustment at first because of how abrupt the lockdowns were, but many eventually got used to the video-call format.
Since the process has been streamlined, online learning has become easier and more accessible, even to those who aren’t digitally literate. Its successful proliferation also established it as a trusted method of learning.
Increased Reliance on Technology
Today, we do and rely so much on our screen and the web that the whole paradigm has shifted. You can take advantage of this dependence on technology by providing educational solutions online. With these lessons, you’d be able to earn passive income and establish yourself as an authority on the topic. So, how do you go about it?
How To Become an Online Professor
There are a few steps you need to follow to establish a career in online teaching. Most of these will require an upfront effort on your end, but the long-term results will be worth the initial hurdles. Follow the process outlined below to get you started:
Don’t just talk about all your interests or skills. You want to focus on something niche that you’re knowledgeable about. By concentrating on a single topic during the first stages, you’d be able to create cohesive content and attract a dedicated fan base.
There is no limit to the topics you can teach, but be sure to specialize as much as possible. For example, if you’re a landscape photographer, you can teach classes that focus on Hero or drone photography. For chefs, you can focus on a particular cuisine or an instrument like grills or cast iron pans. It all depends on your imagination and creativity.
Learn How To Teach Online
Now that you’ve narrowed down the topic that you want to discuss, the next step is learning how to teach online. Those who have prior teaching experience will find the transition easier, but if you don’t have those skills, you’ll still find plenty of resources out there.
Here’s a little secret: there aren’t any parameters or skill sets that an online teacher needs to have. It’s all about being able to simplify complex topics into engaging and easy-to-digest lessons. If you already have the technical know-how for your niche, you just need some soft skills. These include good communication, marketing skills, feedback giving, and time management.
Set Up Your Equipment
Before you can start posting anything online, you should have the right equipment to record, edit, and upload your videos. Some of the things you’re going to need are:
Desktop Computer or Laptop
Get a decent unit that allows you to share your screen, edit videos, and connect to the internet.
Get one that you can easily integrate into your computer or one that allows wireless file transfers for more convenience.
Most cameras and computers will have their own microphones, but some niches will require good sound and audio quality. Be sure to have a good microphone.
A dedicated program for video editing will help you easily cut, stitch, and export your finished classes.
These are just the basic requirements. For some industries like 3D printing, cooking, or art, you’d have to source the materials to use for your classes.
Create Your Online Course
Now, on to the actual lessons you’re going to make. Various niches will require specific styles, so it’s up to you to decide the best way to approach every topic. As a general rule, you want your classes to revolve around one subject — don’t go on tangents and waste a learner’s time. Lessons should also be digestible, so even those who have little understanding of a topic will be able to get along. If you’re going to teach a more intermediate or complex course, be sure that your students are aware of it before they buy the lesson.
While most online learning courses follow a model that limits interaction between teacher and student, you can gain a bigger base if you engage with your learners. Every now and then, you can visit the comment section and answer questions. You can also provide feedback and direct them to additional resources if they need it. With these practices, you will become an actual mentor they can trust instead of a random person on the internet.
Advertise Your Course to the Right Audience
You can’t profit off your online courses if no one takes them in the first place. It’s best to take advantage of marketing strategies to reach your target audience. Your first option should be optimizing your content for SEO, allowing your page to reach the top results of search engines. In addition, you can use your social media network and professional connections to help spread the word about your courses.
There are several ways you can earn income from your online classes. When you begin, select the one that’s most convenient for you. As you get savvier with your business practices, you can modify your payment system based on your and your audience’s needs.
Paying one-time fees for a course is one of the most common and easy-to-understand options for your learners. It’s easy to implement, manage, and understand for all parties involved since it mimics the payment systems of traditional academic institutions. Because of this, learners will be more enticed since they know what they’re getting upfront.
However, there are some disadvantages to this method. Some people aren’t willing to pay up-front if they don’t trust you or your content yet, so it pays to build a good reputation in your field. In addition, it’s not as stable as subscription payments when it comes to income flow.
Make It a Subscription Service
Subscription payment is a great option if you want to have a stable income flow. It’s also more common than you think — people are already used to the subscription model thanks to many popular applications like Netflix and Spotify. This option is also more sustainable for most students since they’re paying a lesser amount per month while still being able to access your content.
The downside of a subscription payment system is that you’ll have to do consistent work. Your subscribers will be expecting new classes regularly since they’re continuously paying. So for this model, you’ll need a bit more commitment to producing good content for your learners.
While it may seem impractical to offer your courses online for free, it has been proven to be a successful model preferred by large online learning platforms. They understand the appeal of free lessons and how it builds trust between the learners and the instructors. With this method, any hesitations or fears of making bad decisions will be reduced or eliminated.
So, how will you make money? Offer certifications. This is highly applicable for those who’ve built a level of authority for a certain niche. Let your learners take paid certification exams where they can assess their knowledge about the topics you discussed. If they pass, they’ll get a certificate to present when applying for jobs in that particular field.
This is another option to make money from free online courses — connecting it with a product. There are many ways to go about this, but the bottom line is that you use your classes to funnel sales to goods or services. For example, you can create tutorials for a type of appliance or specialized equipment you sell on the same website, or you can offer paid one-on-one consultations for a topic you talked about in one class.
Like the other models discussed, this method has a few disadvantages. There’s a reliance on the product or service for income, and if you aren’t able to market it enough, you won’t be getting steady revenue. In addition, it can take more work since you’d be handling product sales aside from creating your online courses.
A tiered system is a sort of subscription hybrid where users will pay varying amounts of money regularly to access your content. Generally, the more they pay, the more content and perks they can access. This is the model that platforms like Patreon utilize. It’s a great compromise for learners who are afraid to commit a large amount for subscriptions. Once they trust your courses, they’d be more willing to pay for higher tiers.
Benefits of Online Courses
You can enjoy many benefits in creating online courses. With dedicated up-front work and commitment to consistency and quality, you’ll be enjoying these following advantages while talking about the things you’re passionate about.
Creating online courses can be a full-time thing, but many people choose it as a side hustle where they can earn passive income. Due to its nature as one-off digital products, video courses do not need to be re-edited to fit a particular audience. You just need to upload it and wait for the payments as long as you have stable subscribers. The only active work you need to do is create engaging content and ensure that it reaches your target users.
This advantage is highly applicable for those following payment models like one-time payments or certifications. You can upload new videos at your convenience, edit mistakes before rendering the final file, interact with learners, and choose your own topics. Unlike university classes that have to follow strict syllabi, you can customize classes according to your expertise or rising trends.
You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in a certain topic to become an online class instructor, but you can earn a level of authority that’s just as good as a doctorate if you prove yourself a specialist in certain niches. Online classes can help establish you as a subject matter expert, which can lead to more subscribers and an expanded network.
The growing online learning industry is a great way to earn income and become a well-known expert while doing the things you love. If you plan to start creating engaging and enriching content about topics you’re passionate about, reference the guide above and start your journey to become an online professor.