Teaching as a Side Hustle?

It was summer of 2016 and an online friend told me about a platform she was using to teach others how to make homemade wine, cheese, and more. Enter Skillshare.

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I have always enjoyed teaching others how to do something, but up until that point it had been in person or through my books and articles. I was both intrigued and terrified by the thought of teaching online.

After some persuading on her part, I bit the bullet and published a class titled How to Spin Your Own Yarn. (Update March 2022: this class was unpublished by Skillshare due to it no longer conforming to their guidelines. I chose not to record a newer version.)

That class still earns me a few dollars a month, and I only had to do the majority of the work once. Of the 62 months since I first published, there have only been 9 months where my payments have been $0.00. I don’t consider that terrible, since I haven’t really done anything to promote my classes. The majority of the students found my classes through the platform’s search feature.

I only have two classes published at this point, the other being Make Your Own Weaving Sticks (also unpublished due to same reason as above). I tried to teach my Creating and Selling Nonfiction course but was not happy with the format, so left it as a digital download in my Etsy Shop instead.

Are you a teacher at heart?

Whether you’re camera shy or not, teaching others is doable on Skillshare. In fact, because you do the videos yourself, you can do as many takes as necessary to get it the way you want it.

The lessons consist of short videos so your students can consume them in bite-size pieces. There’s nothing worse than trying to go back through a video that’s an hour long to find a segment you want to replay. By having several short videos your students can rewatch a step they may have not understood the first time, or missed because of a distraction.

Recording the lessons can be done with your phone, a camera, or webcam. I recorded mine using either a digital camera or my phone; I honestly don’t recall which it was now. You don’t have to have top of the line equipment; as long as it gives you a clear picture and audio you’re set.

Classes can be anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours long. They must be structured, have an introduction (this is basically where you tell your potential student what the course is about and what they will learn when they take it), as many lessons as it takes to teach the subject, and a conclusion.

As I write this I am using a 5+ hour class for a reference. One thing I have noticed is none of the teacher’s lessons are over 20 minutes. The average lesson ranges from 5 to 15 minutes, with more or less time for some of them. His entire class has 31 videos, which includes the introduction and conclusion.

Skillshare has a wonderful reference section, as well as a teacher handbook. They explain how to structure your classes, how to optimize the description with keywords, and how to record and edit. The handbook also covers class promotion, earning revenue, building your channel, and more.

A snippet of the Getting Started Menu.

As you can see in the photo above, the Teacher Handbook is full of information to help you record a great class. Plus they want you to succeed. If you do well, they do well.

Are you in?

You don’t have to teach classes about spinning or making weaving sticks like I published; you can teach anything you wish. From A to Z, any topic you pick, chances are there’s a class on it. And if there isn’t, then you can be the first to teach one!

The best part is you can sign up for a free trial and take some classes, set up a teacher account, and earn some extra cash for as long as your class is published. Like I said earlier, I have had only 2 classes published for the majority of the past 5 years and I earn a few dollars almost every month. If I promoted my classes more, I know my earnings would be much higher.

It’s nice to get the email from PayPal mid-month saying “Skillshare has sent you $$$.$$.” It’s one side hustle I really haven’t put any time into once the classes were published. It’s almost a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal. However, it’s better if you engage with your students and followers regularly. (I need to practice what I preach in this regard.)

(Update March 2022: In addition to earning as a teacher Skillshare also has an referral program, which I still belong to and endorse. I need to brush up on my recording skills and add another class or two; but don’t foresee it being within the next month or two.)

Let me know in the comments if you are currently a teacher on Skillshare, or if it’s something you’re considering. And if you teach on another platform, which one?

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3 Steps to Creating an Information Product

Creating an information product is probably one of the easiest things to do, and can bring you the highest return.

Disclaimer: This post contains links for my products. I will receive full payment should you decide to make a purchase. The information does not guarantee financial gain simply by reading this post or my product. It takes time and effort to create an information product, but once done the possibilities of increasing your bank balance is real.

Before I get too far into the steps, you must first know what an information product is. In all honesty, this blog post is essentially an information product, because it will teach you how to do something.

An information product is designed to teach the reader/viewer/listener how to do something. It can be written, video, or audio. And the beauty of it is you create it once, and can sell it over and over again…even while you sleep.

I have been creating information products for at least three decades. When I started I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It wasn’t until up to about 10 years ago that I came across an article online (I don’t remember the title of it now) that talked about information products and marketing. It was then that the lightbulb went off, and I realized I could do that as a side hustle.

I started by writing articles online and when I realized people liked what I had to say, I took it a step further and began self-publishing my own ebooks, PDFs, print on demand books, and printable products in my Etsy shop.

My most popular articles have been on quilting, making and using weaving sticks, and how to earn money with side hustles. As much as I enjoy crafting, I enjoy helping others make the extra money they need/want for bills, vacations, or a new home.

This post will tell you what you need to do to create your own written information product.

Step 1: Come up with an idea.

This is where your brainstorming skills will come into play. Think of all of the things you like to do. Then think of all the things you are good at. Make a list of each, then pick your top 3.

Step 2: Outline your product.

Remember back in school when you had to write an essay? Your teacher probably told you to make an outline. It wasn’t because he/she wanted to give you more work (well, maybe that was part of it), but rather to help you stay on track as you wrote.

It’s quite easy to start writing about something, then stray off topic. The outline is there to keep you focused.

Step 3: Create your product.

This is the fun part. My guess is you already know a lot about your topic. If you don’t, it’s time to do some research.

You don’t have to write thousands of words, unless of course that’s what it’s going to take to get your point across. I do want to say the easier you make it for your reader the better. They’re going to want quick results, especially if they’re impatient like many people (me included).

Use words, short sentences, pictures, diagrams, and whatever else it takes to show your reader how to get from an idea to a finished product. For example, if you’re teaching someone how to make a macrame plant hanger you’ll include a materials list, cutting lengths, knot directions, and steps to make the hanger.

Since a lot of people need a visual to understand how the knots are made, take photos as you go along and insert them after the written part of each step. You could also include a video tutorial within the product, or link to it on your YouTube channel.

Conclusion:

Once your product is created, it’s time to market it. For a more in-depth look at the process of creating an information product, I have written a course which is available in my Etsy Shop (NotJustAlpacaDesigns) and priced at $19. Grab your copy today, and you can be on your way to earning passive income tomorrow.

Creating and Selling Nonfiction

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Our Pets are Family Too

Recent events have made me stop and think about why I started this website/blog.

You’ve read my posts on side hustles, which there are more than any other topic I had intended to cover when I started this. You’ve also read about my loss of Ross in May 2020.

As of today I’m going to talk more about what being over 50 means; the good and the bad. We so often shut people out when they’re going through a rough time; simply because we ourselves don’t know how to deal with the situation.

I’m aware that I could be shut out as well, but I’m a big girl and can handle it. Now let me back up the bus just a little.

On Monday afternoon my geriatric Blue Heeler went missing. He is blind, fairly deaf, and 12 years old. My last time to see him was in the morning before I went to my doctor’s appointment, and when I got home I figured he was asleep in his house. And at that point, he most likely was.

My side door camera picked him up walking down the steps and out of camera range at 1:25 in the afternoon. He’s an old boy, so spends several hours during the day napping. He’ll make his rounds between my house and my father-in-law’s, but is always home for supper. When he didn’t eat I then realized there was something wrong.

I searched around the yard that evening, but it’s not the first time he’s been gone for a few hours. When he still hadn’t returned by morning I became really concerned. I searched my yard, nearby fields, ditches, and my father-in-law’s yard…to no avail. By the end of the day I had walked (according to my Fitbit) almost 9 miles. No sign of him anywhere.

After looking yesterday without any sign of him, my hopes of finding him alive are diminishing. I am utilizing the power of Facebook as one last ditch effort to get him back; or at least find out what happened to him. Calls to the SPCA and local vet have turned up nothing.

What hurts my heart the most is there are people out there who steal dogs for their own gain; and it’s rarely just because they want their own dog. Our world is full of uncaring people, who don’t consider a pet as a family member. Our pets are a big part of our family, and when one disappears without a trace it’s heartbreaking.

We’ve had pets die before, but with that comes closure. When they disappear the closure isn’t there, and our minds conjure up all sorts of things. I’m a big girl and know death is a fact of life. I’ve experienced it enough in my lifetime but also know closure is needed. It doesn’t get easier as we age; dealing with death. In fact, we’re more aware of it as we age I think.

If you’ve joined me just to learn how to make money with side hustles, I’ll still be posting about them. I’m also going to post about other things life throws at me; both good and bad. Maybe I’ll talk more about my pets, my friends, my kids. Maybe I’ll talk about a new recipe I have tried or pattern I have designed…or book I have read.

I don’t claim to have all the answers; I just go through life one day at a time like everyone else does. And right now, my missing dog is all I can think about. If he’s passed on simply because it was his time, all I want is to do is find him. If he’s still alive, I want him home.

Buddy sitting in my swing with me. He was so happy.
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