Through the Internet, not only has learning become more accessible but teaching has too. You no longer need to work at school or have a degree to earn money teaching. With commitment and passion, you can become an online teacher and get paid for doing what you love. While you might have asked yourself “can you become a teacher online?” we realize it can seem pretty daunting to carry this idea into action. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to help you discover how to become an online teacher! 

1. Set Personal Goals and Regular Schedules

With so many things going on in your life, it’s all too easy to push online teaching from your priority list. To prevent yourself from putting it off to the following weekend, month, or year, set concrete goals with specific dates and numbers. How often will you publish a new class, and how much do you expect to make from each course? Keeping a pulse on your commitments and the amount of resources you can put into teaching are essential if you want to become an online teacher. If you’re like me and need other people to keep you accountable, join one of our 30-day challenges where you can ask for feedback and help from fellow online teachers!

A sampling of Helen Bradley’s Skillshare course offerings
A sampling of Helen Bradley’s Skillshare course offerings

Helen Bradley, who earns up to $7,000 every month, sets a goal to teach a 40-minute class every week and successfully juggles her teaching gig with a 50-hour work week. She’s learned how to incorporate teaching into her lifestyle and maximize her productivity while doing so, and so can you!

2. Pick a Class Topic

Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to become an online teacher, there are some practical steps you could take to develop a class topic that fits your particular skill set and people’s interest areas. Here are some additional tips we provide for our teachers, or questions that might help you out.

  • Pick a target audience

What specific type of students are you hoping would take your class: graphic designers, home cooks, small business owners?

  • Research your student community

What are the skills that you think your students would see as most relevant and practical?

  • Think of a creative project you’ve done in the past

What was a creative project you’ve most enjoyed doing, and how can you build your class topic from that?

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3. Pick the Right Online Platform

With so many options available, it’s important to choose an online learning platform that suits you best. In addition to researching the ins and outs of how to be an online teacher, spend time discovering what you value most, whether that’s maximizing your earnings, having readily available class creation tools, or being a part of a community that’s passionate about learning and teaching. Here is a detailed breakdown of the top four online learning platforms so you can decide where to start your online class.

4. Make Your Class Online Friendly

Many online courses mimic the way classes have traditionally been taught offline, spread over the course of several hours, if not days and weeks. Studies show, however, that online learning doesn’t quite work that way. Online students are more prone to make it to the finish line when classes come in “shorter bursts,” and that’s why we encourage our teachers to create classes that typically last 20-60 minutes. You’d be surprised by how much you can fit in such a short time!

By making the material easy to digest, shorter classes allow students to stay focused and ease the burden to stay “committed” for weeks. It also helps instill a sense of achievement which, you probably know by experience, is the best part about learning. Not convinced that this is how online learning works? Try putting yourself in your students’ shoes by taking some online classes!

5. Communicate, Connect, and Engage

One of the challenges you’ll face when considering how to be an online teacher is that online learning reduces face-to-face interaction, making it more difficult to foster and maintain student engagement. Luckily, online learning platforms have adapted to create tools that would eliminate this barrier. Skillshare teachers, for instance, often utilize discussions as a way to connect with their student followers, from announcing new classes and updates to sharing class-related resources. Project prompts or exercises that help students practice the skills they learned can also ensure active participation and learning.

Once a student has enrolled in your class, consider that an opportunity to build a consistent student base. Just as social media channels have become a powerful tool to establish personal businesses and brands, your classes can provide a chance for you to attract a substantial audience and eventually monetize your online following.

An example exchange between a Skillshare student and instructor
An example exchange between a Skillshare student and instructor

Among other learning platforms, Skillshare makes this particularly easy by automatically adding every student to your “channel” and notifying them every time you post a new class. That’s how Bryn Chernoff grew a following of more than 16,000 students, which she could then easily monetize for her calligraphy brand Paperfinger. When you invest in your students, constantly engaging with them and building community, your efforts will surely not go unnoticed!

Are you ready to become an online teacher? Skillshare provides some of the best resources and support for people like you, so head below to learn more about teaching in our community!

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Written by:

Julie Kim