Social media has changed our world. The Kardashians have become a force of their own from sharing their lives worldwide, you can connect and follow reality tv stars long after they’ve left their tv shows and now comes the age of the ‘teacher influencer’. Teachers from around the world are becoming famous amongst the online network of educators and some are even leaving their teaching professions to manage their online demands. We are only beginning to see the changes in online career opportunities for teachers due to ever changing social media. In the next five years, the role of the teacher is going to change dramatically. Social teaching accounts will grow to be become a major part of many teacher’s earnings. Now is the best opportunity to grow your teaching account and ride the wave of the teaching entrepreneurship revolution.
1. Niche Down and Theme Up
There are hundreds of teacher accounts being created each month so how do you stand out from the crowd? Many of them share a colourful array of images of their lessons and daily teaching experiences. You need to niche down and theme up. Your images and posts need to stand out and the only way to get recognised is to niche down and be known for a specific area or subject. For high school teachers this can be easy to focus on one of your subject specialities but for primary teachers who spend much of their energy on a number of subjects and topics this can be difficult.
What do you enjoy teaching the most? What subject do you love spending time resourcing and preparing for? To stand out from the crowd you must be known for this subject. Choose a subject that you find working on effortless and focus your attention on this. Overtime you will become the expert or ‘go to person’ in this area and other teachers will come to you for advice in this area. Think about your favourite teaching accounts. Why do they stand out to you? What drew you to them? Your niche doesn’t necessarily need to be a subject area. Teachers have grown successful brands from focussing on teacher fashion, classroom décor or themed resources. Do you want to be known as the problem-solving teacher? The art teacher? The glitter teacher? Or the growth mindset teacher? Discover your interests and how you can convey them to the world.
Add a theme to your account. Think about your logo? Does it have a significant theme? Are the majority of your images linked in some way? As well as niched topics accounts usually stand out when the teacher has a dedicated theme. There are teachers who spend a lot of time and money on purchasing décor to match their theme and every time you start to see that theme on your feed that teachers account pops into your head. There are teachers who have outer space themes, or even a bumble bee logo so bees, honey and yellow feature in most of he posts. Teaching with Miss M has stunning long natural red hair that features in many of her photos, this has become a trademark of hers. Mrs Girling is known for her love of rainbow and rainbow colours. There have been times when I have seen sloth earrings in the shop and I thought to myself, “Oh that teacher who posts sloth décor would love these!” I haven’t even met this teacher, yet I know that sloth earrings would really match the rest of the merchandise and fashion she has purchased already.
2. Plan your Marketing Strategy
Decide on one or two ways to market your online teacher business. There are so many options out there for the teacher entrepreneurs. Teachers are using Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Word Press, Pintrest and Twitter, just to name a few. Using all these different platforms can get very overwhelming and before you know you haven’t really told your story well on anything.
When choosing the perfect marketing tool for you, you need to consider two things.
- Where is your target market?
- How do you like to express yourself?
Choose a platform that you know hosts your target market (the teachers you want to connect with) and you feel most comfortable expressing yourself and your business. Do you enjoy posting photos? Do you prefer mainly to write and post blogs? Do you enjoy vlogging?
Once you have chosen the platform you are going to use then write out a plan of how you are going to share your story. What value are you going to give your audience and how will you communicate that to them? By value, we mean what information are you going to provide other teachers that they will find helpful? You don’t need to be an expert, you just have to put your own personality into what you know and do everyday!
There is no harm in securing your online teacher name/business name on every social media platform for the future, but your main marketing focus should be on one or two platforms at the most. You can also find apps that connect your social media accounts so when you post to your chosen account this image or message can be streamed throughout all of your accounts. This strategy should not always be relied upon however because the audiences on different social media platforms suit different content. For example, Linked In audiences prefer a much more professional setting of content whereas Snapchat is suited to on the spot unprepared raw content.
3. Share what make you unique with the world
“What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.” Emma Stone.
This is clique but 100% true, there is only one you and that’s what makes your business unique. If you take a look at the most successful teaching brands today you know the teacher like they are your friend. You know their teaching struggles and sometimes even how they take their coffee. Audiences don’t connect with robots or images. They connect with people. You.
You need to be able express who you are and your teaching aspirations through your teacher brand. Many, myself included, find it incredible hard to stare into a camera and be myself without feeling a little narcissistic or robotic. But there is a difference between posting a video about your breakfast or your morning gym routine and talking about yourself the entire post compared to a video about the same thing but includes the benefits of exercising before breakfast or the details of the change you’ve felt since changing to a different diet and training routine. You bring value. Each post you do, give some sort of value or meaning to your audience. This allows your audience to not only get to know you but to gain something from your post.
4. Provide Value
Providing value has been mentioned in nearly all five strategies and that is because it is the most important. Ask yourself, how does your online teaching brand provide value to your audience? What can you offer your audience? What will they get out of your products or interacting with you?
If you cannot answer this then you need to have a long hard look at your teaching brand. Your teaching business should not just be about sharing your experiences but providing value to other teachers in search of inspiration in their career. How, in your niche, you plan to provide value to your audience is up to you. If you want teachers to follow your account, then there must be something in it for them.
Ask your audience what they need. Start online dialogue and tap into their needs and wants. It is easy to have the perception of, ‘I am a teacher so I know what my audience wants because we share the same experiences’ this is true, but nothing compares to the information you will gain from interacting with your audience and asking them how you can best serve them.
Providing value for free will give you a trusted name in the online teaching community.
5. It’s Ok to Give but it’s also Ok to Receive (Monetise)
Teachers are giving people. They don’t look at a situation and ask what’s in it for them. They look at how they can help others, especially their students.
However, teaching is expensive. The Australian Taxation Office states that Australian teachers spend between $500 and $1500 on their classroom resources every year. Wouldn’t it be handy to get some of that money back, or even earn more to really level up your classroom the way you want? Or maybe you would like to earn a little more for your family but are not interested in an executive position?
There are different ways teachers are using their passion to earn a second income. Teachers are creating their own digital products and selling them online. Kayse Morris from Teaching on Less has dedicated You Tube videos showing teachers a step by step process on how to use Powerpoint to create your own digital teaching resources.
Other sources of income are through affiliate marketing, where teachers blog and test out teaching resources and offer recommendations for teachers.
Using the website www.tiptheteacher.com.auteachers are able to donate funds to their favourite teachers. Members share their teaching experiences, build an audience of followers and use the money donated to them to continue to grow their online teaching business.
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb
It is easy to look at the current online teachers and get overwhelmed but they all started with an empty account and no followers. Just start. Chip away slowly. Be present, be patient and your hard work will pay off.