Make Money Teaching Online

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You don't need to be a college professor to make money teaching online. Many sites now offer professionals and hobbyists the chance to create and sell online classes on topics from programming to healthy living. Here's how:

Choose a Topic You're Passionate About

Make sure that you choose a topic you know and that you are interested in sharing with others. Your passion (or lack thereof) will come through in your writing and multimedia and make a big difference to potential students. Although you should know enough about the subject to teach it, you don't need to be an expert or have major credentials. A big name may help you sell, but most students are simply looking for quality content.

Choose a Topic That Can Be Monetized

If your goal is to make money, consider your topic carefully. Is it broad enough that a lot of people are interested in it? Is it specific enough that there aren't already lots of courses or free online articles, videos, etc. that give away the information your course would provide? Courses on tech topics (programming, computer science) and business topics (creating a business plan, social media marketing, etc.) seem to do well. Courses on humanities (how to read poetry, the history of the Civil War, etc.) and lifestyle (nutrition, fashion, etc.) don't seem to attract as many paying students. However, a good teacher and good marketing can make most subjects successful.

Find a Teaching Platform that Works for You

You could create a course on your own domain and market to attract your own students. However, a growing number of websites offer hosting, design, promotion, and other services target towards online teachers. In most cases, these websites take a portion of the student tuition rather than charging online teachers anything upfront. One of the most popular services, ​Udemy, hosts courses that are heavy in video content and has instructors that make over $90,000 a year.

Create Your Content

Once you've decided on an idea, it's time to create your lessons. The type of content you create will depend on your topic, your teaching style, and the platform you've chosen. You may create written lessons, shoot videos, record screencasts, or even create interactive tutorials. Most students don't expect course content to be highly produced. However, they do expect some professionalism and editing. Many of the tools you may need for media creation can be found for free online or as pre-installed software on your computer. Software with greater functionality generally isn't too expensive, particularly if you qualify for a teacher or student discount due to your work at a traditional school. For video creation, PC users can download Windows Movie Maker at no cost while Mac users can create with iMovie. For screencasting, Jing is a functional and free download or Camtasia is available to purchase with additional features. Simple programs like PowerPoint can also be used to create slideshows or enhanced podcasts. 

Promote, Promote, Promote

The way you promote is just as important as the way that you create your course. Even if you use a teaching platform like Udemy, you will need to do some self-promotion to make sure that your online course reaches its audience. Social media including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help you build a following. You may use an outside blog or website to share your message. Regular newsletters sent to a growing number of subscribers can also help. If you have even a small advertising budget, you may find it useful to buy ad space through Google Adwords so that potential students can find your course when searching for related terms.