When it comes to making some extra money (or a whole new income), teaching can be a great option. But, you say, “I don’t know any skills that I can teach others.” Or, “I don’t have a teaching credential.” Nonsense. First, nearly everyone has some skill or knowledge set that others want to learn. Second, the type of teaching I’m talking about isn’t school-based, so teaching degrees aren’t generally required. If you’re good at communicating ideas, patient, and willing to learn how to best present your knowledge (in person, video, books, etc.) you can teach and make money.
When looking for topics, ask yourself, “What do I know how to do that I take for granted, but others might not?” Or, “What problem can I solve for someone?” The answers to these questions often make the best topics. Don’t dismiss your idea as unsuitable because, “Everyone knows how to do this.” I assure you, not everyone knows how to do everything. And even if they do know how to do something, they may not know your way of doing it (which may be better, cheaper, or easier). Don’t assume that there’s no room in the marketplace for your idea and approach.
Once you’ve decided what to teach, you have to decide how best to teach it. Do you want to develop your own online course? Write books? Make YouTube or TikTok videos? All of the above? Do you want to host or publish your own stuff, or use a commercial educational platform or traditional publishing? How you teach will be decided by your topic. Some things are best communicated in writing, others via video or presentation software. Some things can only be learned in-person in a hands-on environment. Ask friends and potential students how they would best learn your material in order to get ideas. Before you go all out, it can be a good idea to create a few sample materials to test your ideas.
The great thing about teaching is that it allows you to scale up your offerings if you gain traction in the marketplace. You can take a small video course and add a series of workbooks. Or beef up your video material and start teaching paid seminars on the topic. If you start with books, you can add audio or video components to supplement the books. Perhaps you can adjust your material up or down the age range and offer, “X-Course for Young Readers” or, “Y-Course, now adapted for adults.” If you become a recognized expert in the field, you can get on the speaking circuit or do TED talks. The more you can offer, the more money you can make.
So do you want some ideas on what to teach? I thought so. While the questions posed above are food for thought and you probably have your own ideas, here are some concrete skills you can teach others to get you started. (Some of these are self-explanatory. For others, I’ve offered a few thoughts to poke your imagination.)
- Voice Lessons/Speaker Training – Voice coaching isn’t all about singing. You can also teach people how to speak in public, or help them sound more professional at work.
- Musical Instruments
- Organization Skills – This applies to teaching people how to organize a physical space, or to teaching people how to organize their business/personal lives.
- Pet Training
- Tutoring/Test Prep – This may require a teaching credential, depending on whether you’re working with a school system or not. But there is plenty of private tutoring that does not require a degree.
- Language – This includes teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for non-native speakers, as well as teaching any other language you speak.
- Arts and Crafts – Anything you can craft or make is fair game for a class. You can also think about any skills you have that revolve around rehabbing old stuff. Plenty of people want to know how to remake or rehab old things into new.
- Computer Basics/Software – There’s a big market in teaching these skills to seniors, or in teaching specialized software to office workers.
- Website Design/Wordpress
- Graphic Design/Photo Editing
- Fitness/Weight Loss/Wellness – Tread carefully here to make sure you’re not leaving yourself open to liability, but if you can teach people how to exercise, eat right, meditate, get better sleep, engage in spiritual practices, or lose weight, there is money to be made.
- Entrepreneurship – Starting a business isn’t easy, so if you can help with any aspects of the process, you may have course material.
- Writing/Self-Publishing – You can help people through the self- or traditional publishing process, or teach them how to improve their business writing skills.
- Beauty and Fashion – Makeup tutorials, design and sewing, help with corporate wardrobes, or costuming/theater makeup are just a few ways you can go with this idea.
- Cooking and Baking
- Video Production – A lot of people want to create videos to support their endeavors, but they know little about the equipment, lighting, and software required to do it right.
- Resume/Interview/Job Search Help
- Maintenance/DIY – Any skill, from working on cars to fixing a sink to building an addition onto your home, is fair game for a class. If you know how to maintain, repair, or renovate anything, this is for you.
- Social Media/Platform Training – Can you teach people how to get the most out of social media? Or help an entrepreneur set up an Etsy store, run Shopify, or set up an Ebay hustle? Can you help someone maximize a side gig like DoorDash, Instacart or Amazon Flex? If so, this is for you.
- Sports – Coaching is the obvious one here, but it may also include nutrition, cross-training, or other things that support performance. Again, just make sure you protect yourself from liability.
- Finance/Investing/Retirement/Taxes – Money is a huge topic. Saving for retirement, transitioning from saving to spending in retirement, saving for college, tax strategies, tax software/tax prep, investing strategies, and more are all ideas.
- Frugality/Couponing/Saving Money – At the smaller end of the finance spectrum are topics related to frugality, debt payoff strategies/consolidation, creative ways to save money, courses on how to reduce/reuse/recycle, and more.
- Marketing – Are you an expert on marketing strategies involving email, newsletters, social media, and branding? If so, you can help other business owners get their marketing game on.
Do you have any other teachable topics to share? Let us know in the comments below.
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Jennifer Derrick is a freelance writer, novelist and children’s book author. When she’s not writing Jennifer enjoys running marathons, playing tennis, boardgames and reading pretty much everything she can get her hands on. You can learn more about Jennifer at: https://jenniferderrick.com/.