Once you tell people you’re thinking of starting a side business, you will find yourself presented with all sorts of opportunities. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions in the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group is, “what should I do for a side hustle?” And believe me when I tell you, if you post that question, you will get hundreds of responses.
In reality, there’s more to picking a business model than just picking something other people have found success with, especially for busy teachers.
Over my 10 years of blogging, coaching other teachers, and running a Facebook group of thousands I’ve found that those who are successful not only think carefully about what they’d like to do, but also how their side hustle will work with their teaching lives.
I’ve determined that there are 4 traits a side hustle must have in order to work for educators.
Let’s dig in!
Teachers have a ridiculous amount of skills. Beyond the obvious ability to explain difficult concepts to young people, there are countless other skills required to navigate a classroom. Think about the organization, planning, and preparation for each lesson. Consider your communication skills; being able to create analogies out of thin air, talking upset kids off a ledge… or their parents!
Let’s face it. You have mad skills.
That said, teachers have a difficult time identifying their skills because we’re too close. We also tend to overlook innate gifts and natural talents because we think they don’t count. A skills assessment tool might be able to help you pinpoint not only what skills you possess, but those you enjoy utilizing.
After all, when you start a side hustle, it should be something you enjoy doing!
The reason this is so important is because building a business requires so much new learning on its own. There’s tech stuff, jargon, and other industry-specific stuff you’ll need to develop. If your side hustle itself is also something new to you, you’re going to struggle… way more than you need to.
Find a hustle that builds on skills you already have AND (I would add) something you love to do.
So even if your friend swears that anyone can make a million dollars with their food based-company, it might not be a great fit for you if your idea of workin’ it in the kitchen is cleaning up the takeout containers.
For me, blogging was a perfect fit because I’m a strong communicator, I’m organized and good at breaking concepts down into bite-sized pieces for my readers, and as a hard-core introvert I prefer to work alone and without a set schedule. I am very self-motivated and I like to help people, so… blogging!
I know there are people out there that think teachers work a few hours a day and have tons of time off… but they’re idiots and we know better. So let’s just acknowledge that teacher’s schedules are insane, definitely extend beyond the school day, and are often unpredictable. (Like when you plan to leave at 3:30 one day, but can’t because a couple kids decided to act up, so now you’re at school calling parents and writing reports until 5. Ugh.)
Knowing that, building a side hustle that is not dependent on me showing up at a particular time is a big priority for the teachers in the Side Hustle Teachers community.
The ability to work on your own schedule is one thing I’ve found is key to the success of a teacher’s side hustle. But not just that, being able to work from wherever you are is equally important.
For example, I’m writing this post from the lobby at my daughter’s gymnastics class. This just happens to be an hour I have free and is perfect for writing… but I’m not at home. Thankfully, we live in the time of the laptop and wifi. I don’t need to be holed up in my office to get stuff done.
Teachers have enough bosses. We have principals, assistant principals, team leaders, department heads, instructional coaches, superintendents… and let’s not forget parents who like to boss us around, and (more and more lately) their children who do the same.
When you’re looking to start a side hustle, the last thing you need is another person telling you what you can and can’t do, how to do it, and when you have to get it done.
One of the things Side Hustle Teachers find most valuable is the ability to run their business how they see fit.
This is an extension of being able to work when and where you want, because as your own boss, you can also choose what you’re going to work on, and what you’re going to ignore. Unlike teaching, which has a million tasks that you’d rather not do, if you don’t want to dance around and point at things on Instagram for your business, you don’t have to.
Does that mean you won’t have to do anything groan-worthy for your business? Sadly, no. Even if you’re not big on budgets, you still have to run your numbers. However, there’s a lot more flexibility of what “have to” do, AND who has to do them.
Yes! You can outsource things you don’t want to do.
As a blogger, I get to choose what I write about, and who I get to serve. When I wanted to narrow my focus from side hustles in general to blogging, I just did it. I get to show up for my group on Facebook and ignore TikTok. If I want to sell physical products someday, I can do it, with no restrictions from a company or boss.
The average millionaire has at least 7 streams of income. The average teacher has 1.
Why is this important?
Well, earning money through multiple sources means that you not only have money coming in from different places, it provides added security in case one of those streams dries up.
When it comes to a side hustle, it’s important to choose one that will allow you to build multiple streams of income. It doesn’t have to all happen at once - in fact, it’s probably best that it doesn’t - but you should be able to see a clear path to earning in several ways.
For example, if you start out selling your time through a coaching service, can you think of some physical products you could offer in the future, or a course… or adding another product?
Here’s the thing about multiple streams of income as a teacher; You want to make your various streams of income flow through a single business.
This is key.
You are a busy teacher. You don’t have time to run multiple businesses!
And if I’m being totally honest, even if you had time, it’s not a good strategy to have several unrelated businesses.
With my blog I earn money through ads, occasional private coaching, my courses, like the Teacher Blog Academy, and affiliate marketing. (Blogging provides for other revenue streams, too, that I choose not to utilize.) And everything is managed, marketed, and integrated with my blog, so I don’t have to try to juggle 4 separate businesses.
The nice thing about many of these sources of revenue is that they are passive. I don’t have to be involved in the sales or delivery in order to make money.
Ads are placed on my site, and I make money when people see and click on them.
I created my courses once, and make continuous money as people buy them.
I add affiliate links to my content and on social media, and earn commission when people buy something through them.
Side note: When I was on a recent vacation, standing in line for a ride, I got a notification that someone had bought a course - now that’s passive income!
Teachers need to think carefully about which side hustle they choose. There are a lot of opportunities around, but not all of them are a good fit for educators. For me, blogging was an easy choice. It checked all the boxes above, and has proved to be a perfect fit for myself and my family.
If you’re ready to learn more about blogging for money, check out my free training, Profitable Blogging for Teachers.