Have you ever felt guilty because you’re “just” a teacher? Have you enviously looked at those people who successfully created their own brands and have hundreds or even thousands of followers on Facebook?
Perhaps you have already spent money on courses on how to build an email list but nobody signs up or everyone wants free stuff only.
Or you just don’t feel motivated to make the next step and become a teacherpreneur. What if you’re just happy teaching? Is it necessary to go beyond?
I was struggling with those questions and doubts for years. Literally for years which is unbelievable. For three long years, I tried to convince myself that I needed to make that step, that I needed to become a teacherpreneur, create cool digital courses, make videos and engage with my audience in webinars and on social media.
Well, I finally came to the conclusion that becoming a teacherpreneur is not the right way for me. If you’re unsure if it’s the right step for you, my reasons for NOT becoming a teacherpreneur might help you to sort things out and make a decision you feel comfortable with.
1. You don’t feel comfortable turning yourself into a brand
In order to become a successful teacherpreneur, you need to market yourself. You’re a very special teacher and you would like to stand out from the crowd of anonymous italki teachers, right? But what if you feel pretty good within that crowd? No hassle, students are just coming without you having to worry about anything.
This is what has worked for me ever since I started teaching back in 2012. And it fits my personality. There are people who feel fine uploading a huge picture of themselves on their facebook page, enjoy presenting themselves in videos and webinars and all that other stuff. As far as I am concerned, I just hate it.
You may be introverted or shy or a combination of both. People will tell you that you can overcome your fears and improve yourself. Sure, shyness is something you can overcome and an introverted person can be a brilliant presenter. However, it takes a lot of effort and training and you need to be absolutely convinced that it’s worth it.
So when your personality stands in your way but you really have that desire to become a teacherpreneur, then go for it and make your dream come true.
However, if you think you need to do it because it seems to be the next logical step, just forget about it. Forcing yourself to live constantly outside your comfort zone without really believing in the benefits, will only stress you out. Your well-being and health should be more important than pursuing goals which were actually set by other people and not by yourself.
2. You are endlessly reluctant to find a niche
If you would like to stand out as a teacher and create your own brand, you cannot simply market yourself with something like “I offer Spanish lessons for all levels”. You need to find a niche. I’m sure that’s something you’ve already read or heard about.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here are two examples:
- Spanish with Estefy’s niche is informal and colloquial Spanish with an emphasis on the language as it’s spoken in Argentina and Uruguay. A little while ago, I had the pleasure to interview Estefy, you can read this interview here (in Spanish).
- Cara from Leo Listening also focuses on informal language but narrowed down her niche even more. She just teaches listening.
When I attempted to become a teacherpreneur and build my own website as a German teacher, I decided to focus on people who speak intermediate German and aim to become fluent in the language.
That’s actually quite a broad niche. I nevertheless felt restricted and had little motivation to write great and useful blog posts. I’ve always found it much more interesting to work with students of all levels and with different kinds of needs on italki.
That does not mean that I accept every teaching request. For example, I don’t work with children or young teenagers or with people who have very specific requests which would result in a lot of preparation time for me.
If you’re reluctant to find a niche because you’re afraid that it will be very boring to teach the same kind of stuff every day, you’re better off offering your services on well-known platforms like italki or verbling.
Some people will tell you that even on such platforms you can set higher prices when you specialise. Well, I doubt it. The vast majority of my students are booking general German lessons, are happy to work with a book and prepared to pay US$25 – 30 an hour.
There’s one exception, though: If you offer test preparation, you can charge more and students are willing to pay those higher prices when they need to pass a certain test. This works best for English teachers who specialise in IELTS but you can give a try with other tests and languages, too.
So, test preparation could be your niche but be aware that there’s a lot of competition. Well, and if you’re the kind of person who needs variety (like me), you would just want to offer this as one of your courses like I do it with German.
3. You are not passionate about the language you’re teaching
I love teaching and I love to talk to people from all over the world. However, I don’t live in Germany anymore and have no intention to go back and I avoid speaking German in my private life.
Here in Peru, I’ve met some German and Swiss people and certainly don’t mind speaking German with them. That’s natural after all. However, I kind of withdraw when Peruvians want to speak German with me or talk about Germany. I know that it’s not fair but it happens automatically. I prefer to spend time with people who don’t speak German and have no intention to learn it.
In my case, my rejection of everything German has private reasons which reach way back into my childhood. To be honest, it often makes me feel a bit guilty. I think that I’m a pretty good teacher but there’s still the feeling that I’m cheating. I’m taking advantage of the fact that my native language is high in demand among foreigners who would like to live and work in Germany, Switzerland or Austria.
My reasons for not being passionate about the language I’m teaching may be a bit weird but I’ve met other teachers who just do it to get some cash. And guess what? That’s fine. As long as you deliver quality lessons. Please don’t start teaching and be sloppy about it. Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of teachers on italki who were exactly that, community tutors as well as professional teachers.
However, when you’re not passionate about the language you’re teaching, you probably don’t wish to spend time developing courses, writing ebooks and blog posts and build a business around it. That’s fine. Don’t feel guilty. You can still be a great teacher.
The term “teacherpreneur” has become popular in the past 2 – 3 years and there are people out there who do a great job being independent teachers.
However, we don’t have to follow every new trend, do we?
I’m interested in hearing your opinion, so please don’t hesitate to write in the comments.