Teaching as a Side Hustle

If you need to make some extra cash or are just looking to advance your career, teaching as a side hustle is the way to go.When I look back at the one thing that propelled my career forward and helped me start rapidly advancing in job titles and salary, building my career outside of work by teaching was a major factor. Why? Firstly, I got paid, secondly, I was able to master my own skillset by teaching it, and lastly, I was able to network with many people deeply interested in my field of work.

Can I say that all the above will culminate in opportunities for you? No, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to make extra cash through teaching. There are really four avenues to make decent cash from teaching: Tutoring Online; Personalized Coaching/Tutoring; In-Person Classes; & Corporate Training.

Tutoring Online

Tutoring online is actually one of those very few remote side hustles that you can do from anywhere. For better or worse, there is a competitive market for tutoring online, with some of the more common skills, such as an English tutor, not making as much money as someone who may teach a specific coding language. This said the below are at least three of the most popular

Tutor.com = Tutor.com is the premier tutoring site for many many skillsets for those still in school, however, it doesn’t cover all skillsets providing market opportunities for teachers to find clients in less competitive markets at better prices.

Springboard = Springboard is a great resource for more technical skillsets such as UX/UI design and development, data science, and software engineering. There are opportunities to become a “Mentor” and to get paid to play such a role for students of the platform.

Skooli – Skooli is similar to Tutor.com as it’s focused on school aged individuals and provides a market for students to find tutors. If you’re looking to teach a subject like you would learn at school such as geometry, biology, etc. Skooli is a good market to try to become a tutor.

Chegg – Chegg has a broader scope than Tutor.com or Skooli with many options for those with unique skills that want to connect on a 24/7 basis with potential students.

Your own website – Should you set up your own website for tutoring, you can build a potentially large revenue stream from students using a per-course or subscription model (recommended) basis. This said, you’ll likely have competition online and may want to invest in advertising and SEO to get started. Once you nail down students, you can use Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, etc. to connect with them.

The choice of online tutoring gigs is up to you, but do be prepared to show you qualifications whether through work on your resume or through grades in pertinent coursework that you’ll be helping students with.

Of all the options shown on this list, online tutoring is however the least profitable endeavor you can take up. This said it can open up opportunities to the more profitable teaching approaches below. While I recommend this approach, I’ve only been the consumer of an online Spanish tutor for a few years and not an online teacher myself.

In-Person Classes

In person courses in my experience pay better per hour and per course overall than teaching online. Maybe it’s the human contact or the fact that it is actually more tiring, but it just does. I taught 2 workshops and one part-time course over a period of 4 years and made over $30,000 doing so. Why did I do this? For one thing, I was going through a career transition and teaching solidified my expertise, while on the other hand I wanted a side hustle to pay me well.

Some of the options here are to teach at private “academies” such as General Assembly or Flatiron School in a part-time position or to teach at universities or sometimes even high schools or night schools looking for instructors.

I personally recommend private institutions as they pay better, however, some of the top universities regularly look for teaching assistants and instructors at very accommodating hours if you have a full-time job you need to balance. From my experience, I managed to make $9,000 per semester consisting of 10 weeks with 2 3 hour in-class lectures each week. Don’t get me wrong, this sounds like good money, and it is, but it’s also exhausting to keep up with preparing for lectures, answering students emails, and balancing a full-time job.

A friend of mine taught an architectural school how to use CAD in a course lasting a semester at a local university and made about $6,000 for the semester, but ultimately gave it up as he had to travel far to teach the course.

If you did teach part-time all year, which is possible at some institutions, walking away with an annual total of $16,000- $36000 a year can add up to a substantial amount of money depending on your situation.

Personalized Coaching & Tutoring

This one is probably the hardest to put a number on quantifying how much money you may make.

You can use services like Tutor.com and heytutor to become an in-person tutor or you can do the heavy lifting and advertise for yourself through Craigslist postings, posting on bulletin boards, and through word of mouth to start growing your business independently. You’ll see rates anywhere from $10/hr to $100/hr depending on your skill set and what you’re teaching.

One thing I will say is that if you have a specialized skill set, setting yourself up to act more as a consultant or coach than a tutor is the way to go. Consultants can usually charge significantly more to someone or a company than individual tutoring assignments to students. These opportunities are not easy to set up for yourself unless you have a unique specialization or in-demand skill.

Teach Corporate Training

This is it. This is where the real money is.

I had a 3 hour customized training for a class of 15. It took me 8 hours of preparation and I walked away with $1,200. That comes down to $400/hr in person and $109/hr if you include my prep time. The best part about making the presentation? I could do it again and again with a fraction of the prep time, and I did. I got a $1,500 training in place for 3 hours the next month, walking away with a $500/hr rate as I had already memorized the materials. That was one of the most profitable days of my entire career.

Looking back though, I wasn’t being shrewd. I did zero negotiation when getting this work. I didn’t even try when I was offered these gigs. Had I just said, I can’t do this for less than $3000, I would have been sitting on an outrageous amount of money for courses I could teach in my sleep.

I spoke to a woman recently who teaches business writing seminars for large corporations to help employees write more professionally and strategically at work. When I asked her how much she normally charged for a teaching engagement, she told me: $10,000. I was shocked. However, she bundled the price with some sound logic in case she was ever low-balled by her clients. Her time was split into $50/hr prep time for the course, $100/hr value-add time in the classroom itself (usually only 10 hours), and then $150/hr providing personalized coaching the students after the course. However, her contract had limitations on the maximum amount of time she would offer as a part of her standard fee, and then all other teachings would be billed hourly. When I asked her how many times she had used the course to teach, she told me 15. She had used the same course material 15 times over a 3 year period netting her $150,000 on top of her full-time job. Incredible!

Why does this all work? Corporations generally have bigger training budgets that are expenses (no taxes on revenue spent on education). Often times these budgets go completely unused. For instance, my team at work sets aside $10,000/yr for employee training but last year we burned through only $2,700 in the entire year sending people to high-end technical training at a conference.

Summary

While tutoring online gives you huge flexibility and mobility, it doesn’t always pay that much and you have to be a disciplined person to keep up with the online demands of your students. In-person instruction, on the other hand, can pay much more and is definitely pay quite well annually if you’re in the right skillset and market.

When we consider personalized coaching and corporate teaching, that is really when things start to get interesting monetarily. Personalized coaching can pay quite well, whether it’s being a guitar teacher for $25/hr or being a software tutor for $150/hr, there can be some serious cash made here, but clients can be hard to come by and will require work to grow your business. When it comes to those corporate instructor gigs though, that’s where the sky can be the limit if you build the right network and manage to sell the right goods.

I can’t answer for you which of the options above you’ll want to take up, but you know where I’ve had success and where things didn’t work out for me. Ultimately, I hope you chase the best opportunity for your lifestyle and situation. If you do end up succeeding down this path, write me a comment as I’d love to hear more an update this article with new insights over time.