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How To Prepare, Make And Sell Digital Learning Materials
As an online teacher there comes a point when finding new students isn’t the problem anymore. You’ve been struggling to promote, advertise your services and suddenly there are more lesson requests and students than you can deal with.
There are generally two things you can do at that point:
1. Rise your rates and teach fewer students
2. Develop asynchronous modes of teaching
The first point is rather simple in principle, but there’ll be limits to how much you can charge per lesson. Very few people will be willing to pay for lessons rated at $300 per hour, unless of course you’re a celebrity tutor from Shanghai, which I assume you’re not.
About the second…
Asynchronous teaching means that you and the student don’t have to be present at the same time. This has a variety of different benefits:
- you can teach and help many more people at the same time
- while students are learning from you, you can do something else
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? And no, you don’t have to clone yourself or dabble in Voodoo.
Instead, you can use digital media to carry your experience and knowledge far, wide and fast.
What kind of media? Here are just two examples:
Become a YouTube Teacher
The idea here is to create short educational videos, gather subscribers and feed them new content on a regular basis. If you come up with unique ways to present the material and the traffic spikes, you’ll be offered to become a YouTube partner. This means that you can activate advertisements on your videos and – if your channel is going strong – this can become a solid source of income.
Don’t expect to see any magical growth from today to tomorrow, though. It takes a lot of work and patience. See Kirsten’s article here for more details. But even if you don’t make enough from the ads, you can still benefit from the audience that you gathered, by pointing them to other materials you created.
Become a Publisher
Last year, when I started noticing that while lesson requests were rapidly increasing, my time and head-space were dwindling away, I started experimenting with creating learning materials in various ways, shapes and forms.
Until now, it has almost completely replaced my live teaching activities.
If you want to try something similar, here are a few pointers.
1. Get an Idea
Sounds corny? Well, you need to come up with something, be it an audiobook about irregular verbs, a comic about Kanji or a survival book for the Oktoberfest. For me, taking long walks and doing the dishes are great idea generators.
Some people will tell you to first check if there’s a “need on the market”, but I think it’s much more important to find something that you have fun doing, because it affects the quality of the final product like nothing else.
2. Find a Method and Apply It
Take some time to find the right software or tools to do the job. If you want to create an ebook, you might want to start by using Open Office to write and compose the book and then go to Calibre for converting it to ebook format. If you want to create an audiobook, get a decent microphone and download Audacity.
3. Wrap it and Publish it
Once your learning materials are done, you need to find ways to bring them to the public.
Sure, you could just offer them as free downloads from your website, and while that’s always a great idea to promote something, you obviously need to start selling, too.
There are many ways to sell your finished learning materials.
Here are just two:
Setting Up Shop
1. From Your Own Website
See this link for detailed instructions
2. Go to Open Marketplaces
If you want to get an ebook out to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. without wanting to mess much with file conversions, you will love Smashwords. It takes a bit of time for them to approve and deliver your creation, but at least you can just upload a .DOC file, set your price and they will do the rest.
UPDATE: Kobobooks just went live with its own self-publishing portal at kobobooks.com/kobowritinglife
While this process is a bit more complicated, it’s also more professional and faster. Keep in mind though, that both Smashwords and marketplaces will take commissions for each sale. You might be able to sell your product from your website without paying commission, but also you won’t get the same exposure like on a marketplace.
Any questions? Leave a comment and I’ll try to answer it.
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