The world of education has been turned on its head a few times in recent decades. You can thank the internet for that. And there’s little sign that how we teach online will stop changing any time soon, either.
If you’ve learned anything yourself in the last decade (I hope so!), you might have noticed the explosion of content aimed at helping you learn faster, better, and easier.
Looking through my own recent search history, I can see in just the last few weeks I’ve learned how to:
- Fix a part on my car on YouTube
- Write a snippet of PHP for my website from W3 Schools
- Create an advanced email automation campaign on Lynda, and
- Set up a woodworking shop on Udemy
These are but a tiny fraction of the things I’ve learned by turning to everyday experts—often bloggers—to teach me. And many of them make a tidy profit sharing their expertise with me.
Why do we teach online? Because traditional education can’t help every student.
Many moons ago, someone in my position might have tried to learn these things from a trade school or local college. They’d enroll and go to class after work for months to learn the deep fundamentals of a subject hoping that, when they finished, they’d be prepared to solve the everyday problems on their own.
Valuable education, no doubt, but not terribly accessible.
If you need to improve your small talk skills so you can advance your career, you probably don’t have time or desire to pursue a psychology degree just so you can speak smoother with your business contacts.
This is where traditional education fails us. Enrolling in university to solve a small, everyday problem is like buying a bazooka to swat a fly. It’s overkill.
Before, you’d probably just accept that you’re terrible at conversation and move on with your life. A fine conclusion, but not a real solution to your problem.
Thanks to the rise of everyday online teachers, though, we can solve these problems without consulting the world’s most credentialed experts for months or even years. We no longer need someone with a wall full of diplomas (or the price tag that comes with it) to teach us how to do the simple but important things that make our lives and careers better and easier.
Where once you had to dedicate yourself to long and costly study to earn deep wisdom, today you can get exactly what you need—in bite sized doses—in the form of “just in time education.”
The Market for “Just in Time Education”
If you need to be convinced there’s a market for non-traditional educators who want to teach online, you don’t have to look much further than powerhouse platforms like Udemy or Lynda.
You may already be familiar with them or have even taken a course one. Nearly anything you need to learn, an online course exists!
According to Udemy, they’ve taught more than 13 million students. With the average course costing between $20 – $200, that’s anywhere from “a lot of money” to “holy smokes that is so much money.”
Lynda, on the other hand is proud of the 10,000 organizations they serve. With a focus on technical training, businesses subscribe to Lynda so their employees can learn the skills they need to do their jobs better. They don’t share exact numbers, but they were acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 for $1.5b, so… not too shabby.This is a great piece on the rise of Lynda. They went from near failure to massive success.
Both of these platforms are a few of the first to tap into the growing demand for just-in-time education—courses and tutorials that teach you how to do whatever it is you need to learn at exactly the time you need to learn it. They’ve proven there’s demand for this kind of online teaching and pioneered the way to deliver it.
On a more fundamental level, they’ve proven that nearly everyone desires to learn, that everyday professionals have something valuable to teach, and that there’s money to be made in that exchange.
Udemy, for its part, boasts that 25% of their teachers earn at least $10,000/year.This is according to their pricing resource page for teachers. And Lynda pays an army of Everyday Joe contractors to create the technical courses that bolster the value of the subscriptions they sell.
If, as a blogger, the wheels in your head are turning and you’re asking yourself, “I wonder if I can get a piece of this pie?” the answer, of course, is “Yes.” In fact, there’s even better news for you.
The Tipping Point of Online Teaching
This rise of online, just-in-time education isn’t groundbreaking or new. Heck, Lynda was founded in 1995! But, like all revolutions, this sea change in how we learn started slowly and has been picking up steam for some time.
Today, we’re at a tipping point. Soon, learning what you need in small doses at just the moment you need it will be the default mode of education. Universities and traditional schools will still have their place—they’ll teach us how to learn and give us deep insight on broad topics—but just-in-time online learning will be the go-to model for practical “I can use this tomorrow” education.
Bloggers like you, of course, have been doing this for ages. It’s your wheelhouse.
The reason you started a blog was to share what you know about something you’re passionate about. Your aim was to educate. And, in that quest, you’ve sharpened your skills. You stay on top of the trends, and you know what’s working right now in your field vs. what’s supposed to work or what worked yesterday.
And for your loyalty to that cause, you’ve built an audience. Not just an audience, though—a relationship with real people who care about what you do. You’ve found yourself in an intentional community, and you built it on your own.
This is where your distinct advantage comes from in the world of teaching online. You’ve gained a level of trust with your audience—the people who need to learn what you have to teach.
Why does that matter? One word: commodity.
Let’s go back to Udemy—the platform that bills itself as the easiest place to teach and earn.
What we’re already seeing from Udemy—and other teach online platforms like it—is that education is becoming a commodity. For some in-demand and well-known topics, it doesn’t matter who teaches it anymore because so many can. What matters is how well you deliver it.
In any industry—including education—when the product becomes commoditized, profits start to tank.
Why Bloggers Are the Future of Teaching Online
Think of it like gasoline. It doesn’t matter where you buy it anymore—it’s all the same. What matters is how easy it is to get to it. The gas stations with the best real estate and brand awareness are the ones who sell the most gas and make the most money.
Now, take that analogy and apply it back to platforms like Udemy. Who is the gas station? And who is the gasoline? Who is the school, and who is the education? Who is the business and who is the commodity?
When you set up shop on Udemy—Surprise!—you’re the commodity. You are now the product and Udemy is, essentially, selling you.
To be fair, that’s not a bad deal if you have no audience and no desire to build one. You just teach online and Udemy finds you students (as long as your course is better than all the others).
But for bloggers like you? That’s a terrible deal. And that’s been proven by the mass exodus of bloggers who were teaching on Udemy (and sharing most of their profit) who realized they were getting a raw deal. This account of a successful (former) Udemy teacher gives a good look at why bloggers with their own audiences are leaving the platform for greener pastures.
Bloggers are the future of teaching online because you can use the relationship you’ve developed with your readers to create targeted and valuable just-in-time education. You’re in the best possible position to build a sustainable business around your knowledge.
You know your audience better than anyone and what they need to learn, how they need to learn it, and how to deliver a course to them that will truly enrich their lives. You know these things because you do it every day through your writing.
After all, you’re an educator. Your credibility as a teacher is your audience. It’s your traffic and the archive you’ve built over months and years. You’re more than qualified to teach online because a whole army of people have already decided you are. You’ve already proven yourself.
And your audience is hungry for advanced training. They’re ready to pay you to teach them how to get real, tangible results.
But Teaching Online Requires Different Tools
So, you’re ready to teach. You’re ready to open up a new, profitable channel for your blog. Now what?
Well, you need a place for your students to congregate. You need to manage their access to the different courses you plan to teach and accept payment for them. More importantly, you need to be able to communicate with your students, gain insight into their learning styles, and monitor how they’re progressing.
These are just a few of the tools you need to do a great job teaching online.
If you’re like most other bloggers (myself included) you probably host your site on WordPress. You might be saying to yourself right now, “Okay, I just need to find a WordPress plugin that will handle all that for me.”
Well, hold your horses there!
What you really need to ask is, “Is WordPress the right tool to deliver excellent education?”
My opinion on that isn’t half-baked. I, myself, spent years trying to make WordPress do what I needed to deliver great education to my students. And some very smart people put a lot of work into developing plugins and tools that tried to force WordPress to get better at delivering education. Unfortunately, none of them turned out very well.
That’s not anyone’s fault. WordPress is just not designed to be a great platform to deliver education. That’s why so many bloggers who were serious about teaching online went to platforms like Udemy.
But didn’t I just say that bloggers are leaving Udemy for greener pastures. I did.
Where are they going? For the most part, they’re building their own schools and developing their own tools that allow them to teach in the way they want (and keep a larger share of what they rightfully earned).
Some of them are doing it on WordPress (good luck!). Others have turned to hosted platforms designed to help online teachers deliver amazing education. These platforms and apps are finely tuned packages of teaching tools that are guaranteed to work so that all you have to do is teach. You never worry about tech glitches.
And that’s why we built Trek.
Trek is a new (but growing!) online learning management system designed by bloggers for bloggers. We’re the only platform that can say that.
Trek is many years of thoughtful development of online teaching strategies minus technological headaches plus a commitment to building the educational tools that bloggers need to deliver amazing, effective courses and grow their businesses.
So, if you’re a blogger who’s ready to teach and earn online, I invite you to give Trek a try today. You’ll be surprised just how easy it is to get started.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↵||This is a great piece on the rise of Lynda. They went from near failure to massive success.|
|2.||↵||This is according to their pricing resource page for teachers.|
|3.||↵||This account of a successful (former) Udemy teacher gives a good look at why bloggers with their own audiences are leaving the platform for greener pastures.|