Teachers for Hire: the Gig Economy for Professionals

May 2, 2016

Summer is nearly here! With it comes hot sun, baseball games, barbeques, sunscreen and, for teachers and students: summer break. People who aren’t educators (or married to one) think summer break means teachers are going to be working on their tans by the pool… Ha!

Teachers will be working on something, but likely not their tans. It’s no secret to teachers that, for some, summer vacation isn’t really a vacation, but a shifting of gears to earn some additional income. The types of jobs teachers perform “on the side” are as varied as the personalities of their students in the classroom. Common pursuits of teachers outside the classroom include: tutoring, childcare, house painting, photography, waiting tables, working in retail, teaching summer school, and working at summer camps.

Regardless of what you may be doing to earn some extra income, here are some tips for ways you can maximize the income you receive from your side gig so you can devote the most time possible to your passion of teaching, and, of course, getting some much needed time off.

Technology Is Your Friend:

Platforms such as Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or web-based classifieds in local newspapers and magazines can all be used to market your services and attract clients. Be sure to check the policies of whichever site you’re using (Nextdoor, for example, has individual neighborhood rules about using the site for self-promotion).

If you have money in your budget for ads, consider using social media sites to purchase “promoted posts” to reach a targeted demographic or a specific geographic region. This can be a helpful tool if you’re looking to attract a wider pool of potential clients.

One new option is the website byateacher.com, a Colorado-based resource dedicated exclusively to teachers. Once you create a free profile marketing your services, ByaTeacher then leverages other web platforms and traditional avenues such as radio and newspaper advertising to drive customer traffic directly to you. The fee is 20%, with 2% of that donated back to your school’s PTA or PTO. For more information about ByaTeacher, check out this interview on Colorado Public Radio.

Leverage Your Brand:

Being a teacher can have tremendous brand power. Tout your background as a teacher and highlight your education, trustworthiness (your background has already been checked by your school), and your community involvement.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with any policies at your own school and district regarding how or if a teacher can conduct “outside” pursuits and in what way they can or cannot associate such pursuits with a school.

Another benefit to building a brand: you can expect higher pay for services than some of your competition. For example, ByaTeacher.com sets pricing for services at the 75th percentile of the market based on the premium that a teaching background/brand commands.

Engage Your Community:

Most people just don’t know you’re available and looking to earn some additional income – when you let them know you are, you’ll be surprised how many customers are out there.

Your PTA or PTO can be a great resource for you in helping to get the word out to your community.

Make it Easy for Your Customer:

If it’s easier for your customer to work with you than your competition, they’ll keep coming back to you. The best place to start is to make it simple for customers to contact you, schedule your services, and pay you.

Consider indicating your availability in your advertising and make it easy for customers to contact you to arrange for your services via email, phone, etc.

For payment processing, there are several options available. Options such as Square, Flint, or any number of other similar smart phone or tablet interfaces allow you to receive credit card payments from your customers.

These products typically require a transaction fee in the range of 3% of the transaction. That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind your customers expect the convenience of credit card transactions. You might end up spending even more if existing clients leave you to gravitate towards a more convenient option, so the cost is usually worth it. These options also eliminate the need for you to deposit checks and send receipts to clients, which can be a great time saver for you.

By following these tips, or leveraging the resources already available to you at from intermediaries like www.byateacher.com, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the income you can earn this summer while preserving some time for a little rejuvenation or professional development. Or maybe you’ll even have a couple extra hours to work on your tan after all.

Bryan Carruthers is the founder of ByaTeacher, a website dedicated to helping educators boost their income by marketing their skills to potential customers and clients.