Teacher to teacherpreneur: How to monetize your professional skills

With the rise of precarious employment in the teaching field, some teachers are interested in looking at ways to earn additional income. There are other reasons such as the desire for more creativity, an interest in learning new skills, or having more work-life balance. For me, it was the freedom to travel at any time of the year, not just school breaks. This workshop was developed in response to inquiries from teachers regarding my transition to teacherpreneur and the research that I conducted as part of this transition.

We discussed the following topics: why become a teacherpreneur; definitions of teacherpreneur; the difference between a freelancer and a teacherpreneur; and the top five ways teachers earn additional income. There was also a hands-on activity where small groups brainstormed a list of “teacher transferrable skills” to inspire teachers to think of themselves as more than just an ESL teacher.

What is a Teacherpreneur

“…the teacher creates a different way of navigating the profession without leaving that profession entirely. Their talents remain in the classroom and on the school site, but they’ve had the opportunity to shake their dice, try something new, and use their skills in a different way” (Wolpert-Galwin, 2015).

“Teacherpreneurs are classroom experts who teach students regularly, but also have time, space, and reward to incubate and execute their own ideas — just like entrepreneurs” (Berry, 2015).

“A classroom teacher or school based leader who is both educator and entrepreneur; an educator who works a flexible and/or freelance schedule; and/or an educator with a “side hustle” that supplements their income”. (Porter-Isom, 2015)

I also provided my own definition: an educator who combines creativity, skills, and expertise to develop products resources, and services outside the classroom to earn additional income.

Questions often arise related to the difference between a freelancer and teacherpreneur. A freelancer is paid per hour/project whereas a teacherpreneur designs product and/or resources that earn passive income. Being a freelancer means the constant search for new work. There are only so many hours that we can physically work in a week so this limits our income. Writing a digital product such as an e-book or online course are two good options for earning passive income. Of course, you can be both a freelancer and a teacherpreneur. Some examples of my projects (or multiple income streams) include hourly instructor (online teaching), freelance writer, and teacherpreneur (instructional coaching for new teachers and e-books).

From Teacher to Teacherpreneur

During the presentation, I outlined my own journey from teacher to teacherpreneur. Becoming a “teacherpreneur” happened by accident. The previous year, a friend of mine asked me if I could write an online course for him. I really enjoyed the experience of writing something unrelated to teaching English. That same year, we attended a four day training event for people interested in becoming coaches, authors, speakers and online course writers. I assumed that I would learn about writing more courses for my friend but ended up thinking how I could use the information to launch a freelance career.

Top ways to earn income online

Based on my own research, I presented the top five ways that teachers can earn an income online which are the following:

1. Online Teaching. There are several options such as setting up an account on
www.italki.com which is one of the fastest growing language learning online companies. Teachers can also teach online courses for colleges and universities or set up their own website and recruit students. The latter is much more time-consuming but more lucrative.

2. Writing teaching materials and courses. Teaching materials and courses can be sold on one’s own website. Online courses can be sold on platforms such as Udemy and teaching materials on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers and TES.

3. Writing for business/academia. Freelance websites such as www.freelancer.com and www.Upwork.com are good places to start to find projects to bid on. Projects such as blog writing, proofreading and editing and assistance with academic papers are very common. Teachers could also advertisement these services on their own websites but again this takes more time to find clients.

4. English language assessments. CELPIP and IELTS hire instructors to grade assessments online.

5. Digital products (e-books and guides). It is becoming easier to self-publish through companies such as Amazon, Lulu, Smashwords, and The Round. Teachers can also sell their digital projects on their own websites.

Other Considerations

There is a huge learning curve in terms of acquiring new skills for marketing oneself and learning digital product development, email list building, marketing and social media. There are many free resources including webinars that are available on the Internet that cover these topics is detail. It takes time to build an email list of subscribers and develop credibility and a following. People rarely buy products online from people who are not known so building a presence online using social media is a good way to start.

There are other things to consider before launching oneself as a teacherpreneur including brand and niche. Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and helps you grow your business and attract new people. In terms of niche, it helps to narrow down your expertise in the ELT field to attract the ideal client. For example, I specifically work with new ESL teachers and my blog and social media posts are geared towards this niche.

It is important to remember that there is no one way to become a teacherpreneur. There is no “one formula” or “roadmap”. The journey is unique for each teacher because of our interests, skills, credentials and desires. There are several questions that one must ask before embarking on the road to teacherpreneurship. It is important to consider what is right for you at this particular point in time. How much time do you have to devote to developing projects or taking on additional work? What are your financial requirements? It was not recommended that teachers abandon their teaching careers and launch themselves as a teacherpreneurs without fully assessing one’s personal needs and situation.

If you’d like to complete an activity to help you reflect on your transferrable skills, what you love about teaching, what you want, and what you have to offer, the link for the handout can be found in the references. Other materials for exploring teacherpreneurship, including some free resources and more than 25 teacherpreneur interviews, can be found at www.teacherpreneur.ca. I like to stress that teacherpreneurs do not have superpowers but are just regular teachers, as can be seen in the interviews.

Finally, there are many misleading ads and articles online that promise a six-figure income for bloggers and online course providers. Don’t be fooled. Being a teacherpreneur can be exciting and liberating but requires discipline and hard work.


Berry, B. in Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2015). The Era of the Teacherpreneur. Retrieved from

Palmer. P. (2106). TESL Ontario handout Teacher to Teacherpreneur TESL Ontario Handout Teacher to Teacherpreneur.pdf

Porter-Isom, K. (2015). Edupreneur Today. Retrieved from http://www.edupreneurtoday.com/

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2015). The Era of the Teacherpreneur. Retrieved from

Published In:
Contact Spring 2017

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