Today’s guest contributor is my friend, Jennifer Louden. Jennifer is a best-selling author of six books, teacher, and a “curious soul who is learning how to savor and serve the world these days.” She teaches an on-line program with Michele Lisenbury Christensen called Teach Now.
Information overload is a constant these days. But transformation overload? Obstacle removal overload? Never gonna happen!
We need teachers and guides: What do I eat? How do I raise happy, kind kids? How can I be more peaceful? We’re a curious hungry bunch these days.
Which is good news for all you know-it alls teachers out there. You have information learning we’re hungry for. You know how to help us turn “good ideas” into bright new realities. And we want to pay you for what you know.
Only sometimes, perhaps, you find yourself not being paid. I’m with you! Here is what I’ve learned to help us stumble a bit less.
Psstt… this isn’t just about making more money – it’s way bigger. When you make your way of serving sustainable for you – financially and energetically – you will serve more, better, and easier. That will help more people. That’s really good news.
The 7 Most Common Money Mistakes and Their Antidotes
1. Not charging enough
Do you fear being sucked dry? Do you find yourself feeling too tired or overwhelmed to get the word out? Once teaching, do you feel resentful when a student asks for some extra attention? Sirens! Flashing lights! Time to up your price or adjust your boundaries.
Undercharging hurts your students more than it hurts you, because you aren’t properly resourced to teach. So you either don’t get the word out or you don’t serve your students, thus not building your tribe in a way that works for everybody.
Antidote: examine your beliefs about what your work is worth and give time to pricing like you do content development.
2. Charging too much
This is where you decide, “So-and-so is charging a small fortune, and I have far more experience, richer content, better hair, so I should charge that, too.” Ego, pride and comparison are not great pricing strategies. You’ll know you’ve been charging too much if you aren’t getting buyers, you have to sell your face off or it feels that only a fraction of your students will get what they need to, given what they paid.
Antidote: Settle in, let go of any sense of entitlement or outrage or fear (even just a bit), and check in with your heart. What feels fair to you? To your students? Not comfortable, not collapsed, not taking care of the world but fair.
3. Scheduling a class but not filling it
Otherwise known as “I told people once, why didn’t they register?” Yesterday, I was on the street in my little town and saw a poster for an upcoming barn dance. Fun! But with no website listed, my interest probably won’t translate into attendance. You’ve read a million things about marketing but are you skipping the basics?
Antidote: Tell your people six to seven times over a period of at least two months. Tell them about only that offer. Make the what, where, when and how to pay super clear. Include a refund policy. Keep telling your people, different people, and more people, till your class is full.
4. Cramming too much material in
“Appropriate dosing” means giving your students just the right amount of learning and giving them time to digest. Yes, you are in love with your content – it’s brilliant, I know – and you want to share it all! Doesn’t work, not for learning, not for making a living.
Think about your students. What size group would serve their learning? What length of time can they concentrate for? How much time are they able to devote? How complex is the material?
Antidote: Step away from your content and consider your students. Get intimate with their needs.
5. Not creating a progression of offerings
If you’ve been doing appropriate dosing, then students are going to be left a little hungry. Are you ready to offer them the next bite? If not, you are leaving them in a learning lurch (sorry for the mixed metaphors)
Part of making a good living – and being a great teacher – is stepping up with your next offer.
Antidote: When designing a course, keep a notebook of ideas for next offer (often the stuff you can’t shoehorn in), and be ready to tell your current class in a way that serves their hunger to learn.
6. Reinventing the wheel each time you teach
Also known as “I taught this once, now I’m bored” or “It didn’t go perfectly, so back to the drawing board.” If boredom is your weakness, try leaving plenty of room for Q&A so you can riff. Remind yourself that it may not be new for you, but it is for your students. Be sure and document by recording your teaching, and have a friend take notes. Use this documentation to repeat the class without allowing yourself to invent more than 10%-20% new material. Consider creating a “home study kit” so your knowledge can earn income without your repeating it over and over.
If you’re running the “I suck and should never teach again” story” – a personal favorite of mine – read The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer. Present your evidence that you should never teach again to a trusted friend or coach. Seriously, what are the facts? Did someone die from your faulty teaching? If not, take that material, tune it up and teach it again immediately! Even if you have to teach it to your pets.
Antidote: Bright shiny and new is fun for the you but needs to be tempered with care for your students.
7. Not establishing a concrete take-away
Each and every class – and sections within a class – needs a take-away. Ask your students to name what it is for them, then reflect back what you heard. The human mind remembers most what it hears last so end with a summary and a call to action – what do you want your students to do? The biggest reason you might resist doing this? You are afraid there isn’t a take-away. The only way to know if there is? Ask.
Antidote: Be in vulnerable dialogue. Be open to your students take-aways. Design your material to help those take-aways happen in the future.
Teaching makes my heart expand to fill the universe
And it makes me want to hide under the bed. That’s normal – every teacher struggles with loving it and hating it, triumphing and crashing. Every single teacher.
What’s not normal is being poor and not reaching the kind and quantity of people you want to reach. Think of addressing these mis-steps as part of your learning as a teacher. Employ your natural curiosity to these areas and you will earn more money, and be of greater service. I’ll be doing the same.
Now please, tell me your take-away in the comments.
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author of six books, teacher, and curious soul who is learning how to savor and serve the world these days. She teaches an on-line program with Michele Lisenbury Christensen called Teach Now.
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