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Teaching online: Turn a crisis into an opportunity

We learn, we grow, we adapt. Humans have worked with this motto for thousands of years. As the pandemic and its effects unfold, we are seeing in real time just how quickly we as a species can turn a crisis into an opportunity. When all of life seems to have come to a standstill, we are moving forward and adapting to this change – learning online, teaching online, living online.

Supported by the braver front-line staff of the world, anything and everything is now being sold online, in addition to ecommerce’s already established wide appeal – entire universities, moviemaking, music-creating, art-teaching, storytelling, fitness, salon-lessons, cooking tutorials – you name it and there is an effort to use the digital medium for every human activity possible.

With this shift, avenues have opened up to take your talent and share it with the world by way of online tutorials, webinars and more. The time to build on your strengths has never been more ripe. Put yourself out there. Share your knowledge about history, or geography, or medical science, or pandemic history, or language. Teach guitar online, conduct salon-sessions and teach your clients how they can give their partners’ hair a trim. Almost anything can be taught online.

There are as many learners as there are teachers, and with a little thought and planning, you can tap into the market that has a gap and needs to be filled.

The Starter Pack

How does one turn this crisis into an opportunity and start teaching online? Step one is to create a website on WordPress, and install the WooCommerce plugin. There are several tutorials and guides available to get started easily and freely.

  1. You can look up how to set up a WordPress account here: Having a WordPress website is essential, as it will have all the necessary details such as what your business is about, what are the kind of products or services it caters to, perhaps some blog posts about related topics, a contact page. For the basic website, keep some photographs ready (avoid stock photos) to go with your content, choose a WordPress theme to suit the mood of your products, and fill it up with basic content, preferrably tailored to SEO.  Here are some other steps you should keep in mind.
  2. Then, install WooCommerce, a plugin that will convert your website into a store, so that you can buy and sell what you want. The ‘products’ in question need not be tangible items like FMCG products, but could be anything you offer.

There are some things you may want to be familiar about on your WooCommerce store page.

woocommerce dashboard
On the left side, you will see all the options. The products and settings page is where you can first start out with.

You can set up your products of any kind – depending on what you are teaching online.

woocommerce products

Basic WooCommerce has a varied, but limited functionality. If you are venturing into teaching, webinars, coaching or similar territory, you may benefit from an additional Booking & Appointment plugin. There are some options out there, and you can check out our quick comparison guide to make your choice.

Now, we tell you about some of the ways people are using the plugin to teach online and some features you need to watch out for.

Education: Intuition Works

Intuition works provides test preparation and academic support to students for  PSAT, SAT, ACT etc – complete with lessons, quizzes and even online exams. You can schedule class times online at your convenience, and even book appointments for online consultation. They use the Booking & Appointment Plugin for the same.

online classes booking

If you run a private teaching practice, give extra tutoring on any subject such as Math, Science, Chemistry, Physics etc, – no matter which grade – setting up an online presence like this will help not just during these times but also in the long run, as you can expand your scope of business to farther geographies.

Motivational speaker: Charlie Morecraft

Motivational speaking can be incredibly useful in these times, when everyone is feeling rather on the down low. Anxiety, stress and pressure are rather high, and if you are the kind to weave magic with your speech, you can use the example of Charlie Moreccraft. He has been sharing his journey with audiences for several years, with presentations and webinars.

webinar online

Take a cue from his book, and set up your own webinar series, or presentations online. You can conduct one-on-one sessions too, in the form of life coaching perhaps, and at each step, customize your booking based on your availability and work capacity. For instance, if you want to not have sessions on weekends, you can switch off booking for weekends.

Music Lessons: Amplified

Kids and adults alike are looking to follow their passion, and pick up on otherwise dormant hobbies such as music. Instruments like keyboard, guitar are very popular, and you can choose to teach a musical skill online.

online music classes

Amplified, the UK-based tutoring company offers private online sessions for a range of musical skills such as singing, drum, guitar, bass and piano. You can either do this as a collective or as an individual tutor.

If you choose to have more than one tutor, you can use unique features of the Booking & Appointment plugin, which allows you to add and assign resources, so that no one person has to spend any time in coordinating logistics.

In the same way, you can also teach arts and crafts online.

Acting classes: Victor Cruz Acting Studio

Performance studies are not easily taught online, but if you think about it, teaching into the camera is a little closer to cinematic acting. This may work to your advantage. One such online tutor is the Victor Cruz Acting Studio based in the US.

online acting classes

Acting and performance classes can ask be marketed as confidence-classes for presentations and general stage presence. You can use marketing techniques for various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat for the widest yet platform-specific reach.

First aid training: HBA-training

With the world’s hospitals being stretched for resources, several medical services the people took for granted now need to be performed at home. If you are a medical professional not already working on the front-lines, then there is a way for you to still help the community by giving first-aid training like HBA Training.

first aid training video

Teach Languages Online: Expert English

Like music or acting, languages is something else people are very keen to learn and you can start teaching online, even if you have never taught before, you can make use of online syllabi to start basic coaching of any language you may know such as Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, Urdu, French etc, or the ever-in-demand English.

learn languages online

You can allow for a specific number of bookings at a time, depending on how many students you are comfortable teaching. You can cap the maximum number of bookings to your comfort level, and keeping in mind that virtual sessions can be cumbersome if there are bigger classes.

Pre-School learning: Trinity Pre-School

A vast majority of the world’s parents have suddenly turned homeschoolers from everyone from toddlers to teenagers, and never before have they needed more guidance. Take your pre-school online like Trinity Pre-School, using the Booking & Appointment plugin.

preschool online

Health Coaching: Yoga Institute 

If you have been anywhere near Instagram, you know that fitness is the number one priority for everyone in this global lockdown. Because regular activity has all but stopped, the focus on yoga, zumba, aerobics and other forms of fitness is more than ever.

teach yoga online

You can either have a fixed set of timings for customers to choose from, or you can allow for flexible but specific bookable timings if your own schedule allows it.

Teach Nutrition Online: Fat2fit Curves

Like exericse, eating right especially with limited resources available is becoming very crucial for the general health of the world population and Nutrition classes too are in high demand. If you are a nutrinitionist, you can now starting with selling your consultation online like Fat2fit Curves.

nutrition consultant online

As you see, this is a simple but effective way to take your knowledge and practise online. You can even make it region specific – not all foods are available everywhere these days. With an online presence, you can target a specific geography based on the food available in that region. For instance, little gourd is common in India, but not in non-Indian US grocery stores. A little research, and you could truly make a global diet plan for your customers to choose from.

Similarly, cooking, salons and other such tutoring can be conducted online.

Management & Consultancy 

It’s not just teaching but also professional guidance and advice that you can give and sell using the digital medium. Companies conducting in-house webinars for professional development, especially on now in-demand skills such as Digital Marketing, Analytics can use a booking plugin to stream-line logistics, helping the HR department increase efficiency. 

You can also be the one selling such courses to larger companies, conducting lectures and webinars for their employees and departments, using the same approach.

Membership site

This is a unique approach to setting up shop and selling online. For professionals such as Chartered Accountants and Doctors, customer loyalty is often of importance. Not just from customers, but also in the industry, establishing a reputation and then mentoring juniors is quite common.

Using a booking and appointment plugin, professionals like CAs and doctors or retired doctors could build a membership site for their followers who could then consult them from time to time on matters of importance. The plugin will manage your appointments for you so that you don’t have to spend time or energy in organizing these kinds of interactions.

Key Features to keep in mind

No matter what booking plugin or service you use to start your business and teaching or selling online, there are some features that are a must to ensure an easy experience for the teacher and the student, or the speaker and the listener, the mentor and the mentee. They are:

    1. Realtime availability updates

      In the digital world, the concept of a queue is absent. If two people are trying to book at the same time, they should be able to know as bookings happen, they should be updated on the website

    2. Reporting and analytics

      It is important to have a knowlege of the nature and number of appointments being made so that you know how to readjust your schedule, what to offer more of, what to offer less of etc

    3. Support for recurring appointments

      You may need this is your customers are recurring, such as students. But for cooking, salons, art classes, this may not be a strict requirement

    4. Online payments

      Of course, this goes without saying. Compatibility with online payment gateways is a must.

    5. Reminder emails & text messages 

      It is nice to create as seamless an experience, and sending a reminder text or email is part of it. You should make sure your Booking & Appointment plugin has provisions to send automated reminders before each session

    6. Ability to give discounts

      Discounts and sales are the part of the game, and if you are easily able to provide discounts, it will leave you with free time to focus on the actual efforts towards teaching

    7. Option to choose from team members

      If your online institute includes more than one resource – more than one trainer, stylist, chef etc – then the option to allow the customer to choose from a selected set of tutors with their own specific timings is a must. The webstore should make this easy for you too

Proposed solutions

As we mentioned earlier, WordPress and WooCommerce is a good long-term solution for your online presence. You can also alternatively choose a Learning Management System (LMS) such as LifterLMS.

Conclusion

Sitting at home, worrying about your financial stability and our collective future is expected during these times. But you can choose to focus on the possibilities, to create work, to teach online, to share. This will not only mean inching towards self-reliance, but work can also be an excellent coping mechanism, as well as a way to build a community.

So, what are you waiting for?

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