Exploring the idea of teaching online classes and seminars to create a passive revenue stream.

For the past week I’ve been researching the idea of teaching online. Not just online courses and seminars, but all sorts of variations of the term “teaching.”  Today I’m reporting out on my findings and thoughts about whether or not I should pursue this avenue.


Darn it! I missed my deadline by two days. I could offer up a bevy of excuses, but I won’t bore you with them. Instead, I’ll take responsibility for not doing a better job of scheduling my time.

I’ve spent the past week learning about how to offer online courses, webinars and educational material – both for free and for a fee. This article is part of a five part series about how I plan to generate a revenue stream using passive income sources. Read all the articles in the series here:

  1.  What is Passive Income?
  2. Should I Write Books?
  3. Should I Teach using Online Courses? –  that’s this one here!
  4. Should I Create a Productized Service? – coming soon
  5. Decision Made: My Passive Income Adventure Begins – coming soon

So let’s talk about what I’ve learned and what types of “teaching” we’re talking about here.

Comprehensive online training courses – This is where you create an all-encompassing course about one specific topic.  I would create a curriculum around one specific topic and teach everything about that topic using videos or audio or visual (or some combination of the three) to deliver the lessons.  An example of this type of course is the Learn Lettering training by Sean McCabe where he teaches you to become a hand lettering artist and begin to make money with the art.

Webinars and specific training – This type of training delivers individual lessons on a very specific narrow topic. So instead of having a big comprehensive curriculum that covers one topic in depth, you have a small lesson on a niche topic that you can finish in an hour or so. This can be accomplished through webinars (either live or recorded) or video tutorials. Amy Porterfield does webinars really well. She generally offers her webinars for free as a lead generator for her larger paid training programs.

Both of those two choices can be hosted on my own website or with services like Udemy or Skillshare.

Admittedly these two types of teaching are what I was thinking about when I first mentioned teaching a couple weeks ago. But as I got more into learning about this topic I realized that those options were only scratching the surface of what might be considered teaching.  There’s a bunch of other types of teaching that I hadn’t even considered.

What other types of teaching? Good question!  Let me tell you all about ‘em. Here are a few ideas:

  • workbooks, checklists and worksheets that can be downloaded from a website
  • videos available on the big sites like YouTube or Vimeo
  • slideshows and presentation materials available through Slideshare
  • offline teaching like workshops, seminars, speaking gigs and local events that can be turned into online resources in any of the above ideas

I don’t remember which podcast I was listening to this past week (yes, I’m a podcast addict and I have one on about three hours a day during my daily commute). But the guest mentioned working with a life coach when she got started in business. I suppose most people would hear that and think about hiring their own life coach or business coach. But personally, I started wondering what it’d take for me to become a coach and how that whole arena worked. Who knows if I’d want to be a life coach… but the fact that my brain immediately went to becoming a coach instead of hiring a coach made me realize that teaching is where I need to go.

Confession time

Remember last week when I said I’d only just begun reading a book – Book Launch by Chandler Bolt – but that I was going to set it aside so I could focus on this week’s research assignment about teaching. I reasoned with myself that I would read some more of that book, but only on Saturday while it was still technically last week. Except, the book was so good that I let that creep into Sunday and Monday and I finally gave in and just indulged in enjoying the book through the rest of the book. But hear me out… it actually turned into dual research.  Really!  I’m not making excuses. Chandler Bolt not only writes books, but he also teaches. This book is based on a lot of the principles he teaches in his book publishing academy. And he’s not the only one who uses this approach. So that got me thinking about who else might be teaching and writing too…

  • Sean McCabe is in the process of writing a book about value-based pricing and developing a new training course on the same topic.
  • Amy Porterfield was part of the author team who wrote Facebook Marketing for Dummies, and she specializes in online training and consulting for Facebook marketing. The way she offers a free downloadable worksheet with each of her new podcasts – another great method of teaching.
  • Steve Scott first focused on writing a catalog of ebooks, but is now all over the online teaching thing but his method of teaching is more about giving it away for free with podcasts and blogging.
  • FLYlady – Even some of the old time greats like Marla Cilley (aka: FlyLady), who started out on Yahoo Groups and email distribution lists to teach women how to keep a clean house using systems, is killing it by selling books, workbooks, calendars, journals and products. Everything she teaches she offers for free, but then she sells her books and products to her army of followers (and when I say army, I’m not kidding! I found a 2011 statistic that said she had 630,000 subscribers on the email list back then.) And yes, I’m one of the Fly Babies who used to follow her system – now my house is just a mess instead.

What I’ve learned about writing and teaching

The really smart people in the passive income world don’t do just one thing. They don’t write books OR teach OR offer a service. They offer all three. And that’s what I need to do as well. Build the trifecta of passive revenue. And I need to get moving on this right away…no time to dilly dally!  I’m already getting a late start to the game.

But Pam! What about your commitment to research all three options and choose one at the end of the four week research project?

Don’t worry. I’m still going to do my week-three assignment. Productized services is an important part of this trifecta and I don’t know enough about it to really understand how it can fit neatly into the other two areas. So I’m going to do my research, as I committed to do, and report on what I’ve learned.

Taking it slow

I’ve determined that I need to take it slow. Not slow, as in take my ole’ sweet time… but slow as in taking the time I need to do this right in the most efficient way possible.  I’m going to start small with teaching and sort of practice along the way.

Do you mind being my guinea pigs?  I’d like to start putting together some resources for this process I’m going through. Things like checklists and journaling prompts that I’m personally using to help me with these goals and big dreams. I’ll explore what others are doing and figure out how to Pam-ify the concept to fit into what I’m doing here. This will be my testing ground to see if I can actually do this teaching thing.

And while I’m dipping my toe into the teaching arena, I’m planning to move full steam ahead with the writing idea. For the past two weeks I’ve been journaling and brainstorming about what types of books I want to write. My friend Nikki has helped me refine some of those ideas (that girl really knows me and doesn’t hesitate to tell me when I’m off track in my thinking – I love her to death!). I won’t clutter up this article about teaching with ramblings about writing, so look for those ramblings on another day.

What do you want to learn?

Is there something specific you’d like to see me teach about? I’d love to get your feedback and ideas. Please leave a comment or let’s chat on Facebook.