Those Who Can, Teach

What’s a proven way for Freelance consulting service providers to demonstrate expertise, distinguish yourself from the many “me, too” competitors; position yourself as a thought leader; and work against being perceived as a commodity? Teaching! The old proverb, “Those who can, do and those who can’t, teach” doesn’t hold up in the 21st century marketplace.

Teaching is the smartest-ever marketing activity.  You get paid to do it, so along with being an effective marketing activity, teaching simultaneously benefits your cash-flow.  If that’s not enough, through teaching you will become a better speaker and better able to promote yourself as a keynote or a panel moderator.  In horse racing, they call that a trifecta!

First, let’s consider what you might teach.  Ideally,  you’ll teach a subject related to your business.  Artists since Michelangelo (at least) have taught art classes.  Authors of best-selling books are usually able to join a university faculty, where they earn steady money teaching creative writing classes.  Prize-winning journalists often teach journalism at colleges and universities, which is a superb addition to their CV.

In 2006,  I created five 90 minute sales skills workshops that I presented at an adult learning center (the nation’s oldest adult learning center, BTW) and two years after that, based on my teaching experience and curriculum development skills,  I was invited to teach an 18 week business plan writing course at a Small Business Association-affiliated women’s business development center.

When that assignment ended two years later, I developed a six-hour business plan writing workshop that I continue to present two or three times a year at the adult learning center where my teaching career began.  I’ve also developed a 90 minute networking skills workshop and a six-hour strategic planning how-to workshop that are occasionally presented.

Second, you may need to acquire or improve your teaching skills.  My recommendation is that you learn both curriculum development and gain or improve your teaching skills by writing a proposal to teach some aspect of your professional expertise at an adult learning center, library, or some other organization that offers workshops to the public for free or at a modest cost.  The proposals I’ve written for workshops became my lesson plans.

Third, identify a place to teach.  As noted, adult learning centers and libraries are good possibilities.  Explore the requirements of teaching and peruse the types of courses that are scheduled.  Read the instructor bios—I’ll bet most are Freelancers.  If you’ve earned a master’s degree and you have a minimum of five years of teaching experience, you may be able to teach at a local university.  Adjunct (that is, part-time, non-tenure track) teaching is great if you can get it,  but the market has become quite competitive.  I’ve taught a couple of semesters at a special seminar series, but I’ve been unable to secure any more adjunct work in the past five years, I’m sorry to say.

Once you’ve developed a workshop and learned how to successfully present it,  consider taking it online in a YouTube video.  E-learning is a growing field and becoming proficient in presenting an online course is to your benefit.  Schools are transferring ever more courses to an online format and if you have the know-how, you will be a more attractive candidate for those disappearing adjunct opportunities.

Web developers are able to teach students how to build a website.  Freelance bookkeepers can teach other Freelancers how to use Quickbooks.  Marketers can teach the basics of social media marketing.  Landscape artists can teach homeowners how to choose shrubbery and flowering plants for their yards,  or how to create and maintain a window box filled with lovely plants.  Developing proficiency in the ancient and noble art of teaching delivers numerous tangible and intangible benefits to Freelancers and their students.

Thanks for reading,