Last week, I wrote about what it takes to be a freelance educator. This time lets talk about how to earn a good living from this lifestyle. Although the title mentioned “Art”, the approaches here can work for you even if you teach other subjects.

So let’s get to it.

1) Realize that at the start, income will be low.

We are talking about low as in real low. “No $6 lattes for you” kind of low. When I was a freelancer, I made $700 in my first month. Once, I made $350. Then, after 6 months of constant work, I started to make $1500 easily and then it kept going up. Mind you, at $1500, I was only teaching 2 hours a day for 3 to 4 days in a week. A lot of people work 12 hour shifts to get that kind of money.
When you first start, getting jobs will be tough. You will be competing with people whom have established themselves and they usually get the big jobs. If you realise from the start that your finances will drop for a while, you can better gauge how much you have to cut back on spending so that you don’t get discouraged or have to eat grass when your funds dwindle. Make sure to have at least 6 months of reserves and be economical. This habit will help you tremendously not only as freelancer but in other areas of your life.

2) Calculate your monthly expenditure.

This should include everything from food to savings. Include EVERYTHING. This figure will tell you how much you have to earn in order to at least be comfortable. If you do not have a figure to aim at, you will always find it difficult to get through the months.

3) List out things in your life that you do not need.

This will trim down your expenditure. Very important especially when you are just starting out. If you always drink $6 lattes then it would be wise to switch to $1 coffees. Start living on necessity and not luxuries. Think about it as a transition period and that this cutting back is not going to last forever. Pretty soon, with diligence, you will get back to being comfortable again!

4) Call up education providers and offer your services.

Search for companies that need instructors or teachers part time. You would be surprised how many there are. Send them your resume (we’ll talk about this in another blog) and samples of your artwork. Be sure to read what their company mission is and see how you can support that.

5) Join your local community centres or resident centres and set up classes.

These types of classes are great as they usually happen in the evenings which leaves your days free. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to charge very high but this will add experience to your CV. Very important in teaching.

6) Contact local and international schools and see if they need teacher aides.

The working hours are usually short and it will provide a massive amount of classroom teaching experience. Plus you will get to learn from a trained educator in an actual classroom setting.

7) Spread yourself around.

Never work for just one company or organisation. Your time is money so you cannot be exclusive. Being dependent on just one source for income will limit how much you can earn and the amount of exposure you will get. Plus, if that one source disappears…. not good!

8) Get yourselve certified.

In some countries, you are required to register with the ministry of education in order to teach anything.
Once you are registered it will be easier to get jobs as compared to someone who is not registered.

9) Teach more than one subject.

I know freelance art educators who can only teach drawing. They don’t teach sculpting, printmaking etc. When you ask them why, they give one or both of these reasons:
•”I dont know that subject”
•”It’s too troublesome”
Both these reasons get you nowhere. If you don’t know a subject, study it. Find out how they are taught by looking at resources such as books and youtube videos.
The second reason points to laziness. You can’t be a successful lazy freelancer and when you start to think that teaching more subjects will become a hassle, it’s time to ask yourself if this line of work is really for you.

10) Constant learning.

As long as you can control the attention a group and teach any subject to a class, you can teach anything. Expand your knowledge and constantly upgrade your teaching ability. Look for courses that teaches you how to be a better educator such as public speaking courses. Join organisations if there are any. Look for internet forums that discusses teaching methods or subjects. Read books on pedagogy. There are so many free and paid ways to upgrade yourself and continuous learning is never a waste of time or resources.

12) Network with fellow freelancers.

As they say, no one is an island. Building a network with peers gives you support that money can’t buy such as-
•they can rope you in projects that brings in more income
•share their methodologies and experiences
•put in a good word for you. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
•help you to take over projects when you can’t make it for whatever reasons. Just remember that you get what you put in when it comes to issues like these. It’s all about mutual benefit.

13) Take on projects on your own.

This means that you get the contract and run the show without any middle men. This gives you the most income but you must be very organized as this takes precise project management. When you work for an education provider, observe how they run projects and see if doing what they do would be something that you would be comfortable with. Start with small projects first and move on to bigger ones. Who knows? Maybe soon, you can set up your own company!

14) Build a great cv

Fill it up with eveything that makes you look like a grade A educator. Ask previous customers for referrals or quotes about your service. List all the places you have taught at and courses that you have taught or are good at teaching. Keep adding to your cv. A complete cv shows that you are serious about your work.

15) Be positive.

I have worked with probably 100 freelance educators and one characteristic that I found to be in all the successful ones (the ones who command a minimum of $80 per hour) is a positive outlook on life. They always see the glass as half full and it is very difficult to get them down. This makes people want to work with them and pay them for their services and this positive attitude is transferred to their students which makes learning from these people an absolute joy.

There you have it! Next week, I will talk about how to craft a great looking cv. My past experience as a manager in a company that hire freelance educators has taught me what to look for in a cv and basically how to “read” applications from it.

See ya!