One of the things I most love about the internet is how it’s opened up opportunities for EVERYONE to create a life in non-traditional ways: millennial graduates skip the 9-5 office and start their own online business, seasoned professionals leave their corporate jobs and become digital entrepreneurs, pensioners get another chance at fulfilling their lifelong dreams (read my mom’s story at the bottom of this page).
Or, in my case, non-academics get to teach what they are passionate about.
The internet is truly changing how we learn and teach which is great news for people like me who are university drop-outs and entirely self-taught instead. I have always been a very reluctant academic student, I much prefer to learn by doing and at my own pace. Rather than spending years on theoretical study without real-life application, I do much better if I can jump right in and learn along the way. Which, by the way, is not a derogatory reflection on the hard work and money people put into their degrees, nor the value of thorough training and intellectual pursuits. I am just saying that we are all different in how we process knowledge and traditional schooling utterly fails to recognize or facilitate that fact.
However, while the conventional classroom model is still widely used, the internet has opened up so many more opportunities to those of us who either don’t respond well to the old-school system, or who cannot afford it or are otherwise excluded or discouraged from it. Well, guess what?
We can now go online and learn and teach in a way that aligns with our preferences, means, values and desires.
I’m actually not a complete stranger to teaching, during my airline career I loved and had a knack for presenting customer service and technical workshops, and I also created and facilitated a few self-development seminars on how to get over a broken heart! But had you ever told me that one day I’d be teaching online web design and business courses I probably would have laughed at you in disbelief. Web design required a degree or certification and that just wasn’t on my radar at the time.
Yet here I am – in my 50s – teaching my heart out online and loving every moment of it!
Web design has been my geeky passion since 1999 when I spent a lot of money dialing into the internet (remember those days?) and taking HTML classes and creating my first website. In 2005 I started blogging and used Wordpress for a few years until discovering Squarespace in 2008. I never looked back. A platform like Squarespace allows someone like me, who is not a coder or developer, to focus on what I enjoy the most – visual design – and use my nonetheless substantial CSS and HTML skills to make it my own.
Then, in 2015, I joined Susannah Conway’s class The Inside Story and it changed the trajectory of my business and life.
I was fascinated by how Susannah had created an online business around teaching her craft and sharing her heart. She is one of the eCourse pioneers and the perfect antidote for the dreadful ‘passive income’ movement that tells us to identify a need in the market and then create eCourses and ‘secret’ formulas for success around this need so that we can eventually sit back and enjoy the passive income that will come rolling in. (Erm, there are no secrets, and there is nothing passive about being a successful online entrepreneur.)
That is so not what teaching is about, at least not for me.
I first heard the phrase ‘heart-centered business’ in Inside Story and while it’s become one of those over-used and mis-represented terms I still like it because it best describes what running a business and teaching online courses is all about for me:
Creating a livelihood from a passion, utilizing modern technology with intention and heart while caring about providing great service and high-quality content & training.
I still love 1:1 web design but at the beginning of my fifth year in business, I realized that I could no longer do it all and shifted my full-time focus onto my eCourses which have grown a lot since taking Susannah’s class more than three years ago. Sharing my knowledge with my students and seeing them learn and thrive in a way that is aligned with their own values and passions gives me so much pleasure and does feel a bit like a calling.
These days I make a very good income from my courses but teaching is not just about the numbers for me, it’s about relationships, opportunity and substance. I go deep, not wide, and as my client or student you will always be seen and heard.
I believe that anyone can change their life, and that of others, by teaching online. We need more teachers who share from the heart and help us connect to our passions.
This post was my contribution to Alauna Whelan’s May Magick 2019 community project. You can still sign up and receive everyone’s inspirational essays as an eBook. Alauna is one of my favorite fellow Insiders and an amazing artist who makes beautiful jewelry, scented candles and perfumes. She is also the creator of the Lunar Love Letter where she weaves astrology with powerful personal insights and a bit of mystic. It’s something I look forward to every month!
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