Has the Internet Made Teaching Lucrative?

image of apple and chalkboard

When I turned 18, my father took me aside to talk about my future.

“I don’t care what you do for a living“, he said, “as long as you don’t go into education.”

I obeyed to a point. I never did go into academia; I didn’t become a schoolteacher or a professor.

But I currently run a business that teaches craftsmen and professionals how to master the fundamentals of business on their own terms, without spending years in school and without racking up six-figure debts.

I’m in education, along with thousands of other people who teach valuable skills online. Brian is in education. So is Sonia. And most likely, so are you.

My dad was a schoolteacher

And he was a damn good one.

His specialties were math and science. Instead of following the textbook or drilling for tests, his students learned by doing real experiments. Every outlet in his classroom was used to power some sort of gadget. Piranhas prowled his fishtanks. Model rockets in various stages of construction were a fixture — they were the tools he used to teach sixth graders physics, chemistry, and trigonometry.

When I was eight years old, my dad decided to stop teaching. Not because he wanted to, but because working as a teacher in a tiny Ohio township didn’t pay enough to support our family. Dad’s salary was so low that our family qualified for the free/reduced lunch program at the school where he taught.

So, instead of doing what he loved to do, Dad decided to switch from teaching to administration, and began a career as an elementary school principal.

The change dramatically improved the family budget, but it was a very real sacrifice. Instead of directly interacting with his students in the classroom, Dad spent most of his time filling out paperwork, handling school politics, disciplining the 5% of the student population that couldn’t behave, and managing the parents of those students, who (more often than not) were angry their children were being disciplined.

That job made my dad miserable for over twenty years. It’s little wonder he warned me away from education.

I honestly tried to take my dad’s advice

I enrolled in college as a computer engineering major, since I was good at working with computers. Engineering was a respected, high-paying profession, which sounded great to me as a young man with no experience in the world of work.

It didn’t take me long to learn the dangers of mystique — after a year’s worth of classes, it was clear that I’d be miserable as an engineer. I didn’t care very much about how to make a faster microprocessor — I cared far more about how people use technology.

Since engineering wasn’t right for me, I decided to try business. My computer skills led me into a job at a Fortune 50 corporation (Procter & Gamble), which was experimenting with using the internet to market household products. A few years later, I found myself in brand management, working for the company that invented the field.

I was in a high paying, management-track job, working for a prestigious, well-known company.

But I was miserable.

As much as I learned in my time at P&G, I couldn’t get over the nagging feeling that something was wrong — that if I continued on the path I was walking, I’d squander my life selling bottles of soap.

So I decided to disobey my father. I went into education.

A different kind of education

By education, I don’t mean credentialing — the process of handing someone a fancy certificate for completing an arbitrary set of criteria, which is what passes for “education” in most high schools and colleges today.

I mean education in the learning sense — helping people master useful skills that will improve their lives.

I started my website, PersonalMBA.com, as a side project when I graduated from college. Instead of spending an enormous sum of money on graduate school, I decided to educate myself, and share what I learned with other people interested in doing the same thing.

Two years ago, I quit my job at P&G to teach business full time. I’m essentially a business professor — but I don’t have an MBA, I don’t have a PhD, and I don’t work at a business school.

I teach craftsmen and professionals how to master the fundamentals of business on their own terms, without spending years in school and without racking up six-figure debts.

My teaching business is exploding. I make my living in a way that my dad would have found hard to foresee: teaching business skills to adult learners around the world (most of whom I’ve never met in person) using a few inexpensive tools, my hard-won knowledge, and my personal experience. My clients hail from over forty countries across six continents.

My initial investment in some basic digital publishing training and equipment has produced the highest ROI imaginable: a debt-free, global, six-figure teaching business. I’m making more than most college professors with a fraction of their schooling.

I can work from anywhere that has a stable internet connection and a phone line. I operated my business on a dialup connection in the mountains of Colorado for six months. And I could easily move anywhere in the world at any time.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this to emphasize an important point: the world has changed dramatically in favor of skilled teachers.

This is a golden age of teaching

My decision to disobey my father may prove to be the best I’ve ever made. Teaching for a living has brought me financial stability, an enormous amount of freedom and flexibility, and the satisfaction of improving my students’ lives for a living. Many of the methods and tools I use to teach my students didn’t exist when I graduated from college just five years ago.

That said, it’s important to realize that the new world of teaching has placed new demands on teachers.

Your authority and credibility no longer depend on credentials — it depends on mastering skills by practicing them in the real world. You must be sensitive to what your prospective students want to learn, instead of forcing them to learn whatever you decide to teach them. And there’s no such thing as tenure. You stay relevant and useful or you lose all your students.

Attracting students requires learning the arts of content marketing and sales — and using them every day.

Delivering quality training requires developing technical skills you may not yet possess. Above all, you must overcome your discomfort in charging what your services are worth, and learn to ask for the sale.

Four years ago, I dreamed of teaching for a living, but I didn’t know where to start. If you’re in the same position, you’re in the right place. Copyblogger helped me get started, and they’ll help you on your journey as well.

A few weeks ago, my wife Kelsey and I welcomed our first child into the world — Lela Christine. Eighteen short years from now, I expect Lela and I will have the same conversation I had with my father — only it’s very likely I’ll recommend becoming a teacher.

About the Author: Josh Kaufman is an independent business teacher, founder of PersonalMBA.com, and the author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. To receive free business book summaries and practical business training, subscribe to the Personal MBA newsletter.

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  1. Josh:

    This is a very good post today.

    It got me thinking on education. Look at all the copywriting courses out there. But did you know that Dan Kennedy, Clayton Makepeace and Brian Keith Voiles either didn’t graduate from high school, or a high school diploma is their only educational credential? Yet today they make annual seven figures as copywriters.

    Nor are brick and mortal education portals the only way to go. How many online schools do we have today? Yet the University of London and University of South Africa pioneered non-traditional education, over a 150 years ago.

    Many artists – even some Noble prize winners – dropped out of formal educational settings.

    Good thinking material today.

    Randy

  2. I would just like to answer your headline’s question with a resounding “Hell yeah!” The 10+ years I’ve spent as a software trainer & courseware developer have helped me immensely in my blog consulting. Membership in Teaching Sells totally sealed the deal and this year I’ll be rolling out more educational products than ever for business bloggers.

    Education is marketing, and it’s also very profitable.

    Public education, not so much.

    • I’d just like to echo Mr. Remarkablogger’s sentiments here and add that I did go with the formal professional education route – law school. Although I’ve been able to make the experience serve me well, it certainly wasn’t a requisite or guarantee of a lucrative anything!

      Ironically, having go through that process and having creating products/services as a result of having that experience – which I teach and sell on the Internet – has proven to be much more rewarding and financially beneficial.

      I love that you said: “Your authority and credibility no longer depend on credentials — it depends on mastering skills by practicing them in the real world. ”

      I think that is the guiding principle of a a truly authentic and effective teacher – teaching what you know because you live it. Getting paid for it is just an added benefit!

    • I was a founding member of Teaching Sells – it helped me tremendously.

      You’re right – education is marketing. All too often, the most challenging part of teaching is convincing the other party there’s something new to learn…

  3. In that case, I’m a teacher too even though I didn’t go into college at all.

    • If you have the passion to teach and have gone about self educating (not necessarily through traditional education either), then yes you are a teacher too.

      This was really a thought provocative article (as Randy already said). Teaching is also something I am passionate about. I am so passionate about teaching that I would do it for free. And yet, I would echo your dad’s sentiment about being a teacher but for different reasons. I cannot stand the bureaucracy associated with traditional forms of teaching. The internet makes it possible to indulge my passion without going through the bottlenecks inherent in the brick and mortar form of teaching.

    • That’s the wonderful thing about teaching to adult learners – if you can help them accomplish something they want, degrees are a non-issue.

  4. My Mom was a schoolteacher as well. And I’ve become a teacher for online marketing. I teach at the University of San Francisco and have been teaching people through my own brands for over 15-years now online. The answer to your question is yes!

    Everyone knows a lot about something. Now the technology is here that allows regular people with passion/knowledge to share what they know, for profit or not. That’s why I created a company called http://www.prfessor.com (blatent plug). I mention it because that’s what we do. We help anyone, without tech skills, teach what they know for profit.

  5. Josh.

    It was Socrates that said, “I cannot teach anyone anything, I can only make them think.”

    And as teachers, those of us that strive to better the lives of others through online education it is clear that our value lies in making others think…and in doing so they learn. Your site and book are proof of concept of that.

  6. I did go into academia and felt incredibly stifled, and am still paying off loans. The decision to leave academia was one of the hardest I’ve ever made as its culture is very similar to that of a religious cult and you are made to believe that any work in the “real” world is not as important as the ivory tower and that you have no skills that can make you successful outside the Academy. But once I made the decision it was a huge relief and I love and am passionate about what we do, which is catering and events, as I always loved to entertain and also really enjoy interior design, the basis for all successful event design. I also love and spent two years apprenticing for channeling the flow of money from a business or other sources into residual-income vehicles–we will retire young! My sister, who is still an academic, lost so much money in her retirement account that she will now postpone her retirement by another SEVEN YEARS, while our other sister and her husband, an entrepreneur, this year will retire early.

    I’m so glad that education is becoming more democratized and de-mythified (if commodified). A friend’s daughter is coming up against the dirty secret of academia–you can’t make even a decent living with it anymore (but do you deserve to these days with a thesis like “External and Internal Influences on the Reception of the Photography of Hands in 1970s America”?).

    • That’s why I decided against getting a PhD before teaching business – aside from the lack of control and bureaucracy, I wanted to write things that more than three people in the world world read! :-)

  7. Josh

    I second Michael’s resounding Yes above! In 2008 when it was clear that my off line business was suffering from the recession I started an online, teaching business (teaching the bass guitar). That business has really flourished in the last 18 months – despite talks of recession or money problems – and should break 6 figures either in 2011 or 2012.

    However there’s a word of warning – the perception of teaching, as exemplified by the quote : “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” is still perceived wisdom by lots of folks. When in fact teaching is a skill in its own right – learning to teach a subject well requires the same amount of dedication and learning as actually mastering a subject in the first place.

    There are a lot of people out there – both off line and on line – who are selling teaching services and don’t actually know how to teach. So if you are thinking of taking a course, make sure you do your due dilligence on your teacher and find someone who not only knows the subject you want to learn, but knows how to teach it.

    One last thing to add – there’s a further benefit to teaching that is not spoken about often. And that is that when you teach a subject, if you approach your teaching with enthusiasm and an open mind you may well end up either learning more than the students (by making new connections), or by seeing topics in new ways that opens up your thinking on what’s possible in your topic.

    If you truly want to learn how to do something, try teaching it, or creating teaching materials for imaginary students. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

    Paul

    • I absolutely agree that when you teach, you learn so much yourself. Preparing to teach can also open the floodgates of ideas that otherwise may never have shown up.

      Josh also mentioned content creation in his article ,and teaching is a fantastic way to come up with content you can use in other ways. For example, courses can be recorded and offered as MP3s, teleseminar Q & A can easily become blog posts.

      Thanks for the article Josh!

    • Couldn’t agree more, Paul. I taught a couple of synchronous college courses online a few years back. By the end, I had definitely learned more than the students. You have to, if you want to be able to explain the material effectively.

      At the same time, the “those who can’t, teach,” mentality does have some reasonable basis when applied to (especially high-school level) academia. I don’t think it should be applied as broadly as it is, perhaps. However, between unions keeping poor teachers in the classroom and the “teach to the test” mentality, the fundamental premise of the expression is, unfortunately, sound.

      Maybe one day the educational system will catch up with the self-motivated lifelong learning contingent that sites like this and Josh’s target.

      • Tom

        That’s a good thought on the correlation between academia and the ‘those who can’t, teach’ meme.

        It’s a shame because being a teacher (in the old fashioned sense) is a high calling. Go to the Hero’s Journey and you’ll find one of the key steps is the hero meeting the mentor along the way – and what is a mentor? Basically someone who’s already trod the hero’s path and has returned (to the ordinary world) to impart wisdom so that others can follow his footsteps.

        Maybe from a marketing point of view it might be better to position ourselves as ‘mentors’ or ‘coaches’ rather than teachers – that way we can side-step this low perception of the role of a ‘teacher.’

        Paul

  8. Josh, I couldn’t agree more. With programs like Camtasia Studio, teaching has never been easier…or more fun. Best investment I’ve ever made. Version 7 is so worth it.

    • Absolutely. You can set up a kick-ass digital publishing studio for less than $10,000 now – the barriers to entry are mostly being willing to get the gear and learn how to use it well.

  9. While I suspect that there are more people who make money teaching today than 20 years ago, the internet can’t take the credit. Teaching has always been lucrative… for direct marketers. The only thing that changed was the barrier to entry for direct marketing.

    • I think a bit more has changed thanks to the Internet than that Derek — near zero-cost publishing by digital content delivery, interactive learning environments, inbound instead of purely outbound marketing, free virtual word of mouth, easy iterative development based on instant feedback… I could go on. ;)

      • More has changed, but did teaching become lucrative or was it always lucrative? It was always lucrative, and as you know, the direct marketers are a testament to that.

        Can you make more money today because of the internet? Absolutely. Is it much easier today, too? Yep! Did teaching magically become lucrative overnight because of the internet? Not really…

        Although, I suspect my point is moot. If it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t have stumbled on this whole education business. I also wouldn’t have learned about all these direct marketers on a site called Copyblogger. :-P

        • It’s definitely more lucrative now – direct marketers have been in business for a long time, but it was significantly more difficult. The internet makes experimentation and iteration much easier, so you can learn what works much more quickly.

          There’s a reason all of the old-school direct marketers have migrated to the internet. :-)

  10. Martyn Chamberlin... :

    Teaching sells, Josh! I like that a lot. Thanks for the solid post. This is a golden age for teaching. Entrepreneurs need to get good at this. Like me.

    Brian, could I have a word with you for a minute? Something I need to talk about. mail@martynchamberlin.com

  11. Ah, the lure of mystique got me into six-figure debt believing doctor was my profession. Just like you, I found myself noticing a feeling something was “off.” Though it’s tough being underemployed and behind on bill payments, I’m very grateful to be out of the profession. In fact, I’m just beginning to move into education, having been a college professor during the Spring and Summer.

    The internet is an ever-evolving gamechanger, obviously. The tools and audience available give us much wider reach than a classroom. What’s also great, I think, is the anonymity it allows people. If your product or service is crap, they’re able to confront you about it without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction.

    As I venture forward as a health and wellness educator, I find comfort and encouragement in your example. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Josh,
    Thanks for this great post. Your book is definitely on my reading this for this year!
    I love the trend you’re highlighting here, and I think its coming for two reasons.

    1. The Internet’s tools to allow anyone to teach and offer excellent, practical courses at a fraction of the costs of college (while potentially making more money for the teachers, as you say above).

    2. College is growing so expensive and increasingly doesn’t come with the perceived promise that you are employable after four to six years, that the option of cheaper, more practical learning online is growing by leaps and bounds.

    I also love the fact that the market determines how much you make as a teacher in this new world. So if you’re good, and people spread the word, you can vault ahead of competitors who have that master’s degree.

    I left my previous career three years ago in a layoff, and assumed that another two to three years of college might be in my future, despite having a BA. But like you, I instead found Copyblogger, and it’s been a whirlwind of excellent online education ever since, leading me to not only a career I love, but plans to launch a separate business, thanks to Teaching Sells.

    I feel like every year I’m getting 10x the education I ever did at college, for less than a 10th the price. As long as that keeps up, I will gladly pay money to you, Brian, Sonia and Jon, as others pay me.

    If enough other people receive the kinds of results I have, what you’re saying above will soon be a forgone conclusion.

  13. Great post, Josh.

    With a Master’s in theater and thirty-five years in manufacturing and distribution around the world, I have retired into teaching which demands that I continue to learn and grow. I do it everywhere I want and it is fun!

  14. Good for you Josh! Like your dad, I’m a former classroom teacher who needed to figure out a way to continue my calling and make enough money to pay the bills. Hence, I created Fearless Delivery, http://www.FearlessDelivery.com. I still definitely consider myself a student in the area of learning to run my own business, but I look forward to subscribing to your newsletter and learning more from you in that area!

    It’s great to hear about somebody coming from the same place I did-

    Thanks,

    Lily

  15. Josh:

    Excellent piece about the power of teaching by using the Internet! And that ‘Talk’ by your dad reminded me of my own ‘Talk’ with my two kids.

    I too was a teacher, at all three levels of public ed, and also an administrator. I did the first because I love kids, and I did the second because I wanted to shape policy to make public education better. And to provide for my family, as your father may have done too. Difficult decisions, to leave what you love.

    Public education is public service, but I knew my kids were different than me. And so they got ‘The Talk.’ The result? I encouraged them to explore, to take time and figure out what they loved to do, and now they are launched in professional careers, one in digital illustration, one in engineering.

    The education industry is exactly that; it’s a machine, and it does not fit all folks, nor is it the Only Path to fame and wealth. Good Life is about making good choices that fit the individual.

    The digital universe has thankfully opened new worlds for many of us, including me. Now I can create the next phase of my life: writing online copy for business clients. May 2011 bring us all success!

  16. Being on the student to this type of teacher is a treat too! It’s usually a more personal and interactive experience. In my humble opinion, I prefer learning from someone with “real” experience over solely theoretical. They use plain language and want you to succeed. More traditional universities would benefit from adding a few more entrepreneurial professors to their repertoire. A little diversity would be a breath of fresh air in an over-crowded classroom.

    • Absolutely – I’ve learned much more from practitioners over the years vs. professors. The academic “publish or perish” model is a recipe for churning out junk that no one finds useful.

  17. As a scientist who followed the mystique and got a PhD in science (and in some ways, regret), I hear you! I finally left my job to write, blog and speak full time. It’s funny that some of those scientists now want to hire me back as a social media consultant/blogger, something I have no degree in besides my experience. The irony!

    This is not only an important message for those who love education, but for all those folks who feel trapped in a job they hate. I now write about career chage and will be sending out this inspirational message. My question for you is: can you teach more than just skills? Can you teach people to change? It seems many want to take a leap in their careers and in life, but very few actually muster the courage to do it.

    • To teach well, it’s helpful to study behavioral change and cognitive bias, so you can help your students actually implement the changes you discuss.

      There’s a wide body of pre-existing research on behavioral change. The upshot is that change is difficult for many reasons, but you can help your students by (1) helping them change the structure of their environment to support the change, and (2) help them recognize in the moment when a different behavior is desired, vs. continuing to operate on autopilot.

      I tackle some of these strategies in my book. For more detail, I recommend The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz and Self-Directed Behavior by David L. Watson & Roland G. Tharp. Hope this helps!

    • That skill, how to make people change, is and will be extremely important, since progress in science is exponential (at least natural science & technology). But it’s difficult, since our biology is adapted to another age long gone. Within a couple of decades this will change due to “enhancements”, check out the transhumanist movement and Ray Kurzweil.

  18. Hi Josh,

    Way to go! Sometimes the advice we get from our parents is meant well but not of our best interest. I’m glad you found something that you love and find fulfillment in. There’s a saying out there…”Find out what you are passionate about and then find a way to make a living with it.” Looks like you’ve accomplished that.

    Much continued success!

    Ilka

  19. Indeed one doesn’t not need credentials to teach. In fact I never ask for credentials if someone is teaching me something very well (no matter what subject).

    So it’s not about what papers you have, it’s about what you know and how good a teacher you are. And now, with democratization of media – teaching online is one of the coolest opportunity for skilled people.

    We’re all teachers in the new media business. :-)

  20. Great googlymooglies; it’s like reading my life story.

    Except the happy ending part; I’m not there yet. But it’s nice to know I’m gonna end up as smart and successful as you.

    H’ray, me! (And thanks, Josh.)

  21. Wow, I could have written this! I’ve followed almost exactly the same path, and ended up in the profession I thought I was sidestepping.

    Wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. Josh,

    As some others have said, I’m definitely going to have to pick up your book! I think it will be really interesting to see how the Internet changes education overall. The changes are obviously happening already, but not as quickly as they should.

    The fact that we can share information at the speeds now possible, and with the ease now possible should be a complete game-changer. I won’t go on too long of a rant here, but the formal education system as we know it (at least in the U.S.) is so archaic, it’s embarrassing.

    I know this wasn’t exactly the point of your post, but I still felt inclined to share.

    • Thanks, Dave – I appreciate your support. I agree on your assessment of the current educational system… that’s why I’m trying to build another system. :-)

  23. Hey Josh,

    My dad was also a teacher.

    And because of this, I received a ton of programming that promoted “Ladder Thinking” which says you go to this level, then this level, and ONLY when an authority tells you that you’re good enough to, will you even entertain the idea of moving to the top tier.

    Well Tony Robbins knocked me out of that thinking with his story of his rise to success.

    Tony graduated high school. He rose to national fame helping people deal with their head trip issues that kept them from performing at a peak level. So of course all the physicians and psychologists who subscribe to ladder thinking went after him with a vengeance when he’d go on a radio show and talk about how he could use NLP techniques to wipe people’s phobias out in ONE HOUR.

    But, he was willing to put his as on the line and prove himself on stage in front of audiences and even when Diane Sawyer ended up being in the crowd of one of his elite seminars he never failed to deliver.

    And the belief that Tony instilled in me that helped me get over not being “University Approved” was… “I’ve got a PHD in results.”

    This connects with one of the latest posts here that talked about how when a copywriter shows up to a business, they’d do themselves a greater favor showing up with a piece of paper that proved their competence through direct sales or increased subscribers vs. a diploma.

    Thank You Josh for reinforcing the reality that people care more about results than they do lambskin!

  24. Love this post,

    Many could argue that marketing is teaching. Smart software companies now give you free training to show you all the cool new software features that you do not have yet. So you say, “that is cool, we need that”

    I teach teachers about video instructional design but I’m also a online marketer during the day. After teaching, then going back to marketing over and over again for 10 years. I’ve decided that they are one in the same.

  25. Great article!
    Online marketing is awesome, because everybody can do what they love doing. It doesn’t matter if you like writing content, managing people, teaching others, helping others or creating new products if you work online you can do what you love and be successful. I’m really glad for this opportunity.
    Grerg

  26. Josh,

    Thanks for sharing some of your insights. I’ve been going through the list of books on your personal mba list for the past few months now and can honestly say that the list provides a lot of practical and useful business fundamentals.

    But I must say, I believe that teaching has always been in a golden age. Maybe not traditional k-12 teaching, but the act of “teaching” people will always be in high demand.

    Sharing successful business practices holds you accountable, and makes you take a closer look at exactly what elements made someone successful because you’re trying to teach people to duplicate your success.

  27. Way to go Josh! That’s a great success story!

    Love anything that makes me re-think traditional approaches to getting something done. A new angle on education, and a better way to make it more profitable. Excellent stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Josh has a special place in my heart, since a little over 3 years ago I was stuck in corporate middle management and found his site. He probably saved me from a lifetime slaving in corporate marcom hell trying to get to VP. :)

    The Personal MBA approach doesn’t just impart really good information, it also instills a mindset of taking your own education/career/etc. into your own hands and making it work, rather than playing the game with all the other dutiful rule-followers.

  29. Yes Josh, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    It is a very good article indeed. I honestly think this is a golden age of teaching. With development of good and quality online systems and services, it could become even more effective and productive.

    Teaching is now more lucrative then ever before (if we speak about online-based teaching). I think this kind of teaching is going to be quite more competitive in the future. Simply because people are oriented on internet and this kind of teaching is a situation where everyone wins at the end.

    Thanks for sharing Josh.

  30. Great post Josh,

    Just signed up for your newsletter. You’ve got me all pumped up now!

  31. I think the Internet has change the traditional way that teach. We are in a virtual society so teachers no longer need to be present in the class room because they can now do it in an online classroom environment.

  32. Great post Josh.
    i thought this was a really great post to read. i’ll check back for new posts by you!

  33. As a former homeschooler, I take a slightly skeptical view of what is taught in a lot of our schools. I don’t worry about paying for college because I hope my elementary age sons will develop the skills they need to build a career for themselves long before that time comes around. College is pricing itself out of the market and it’s not clear to me how it will maintain the advantage at all. The internet has changed it all.

    • I found college hugely useful — but i have a history degree. It improved my writing, my critical thinking, and taught me a lot about the recurring patterns in human society. I wouldn’t have been able to take any of it nearly as far on my own — the scholarship & passion for the subject in my professors were incredibly important to the experience.

      The “practical” degrees (marketing, business, etc.) often seem less useful to me. I’m sure there are some terrific programs out there, but in many schools they seem to be taught by those who stepped out of the game a long time ago, possibly because they weren’t terribly good at it.

      • Agree Sonia,

        Further education ‘opens up’ our probably limited views of the world.

        Sure, you might not need it if you grew up in NY and traveled a lot as a youngster, but for most ‘small town’ folks working a regular bread and butter jobs……

        College/university teaches us that there is a whole wide world of interesting people, places and opportunities out there…….

  34. Josh this is incredible I am going to see your site now.
    I used to do more comments here but try to keep my posts relevant to something that strikes me.

    And this did just that…… you have purpose, you matter. No disrespect to any other posts this month but this was the best one out pof all of the great content for me this month. Thanks.

  35. Sure, this might be a shameless plug, but one of our customers pointed me towards this article.

    Our platform (Bloomfire.com) powers a bunch of other teachers and helps them monetize their knowledge. For more examples besides PersonalMBA.com, also check out http://exploringsocialmedia.bloomfire.com (a social media consultant offers dozens of social media tutorials) and http://wellnessworks.bloomfire.com (wellness program for consumers).

    There’s definitely an interest in tools like ours that help entrepreneurs monetize their knowledge. Currently, a new Bloomfire site is being launched every hour.

  36. The answer is implied not only in the question but in the purpose of your site. Yes.

  37. Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed reading you article, Josh! I think it is very important for people to “find” themselves before enrolling in a college (a traditional college that is!) and really know what it is that they enjoy doing- not necessarily want they want to do with their lives. I know a lot of people who went to college and now have successful careers in fields that are completely unrelated to their college education.

    I used to be really good at Math and Chemistry back in high school and for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to enroll as a pre-pharmacy major in college – NOT! It was extremely difficult and highly demanding and I eventually graduated with a Bachelors degree in Psychology (which I found considerably interesting).

    Although I value and appreciate the social skills, critical thinking skills and creative writing skills that my college education has provided me, I feel as though I was almost tricked into believing that my degree would be my golden ticket to earning a well-paid job straight out of college. I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about traditional college that people need to be aware of. I couldn’t find a job for months!

    I guess I’ll never know for sure, but my opinion is that the best education is one that you provide yourself with. College can only teach you so much. That’s why I think programs such as yours are brilliant because the only people who sign up are those who genuinely want to learn and they get to learn from others who have as much interest in the subject and real life knowledge about it. No college education can match that type of experience.

  38. Got something to teach? – Great! but the same old problem never goes away does it.
    How to get the word out to that specific audience that needs your teachings.

    Someone please give me that one word that stops me remaining an anonymous ambition-filled nobody!

  39. I enjoyed your blog. it is happening more and more that people are turning otheres poeples trash into treasure. just like this article, this man took what his father thought of as a “trash’ career and turned it into a “treasure” of a business without losing siter of what his father told him in the beginning. He saw the value in teaching but not the rewards.

    Great Article.

  40. Josh, this post really hit home for me.

    Maybe it’s because my father has been working in the education field for over 30 years, maybe it’s because he’s always had to struggle for my family, working long hours, never really making more than just enough to put a roof over our heads, food on the table and other little comforts that we took for granted. Maybe it’s also because I feel like I’m developing along the same path, trying my hand at the online education business, and maybe it’s because you wrote this article in a way that feels very personal but.. well, done. I’ll have to link back to this in one of my posts – now I have to write something that warrants it.

  41. I need to read more of your stuff. I have a MBA and teach both online and on-ground courses. Additionally I have a full time job in the IT field. Quite frankly the MBA has not helped me out that much professionally other than probably making it easier to get a couple jobs.
    More to the point, I am convinced that an online eduction is not the same as a traditional education. It is not as good. For example, when teaching a statistics class, I cannot use the same final exam for both classes as the online classes would fail. We are trying to create a McDonalds education. Fast with some standards of quality but not a lot of depth. I am starting to talk like grandpa but the modern education online is less than that of years past. I would also submit that the education I got is less than the old european model. One in which you took classes for 4 years then took your finals. Four years of education tested over the course of a few days. I realize that those working for themselves only need the knowledge hence…..
    Having said that, I realize that online education is he way of the future. It also allows people who would never had access to advanced education to learn essential skills. The Internet is becoming the modern Library of Alexandria. It has vast amounts of knowledge with limitless ways of access the knowledge. Times change as well as people and their expectations. The new education models are in a state of flux and probably will be for some time as we define the parameters of online education and education in general. Maybe the concept of degrees will fall by the wayside as people are judged purely on their knowledge for a particular set of tasks.
    Again, I am not trying to be critical and I am interested in reading your material in greater depth with an open mind as I find your concept interesting.

  42. Great post. I love all forms of education and I think that many people can benefit from unconventional education. For me, this is not to bash traditional education as there is value there too. A combination of forms of education once someone knows what learning method is best for them is great.

  43. Josh,

    I really enjoyed reading your post and learning about your story.

    It just goes to show you that you should follow your heart and you will
    never be disappointed.

    Congratulations on the birth of your child!

    Blessings,

    Karen

  44. This is a terrific post, I really enjoyed it. It was very important because tomorrow I will be presenting in Chicago a new site, called P2P Microversity, which will help people can create their own schools with all the features. The need for quality and affordable education is needed, and yes it can be very lucrative. Thanks for the post.

  45. This is indeed one great post! It is true that “education” has become like a machine which churns out “graduates”. Most of the time courses being offered and “required” are not anymore relevant to our lives. And sometimes, even with the diplomas gained, there is still no assurance that we get quality, meaning effective graduates who will excel in their field of interest.

    Add to that, would be the financial investment we pour to these institutions, which is quite heavy.

    It’s a good thing that a lot of information is already available to us through the internet. The danger that I can see here is the veracity of the information being transferred. Whilst the institutions have a reputation or is an entity which can be held liable for whatever wrong information it imparts, the information we get from the net is not being regulated.

    Nevertheless, Online education is indeed very helpful. For those very skilled and responsible teachers like you…keep up the good work!

  46. I am thoroughly enjoying Copyblogger-went on a binge yesterday and read all the posts I didn’t have time to open up in my e-mail…

    Just wanted to emphasize how the Internet and related technology have completely turned upside down the traditional process of learning in general. It’s no longer about the different ways that teachers can give over their knowledge, nor is it about the ways that student can interact with each other.

    I think the game changer that will make such a difference in the future is the reality of how we can now manipulate and create knowledge. For example, there are sites that let anyone put up a notebook on a particular topic, while anyone who has info can add (with links, videos, or photos uploaded from mobile phones) to the site.

    There are also mobile apps that give you a historical walking tour of a city, complete with pictures dug out of archives that show you how the area once looked. I just looked up a site recently for my son that allows him to collaborate with experienced engineers to build a project. Not only will he get feedback about how to create his project, but he can choose to work with other kids on a joint project if he likes-all for free.

    Actually we should start calling ourselves “coaches” instead of teachers. In this brave new world, we can no longer compete just by the passing over of information from one person to another. We will compete on how well we can prepare our students for the future by giving them the higher-level skills they need in order to utilize that knowledge: the ability to think critically, to problem-solve, and especially, to communicate effectively (thanks Copyblogger!).

  47. Great post and too many comments for this one to be informed by.

    Just want to say that I like very much your acknowledgment of the business you’re in, namely the education business, and it’s good to see someone fully owning that.

    I hope your post helps more people to see that everyone one of us is simultaneously a teacher and a student. I hope your trailblazing helps more people to practice teaching, not only to make money, but to also deepen their own learning.

  48. Teaching Sells has become a mantra here at copyblogger and this article simply did justice to this universal truth of the 21st century. The internet has made knowledge workers or do I say knowledge entrepreneurs or creative entrepreneurs capable of building sustainable global businesses through content creation.

    Great work Josh, I am heading straight to your blog, you and I have got a lot to catch up on!

  49. Thanks for an inspiring post! It’s definitely attracted a lot of comments from those who are already in education or wish to be in education.

    Like a number here, I am in education – I am teaching but will soon turn to part-time teaching as being a fulltime teacher requires so much more in terms of admin work and endless meetings (which you mentioned your dad hated but had to do because of his job), which is so draining that by the end of the day, there’s hardly any creative energy left. Of course the swtich comes at a financial sacrifice, and I am looking at various ways to try to compensate for it. Hope to be able to take a leaf from your experience and example and be able to earn more with less effort and time, and still enjoy the teaching!

  50. Hi Josh!

    This is a very poignant post. I can relate, especially when it comes to the part where we children largely had to decide about our future based on our parents’ insinuations or orders. But, in the end, we still stand our ground and know what’s really right for us.

    And on another point, I totally agree that in this day and age, there has already been a shift in teaching as a profession per se. Mastered skills, more than just mere academic credentials on paper, is very important.

  51. Hey Josh – very inspiring. Love your site. About a year ago, I had the same idea, but with organic chemistry. I write a blog and tutor online. All the advantages of being a professor, with none of the politics or administrative BS. Best decision ever.

  52. Great advice. I”ve been through the academic route and in fact worked in academia for two years to find out that there are a lot of MBAs that have returned to living back home with their parents, because they cannot get hired!

    there is a new area of of learning, and it’s actually an old practice: LEARN A CRAFT! Since the internet is so dynamic and it is so easy to get swept into an SEO, Affiliate markeing hoax., those of us who actually are learning a craft should make an effort to pass on what we have spent so much time learning.

    However, I think it makes sense to qualify to all potential students that there is no magic pill. Like any business earning from the fools available on line, you gotta put in the time!!!!!!

  53. Thanks for the post, Josh. Touching story that is both illustrative and personal. Got my entrepreneurial juices flowing anew concerning the role most consultants like myself really do for a living. Now, with the benefit of a kindred experience I can reflect on how to do it better than I have so far, perhaps even expanding my repertoire. May God bless your future endeavors.

  54. The old saying was always “those who can’t do, teach.” My have times have changed.

    I think the internet is one of the greatest (and most expansive) teach tool ever envisioned. Whenever I need to figure out how to do something, I ask the internet. If I can’t find a direct answer, I’m directed to someone who can help.

    I personally know half a dozen people who’ve earned undergraduate and graduate degrees online. I can’t tell you how many commercials and just marketing in general I’ve seen promoting online educational programs.

    Not only has the internet made teaching more lucrative, I think the internet is becoming the biggest teaching vehicle in education.

  55. Here is a similar story

    Josh mixes his skills in marketing and promotion with his ability to empathise with his target groups, to produce a self-help flavoured learning package of subscription emails, blog based articles, reading lists, short videos, a book, and courses.

    * The book sells on Amazon for nearly US$16 plus postage.
    * The courses are chunked into 6 tax deductible fees of US$297, or a discounted one payment of US$1497
    * The blog articles and subscription emails are free, as are the videos that preview his ability to present and explain concepts in accessible and engaging language.
    * To be approaching a 6 figure income, Josh must be selling about 1000 books and 60 full course enrollments a year… as well as a little extra for writing articles and speaking, which would probably be largely part of the free/marketing work…

    As Josh says in his CopyBlogger article:

    Attracting students requires learning the arts of content marketing and sales — and using them every day.

    Delivering quality training requires developing technical skills you may not yet possess. Above all, you must overcome your discomfort in charging what your services are worth, and learn to ask for the sale.

  56. I could not relate more to your situation. I am a special education teacher (only educator in the family), and I absolutely love my job! My wife and I just had our third child, and she stays home to take care of the children. Financially, things are tight. I just recently completed my doctorate in Educational Leadership for the step up in salary. Let me tell you, the increase was laughable (nowhere near enough to cover my student loans). Anyhow, I am stuck in a similar situation and looking to step into administration for the pay increase. I am dreading this decision, as I love being in the classroom. Instead of pursuing a current administrative position, I am looking to teach online (part- or full-time) for the extra income. You are right…the Internet has definitely given the field of education a wealth of options and flexibility. This is my first time reading your blog, and I look forward to participating more…Have a great day!

  57. Hi,
    Great post and discussion!

    My story is somewhat different, I was a senior uni teacher for 15 years with a PhD and all, and then got laid-off due to office politics.

    So now I’m busy creating & promoting my own courses on-line, the first is an astronomy course (www.AdvancedAstronomy.com).

    The promotion is critical since you need a lot of traffic to the site, so I’ve taken some courses from the San Diego syndicate (Frank Kern and his buddies) on internet marketing.

    So let’s hope for the best. I think we’re seeing a new trend – professionals tired of lousy working conditions selling their knowledge online and keeping the profit themselves. But it’s a real struggle to get there.

    Just my two cents.