I know, that from me, a blogger who started as a language coach back in the days. But that’s the point: been there, done that. If you ask me today as a tutor whether you should start a blog I’d say no. No because I know that you don’t want to blog because you want to keep an open diary of your ideas and experiences but because you want to market yourself and your classes.
If the latter is the case do yourself a favor and focus on strategies that will get you to your actual goal of selling lessons more quickly.
Blog because you want to, not because you think you need to
Here’s the thing, blogging is effing hard when done right. I have written this blog for over five years now and it has become an essential part of my life. I come back to it almost daily and search for topics I wrote about to check back whether I was right with my predictions or to see how my point of view has changed over the years. Let’s be honest, it’s great to have a back catalog of predictions which you can share down the road with a “told you” in the tweet.
My work today is very different from when I started this blog.
Back then I was a full-time language coach with an interest for education technology and startups. Today I am a full-time edtech blogger, event organizer and public speaker. One thing is clear, without this blog and EDUKWEST which turns five in August it all would have never happened. But I never expected it to happen like this, it was not the goal of starting a blog. And that is a huge difference.
Marketers market, producers produce
Last week I came across an article in Inc. titled “Why Hard-Working Bloggers Fail”. Michael Schein uses the analogy of a company that sells artisanal beers on the one hand and one that brews them on the other. While a company that is focused on “just” selling the beer can gain quite a bit from maintaining a blog about artisanal beers and related topics the brewery probably won’t.
The difference is that as a seller all you are focused on is to drive sales. You don’t need to create an actual product hence investing time in new sale funnels like social media and blogs makes sense. As a producer though you need to put the vast majority of your resources in your product in order to make it as good as you can. So spending resources on blogging might even have a negative impact on your product.
I say the same is true for tutors. If your main business is selling private lessons or creating online courses you should spend most of your time perfecting your product and use classic marketing like paid ads in newspapers or on Google. Your goal is to sell lessons, so you should choose a marketing strategy that gets you there quickly.
Blogging is a long term play. You build a reputation over years and then one day, if you are lucky, things will start to play out. And in most cases they will not.
My affiliate experiment
Just for shits and giggles I ran a little experiment in January. In order to find out if affiliate marketing in the language space actually works I promoted some Udemy courses on my language learning related blogs and Facebook pages. With minimal effort from my side I made 20 sales.
The thing is that I probably earned more from the course than its actual creator as I get 50% of each sale. Most course creators on Udemy now get 25%. In the beer analogy I was the artisanal beer seller. All I needed to focus on was to build an interested audience in the language learning space and then promote related courses to them. No need for me to sit down and create an actual course. “Just” interesting content for the blog.
Don’t compete, collaborate
In the end I think that there is some potential for collaboration between language tutors and language marketers here. Instead of trying to be everything in one person people should team up and let those who are good at creating lessons and courses do just that while the others who are good at creating communities and content do the social marketing.