Updated: Jan 20
In a prior life, I was an elementary school teacher. I never thought I would actually do it, but I stepped away from my career to stay home with my two little ones. It was partially an emotional decision (I couldn't bear the thought of being away from them!) and partially a financial decision (full time teacher pay minus full time child care equals ...well, you know the deal!). Therefore, it became my goal to find a way to earn an income with my existing skills while also staying home with my children.
I know it isn't always possible to stay home with our kids (I'm very fortunate in that sense), and maybe you're reading this from an entirely different perspective altogether, but searching for a way to make supplemental income with a teacher's salary. Regardless, I share my story with you because I want you to understand that I get it. I know what it's like to teach because you truly love your job and your students, but also feel that need for additional income - just that little something extra to feel like you can breathe a bit easier month-to-month.
According to data from the National Education Association’s (NEA) annual Rankings and Estimates report, the average school teacher salary in 2020-2021 was $65,090. A teacher's salary alone is often not enough to cover the cost of daily living, student loan payments, extra classroom supplies (that typically come out of your paycheck) and other expenses. Therefore, many teachers are forced to take on second jobs aka side hustles.
We all know someone with a side hustle. You know those teachers--out the door right at 4:00, tote and lunch bag in hand. Maybe they’re heading off to a gig economy job, such as a grocery shopper or delivery driver. Maybe they're babysitting, bartending, or tutoring. These are all great and currently good paying jobs.
So you think to yourself, "Do I really want to do any of those jobs after a long day in front of my students? I just don't think I have the time!"
What if there was a way to earn supplemental income from home during the days and hours that you decide? I’m not talking about your typical work from home involving cold calling or selling, but actually doing something that you love.
Consider being a virtual assistant. Being a virtual assistant gives you the freedom to work where and when you want and as often (or as little) as you like with options to focus on a very specific niche or a handful of core services.
So, what do you need to consider if you want to become a Virtual Assistant (VA), while working full time as a teacher?
Think about your availability (aka the hours you want to work).
Most teachers work full time and many have responsibilities that extend beyond the classroom. If you have young children, you might consider working an hour or two, once or twice a week after they go to bed. If you’re too tired after work, you might consider working for a few hours on the weekend. You can even work seasonally. The choice is yours!
Think about the skills that you already have and how you can apply them.
Teachers have many amazing skills and untapped talents. If you enjoy writing the weekly newsletter for your grade level or you’re really good at descriptive writing, you might consider writing blogs or website content creation. During the height of the pandemic, teachers became masters of designing online learning for their students. Some clients need virtual assistants who are skilled at turning their information into online content for different audiences. Just think, you can earn extra income doing something that you already know how to do.
Think about your hobbies or areas of interest.
Are you knowledgeable about knitting? Imagine a client who needs someone to insert photos and compose descriptions for their knitting website. Maybe you are an amazing artist who is a master of color schemes with an interest in design. You would be very appealing to someone who is designing a website or brand for their business. If you are unsure of your areas of interest, consider taking an interest inventory.
Create a short list of services.
No one will believe that you're the master of everything. We can't be experts in all areas and you'll actually be able to increase your hourly rates more quickly if you focus on a core group of services. For example, maybe you're organized, an excellent planner, and enjoy writing. Each of those skills and strengths could easily lend themselves to general admin services. Regardless of what your list looks like, I would encourage you to start with a master list of skills, strengths, hobbies, and interests, scale that list down to a few core services, and see what speaks to you. (We also cover this more in depth in my VA course - Building Blocks.)
Find someone who can coach you.
Someone who is already working in the VA field is an excellent resource for helping you to hone in on your strengths, select the services you might offer your clients, and to support you on your journey to the virtual assistant world. (Think of them as your own personal cheerleader!) When choosing a coach, you should also consider working with someone who already has experience in the services you might offer.
Decide if you want to work entirely for yourself or as an independent contractor.
Becoming a virtual assistant can have low startup costs if you decide to work for yourself. It requires a bit of a commitment to decide on your focus, develop a mission and vision, and do all of the other wonderful things that come with being an entrepreneur. However, the benefit of working for an existing VA as an independent contractor is that they can help you build your skillset as you explore the VA world. This makes "the leap" so much easier when you're ready to branch out on your own!
If this sparked a greater interest in exploring the VA world and you'd like to schedule a coaching call with yours truly, please reach out to me and we can put something on the calendar. Or if you'd be interested in diving in to my introductory course Building Blocks, that might be an excellent way to dip your toes in the water. Whatever you decide, I wish you nothing but the best on your journey!