How being creative with what you teach can help you find students and life-long friends
Why is Tony Robbins rich?
His brand is very recognizable, and he has built a long career creating a sense of trust, sure. But why is he more wealthy than other successful life coaches? The reason he has been able to build more than just a successful business but a brand is because he offers something unique, something no one else can.
This is also true for other mega-successful teachers, tutors, coaches, and thought leaders. From Maria Montessori to Gary Vaynerchuck, the big names become big because what they offer is unique. Rather than teaching “education” or “business”, these thought leaders have been able to create a unique value proposition — so much so that their names immediately conjure up the uniqueness of their approach.
And here’s how you can do it, too.
How ANYONE can teach a unique skill
The sum total of your interests, experiences, and personality traits make you unique. You are the only person who has had the specific life path that you’ve taken, and from this, you can extract something that no one else can replace. Of course, everyone is unique, so in order to stand out from the crowd, you will have to find a way that your individuality actually provides value to your students.
By examining your own life and the challenges you’ve faced, you have acquired a set of skills. For most of us, these skills are so deeply ingrained that we fail to notice that they are skills at all. While some talents, like singing or running fast are often recognized at an early age (at least for those talented enough to make it into a career), others are acquired over time. There are some hidden skills that you have been practicing your whole life without thinking or noticing.
If you grew up in a big family prone to boisterous conversation that overlaps and flows wildly, you can do something most people can’t, which is keeping track of multiple people talking at once. This skill can be a critical difference between an effective workshop leader, and an ineffectual one.
Another example of these could be studying with adult ADHD, or learning how to explain physics to your younger brother who wasn’t interested at all. Your cultural background or a particular personality trait can help pin down this unique skill as well. Maybe you’re used to explaining American pop culture to your Filippino parents, or you remember how hard it was to learn to speak in public as an introvert. The key to the unique value you can provide often lies within the struggles that you, yourself, had to face.
Finding just one trait about your unique experience isn’t enough — you would be short-changing and pigeonholing yourself. Think broadly about the experiences and challenges you have faced, and how they apply to your areas of expertise. To be an effective teacher (or any professional) you have to use multiple areas of competence to get ahead.
Identify these areas of competence, and see what happens when you combine them. A Venn diagram may be very appropriate here.
You don’t have to find something that takes every single strength you have. Just combining two or three areas of competence helps you narrow down a specialized, targeted approach to teaching.
Let’s say you are looking to teach English. With 1.5 Billion speakers and 360 million native speakers of English, there is little to make you stand out. But, if you are passionate about movies, or cooking, or engineering, you can create a unique offering. “Learn English through film analysis” sounds like a pretty interesting learning experience. If I, your prospective student, am also a film buff, this sounds like a great fit. “Math tutoring for ADHD teens through physical activity” can sound strange. For a restless teenager who has trouble keeping up in class, calculus explained through tactile learning methods may be the huge difference between a low grade (and a life-long resentment of the subject) and an experience that inspires the next creative mathematician.
How to be unique yet relevant
While the sum total of your life experiences is unique, the elements of your experiences, the struggles you have encountered are also struggles of many others. By teaching several variations on a common subject, you can show your versatility AND be discovered by the students who are looking to get that exact unique combination that you have. If the student finds “Physics of Yoga” compelling, or is just looking for plain old help with “Physics”, having both as offered subjects give you a much stronger position than someone listing “Physics tutoring” as their only offer.
This is why, when designing Tutor.id, for example, we did not limit you to a small set of subjects, but created a system for you to create unique subject offerings. Just type in what you want to teach, and you can see the subjects that have already been suggested and approved.
By creating a more general subject along with your unique offering, you are helping the potential students orient themselves and understand how your offering fits in the general scheme of things. Then, once you’ve created the frame of your subject, like English, or Python, for example, you can add your own, unique subject suggestion. The Tutor.id staff review and approve most user-suggested subjects quickly, or direct you towards an existing one if your suggestion is a duplicate.
This tutor, Patricia, provides a good mix of unique and specific subject offerings that help a potential student make a decision quickly. Compared to just offering “Music” education, this set of subject offerings provides specificity and relevance that help get the student to take the leap and book a lesson.
It’s not just about the (subject) headlines
Finding your unique niche is not a quick process. It will take some testing, and thinking. Tony Robbins didn’t start being famous overnight, either. The progress towards finding your niche will take time, but it will also take some effort. Without putting your thinking (and profile) out there, you won’t get the feedback to tell you whether your idea works or not.
Even as you create your unique subject offering (don’t worry, you can always change it if it doesn’t work) — create content. Make a series of Instagram posts explaining quadratic equations through a tactile approach that gets the listener to move, or create a YouTube tutorial explaining Newton’s laws of motion through a yoga routine. Put them up, then make a few more, and share those on social media. While you shouldn’t expect a viral hit immediately, you will be able to judge whether the topic and the presentation resonates. This approach not only helps you refine what your unique offering will be but also helps you get the word out. Just remember to share your Tutor.id profile along with your post!
Tutor.id offers a unique set of tools to help you start, grow, and optimize your online or offline education and tutoring business. Whether you are just starting out or looking to automate your thriving tutoring operation, we can take care of all the boring stuff, letting you concentrate on what you love, teaching.