What I learned from making my own curriculum for teaching conversational English online

I found that at some point almost every teacher goes through a phase where they want to create content. That could mean videos for learners, curriculum used for teaching, or anything in between. I’ve noticed that most end up creating content for learners of English. This blog post is not for those people… This blog post is for those of you that want to make curriculum for teachers to use in their lessons. In my opinion, there is more earning potential in this target market because teachers use it to help them make money. 

The thing about developing curriculum is that it requires a whole different skill set than what a teacher might usually have. On top of that, it also requires a commitment to a lifestyle that many teachers are simply not used to. That’s just barely scratching the surface…

Let’s go ahead and get into it.

I want to first talk about the associated lifestyle and workflow that goes hand-in-hand with curriculum development. I feel that most people underestimate the impact and importance of these two things. Why are they so important? Your lifestyle ultimately dictates how much you’ll be able to commit to curriculum development. When I first started, I realized that my lifestyle was not necessarily conducive to the kind of workflow that curriculum development needed. Only after splitting the work into chunks did I realize that my lifestyle should be adapted in order to capitalize on my productivity for that type of task. What do I mean? Well, there are two main distinct categories of work for my curriculum development workflow. There is the creative part and then there is the mindless work part. When I understood the distinct difference between these two workflows, I was able to more easily split up the work and get help on these tasks. 

If you were to take a step back and think about the whole process of curriculum development, what would it look like? Here is an image to give you a small part of that in my LessonSpeak workflow…

Trello is a great tool for organizing your workflow. Highly recommend!

As you can see here, the development of curriculum is split into different chunks. When I first started making curriculum, I struggled with finishing what I started. I realized really quickly that my strategy of churning out one topic in one sitting is very much impossible. If you aim to develop curriculum in this way too, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Teachers are willing to pay for quality and so you’ve got to make sure that you don’t rush through the content creation process. In fact, splitting up the work into sizable chunks is extremely beneficial in ways you may not even expect…

Over time, my motivation for curriculum development slowly dwindled until I wasn’t meeting my goals anymore. I took a step back and asked myself, “which part of the process do I enjoy most? How can I get help with the rest?” Luckily for me, I already organized a lot of the content creation process. As I made new lessons, I would literally write down the exact steps that I would take to upload a new topic. In doing so, I was able to hand that document to an assistant when I needed one. I took the part that I hated most then outsourced it. 

Collaboration and working on a team got me to where I am now

High five! *Borat voice*

Yup, I got an assistant. After I made a few sizable sales, I decided to invest that money back into the project. With my process flow well-documented and organized, I set out to find an assistant. Looking back, I’m not sure if I got lucky with a good assistant, if I’m paying too much, or if my documentation made it easy. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Either way, I hopped on Upwork.com and created a post for an assistant. It’s important to note here that I already had a small amount of experience in hiring people on Upwork so it was relatively easy for me to do this part. I mostly use Upwork because I have accumulated a few good reviews on that platform and they have gained my trust. 

The image above shows the document I handed off to my assistant. I even recorded my screen and uploaded the video of me taking these steps to help my assistant better understand the process flow. 

Back to the workflow

I’ve found that I am more impactful on certain types of tasks in certain environments and times. For example, I find inspiration for the creative aspect pretty much wherever I am but in order to take action, I need a proper environment. As a result, I started spending more time in productive environments like cafe’s and coworking spaces. My productivity skyrockets when I am in these environments. However, I can only maintain inspiration for so long. At some point, I would lose inspiration and figure that I might as well do the mindless part. The thing about the mindless part is that all I have to do is look at the list of instructions then carry out that task. No creativity, no critical thinking, just following instructions. This mindless part of the workflow is good because I can continue working on something even when I am mentally incapable of doing other tasks. 

Wow, that’s pretty overwhelming…

Don’t worry! From the beginning, I’ve always wanted to collaborate. As you can see here, I’ve already set up the workflow in such a way that other curriculum developers can easily hop on the train. If you decide to join the team and also develop curriculum for the same niche, you won’t have to deal with the nitty gritty aspects that the assistant handles. I am looking for a proper commitment so if that sounds like your thing, send me a message. 

Oh, you want to do your own thing?

Go for it, but it will take much more time to get the ball rolling. They say that it is better to have a smaller slice of a big pie than a tiny pie all to yourself. Chances are, you are probably just thinking of developing curriculum and you probably don’t even want to make curriculum for this particular niche. I may be wrong and if that is the case then you should definitely reach out to me for a discussion!

I encourage you to try. Be realistic and consistent!

Developing curriculum is great. I like it because it forces me to exercise a different sort of mental muscle. I really appreciate the challenge and it continues teaching me new things to this day. However, if you think you’re going to make a bunch of passive income from curriculum development then you’re wrong. This sort of project is a long-term commitment but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend all day every day on it. I commit less than 5 hours a week to curriculum development but I have been doing that for at least 2 years now. It adds up. If you partake in such a project, it is absolutely imperative that you are consistent with the publishing of your curriculum. Consistency is key. 

Key takeaways

  • Three main influential aspects
    • Your environment
    • Your workflow
    • Your lifestyle
  • Consistency is key