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September 2016

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Blogs. These days it seems like the world and his wife has one. They’re a great way to earn a bit of extra income, and can even lead to a full-time career. They’re a great way to show off your expertise and attract followers and job offers. But if you’ve never been in the blogging game before, what should you be thinking about before you begin your blog? We made a list of some of your key considerations:

 

1. Set a goal

Back in the day, the most common way to monetise a blog was to sell advertising space on your site. There’s less demand for that these days, so you need to be thinking differently. Is your aim to find clients through demonstrating your expertise? Perfect. Do you want to sell products through an online shop? Great. Basically, just know what you’re aiming to achieve. You don’t have to make the knowledge public, but it’s good to bear in mind.

2. Pick a niche and stick to it

The internet is packed with beautiful lifestyle blogs featuring minimalist design and perfectly-Instagrammed pictures of lattes. Unless you have something very different to add to that field, there’s not much to be gained from producing more of the same kind of content. The more specific your subject matter, the quicker you’ll find you rise above the noise. If you’ve got lots of passions, pick one. If you’re a dog groomer looking to attract new customers with your blog, keep your writing about dog grooming, rather than all of the cafes you visited when you went to Paris.

2.5 Know your audience

This is too similar to point 2 to warrant it’s own number. Once you’ve found your niche, you also need to know who you’re writing for. It’ll make it much easier to target your content. After all, you won’t get anywhere if your writing is littered with ‘LOLs’ and ‘YOLOs’ and hashtags and you’re writing a blog for retirees who like waterskiing (it could happen).

3. Don’t take shortcuts with your content

Yes, SEO is great. You need to understand it if you want to bring people to your site. But once you’ve got them there, they won’t hang around if the content isn’t great. And the chances of them making a repeat visit are even less likely. Once you’ve honed your SEO skills, they won’t really change, while reader expectations for great content will keep shifting. So make sure you’re keeping up with what’s trending in your field, and which kinds of articles are popular.

4. Don’t live your life by pageviews alone

It’s easy to get disheartened if your pageviews don’t match up to those of the superbloggers everyone knows and loves, but try to remember that that’s not the be-all and end-all. If you blog about the paintings that you sell and only have 10 followers, but they each spend £1000 on your art, that’s way more valuable than 1000 followers who don’t engage. So when you find yourself comparing yourself to other people (and you will), remember the goal you set yourself and chill out.

 

5. Get involved

It’s all very well to write a killer blog, but how will anybody know you’re doing it? If nothing else, you should be engaging with other bloggers in your area of interest by reading and constructively commenting on their posts. You’ll also need to be sharing your content on social media so at the very least a Facebook and Twitter account wouldn’t go amiss. If you’re creating business-related content, you might benefit from being on Linkedin, and if you’re all about fashion or lifestyle, Bloglovin’ is a great place to be. The benefit of social media is that you can do so much more than simply share your own content – you can discover new people to follow, join conversations, and maybe even pick up a few new contacts.

6. Keep it regular

You keep followers by being trustworthy. Once people have discovered that your blog is great and has the exact kind of content they’ve been looking to read, they want to know when to come back for the next pearl of wisdom. They’re not going to keep coming back if they’ve seen nothing new for three weeks, so you need to make sure you’re regularly rewarding them for their loyalty with brand new posts. It’s sometimes worth making clear on your ‘about’ page when new content is posted, or even starting a newsletter so people can have your latest material sent straight to their inboxes.

7. Have a great ‘About’ page

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Now that you know your audience, what you’re writing, how you plan to write it, and how often, you need to think about introducing yourself to your readers. Why should they trust what you have to say? Make sure your ‘About’ page lists all of the reasons that your readers should consider you to be an expert in your field: Do you have a lot of experience? Did you study the subject? Are you working in the industry you’re writing about? Have you won awards? If you’re learning as you write, that’s also good, it just helps to add context to what your saying if people know where you’re coming from.

8. Stick with it

Picture the scene: It’s been two months. You’ve been posting regularly, SEO-ing everything, writing high-quality and original content, and you’ve set yourself up with a shiny new Twitter account. But you’re not seeing much action. Don’t freak out, and do not quit. In those first few weeks when nobody’s heard of you and you’re struggling for followers, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are blogger reputations. It takes time to start getting noticed. Keep at it, and it’ll happen in the end.

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So, what will you be blogging about? We’d love to see once you’re up and running, and don’t forget to keep browsing HowNow to find some amazing experts who can help you along the way.

For this article, we’re going to go ahead and assume you know the basics of online marketing. If not, you should make sure to check out our tips for increasing your Twitter follower numbers as well as this one. After all, we don’t want you to be doing half a job when it comes to social media. And we especially don’t want you to be doing half a job on our say-so.
It’s all very well to have great social media accounts for your brand, as well as engaging with other people and linking to sites you love. However if you’re relying on having a Facebook page and a Twitter account ticking over and nothing else, you might find that it’s difficult to speed up the growth of your channels or reach the engagement targets you set yourself.
We’ve put together a list of other things you should probably be thinking about. These options may not work for everybody, but they’re certainly a good place to start.

Paid ads

One of the main mediums that have proved to be successful in terms of promoting a brand online is paid advertising over social media. On Facebook you can choose your audience by age, location, interests, and even relationship status. It’s creepy as hell if you think about it too much. In fact, it’s best to focus on taking everything you know about your demographic and using that knowledge to build the perfect audience. You can choose what outcome you want, from gaining followers to getting clicks to a website. Twitter operates in a very similar way and, since you can set your own budget it’s definitely something worth experimenting with.

Twitter Cards

With just a few tweaks to the HTML of your site you can change how content looks when it’s shared on Twitter. That sounds complicated but there’s hundreds of tutorials for this online, or you might have a friend you can bribe. Or you could try learning some coding basics on HowNow. If you’re a photographer you can make sure your photo shows up front and centre when you share a link. If you’re selling physical products you can share a listing which features an image alongside the price. There are 9 different Twitter Card iterations to choose from, and the best thing is that if the public share your content it’ll show up the exact same way.

Competitions

If you want to foster a sense of community and get more engagement amongst your existing followers social media competitions are a good way to go. They’re also great for engaging your existing followers. It’s pretty simple – you offer a prize in exchange for a comment from a follower, and then pick a winner. That might be out of the hat or it might be based on merit, but either way it’s a great way to start a conversation. After all, engaged followers are much more likely to stick around.

Pay attention to analytics

Facebook, twitter, and most third-party CMS systems have inbuilt analytics which are can be incredibly useful. Did you post something that got a lot of engagement? Awesome. It’s probably worth posting similar stuff again. Have you noticed that there are times of day when you get more impressions? Again, that’s information you can use to dictate when you should be posting your best content.

Social media

These are just a few pointers, but the world of social media is vast and constantly changing. If there’s something we haven’t quite covered here, it might be worth getting one-on-one help to iron out any issues. Keep an eye on HowNow – we might have just the expert for you.

Twitter is a great platform to help you market your brand, show off your expertise, or find new contacts. It has a reputation for being the place people go to discuss the sandwich they had for lunch, but that’s doing it a disservice. After all, any opportunity to network is a worthwhile one, and Twitter has the added bonus of allowing you to work in your pyjamas. But how can you make Twitter work for you?

Twitter tip No. 1

Get Involved. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. Twitter is a conversation, and not just an opportunity to post all of your opinions for the world to see. Reply to what people are saying, and get involved with conversations surrounding trending hashtags (for example #CraftHour). You might find that people with similar business to yours hold Twitter chats you can get involved in. And if not, you could even consider running one yourself.

Twitter tip No. 2

Use images and links. research shows that people engage more with Tweets that include images and/or links than they do with plain text. On a very basic level, it’s probably because there is actually something to engage with, but whatever the reasoning it’s a good thing to bear in mind. It also makes your profile page look more interesting to stalkers/prospective future clients.

Twitter tip No. 3

Know your audience. Who are you aiming to reach? That should influence the kind of content you share, the tone you use, and the people you follow. If you’re writing content for a new vegan cafe, it’s probably not worth sharing an image of the awesome steak sandwich you had for lunch. It’s a common-sense point, but it’s an easy place to start alienating people if you don’t have your audience in the forefront of your mind when you start posting.

Twitter tip No. 4

Consider using ads if you’re a business – If you’re ready to kick things up a notch, consider using ads on Twitter. You’ll be able to get your tweet into far more feeds than by just tweeting alone. Assuming that you know your audience and how best to appeal to them, it could pay dividends to make sure you appear in the newsfeeds of your target demographic.

Twitter tip No. 5

Tweet regularly. Twitter is the kind of place where both quality and quantity count. There are hundreds of tweets every day on the timeline, so if you want to attract attention you have to rise above the noise. Interesting tweets which get lots of interaction will help you do this, but the odd one or two here and there isn’t enough. Consistency is key. If you have to, investigate the use of a scheduling tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. We won’t judge you.

Twitter tip No. 6

Make sure people can find you – Social media is an immediate thing and if you have an existing off-Twitter following you should be making the most of it . Make sure you link to your Twitter everywhere you can. We’re talking on your website, in your shop, in email newsletters, on other platforms… Nobody has ever made a mental note to follow somebody later and then actually remembered. Help your current audience to strike while the iron’s hot.

Twitter tip No. 7

Post a variety of content – It’s great that you like the full back catalogue of Gandhi’s inspirational quotes, but you need to be adding something original to people’s’ newsfeeds too. If you come across relevant articles that you like, share them. Cool and relevant images? Share them. Retweet other people, maybe add in the occasional GIF (the internet loves GIFs), and your profile will be interesting before you know it.

Twitter tip No. 8

Realise it takes time – Once you start engaging with Twitter and keeping it consistent you should start seeing a difference. The thing is, it might not happen as fast as you want it to. Resist the urge to buy followers, because it’s always obvious. Resist the urge to start using ‘automated’ following programs, because it’s generally pretty inaccurate. Resist the urge to use automatic ‘thanks for following!’ DMs, because it’s a big turn off. There’s no shortcut better than posting consistently great content, sorry.

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We can’t wait to see what you get up to on Twitter – don’t forget to give us a follow at @GoHowNow, and keep an eye on the website for some awesome experts who want nothing more than to help you along the way.

You know that saying “it’s never too late”? Well, if that can be applied to anything, it can be applied to learning to play a musical instrument. On the subject of sayings, people occasionally also come out with one about old dogs and new tricks. We don’t buy that at all. If you want a new to learn a new skill, we say get on with it. In fact, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. There are tons of reasons to pick up a musical instrument.

1. You’ll have a new way to express yourself

If you’re the kind of person who has a playlist for every mood, a musical instrument is like the level up from that. Instead of just listening to someone else describe your feelings, you’ll be able to do it for yourself. We’re not suggesting that you also start writing songs, but there’s a certain kind of satisfaction to be gained from coming home after a long day and telling it like it is. Even if that is just to the four walls of your bedroom.

2. You’ll learn increased co-ordination

Were you ever the kind of person who could pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time? There’s an element of that to playing a musical instrument. It’s very much a case of practice making perfect, but even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you’ll see improvements over time. You’ll be a multitasking whizz before you know it.

3. It’s a great stress reliever

It’s extremely difficult to keep thinking about whatever’s stressing you out once you pick up a musical instrument. We don’t mean that in a philosophical, ‘at one with the guitar’ kind of way. We literally mean that playing an instrument takes up so much brain space it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else. So that case of the Mondays you’ve had all day? Gone.

4. It’s a good way to feel creative

It’s a great feeling to be able to pick up a musical instrument and make something. It’s not like painting, where you need loads of equipment. You probably won’t even need sheets of music. You can just grab your guitar, drums, ukulele, or whatever else you’re learning, and start playing. That totally counts as making something, even if the finished product isn’t something tangible.

5. Bragging rights

We could have called this ‘confidence’ instead of ‘bragging rights’. But do you know what? If you learn a musical instrument you’ve bloody well earned the right to brag in our opinion. You took a positive step towards doing something personally rewarded, and you deserve all of the halfhearted small talk and proper congratulations that come along with that.

We hope that you’re seriously thinking about learning a musical instrument. In case you couldn’t tell, we have pretty strong feelings about them. If you do decide to take the plunge and want a bit of one-to-one help, check out the classes available on HowNow and thank us later.

The Netherlands is great and, more importantly, the Dutch people absolutely know what’s up when it comes to food. It feels like we hear a lot about more traditionally ‘food-y’ countries (I’m looking at you, Italy and France). But that’s a shame, because Amster-DAMN they have some amazing stuff in the Netherlands. Here are some of the awesome Dutch treats you’re missing out on.

1. Bitterballen

bitterballen

This sounds like it’s going to be describing, well, bitter balls. That doesn’t sound great. But guess again. Bitterballen are actually balls of deep fried gravy. We’ll say that again for the benefit of people who blacked out from excitement at that combination of words. Deep. Fried. Gravy. There really isn’t anything else we can add to sell this. It’s either your dream or your nightmare. There is no in-between.

2. Hagelslag

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These little guys are a very special kind of Dutch sprinkle, which are designed to go over bread. You spread it with unsalted butter (not something we have ever willingly done before when salted butter exists, but we’ll make an exception).  After that, you basically just sprinkle away. It’s like the breakfast of your childhood dreams except that in The Netherlands you can eat it as a grown-ass adult and nobody can say anything.

3. Ontbijtkoek

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Gesundheit. We’re just playing. But you know who aren’t playing? The dutch and their breakfast-specific cake. That’s right. This is cake that is specifically designed to be eaten for breakfast. It’s made of rye, spices, and molasses, among other things. If you’re into healthy eating, this cake also contains no fat. Anyone who saw us freak out about deep fried gravy earlier will know that’s not one of our main concerns, but it’s still a little extra selling point.

4. Poffertjes

dutch pancakes

You know how pancakes are brilliant. Well, these are tiny pancakes. They pack the same amount of greatness as a normal-sized pancake, but you can eat three times as many. Food maths, guys. You’re welcome.

5. Pindasaus

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In Britain, we tend use peanuts as a sauce only in satay situations. Dutch people, however, have taken a good thing and started using it everywhere. You can dip your chips in it, or bread, or whatever you want, really. No longer does peanut-y goodness need to be reserved for childhood sandwiches and dodgy takeaways.

The best part about all of this food is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the great stuff that the Dutch have to eat. Everyone should take a trip there at one point or another. And, to towards that goal, we have Dutch teachers just raring to teach you some of the lingo. Just make sure the first phrase you learn is ‘please give me all of the deep fried gravy”.

Italy is great. It’s a land of pasta, and pizza, and wine… There’s probably more to it than that, but those are the ones that stick out. On top of good food and brilliant culture the Italian language also has some great words that don’t have an easy English translation. However, now that we know them, we can’t believe they’re not getting used more. Come on, Britain. If we can add the word ‘moobs’ to our dictionary, surely we slip some of these in too?

1. Culaccio

You know that really annoying ring that gets left by a cold glass on a hot day? That’s a culaccio. We can only imagine that houseproud Italian people have a much easier time of yelling at guests who refuse to use a coaster.

2. Abbiocco

This word basically translates as ‘the drowsiness you feel after a big meal’. It pretty much just describes the whole of Christmas day. Or, indeed, any lazy Sunday. It’s something we’ve all felt, and it’s definitely something that Italy is right in having a word for. They know what’s up over there.

3. Gattara

An elderly woman who cares for stray cats. Or, in other words, what lots of us aspire to be when we grow up. They live the dream and, as such, they deserve to have an actual (sort-of) job title.

4. Cavoli Riscaldi

This literally means ‘reheated cabbage’. However, in Italy they also use this to mean an attempt to revive a a failed friendship or relationship. We love it so much more than we will ever love reheated cabbage. Or any of our exes.

5. Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco

This literally translates as ‘not all donuts come out with a hole’. As an Italian, you might use it to mean ‘not everything turns out as planned’. We love this for two reasons. Firstly, it is very philosophical and so are we. Secondly, it is all about donuts and so are we.

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If you fancy learning some more Italian phrases don’t forget to check out the Italian classes available on HowNow – after all, who doesn’t love learning from the comfort of their own home?

Life is expensive these days, and it doesn’t show any sign of letting up. So what can you do when it’s all getting expensive and you need a bit of extra income? You can get by on one kidney, so that’s always an option, but you might be one of those picky people who are after something that’s a little less – well – invasive. Luckily there’s a whole host of online services which are giving people the chance to make a bit of extra income.

HowNow

We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t throw our own hat into the ring. HowNow is a platform that lets you teach online classes from the comfort of your own home to people all over the world. They can be about literally anything, and they can happen whenever it’s convenient for you. If you have a skill or some knowledge that you could share you could be our next Expert, and feel great about sharing your gifts with the world while you earn extra income. Plus, you don’t even really have to get out of your PJs.

Air BnB

If you have a home, you have pretty much all of the requirements to earn extra income with Air BnB. You can let out a spare room, or even the whole place if you have somewhere else you can go. You’ll need to provide a few pieces of ID, and some quality images of your space, plus a warm welcome when you meet your new guests, and you’re basically golden. You have the freedom to say when you can accept guests, so the amount of income you pull in is totally up to you.

Survey Sites

Do you have opinions? There are loads of survey websites, like MySurvey, OpinionOutpost, and ValuedOpinions which allow you to earn extra income while airing your views. You could be answering questions on anything from lifestyle to your opinions on a new movie trailer before it’s released. You know those surveys they always quote on Eight Out of Ten Cats? They have to find those examples somewhere…

Top Cashback

If you want to earn extra income without actually having to change your habits at all Top Cashback is for you. Using their links to big brand websites means you can earn rewards and money off of your purchases. It doesn’t always feel like a lot, but it adds up when you check your account one day and realise you have enough cashback to cover something fun like a hotel room or a new pair of trainers without having to put in any extra effort. Everyone loves a freebie.

Fiverr

If you have a skill you can market, Fiver is a place to do that. The whole point of the site is that you make $5 per job, so the extra income isn’t huge, but if you’re a fast worker you might find that it adds up. Maybe you’re a designer, or a Twitter whizz, or even a coder. People are looking for your skills. Of course, you do have to be slightly wary about devaluing your work, especially if you’re looking to make a significant amount of extra income without giving away all of your free time.

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So there you have it. These are just a few of the many ways you can find to make a few extra pennies online. We hope to see you teaching a HowNow class in the very near future, and maybe we’ll even come and stay at your Air BnB. Nothing weird, honest.

Healthy eating can be tricky to figure out. There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there, from the actually-useful, to the not-very-helpful at all. And, of course, healthy eating is very much about the individual. What’s healthy for one person might be terrible for another. But if you want to take a few small steps that are suitable for everyone, where can you start?

Eat colourful food

Put. The blue raspberry. Down. That is categorically not what we mean when we say ‘eat colourful food’. We’re talking about eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables which pack a vitamin-filled punch. It can be helpful to think in terms of colour as that helps to avoid eating too much beige food. By that, we mean things like chips, pastry, and white bread – things that aren’t very nutritious. It’s not about cutting calories so much as about making sure you’re body gets the hit of vitamins it needs to function properly.

Don’t give in to too many treats

We’re not saying ‘never have another biscuit in your life’, because we’re not horrible people. But healthy eating means focussing more on what will sustainably fuel your body than what will provide a quick hit of energy followed by a crash. We’re partial to an M&S treat tub at HowNow Towers, but we should be aiming to eat more seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. ‘Should’ being the operative word. If you’re looking for help on the healthy eating front, services like Graze can be a great option.

Don’t start fad diets

Healthy eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. There’s a difference between choosing to eat more veg and eating nothing but green juice and cabbage soup. For starters, it’s not very good for you in the long run because you’re missing out on getting a full range of nutrients. Secondly, they tend to end in disappointment when the results don’t last. And lastly, well, they’re just a bit boring. Healthy eating shouldn’t be a chore because if you turn it into one you’ll never want to do it.

Stay hydrated

Sometimes when you’re hungry, what you really are is dehydrated. If you’re sitting at a desk all day it can be difficult to summon the will to get up for a glass of water, especially if you don’t feel that thirsty. However,that’s exactly what you need to do. You might also find that you’re able to focus better, so you can tell your boss that regular water breaks are an essential part of your working process.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast really does help to keep hunger locked up ’til lunch. We actually might have borrowed that from Shreddies. But either way, it really works. If you get the day off to a good start it sets you up to keep eating healthily throughout. You’ll be less hungry and less inclined to absentmindedly snack. All good things, really. Just try to avoid cereals loaded with sugar and daily fry-ups. A nice porridge ought to do the trick. Or avocado on toast if you’re feeling like Instagramming something.

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Like we mentioned at the start of this, healthy eating is very much dependent on the individual. You might want some tailored help, and that’s exactly what you can find on HowNow. We also have awesome cooking classes with healthy recipes from people like Jessie Lane Lee. Get stuck in today!

You will need:

  • Your own website
  • Active social media channels
  • Existing network of followers/other professionals

Steps:

Connect everything

Make sure your social networks and website have been added to your HowNow profile. Add a link to your HowNow profile to your website and social media profiles. Let your existing network know what you’re up to as well, in case they’re up for it.

Make it pretty

People are shallow. Whenever you have to use an image, make sure it’s high quality and a good illustration of what people will actually be doing when they take one of your classes. Your website and social media platforms should also be well-designed and any pictures you use there should be of equally high quality.

Start sharing everywhere

Once you’ve got your class listed on HowNow, share it on your website and also on all of your social media profiles. Don’t forget to include a link so people know how to find you. Your network will be able to take your classes, but it will also enhance their perception of you as an expert in your field, so even if they’re not your future students it can make a good impression.

Keep sharing everywhere

once you’ve built up a bit of momentum by sharing your classes online, keep doing it. The easiest way to let people forget about you is to stop sharing your projects, so it’s definitely something to avoid. You might feel like you’re repeating yourself, but there’s so much content being shared online these days, that some people won’t have seen your first, second, or even third posts.

Promote your other projects

One of the bonuses of teaching a class through HowNow is that, for that hour, you have a captive audience. If you have other projects or products to promote, by all means feel free to do so. It’s another situation where having your website connected to your profile can work wonders. Once a student has been inspired by you, they know exactly how to find out more. They might even buy your products.

Congratulations! You’ve listed your first class on HowNow and you’ve been having a great time turning your passion into profit and inspiring people all over the world. You’ve done something awesome. But once you’ve launched a successful class, how can you take your business further and keep your followers engaged? It might be time to start teaching more classes. But how can you decide what else to list?

Level up 

If you were teaching an art class for beginners, try adding an intermediate or advanced level for those students who really want to progress. If you were teaching a very general class about a big topic you could go into specifics. Looking at the same ‘art class’ example you could also focus specifically on shading techniques or watercolours. Students will still be able to take your general class as a starter, but if you pique their interest they can concentrate on the specific aspect that interests them.

Be trendy

Maybe you’re the kind of person who has their finger on the pulse. In fact, if you spend basically any time of social media, you probably are. If so, keep an eye on what’s trending and plan classes around that. For example, if you teach cookery you might want to show off all of the ways you can cook a pumpkin, or if politics is your subject, now’s a great time to teach a class about how the US Government works.

Break down what you do

Take a really close look at exactly what it is you do and see if you can extract some more class ideas. If you teach people how to sew a cushion cover, then you could probably teach them how to do some basic clothing repairs. Teaching might also mean that you’re great at time management, so there could be another class opportunity in that. Maybe people love the brilliantly-designed studio you teach in, and you could branch out into classes about interior design. There are no rules about what you can start teaching, as long as you feel confident.

Ask your following

If you’ve cultivated a really keen following who’ve enjoyed their experiences with your other class then you should take advantage of them. In a nice way. Ask your followers what kind of classes they’d like to see you teach next and see what they come back with. The answer might be something you would never have thought about without their input.

A photo by Lacie Slezak. unsplash.com/photos/yHG6llFLjS0

Above everything else, you need to make sure the subject matter for your next class excites you. After all, you’re the person who has to sit there and talk about it again and again, so a passion for your subject matter is key. As you keep adding new classes keep sharing your content and using your social media channels, and you can keep growing your classes. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next!