This Side Hustle Spotlight Q&A features Tara Laczynski, who makes about $150,000 a year working 20 hours a week teaching on Outschool, a live, online learning platform for kids.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Tara Laczynski
When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
I taught my first class on Outschool on April 19, 2021. My inspiration was replacing an income that disappeared almost overnight due to Covid without having to leave my children. Outschool makes it easy to teach what you’re passionate about — whether it be cooking, baking or hosting Minecraft clubs — the options are nearly endless on Outschool. With my experience in teaching and ability to make math concepts easier to digest, I knew I had a gift to share.
What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
I started by creating classes that leaned into my passion for teaching math. I made a few different versions and started listing them on different days and times to figure out the market and get learners and families into my program.
Related: This Arizona Teacher Started a Side Hustle That Immediately Earned More Than Her Full-Time Job: ‘Much Better Than $40,000’
What were some of the biggest challenges that came with the side hustle, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge was finding my learners and getting “seen” in the search engine. I knew that once I got a learner in my classroom, I would have dynamic lessons and an excellent program, but I needed them to find me. My best tip for getting noticed is to be so good that other families do your advertising for you. Most of my early students were friends, family members and classmates of my early students. When they had a positive experience in class, I asked them to share with others who would be a good fit.
You can also get creative with your advertisements. Social media is a great way to help families find you. You can create tips and tricks for families to share as reels. You can share lessons on YouTube, put up flyers in local businesses and your library and attach business cards to Halloween candy. The possibilities are truly endless if you are looking for them. There are so many avenues to success in Outschool, and that is one of the best parts of the opportunity. You have the ability to make your journey uniquely yours. You can also search for Outschool teacher groups on Facebook. I have found that the teaching community is so supportive and offers some great advice.
How long did it take you to begin seeing consistent monthly and/or yearly revenue from your side hustle?
By August of 2021, I had hit my goal revenue of $2,000 per month. I doubled that goal in October, tripled it in November and reached six figures in earnings in August 2022. These numbers look amazing, and they are, but what you don’t see is the work that I put in to keep them sustained. In order to be successful, you need to show up consistently and continue to work and grow. I check my numbers every Friday to see what is working in my business and what needs to be revisited. I survey my parents at different points throughout the year to find out what they love and what suggestions they may have for me. Some of my best ideas have come from my parents and students. It is hard work to get your classes going and to find your learners, but I have never been more passionate about what I am doing. I wake up every single day excited to get into my online classroom. I get messages from parents who truly appreciate what I am doing and learners who are thriving in my program. That is worth its weight in gold. I am allowed to do what I love on my own terms, and I am thankful for that every single day.
Related: He Launched His Creative Side Hustle Out of a Garage. Now It’s Worth $225 Million.
How much average revenue does your side hustle bring in monthly and/or yearly now?
My monthly average is $12,600, and I am on track to surpass last year’s earnings by over $20,000. My highest-earning month this year was $22,735, then I went down to teaching just nine hours a week in June through August to be present with my school-aged children for the summer.
I currently teach for just under 27 hours a week, but that is just time inside the classroom. Outside of the classroom, I put in an additional five hours between administrative work, content creation and meetings. In the early years, I put countless hours into building my curriculum, and now that that is mostly done, I get to focus on building other areas of my business and income streams.
In my previous jobs, 32 hours a week would have been a dream. In the traditional classroom, I worked 40-50 hour weeks between teaching, meetings and all of the grading and planning outside of contract hours. Holidays and breaks were used to try to catch up or as an opportunity to work second jobs or side hustles to earn additional funds to offset being grossly underpaid. I was constantly having to prioritize my work instead of my family.
Related: This Social Worker Started a Side Hustle to Pay Back Student Loans. It Earned $300,000 in One Year — So She Quit Her 9-5 Altogether.
What do you enjoy most about your side hustle?
I love the families that I get to work with each day. My students and families are amazing, and I wake up every day to do what I love. I have never been more fulfilled in my career. Outschool has given me the platform to continue to teach what I love in a way that allows me to be present with my family. Keep in mind that on Outschool, parents and students choose these classes (and the teachers!) because they’re interested or need extra help and are excited to learn. I truly believe that when kids want to learn, it’s a game changer for the classroom.
What’s your advice for other side-hustlers who hope to grow lucrative ventures of their own?
You can find a way to turn your passion into a paycheck. When you love what you do, it’s contagious. Focus on doing things correctly, scaling organically and staying consistent in your product. You must maintain your customer experience when you have one customer or one hundred. Creating sustainable systems, building your support, and keeping a growth mindset are key. You should constantly grow and learn, so seek experts and be open to support.