A Peek Into the Business Model of an Education Influencer with 100,000 Twitter Followers
Teaching all day is exhausting. Could you imagine coming home and having hundreds of emails to handle? Well, that is what happened to me. My friends always ask me how I do it all! Teachers around the world have been kind to me. I want to be generous and helpful to them. But with such demands on my time, I have to get smart.
So, I hired a brand manager. Here’s the press release,
What is a brand manager? Why would I hire one? How can you build up your influence so you’re ready for this step?
If you just want education tips, skip this post. If you want to understand teacher-influencers (or become one) — read on.
1 – Epic Takes Effort
We cannot help the times in which we live, only the way in which we live the times. (With a hat tip to the wizard Gandalf.)
Speaking of wizards, I needed one. Should I speak here? Should I say “yes” to this opportunity? Do I do this deal?
I don’t have hype; I need help. It is exciting to grow. It is exciting to have opportunities. But not when you’re drowning in them, and you can’t do what you love.
There’s an old southern saying that you should “dance with the boy that brung ‘ya.” I came to this dance because I am attracted to smart people. I follow them. I learn from them. I came to this dance by sharing great stuff.
I have to write more great stuff. I have to record inspiring shows. I have to keep giving wildly impactful speeches. I also need to read and cultivate friendships.
Epic takes effort.
Here’s what happens to too many influencers. They get so busy with the new stuff, that they forget the old stuff that got them there. They stop blogging. They stop sharing great stuff. They become irrelevant.
Mind clutter kills creativity.
Busy is the enemy of epic.
2 – Podcasting is Growing
Last Sunday was huge. Because I was freed up to write, I wrote the most popular post in the history of this blog. “How a school threw out their reading program and finally got everyone excited about reading.” The social media stats?
Educators who care, share. It is happening. Internet radio/ podcasting is growing because of it. Forbes says that the future of the car means podcasting is going to be big. Forbes says,
“In the future everyone is going to have a podcast. So start yours now.”
Maybe it is the Serial podcast. Maybe personalizing your own radio station is easier now. Hearing someone’s voice is motivating.
We’ve seen this incredible growth in the stats for the Every Classroom Matters show. Just two months ago, the show was at 50,000 downloads a month. It is now at 65,000 and skyrocketing. Clever companies want to advertise.
So, BAM Radio has created Edvoices. Edvoices will sell advertising across BAM Radio. It will simplify. I don’t think the individual podcaster model is sustainable. Busy educators like me will partner with communities like BAM.
We’re going to teach people to podcast too. (See #6 below.)
In the end, no one person can do everything. Sometimes you have to let go of the good to grab the great. By having someone help manage my brand, I’m able to podcast, blog, and still teach.
3 – Helping My Family
Fishing. Walking the dogs. Being home helps me be a better person. I have a son going into eighth grade. I am his teacher. I am needed here.
Most teachers have side jobs. My “side job” is this blog. I couldn’t afford to teach without it. With two children in college, I speak to pay the bills. I also speak because I LOVE IT! I love teachers and have a heart to help them reach every child.
There are two kinds of active income: Stay and Away. Here’s what I mean by that.
- There is money I can earn while staying at home. (STAY)
- There’s money I make by traveling and speaking away from my family. (AWAY)
If you are going to be a full-time educator, you must make the most STAY income possible. I love traveling and meeting people, so AWAY is great. But the demand for AWAY is more than I can do if I’m going to STAY in the classroom.
I get to speak at the very best conferences. I’m fortunate to speak at fifteen or so places a year. Every time I go, I come back changed. The organizers are awesome. The teachers I meet are incredible. Tons of friends from Twitter say hi. Speaking is incredible. But I’m always happy to fly home and be back with my students the next day.
4 – To Be More Generous to Students and Teachers
Through sharing my teaching, I found myself in a spotlight. So, I got out the biggest mirror I could find. With the Every Classroom Matters show and my blog, I shine a light on teachers. I want everyone to see your amazing work.
This world isn’t about me. But if I can help people, I’ve improved the world. My life means something. Because, I tell you what — these students sure do. They don’t have time to wait for us to get our act together.
I am called to help people be more awesome. Awesome teaching. Awesome learning. Awesome life. I want to share what works now! There are people who don’t make excuses but make progress. They are my heroes.
The influencers I call my friends are generous. They are fun. They are smart. They help people. I want to be generous too. Sadly, selfish people can take advantage of generous people.
5- Asserting the Value of All Influencers
My family has one big complaint. My friends do too.
Vicki, you’re too nice.
Recently, I had five hours of phone calls in one day. At the end of the day, I had done no blogging. I had written no books. What had I done with my time?
Five different companies wanted my “opinion” on their product. I gave each one an hour. Then, I realized something.
I wasn’t nice, I was dumb.
Teacher feedback is necessary for a good education product. Listening to your users is great. But there are companies who trick influencers by appealing to their generosity. They are getting free consulting. I now see that as using people.
Another southern saying,
Why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?
There is a difference between companies and people. I will be generous to people. I will be generous to my friends. But, companies have budgets and should pay for consulting. No more free milk.
Companies aren’t the enemy. Profit isn’t the enemy. There are tens of thousands of fantastic, ethical companies out there. They wouldn’t dream of taking advantage of people’s generosity. But many do.
I will continue to work with the best companies and products in the business. Some may be start-ups. Some may icons. They will all be excellent.
But gone are the days where I’m going to help every single company who emails me. There’s not enough of me to do it. It isn’t smart. It isn’t possible either.
If you are an influencer and you are making this mistake, please stop. You are worth more than free. You don’t have time for the emails. Some of you are being used. It isn’t fair to you or your family. Being nice is dumb when it takes you away from your calling.
6- Iron Sharpens Iron
Some of you want be an influencer too. Many of you already are. You’re reading about what I do. You’re saying – that’s me! That’s my dream!
I want to help more of you do this. Traveling the world is awesome. Writing books is cool. Writing blog posts that thousands of people read is incredible. Why not you?
Hiring a brand manager is part of my plan to help more of you do this. Here’s what I’m planning:
A – Helping Other Education Talk Radio Hosts Grow Their Audience
I listen to lots of podcasts. With some simple tweaks, I think many of them could gain thousands of listeners. They could help more people. They could get sponsors.
Even better, they could have more helpful shows.
So, Errol St. Clair Smith and I are launching the Certified Edcasters program.
(The BAM Radio Certified Edcaster Program is application only. You must already have a show. We will accept 20 talk show hosts for the first class. Email email@example.com if interested.)
B – Sharing Social Media Strategies and Best Practices with Key Influencers
When I travel, I meet educators who want to use social media for good. They are eager. They have great ideas. Some of them have ideas that will change the world. But they don’t know how to tell people.
I can help. I want to. It is time for me to share and help others who want to help education.
C – Creating Closer Connections with Awesome People
Awesome Educator Facebook Group.
I’ve created a new closed Facebook group for educators. I brainstormed with Lisa Durff. We named it the “Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educator Network.”
The group is to talk about teaching. No politics. No vendors. Ask to join if you’re an educator. If you’ve read this far, you’re invited!
Building a Team. I’m blessed. Amazing people have always been my friends. I don’t know why. In order for me to be my best, I have to trust amazing, ethical people.
Lisa Durff. Last year, I hired Lisa Durff (almost Dr. Durff – she’s close to earning her Ph.D.). She helps me filter, vet and handle my email. She is the first person who reads my posts. She points me to research. I call her Sherlock, but I should call her sure luck. When she advises me on my writing or anything, I’m a better person. She also believes in me and knows me. When you get ready to scale, a trusted person with organization skills helps. (Oh, and she never wants to be mentioned. Sorry, Lisa, you gotta stay in this post.
Errol St. Clair Smith. Errol called me just over two years a go. He told me that he had an ear for talent. He said I would make a great Internet radio show host. I said I would do it on one condition – that he would take the time to mentor me. I knew nothing. He kept pushing me and helping me be more. He kept telling me I was undervaluing my work. He helped me see many of the things I’ve shared in this post. I work well with Errol. He’s a savvy entrepreneur. I trust him to manage my speaking, brand, sponsors, and show. (His email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk with him. He’s working on my speaking schedule for next year right now.)
Cool Cat Teacher Teammate #3? I’ve considered looking for someone to help me on my geeky / WordPress/ technical side. Praying over this one. We’ll see.
7 – Financial Benefits
Money is not a dirty word. I don’t know any educator who makes enough of it. I just refuse to believe that I have to leave the classroom to support my family.
I believe that there’s a new way for teachers to make money. An ethical way that helps our profession and our families. I believe I can develop and model a way to consult/speak/write AND TEACH. I won’t be in the classroom forever. (Who is?) I do not want to leave the classroom until I have a model for all teachers to follow.
I dream of being able to have a career as a teacher and a successful entrepreneur. I dream of helping other teachers do it too.
I’ve been down the road of giving everything away for free. I’ve made huge financial mistakes in the last five years. But it was when I gave it all away for free and didn’t take care of myself. My family suffered when I did it because we couldn’t pay the bills.
I remain transparent. Not because I’m not smart or “too nice.”
It is because that transparency is what I brought to the dance. It is who I am and I will continue to be.
You — the readers of this blog — trust me. When I’ve been open with you, you’ve helped me far more than the transparency cost me.
You’ve recommended me to conferences. You’ve recommended my books. You’ve shared my work. It is you. For as generous as I hope to be, you’ve been far more kind to me. I owe you a lot. I owe you my career. I owe you my children’s college education.
I wouldn’t have a brand without YOU.
I will be back to sharing the best of practical classroom advice with the next post.
When the press release came out, I wanted to help you see my reasons.I’m working smarter so I can help more people. I’m not changing, I’m just getting better.
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