With a new year, comes new possibilities. Looking forward is so important for content creators, but rarely do we give ourselves time to do it.
If I’m totally honest, I haven’t been good about giving myself enough white space to think about my business for several years.
When Side Hustle Teachers started, I didn’t expect it to become so popular so fast. I really had to keep my nose to the grindstone and fix the little issues that sprang up… seemingly one right after another. It didn’t leave me a lot of time for reflection, and certainly not for projection.
This year, however, I’m not only demanding that I be more deliberate about the choices I make, but also about creating more time and space in my life so I can reflect on where I’ve been and think about where I want to go.
I have to constantly remind myself that my business is not school. I can take my time to consider my current situation. I can take my time to examine the options I have. I can take my time making a decision. And I can take my time implementing that decision based on my wants and needs.
So this year I’ve been contemplating this business I’ve built, and how I can move it forward in a sustainable way, and grow the company I want.
Let’s dive into my key areas of focus for 2023. Some of them might surprise you.
Rule #1: Simplicity is King
I’ve always been a fan of the KISS rule – keep it simple, stupid – but it’s never as easy to implement as it is to spout to others… or needlepoint on a pillow.
In 2023 simplicity is going to be my guiding star.
The longer I’m in business, the more I realize that I don’t want to hustle. I want ease. (And yes, I realize the irony of rebelling against hustle when my company is called Side Hustle Teachers.)
For a while I’ve been using one question to decide whether or not to take on something new; Is this going to bring ease to my life?
This simple question has allowed me to say no without guilt, hire help to get things done that I’ve been putting off for ages, and give my attention to things that are building my business and bringing me joy.
To be clear, I’m making simplicity a priority in all areas of my life, not just business. We’re in the (extremely slow) process of getting rid of stuff that’s been piling up, and we’re focusing on creating experiences instead of giving physical gifts. We’re not trying to be minimalists… but clearing physical space allows me to find more mental space…
Elimination, Automation, Delegation
To aid my search for simplicity, I’m following the eliminate, automate, and delegate model.
First – and this part has been happening for a while – I’m on the hunt for things I’m doing that aren’t necessary, or that can wait, or that are just a big ol’ waste of time.
Entrepreneurs in all fields have a habit of taking on more and more to-dos until our lives are completely out of balance. This is very easy for side hustlers to do, especially teachers, because our jobs are already taking up our time and energy.
I’ll talk about a few things I’m dropping in the new year in the following sections.
The second step of this process is to automate whatever possible.
I’ve long been a fan of automation. It’s literally been essential to being able to grow my business while teaching full-time. I automate my email marketing, my social media posting… even my Facebook “Lives” are pre-recorded because my family schedule doesn’t allow me to be available every Wednesday at 9pm.
Just note that before you start automating, you eliminate. There are a ton of tools available to help you automate pretty much anything, but most of them will cost you money, and they require time and energy to set up. Don’t waste your limited time and money on tools that help you with things you don’t even need to be doing.
Finally, if there are things that are keeping you from moving forward or making money, it’s time to consider hiring someone to help you.
This person could be someone you work with in person or virtually, and can work as little as a few hours a week. You could also hire them on a project-by-project basis to take care of things you need done, but not on an ongoing basis.
In the past I’ve hired people to help me with SEO, graphics creation, email writing, customer support, and more.
All In on the Facebook Group
While I have a presence on multiple social media platforms, the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group has been my primary focus for a long time. In 2023, I’m going to go all in on this platform.
I’ve even deactivated my Twitter account.
Side Note: My deactivation decision was based on the fact that I never use Twitter myself (I find it annoying) and it’s the only platform on which I couldn’t get the handle of Side Hustle Teachers. Elon Musk didn’t factor in at all.
Also, though I’m not leaving Pinterest all together, since it’s not a major source of traffic for me, I’m paring back on my use. I’m only creating one pin per post, and everything is automatically posted. It’s very hands off – if it weren’t I wouldn’t use it.
Even my Facebook page isn’t a priority for me. Meta has been making it harder for pages to reach people organically (read: without paying) for a while, and it’s just not worth it for me.
Instead, my attention has been on, and will continue to go to the ever growing group of teachers that I’ve built over the last 3 years.
The group includes (mostly) daily prompts for members to share their thoughts, content, and wisdom. There are also weekly videos released on Wednesday that address mindset and common blocks that teachers hit when building a business.
My goal is to use the time I’ve freed up in other areas to be able to interact more with the SHT group members. When I take on too many things, my connections suffer… but the connections made through this business are one of my favorite parts!
All Roads Lead to Teacher Blog Academy
One of my biggest stumbling blocks as an entrepreneur has been creating too much stuff. This might just be me… or it could be a teacher trait since we’re all expected to be prolific in our classrooms.
If you’ve been around Side Hustle Teachers since the beginning, you may remember that I used to have a membership program. On top of that I sold each course from the membership separately… and I just kept making courses!
It was exhausting, and a constant struggle. I was creating, and promoting, and delivering digital courses all at the same time. And don’t forget about the weekly free content for my website and social media.
It took longer than it should have, but I finally figured out that that was a recipe for burnout.
The past year (ish) I’ve had 3 course offerings, with the Teacher Blog Academy being my signature program.
In 2023 TBA is going to be my sole course.
I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to make it work, but when I am realistic about my life, I just don’t have time to promote 3 different courses. So now all roads are going to lead to Teacher Blog Academy.
Last year much of my time and energy was put towards creating TBA, launching it, delivering it, and creating an automatic system that would regularly promote the course for me.
I was also putting out this weekly blogcast, and trying to be as present for the SHT community… and, oh yeah, I have a job and a family.
One of the balls I (by choice) dropped was promoting myself outside the SHT bubble.
In 2023 I’m going to be reaching out to more podcasters and entrepreneurs for collaboration.
Even though I’m a blogger at heart, I love podcasts as a way to reach new audiences… though I’m definitely open to other opportunities, too.
Hint: If you’d like to have me as a guest on your show, blog, video series, summit, etc. reach out and we’ll see if we can make it happen!
While the Side Hustle Teachers community is still growing, I know that there are more teachers out there who I can help.
I just have to reach them first.
This is definitely a priority in the new year.
Start My Book
Last, but not least, I’ve been thinking about writing a book for a reeeeeeeally long time, and I think this might be the year to make it happen.
A book is not only a fantastic way to help more people – especially if Teacher Blog Academy is my sole offering – but it can also serve as a business card and help get my name and this community out to more teachers.
Over the last 6 months all the potential topics, names, chapters, and themes I’ve had in my head for years have started to coalesce, which I’m taking as a sign to get started.
I’ll be self-publishing, and I’m hoping to have it ready for release for next Thanksgiving.
Stay tuned! And if you’re a member of the Facebook group, I’ll definitely be asking for stories, experiences, and opinions along the way!
If you haven’t started to look forward to the year ahead, maybe this will give you a little inspiration.
It’s so important to pause for a moment and get out of the “plan, craft, distribute” cycle of content so that you can think about where your business has been, how it’s changed, and where you want it to go from here.
Maybe that means you need to take a break from your blog for a little while. I’m going live in the Facebook group to talk about how I’m taking the month of December off and why giving yourself space to think is so important. Tune in live on Wednesday at 9pm!