Teaching and education are popular topics for teacher blogs.
It makes sense.
You’re a teacher.
You write about what you know.
Sounds perfect, right?
Well, here’s an unpopular opinion. Your teacher blog shouldn’t be about teaching… or education… or anything school related.
Yep, you read that right. I don’t think teachers should start blogs about teaching.
That may sound counterintuitive, or even just plain wrong, but there are some very solid, practical reasons not to set up your blog around the topic of teaching and learning.
Your Teacher Niche May Change, But Your Blog Niche Shouldn’t
When you start a blog, finding a niche is important. You need to narrow the focus of what you write about so your audience finds you when they search, and you become highly referable. “Oh you want help learning how to refinish colonial furniture? You’ve got to check out Jessica’s blog!”
If you want to know more about niching, check out this blogcast.
So let’s say your niche is 2nd grade classroom management, or even more broadly, early elementary classroom culture. Both of these would be awesome niches, and could be the basis of a successful business.
What happens when your partner gets a new job that takes you out of state, and the only teaching job you can find is in 5th grade? You either have to change your blog topic, or create early elementary blog info while you develop 5th grade lessons.
What if you want to loop with a class you really connected with and follow them up to 3rd grade… Would you reconsider staying with your awesome kids because they don’t fit with your blog? Or would you again be doubling up on work?
What if your principal reads a book that says teachers who stay in the same grade level for more than 5 years become complacent, and decides to arbitrarily change everyone’s teaching assignment? (I have seen this happen.)
When your blog niche is tied to your job, which you don’t have total control of, you run the risk of being put in the tough spot of staying in a grade level, subject, school, or even profession that you feel ready to move on from, or changing the focus of an established blog and setting your business back, or doubling your work trying to keep your blog niche the same while you teach something else.
This is just one reason I recommend choosing a blog topic that has nothing to do with your role in the classroom.
You Need a Break
You teach all day.
You probably spend time at home thinking about, and working on, and planning for your teaching.
Creating a blog that is also about teaching and learning is just more time you have to spend thinking about teaching and learning.
Teaching is already a 24/7 profession (if you let it be), and building a business can be a fantastic way to explore other interests and areas of expertise, give your brain a break from thinking about school, and grow in new ways.
My first blog was centered on mom life, which was the other major focus of my life, having just become a new mom. It was also an area I felt was suffering due to the amount of time I was working or thinking about work.
For me, the blog was a way to force myself to take off my teacher hat, learn news things, and focus on my family. It’s hard to admit, but yes, it took starting a business to get me to refocus on my family.
The interesting thing was the impact it had on my teaching.
- I was more patient with the kids. I didn’t snap at them as much. I had more empathy for the kids who were struggling because I was struggling with learning how to run a business.
- I was more efficient with my time because I really wanted to have time to work on my blog. When I set a hard stop time for all school work at 8pm (and even set an alarm to remind me to stop), I knew I had to focus on the most important things first. All the necessary stuff got done, and I discovered just how much I was doing that I didn’t need to do.
- My burning desire to get out of teaching faded. My blog brought my life back into balance (ish), which helped me see that I wasn’t done with teaching… I was just burnt out. I needed a break, not a divorce.
Being a teacher in this day and age will consume your life if you let it. Do you really want to base your blog and your business on it, too?
Perhaps you’re feeling a bit of teacher guilt creeping in for wanting time away from thinking about all things education. After all, we’re bombarded with messages of teaching being a calling rather than a career, and that teaching isn’t just what we do, but who we are.
And I don’t necessarily disagree on those points.
I was called to be a teacher. It is who I am.
But I don’t think that the universe is so particular as to say that I’m only allowed to teach PreK-12 music in the state of Connecticut. Or that one has to be certified by any institution in order to be considered a teacher.
I was teaching through my mom blog, and I continue to teach via Side Hustle Teachers. And those outlets are just as valid a place to teach as a classroom.
So, if you need someone to tell you it’s okay to care about, be interested in, and even make money from something other than what it says on your teaching certificate, you’ve got it.
You have permission to be a teacher plus. What’s plus? Plus is whatever you want it to be. You can be a teacher plus, a crafter, a fisherman, a songwriter, or a fashionista, a genealogist, astrologer, or candy maker.
You have permission to take off your teacher hat to expand your mind and your bank account.
You have permission to believe that you’re called to teach and impact the world in other ways.
You have permission to identify as a teacher, but still want to be something more.
You have permission to want more than your teaching salary affords.
What Are Your Long-Term Plans?
About half of the teachers in the Side Hustle Teachers Community say that their ultimate goal for their side hustle is to start a business that will help them leave teaching.
And while, you may change your mind – like I did – if you’re going to start a blog with the goal of ultimately leaving the classroom, it doesn’t make sense to build it around education.
For one thing, if you don’t want to continue in teaching, why would you establish a business that is founded on being a teacher? Logic would dictate that you want to spend less time on school-related stuff, not more. (See the previous section, You Need a Break.)
But there’s another issue to consider here.
Have you ever read a teaching book by someone who’s no longer teaching? And while reading that book, did you think to yourself, “That’s great, but you haven’t taught actual students in 20 years, so who are you to tell me what to do,” while angrily closing it and throwing on top of the pile of other books just like it?
This is the same problem I have with most professional development because it’s run by former teachers turned consultants… and don’t get me started on “inspirational” teacher movies.
Once you leave the classroom to run your blog business full time, it’s difficult to maintain authority with teachers. Because, while I believe blogging is a form of teaching, it’s not a classroom, and teachers are quick to dismiss information and advice from people who aren’t “one of them” anymore.
Now, please note that I’m not telling anyone that teacher blogs about teaching are bad or that teachers who start them are making a mistake.
There are many teachers out there whose businesses are education-based, even though they aren’t teaching anymore, and they’re killing it!
If you sell on Teachers Pay Teachers, for example, you don’t need to be actively teaching to create useful resources for teachers. If you have a connection to your community through your blog, they can tell you what they want!
If you consult with schools and work with teachers, your blog can include the real-world examples of the schools and classrooms you visit.
It is possible.
So if you read this post and are thinking, “I really want to start a blog about teaching, but Stacey told me not to…” Nope.
This post came about because a number of clients, students, and community members have reached out recently asking what they should blog about. They were stuck because they felt like the only thing they could write about (as teachers) was teaching.
You can write about anything that lights you up.
You can write about anything you’re good at.
You can write about anything you’re learning about, and take your readers on the journey with you.
You can write about anything.
If you’re ready to get your blog up and running, grab my new free guide, 5 Steps to Start Your Blog Today!