Gain cash, personal rewards as a teacher - It's not for the money

Article Index
Gain cash, personal rewards as a teacher
It's not for the money
All Pages

If teaching outside of your shop, be prepared for problems such as poorly maintained equipment, inadequate space and missing project parts. You won’t have much — or any — input regarding the price of the class, and the payment schedule is often erratic.

The cost of insurance and the risks involved in teaching in your studio must also be taken into consideration. If your studio is on the same property as your home, then all of your assets, including your home, may be at risk. It would be a good idea to speak with an insurance agent or an attorney to help evaluate the legal and financial risks.

Blending teaching into a production shop requires the ability to juggle work with students’ schedules. Most students, including retirees, surprisingly only want to take classes in the evenings or on weekends.

It’s not for the money
One should go into teaching for the same reason one loves woodworking. We make furniture and teach because in some ways we are compelled to do it. For the most part, there is not a good deal of money to be made teaching, any more than there is a lot of money to be made in woodworking.

Keep in mind it takes a good deal of time to talk with potential students and arrange schedules. You also will need to keep track of and contact past and potential students for mass mailings about future classes. The easiest way is to set up classes through a local store or school and let them handle the details.

If you are going to teach in your studio, I would suggest you develop a brochure. The brochure should list a variety of classes with a well-written description, specific class dates and a brief biography. Bear in mind that some classes may end up being canceled because of a lack of students.

On the road
When traveling to teach or demonstrate, there are a number of expenses that should be considered. I can usually ask for and receive some compensation for traveling expenses, but the sum rarely covers all of my costs.

If you’re flying, you will need to consider how to get your tools and materials to the site. It is best to ship well in advance so if anything is lost or damaged, arrangements can be made for replacement. If shipping dyes, paints, CA glue or other chemicals, it’s possible they’ll be confiscated en route.

Always get specifics on the type of machinery available for your class or demonstration. Be prepared for the unknown because sometimes the information on the type of machinery is wrong or a bit misleading.

The rewards of teaching
I enjoy helping others learn, and I get a kick out of their feeling of accomplishment over minor successes. I especially enjoy the pride I feel when my students’ work is technically better and more creative than mine. It is one of the best ways I know to pull me away from the solitude of my studio. I also enjoy the social interaction of meeting people from all walks of life.

Do I make enough to justify the extra work and the loss of my free time? I think if I charged more and spent more time coordinating several demonstrations or workshops in the same trip, my bottom line would improve. Teaching also affects my business in subtle ways such as better name recognition.

My woodworking skills improve every time I teach. My students expose me to a whole new set of ideas and designs. The money I earn is a pleasant addition to my bottom line, and I doubt I could give it up, any more than I could stop working with wood. The personal satisfaction and the emotional rewards are just too great to pass up.