Minnie: Hi, everyone. This is Minnie, again, with the latest episode of our podcast uSpeak. I hope all of you are ready for the holiday season and looking forward to spending time with your loved ones. A few days back I got installed the holiday lights at my house and my tree is up, too.
So, now I can’t wait to introduce my guest today. She started as a teacher and soon became an entrepreneur. She has been featured on many platforms, such as CNBC, The Huffington Post, Bored Teachers, We Are Teacher, and many more. Let me welcome Stacey Ogden, founder of Side Hustle Teachers and the Eduepreneur Academy. Hi, Stacey! A very warm welcome to you
Stacey: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.
Minnie: How are you?
Stacey: I’m doing great. How are you?
Minnie: I am good, good, good.
Let’s start. Can you start from the beginning? Why did you become a teacher? What was the motivation behind that?
Stacey: Oh, gosh. I actually was one of those people that I decided I was going to be a music teacher when I was 9 years old. And I remember very vividly, at my grandmother’s house, I was playing with my sister in the back room and we were probably playing some sort of school something. I walked into the kitchen where all the adults were sitting and talking and drinking their coffee, and I said, “I’m going to be a music teacher.” It was – let’s see. That was – that was 35 years ago and I never wavered from that. Through school, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I went to school to be a music teacher and it was just – I don’t know – I feel like it was just in my blood.
Minnie: I did not know that you are a music teacher. What kind of music you pursue?
Stacey: I teach middle school general music and I also do the chorus program at my school.
Minnie: Okay, that’s good. So, you must be a very good singer. I do not try singing. Have you tried singing for – commercially?
Stacey: I don’t enjoy performing, myself. I really like working with the kids and directing them. And I like singing with other people. But even when I was a kid and I would sing the national anthem for local politicians or basketball games or whatever I just – I still don’t remember what happened because I completely blocked it out. I just don’t enjoy performing. But yeah, teaching has always been where my heart is.
Minnie: And do you play any instrument?
Stacey: I can play Hot Cross Buns on pretty much anything you put in front of me. But playing an instrument – I’m okay at the piano. I can make do on a couple of string instruments and a ukulele. But I was definitely a voice person. My voice was my instrument.
Minnie: Great. All right. So, why did you think teachers needed a side gig and chose blogging as a topic for that?
Stacey: I actually didn’t want a side hustle when I started my business. I wanted to get out of teaching. After I had my daughter, I had the fortune of staying home with her for seven months. And when I went back to work I just – I resented being there. I didn’t like the things – the changes that were happening in education. I wanted a way out. So, I started – and I didn’t start with a blog. I started with a direct sales company. That was just not a good fit. So, my blog, my first blog, was actually a desperate, last-ditch attempt to make this other business work. And fortunately, the other business I let it go because it was just not – there were lots of red flags, let’s just put it that way.
But the blog I loved. And I loved writing about – my first blog was about being a mom and being a busy, working mom and trying to juggle all the things and how to make things easier. And I really enjoyed writing about that. So, my first – I decided – okay, let’s see if I can make some money this way. And my first month I made $2.11. It was the best $2.11 I’ve ever made in my life because I knew if I could make $2.00 I could make more. So, the next month I made $40.00 and then I made $65.00 and then I had my first $100.00 month. And then within a year, I was regularly having $500.00, $600.00 months. By the time I sold that blog, it was bringing in, regularly, several thousand dollars a month.
I realized that this type of side hustle is ideal for teachers because it has all the things that teachers need. It uses your teacher skills. It lets you work where and when you want. You don’t have a boss; you are your own boss. And it lets you make money in lots of different ways. All of those things put together make this side hustle that is so flexible and so customizable that any teacher, with any busy schedule, can do it and be successful without having to burn the candle on both ends and just end up flaming out.
That’s how I ended up creating the Teacher Blog Academy, which is now my signature program. I just – I really decided to focus on this blogging because for me it has been life-changing and the more I see my students succeed the more I see the potential behind this platform.
Minnie: Before you started this blog, did you know that you are good at writing? Did you know you –
Stacey: No. No.
Minnie: Good for you.
Stacey: Actually, my sister was the writer in our family. She was an English major. She loved to write. And I always felt that my writing was kind of pedestrian compared to hers. But that’s the nice things about blogging; you don’t have to be a super-fancy writer. I have bad grammar all the time. I make spelling mistakes. I put commas where they don’t belong. I get really comma happy, sometimes. It’s okay as a blogger because they’re not reading for grammatical and writing perfection. They’re reading for your content and your experience and your voice. So, for me that was like – that was one of the scariest things about it, putting myself out there as a “writer” when I didn’t feel like one. But blogging has this informal feel to it that you don’t have to be – you don’t have to be Hemingway; you can be Stacey Ogden and it’s totally fine and people really relate to that.
Minnie: Whatever you are saying that tells me that you cannot be a very good transcriptionist.
Stacey: No, that would not be a great side hustle for me.
Minnie: I feel that – what we do here at DCI, we offer a course in general transcription, and we have a job board that matches transcriptionist and translators to transcription companies seeking their services. We also have a discussion board for students to interact with each other. In addition, we also have accuracy assessment tools for someone who wants to learn their transcription. Most of them are women who are involved in this field. And obviously, when we – what we offer, this transcription course, through that they can become a successful transcriptionist. That’s what that was about. That’s what we offer.
Anyway, how do you choose your blog topics?
Stacey: There’s a couple of ways. Sometimes they honestly just come to me in this – it’s almost like the universe is just going, “Here’s what you should write about.” Then other times, it’s based on questions I’m getting from my audience. Sometimes I read content from other people and I’m like “Yeah, but –”
My audience is teachers, and they can’t – there are some things that if you read an article about build a website in a weekend, well, that’s great but teachers don’t have weekends off. We don’t physically go the school building, most of us. Some people do because they have side gigs at the school. But we don’t have weekends completely off. We have to prep for the week ahead. We have to grade papers from the last week. We have to – there’s all sort of stuff to do. So, we don’t have the ability that someone with a 9-to-5 job, where you show up at 9:00 and you leave at 5:00 and work stays at work and your home is your home.
I find sometimes I have to take these articles that have really good ideas and a really good foundation behind them, and I put them in a format that actually works for teachers. A lot of the things that people do, they just don’t. They don’t take into account the caring professions. And I would say this applies also to nursing and to the other professions where you’re a carer; you’re a caregiver for other people during the day. It’s really hard to leave that work at work.
I try to come up with three months’ worth of content at a time, so that when I start the next cycle, I have my next 12 weeks planned out. I know what I’m gonna be writing about. I know how that is going to promote my course. I know how the sequence is gonna work so that people – it doesn’t feel kind of all over the place.
But when I first started, it was literally, “Hmm. I have to publish a blog post tomorrow. What am I gonna write about? How about this?” That was – and it was fine. It wasn’t as smooth, and it wasn’t as strategic but it still worked and I still built a successful blog that way.
So, either way, if you’re writing your blog posts the night before they’re about to be published and you’re just coming up with topics on the fly, as long as they’re in your niche, that works, too. And then once you get a handle on it and once you get to know your audience better you can start looking ahead and start planning. I know people who plan their entire year’s worth of content out before the next year. I just don’t have that ability. I can’t think beyond three months. Even that was a stretch. I had to work my way up to it.
Minnie: It’s like any other business; practice makes it perfect and organized. Right?
Minnie: In the beginning you are scrambling and then, after some time, you are – you become a real pro.
How big is your teacher’s community? And what kind of support you provide to them?
Stacey: I have – I provide support in a couple of different ways. I have a community of a Facebook group that is free to anybody that can enter. And there’s – we’re approaching 12,000 members in the group, right now. And they are in all stages of creating any business. There’s no gatekeeper that says you have to be interested in blogging to get in. I definitely talk about blogging a lot because that’s my heart, that’s where I shine. But people can come in and it’s a really active community where people are sharing and asking questions. And I’m ruthless about deleting spam. So, I think that also helps the community keep engaged because they know they’re not going to deal with that. That’s one of my favorite places to hang out on the internet, my own Facebook group which is called Side Hustle Teachers or the Side Hustle Teachers community.
Then, in my courses I’ve got a couple hundred students who are going through different courses that I offer. But at the moment I’m in the process of paring down to just one course offering. So, I’m actually going to be switching some of my current, really low-price courses to just free; just have it. “Here you go. I want you to get started and then when you’re ready, Teacher Blog Academy will be there for you, and you can jump in and get going.” So, there’s a couple hundred students in that universe and I have a Facebook group for them as well.
The support that everybody gets is they have – I’m very active in the Facebook group. I post regularly. I post comments. I do a weekly – it’s not a live – it’s a recorded video that I post every week because I can’t, with my schedule and my family schedule, I can’t be live every week at the same time. So, every Wednesday at 9:00 a video goes live in my Facebook group to talk about mindset issues, things that are coming up that I see in the time – in this time of year.
And then if you’re in the paid group, which is for the Teacher Blog Academy members, I’m also very hands-on with their questions. Part of their package is what I call micro-coaching. I’ve found, over the years, that my students are not really available for a regular, monthly call. I’ve offered that in the past and a few people show up but I get a lot of messages saying, “I can’t be there because I have to do X, Y, and Z.” And like I said, teachers don’t work 9 to 5, or even 7 to 3. We have very irregular schedules; we have papers; we have stuff we need to do outside of school. So, for me, I would notice that our teachers were not able to do that.
So, I took a page from my friend Dana Malstaff’s course that I’m in and I’m doing micro-coaching. Any time a student in Teacher Blog Academy posts a question in the Facebook group, they get a video response from me. It might be a video walking them through something tech-wise. It might be a video of me showing – I might do a walkthrough of their blog site to answer a question or make a recommendation. It might be just me talking at them and answering their questions. But they get, within 24 hours usually, an answer to their question that they have, which has been really successful for my students because they don’t have to wait until some monthly call. They get their answer right away. And it works for them because, like I said, they just have such irregular schedules, let’s put it that way, hard to work with schedules, that having something like this on-demand micro-coaching has been really a game changer for my students, I think.
So, besides the course itself which provides videos and workbooks and all that stuff, the micro-coaching, I think, is where the real value is because once you get – if you have a question like “I took this module the other day and I don’t understand. Can you explain this?” or “Can you show me what that would look like on my website?” or “Where would you put this or how would you word this?” The questions that come in are very varied and because the answers are posted in a group, then everybody can benefit from the answer, too.
It’s one of my favorite things about the course. It’s one of the biggest changes I made with this particular program and it’s working out really, really, well.
Minnie: So, when did you form this micro-coaching?
Stacey: I’m sorry?
Minnie: When did you form this micro-coaching? When did you –?
Stacey: Teacher Blog Academy launched in April of 2022. That was part of it from the beginning. Other courses that I’ve had over the years – I had a program, a membership program called Edupreneur Academy – I like the word ‘academy,’ if you can’t tell. I had a program called Edupreneur Academy that was more general business-focused and not so blog focused that we had monthly calls. It was the same couple people who were showing up all the time and I would notice that 90 percent of our students weren’t engaging in these calls. So, when I created the new course and I retired Edupreneur Academy, I really said, “We’ve gotta do something about this. I want my students to be able to access me. I can’t be available 24/7 to them because I have a life and I want boundaries. But I want them to get answers to their questions.” So, the micro-coaching has really, really worked out for that particular program.
Minnie: Okay. So, you don’t have to be live all the time –
Stacey: I can’t. I teach so I can’t be answering questions on – I used to have coaching via Voxer in my old course, too, for some of the VIP members. I can’t do that. I can’t be answering a Voxer when I’m trying to run a chorus rehearsal. “Hold on, kids. Just let me stop and answer this person who has a question about whether or not they should invest in this program.” It just didn’t work out, that way. It allows me to have boundaries for myself. It allows my students to access me regularly, as opposed to having to wait and then nobody has to figure out a schedule, like “When can I set aside an hour to sit on a call with Stacey?” That has been – that’s been a big game changer for us.
Minnie: And then, now, let’s talk about your business model. How does it work?
Stacey: In what sense?
Minnie: How do you make money? What – I know you have this Facebook group. You have this – we’ll talk about it. I was going to ask you next what is Teacher Blog Academy. So, you have all these courses there, right, in the Teacher Blog Academy?
Stacey: Yeah. The Teacher Blog Academy is one signature course. That’s where, probably, the 60 percent to 70 percent of my income comes from is that course. But I also have affiliates responsibilities or affiliate relationships with people. So, I have – not everybody wants to be a blogger. There are other really popular side hustles for teachers. So, I have partnerships with people who offer courses in those things, so that when my students or when my group members say, “I really want a side hustle but I’m thinking about doing something else,” I have someone that I can refer them to and I make affiliate income from that.
I also have very few – I tried this as an experiment and I’m not sure how it’s – how long it’s gonna last. But at the moment, I have ads on my website on the blog pages. I wanted to give an example of what it would look like and I figured why not? Give it a try and see how it works. And it’s ads; it’s not really a huge money maker but it’s a little bit of something and every little bit helps. But my two primary focuses are the course and affiliate income. And then during the summer months I also offer one-on-one coaching for students who might be a little bit further along in their blogging journey or in their business journey so that they need some more one-on-one advice and less beginner, step-by-step how-to-get- started blogging.
Minnie: So, you only do it for teachers. Suppose if I want to be your student, can I be your student and you can teach me? Or I can go to your Teacher Blog Academy? Can I and enroll?
Stacey: Absolutely. I started letting non-teachers into the side hustle teachers’ community, the Facebook group, about a year ago because there were a lot of people who were like “I’m not a teacher but I feel like I can’t relate to some of the other things out there.” So, while I do focus on teachers, they are my target audience. If there are other people – I’ve had nurses who come through some of my courses because it’s the same sort of – the same sort of scheduling challenges. It’s the same sort of mental load that nurses carry and teachers carry; and not having set hours and not having to – not being able to leave your work at work. So, there are people who are definitely not teachers but they can benefit from it because they want to build a business that is flexible and doesn’t require hustle and grind.
That’s my focus as an entrepreneur; I want to have time. I have a foster cat, now, because I have time to take that – to take in animals that need temporary homes before they get adopted. I spend time with my daughter. I enjoy just spending time by myself and not having to work. So, even if you’re not a teacher, you can absolutely benefit from it. There might be one or two references that go over your head when I’m talking about something about the classroom or students or teacher administration. But it’s kind of like saying you don’t have to work in an office to enjoy the show The Office. I’ve never worked in an office setting but I can completely relate to and understand the characters on that show. So, even if you’re not a teacher you can absolutely, 100 percent benefit from Teacher Blog Academy.
Minnie: Somehow, I thought that I saw a few courses there that you offer for teachers or anybody who wants to go to that academy. So, you are saying that you just have one program. Right? On Teacher Blog Academy?
Stacey: At the moment, as we’re speaking right now on December 7th in 2022, I have three courses. I am in the process of, for the new year, phasing out the two smaller courses and just focusing on Teacher Blog Academy. The Wicked Easy Website course, I’m just gonna be giving it away for free for people who wanna get started. Partly because that also makes me pretty good affiliate income because there’s a lot of recommended links in there, and partly because I know that when people get started, they’re more likely to keep going. So, that’s a strategic decision on my part, to make that particular course free so that people will get started and they wanna know what the next step is, and the next step is Teacher Blog Academy.
The other one, Content Made Simple, I’ll probably do an episode about and then a podcast episode or a blog post about where I give away the template that’s in there and let that just be a freebie, as opposed to a course.
But we’re working toward having a single offering because I am all about simplifying. Any time I can make my life easier that’s what I do.
Minnie: Good. Good for you.
Also, you have a long list of resources on your website. Would you like to tell us about those?
Stacey: I do. I get a lot of questions about what do you use for X, Y, and Z. So, I have – I call my blog a blogcast because I understand that people aren’t always able to sit and read, especially if they’re busy and walking around. So, I actually take every blog post that I write and I read it onto Libsyn and I upload it as a podcast. So, people can read or listen or both. I get asked about what’s the equipment I use. I get asked about who do I use for my website hosting. I get asked about tools I use. So, you might imagine that when you have a foster cat there are sometimes noises in the background. And when I have children in the house, my daughter and my husband or the neighbor decides to use a leaf blower, how do I keep the noise down and I have a free app that I use. So, all those things that people ask for recommendations I usually will do a post in the Facebook group and then I’ll add a link to my resources page, just so it’s there and people can access it whenever they need to.
Minnie: Great. All right.
That was, to some extent, all work talk. Now, let me ask you some fun questions as I still have a few minutes left.
What is one thing you wanna buy for yourself this Christmas?
Stacey: Oh. That’s a good question. What is one thing I wanna buy for myself? I’d really like to redo my kitchen, but I think that might be asking a bit much of Santa.
This is kind of weird, but I’ve been looking into getting a bidet. I want my husband to get a bidet installed.
Minnie: Trust me on that. That is the best buy you can – That’s the best thing we bought.
Stacey: Yes! Everybody says so. Everybody says so. That’s actually on my Christmas list this year. It’s probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever asked for.
Minnie: And it’s the best thing. You can just buy it on Amazon, all the seats. You don’t even have to buy the whole thing. Just buy the seat and it still works fine. It’s like – amazing.
Stacey: Exactly. That’s where we’re going. That’s what I want Santa to bring this year.
Stacey: – Santa bring a bidet.
Minnie: – Santa will bring a bidet for you. I hope Santa is listening.
Stacey: I hope he is, too.
Minnie: And then are you all done with decorating and shopping?
Stacey: No. No. We actually are having a party this weekend and we need to finish up decorating before people show up. I think a lot of it is done. But shopping? I don't know. I think I’m kind of – I’m not done but I’m in a good place. And I actually hire a teenager – she’s a teenager now. She wasn’t when she started – up the street to wrap presents for me. So, that’s been a game changer. Oh, my gosh!
Minnie: Good for you.
Stacey: I bring everything up in a box and I say, “Here you go. Can you wrap these up for me?” And then I pick them up a couple days before Christmas and it’s fantastic. Not only do I not have to worry about my daughter stumbling over all her Christmas presents in the house, but I don’t have to wrap them.
Minnie: Perfect. Good for both of you. I’m sure that kid would be happy to help you and –
Stacey: Yes! Great! She makes money. I’m starting a little entrepreneurial world even in my neighborhood.
Minnie: Yes. Good. Since you are a teacher, I’m sure you love to read. So, who’s your favorite author and what is your favorite book?
Stacey: Oh, okay. Right now, I’m on a Denise Duffield-Thomas kick. I’m really enjoying her books. The one I’m reading right now is Chill and Prosper. It’s actually – the earlier version of this book is what inspired me to completely revamp the Teacher Blog Academy before I even released it. I hadn’t recorded anything, but I had all of the modules and all the lessons, and everything mapped out. I was listening to this book, and I was like “Oh. This is way too much. This is just – it’s gonna be overwhelming. It’s exactly the hustle and grind that I don’t want to be promoting.” So, I completely redid the course based on reading that book. And it’s so much better for it.
I kinda go back and reread. And I love Jen Sincero, as well. I’m really into mental health, self-help, be-your-best-self kind of books. Those are my two favorites, right now.
Minnie: Okay. Good. Good for you. And you sounded so much like my husband. He keeps reading all his books and he keeps changing his business ideas. He will just apply whatever he learned from that book. I think it’s a good thing. Right?
Stacey: Yeah. Absolutely. It means you’re reading the right books if it has an impact.
Minnie: Yes, exactly. Okay. So, we are almost out of time here. Before I let go of you, please tell my audience where and how to find you.
Stacey: Oh, absolutely. My website is quite simply sidehustleteachers.com. That’s where you can find my blogposts and the resources page that we talked about. You can also just go straight to teacherblogacademy.com if you would like to sign up for the program. It’s right there on the front page; you can’t miss it. Or if you’re just interested in connecting with other side hustlers, particularly teachers, but not all teachers, you can search up the side hustle teachers community on Facebook. We’re approaching 12,000 members, right now, so it’s going strong and it’s a really active, engaged community that I love hanging out in. Those are the three best places. I’m on Instagram and all the other things but those are the three best places.
Minnie: Perfect. Okay. Thank you so much, Stacey. It was really lovely to talk to you. I’m sure we all learned a lot from your entrepreneurial journey and that it is never too late to try something new, prevail, and make it a success. You are such a great example of that. All the best to you.
Stacey: Thank you so much.
Minnie: Thank you and have a happy holidays.
Stacey: You, too.
Minnie: Thank you.
All right, everyone. I look forward to our next installment of uSpeak. Please like it, follow it, and share it with anyone who may find it interesting. Please check out our website at www.transcriptioncertificationinstitute.com and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. See you all next time. Bye and happy holidays.
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