Primary and Secondary School Curriculum Writer

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

Teachers have simply never needed more help. In part because of pandemic-related career shifts and tightened school district budgets, there’s a shortage of educators nationally, and so those who remain need effective tools more than ever. Having access to school curricula that produce reliable academic results is enormously valuable, and professionals who know how to produce them are increasingly in demand.

Ask the Expert: Lisa Collum, Author and CEO of Top Score Writing

What is the first step to getting started in the curriculum writing industry?

There are three basic steps:

• Create your curriculum, making sure it’s both valuable and tested.

• Create your business name.

• Share it with people. Let teachers use portions of your product for free. Get testimonials and data to show that it works, and post on social media.

Is the industry growing?

Absolutely. Education is ever-evolving: Standards change, testing methods change and areas of focus change, and therefore so does classroom curricula. In this industry, it’s important to keep up with these pivots and trends.

The type of growth that can be realistically expected year-over-year depends on how much time and money is put into marketing. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 100,000 public and private K-12 schools in the U.S. alone. If a company puts real marketing dollars behind reaching out to them, and provided that the product is recognized as a valuable resource, the company could reasonably see its revenue double or triple each year.

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What are the current trends in curriculum writing and what type of person is a great fit to try this?

One of the biggest trends in education today is the move to digital resources. Most schools are shifting away from print books, or are looking for combination packages with both print and digital resources. A lot of schools are not buying workbooks for students anymore: instead, they are giving them Chromebooks to do their work on. Another big trend is college readiness.

This business is a great fit for anyone who is an educator. If that’s the case, you can create a curriculum based on whatever your specialty is. Whether it’s writing, math, reading or any other subject, you can create lessons, activities and resources that worked in your classroom, and then allow other teachers to try them.

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

In the first year, it depends on how much time and effort you put in. You may only sell a few lessons and make $100, or you could put together a very sought-after curriculum and make $10,000. Depending on your product and marketing plan, in five years you could be making $100,000 or more. If you’re running the business as a side hustle, it may build slower, but if it's something you work at full force, putting enough resources and money into it, you will build faster.

Related: Need One-on-One Help? Book a Session with an Entrepreneur Expert.

What kind of experience/training do you need?

A background in education. It's important for you to know what problems you're solving, so that each curriculum is providing solutions and proven resources. Therefore, it’s usually necessary to have a degree in education and experience in teaching in order to be able to create something of value.

What do you wish you’d known when you were just starting out?

One of the biggest things I figured out along the way was that, unlike most industries, when it comes to education, you’ll find more success by not focusing on selling to the top of the food chain when starting out. In most industries, you sell to the decision-maker, but in education, you should start with the teachers themselves. So, don’t go first to the superintendent of a school district: Give teachers an opportunity to try portions of your curriculum and see that it works. They are the people who need it, and who will hopefully like and want it. Plus, teachers trust other teachers. When your product works in the classroom, with actual students benefiting, they will share that information with others and will then go to their administrators and ask for it.

Who are your customers?

School administrators, teachers and parents. I find new ones through social media, email marketing and school events such as conferences.

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable to getting your business off the ground?

One resource that was extremely valuable to me was social media. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter not only provide free or low-cost ways of getting your product noticed, but they are also useful resources for learning about this industry, and about your competitors. I learn from other companies’ platforms by watching their results, seeing what is and isn’t working for them, how customers respond to their posts and how they are reaching people. The idea is not to copy but to learn from them.

Another way social media can help get a business off the ground is by marketing through sharing your expertise and adding value. For example, if your curriculum is about math, post valuable math tips: Try to become the go-to expert in your field, and build your social media sites as places where people can go to get helpful tips, free samples of your materials and expert advice. Also, let customers see that your product works by posting photos, videos and testimonials.

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