When most adults think of writing, they imagine slaving away from dawn ‘til dusk on the next great American (or… insert your country here) novel. The truth is, though, written information adults - and especially teachers - interact with on a daily basis is largely non-fiction (email, curriculum, lesson plans - well, we hope those are non-fiction!).
Let’s shift focus, then, from becoming the next J.K. Rowling to contributing to the working world of nonfiction (for the most part - if you’re a fiction writer through and through, there is a little information for you as well, but the focus here will be on making some moolah with non-fiction for this post).
For many teachers, especially those who teach English or Language Arts, writing is a natural transition for seasonal or side hustles. Many of these jobs are remote, so you never even meet the people you work for.
If you’re just starting out in writing, you may not make a lot of money to begin with, but there are many opportunities, as well as the need for varied types of content.
If you’ve been teaching for a while, have an advanced degree, or have expertise in any area (even outside education), this may be a great fit for you.
We’ve ranked our list from “dabbling” to “pretty serious about writing”. If you’re hoping to transition to a full-time career, starting in the “dabbling” areas can help you get a good feel for your voice, style, and favorite kind of content.
If you’ve been writing as an amateur or already been a freelancer for a while, consider taking the next step toward an eventual second career. People make careers from their former hobbies every day. Maybe it’s your turn!
The great thing about teaching is that if you do want to make a switch, the seasonal breaks in your education career make working on enhancing a second career fairly practical.
When searching online for writing gigs as a side hustle, use the word “freelancer”. If you don’t want to go to a physical office, search for jobs that are “remote”. You may also want to search for jobs that are specifically part-time or seasonal, depending on what your goal is.
One note of caution: there are many scams for writers. Don’t ever pay to do a job! Don’t send your personal information to anyone unless you can verify in some way that they are a legit company. Don’t give anyone your bank account number, either. It’s best to go through a “filter” service to receive payments, like Paypal, Venmo, Square, or Amazon Pay. That way, people you do business with never have to have your personal account number.
And never fall for the “Oh, you have to buy this computer and we’ll send you a refund,” scam. Just educate yourself on types of scams out there and be aware of your cyber “surroundings”, especially when thinking of working remotely.
Freelance Social Media Manager
Most companies use social media managers to monitor and keep up with their social media accounts. If you’re already a social media expert, check out the jobs boards on your favorite brands. You may be able to find some “micro-writing” jobs writing about things you already love.
The same is true for blogging. There are usually job boards for absolutely anything you use daily, like, or recommend. Check your favorite brands for their job boards, and check them regularly. If you already follow the brand on social media, you’re ahead of the game already because you’re reading the content they put out.
Think like a writer as you peruse your personal social media accounts. Determine if you could produce that kind of writing. Research social media management jobs and see if that may be the right fit for you.
Medium is kind of the opposite of the social media management gig. Medium is a platform for all writers, in any genre, about any subject. Anyone can use the platform, and you can become a paid writer when people like your content (to be Medium-lingo-specific, they “clap” for you).
It takes a while to get a following, but there’s a lot of opportunity. You may also find quite a few folks writing about things you are interested in. It’s a great place to get some experience and learn a lot about a lot of different things.
Local News, Interest Magazines, and Regional Blogs
If you live in a small-to-mid-sized town, there may be opportunities available with your local newspaper. Some columnists start out submitting articles for free, then get picked up for pay if they are something the community enjoys.
You can always start by speaking with the editor of the paper about submitting a short series on something useful for the community, whether you’re a person who knows a lot about nature, want to write about early childhood school readiness skills, or you’d like to cover school events for the paper if they don’t already have someone doing it.
There are also lots of publications in bigger cities with many opportunities to write about events, tourist attractions, and things only someone living in the city would know.
Most states and regions have publications as well. There are travel blogs, “10 things to do in (insert your city here)”, and other publications that might be within your realm of writing expertise.
You can usually find these opportunities just by searching through your search engine.
A Personal Blog or Website
If you’ve got enough time and want to work at your own pace, you might consider starting your own blog. There are so many resources available out there for personal blogging or creating your own website.
This is a great idea that can be combined with many of the other suggestions here, as well. It’s almost impossible to do well in writing and not have your own “platform” via blog or website these days.
If you plan to freelance, write for others, or just want a place to share your own ideas and thoughts, this is definitely a great way to keep track of your writing, have a place for potential clients to access your work samples (of which you’ll want to create before beginning a blog or sharing a website), and “home” to refer back to as you branch out.
A huge plus for this is that it can also help your educational career. Having a professional website or blog can be a huge plus for future career opportunities.
Education Magazines, Websites, and Blogs
There are so many of these in existence, and many of them look for articles written by people in the field all the time. If you already follow blogs, read professional development magazines, or have a stash of sites bookmarked, you’re on the right track already.
Each of these has its own set of guidelines for the length, type, style, and details they prefer to receive from writers who submit articles. You’ll also find all the information you need to be able to contact the person who receives submissions.
Anytime you submit to any publication, be sure you’ve familiarized yourself with the writing already there first. You should be familiar with the overall tone and message of the publication. Most want you to be sure your own writing fits well with the overall content already there.
Parenting Magazines, Websites, and Blogs
Teachers have a unique perspective on the growth and development of children and young people, and your perspective is especially coveted if you are both a teacher and a parent.
The writing for parenting publications are just a bit less formal, and a lot more helpful if they’re down-to-earth and compassionate toward the position of families. Be careful not to write in a condescending tone or speak down to parents in any way, but do show your expertise and offer practical advice.
Parenting publications work in the same way educational publications do. You’ll be able to find the information within the publications themselves (or on websites if you’re considering writing articles for magazines).
And again, be sure you familiarize yourself with the content of the publication before submitting to them.
Jobs board on Education Writer’s Association Website
There is an organization specifically for education writers. You’ll be able to find specific jobs and submission information on their website here. The website has other resources and information, too. It’s very helpful if you are a bit more serious about making a more long term career out of writing.
Your Favorite Publisher for Curriculum or Printed Lesson Materials
You know the curriculum and materials sitting in your classroom now? Have you ever looked at them and thought, “I could totally do this - and probably even better!”
Great news! You’re welcome to try!
All of the major curriculum and publishers have websites with information about submissions just like the parenting and educational publications above. Just type in the name of your favorite publisher and look for “careers” or “write for (publisher name here)”
Here’s the Macmillan Education Publisher site just to get you familiarized with what they may look like and how most of them are formatted (it was just the first to pop up in my search engine, we have no loyalties and receive no payments for sharing the information) - http://www.macmillaneducation.com/authors/
Write for the Homeschooling Market
Late last year we posted a blog about how homeschooling is really growing and expanding. One thing has not changed with that expansion though - materials.
Curriculum for homeschooling families is often outdated, primarily (and heavily) Christian (although families of many religions are now also homeschooling and really need materials - preferably non-religious in tone so many families can use them), and not always scientifically accurate. Much of it is lacking in attractiveness, and unfortunately, it is often not educationally sound since it’s based on some antiquated notions about learning we had in decades past.
There is an enormous need for quality, attractive, educationally sound materials.
It needs to be very well-priced because many homeschooling families give up careers in order to homeschool their children.
If you can tap into that market, you can make a lot of headway right now.
Parents need a curriculum, instruction on how and what to teach, scope and sequences, blogs, and “how-to”s.
They don’t necessarily care how long you’ve been teaching, about your credentials, or what you’re certified in, they just need good interactive, fun, engaging materials for one child or very small groups of children.
Write lesson plans and curriculum and activities like you would for a dream day in your class - you know, when everyone has the flu or is on an unexpected family vacation to a theme park with a famous mouse or something and you only have three kids all day.
Self-Publishing and Ebooks
Speaking of homeschooling families, this could tie into that idea. While there are specific publishers for homeschooling materials, self-publishing and ebooks are also a popular option.
For this option, though, you don’t have to write about education. Just as you can with your own personal blog, or Medium.com, if you self-publish or create ebooks, you can write about absolutely anything you want.
Also note - we promised we’d have a little nugget of something for you fiction-only folks. Here it is! You can write fiction, you can write your own biography, you can make a compilation for members of your family about people in your family.
There is no limit!
There is a huge need for educational non-fiction for students of every age and ability level. Many of the big publishing companies share a very few authors of educational non-fiction texts.
This would be an amazing avenue for teachers who write and also love science, history, fine arts, or math topics. The world needs you! You will be especially sought after if you can write about those things in a funny, quirky, imaginative, or engaging way.
Which brings us to our next (and final) resource.
We’ve saved the best for last!
If you’re serious about writing either as a strong, money-making hobby or a future career, this book is remarkably useful.
In it is a listing of just about every publisher of any type of publication worldwide. Each posting lists the name of the publication, the contact person, exactly what the publication is about, what they are looking for, how much they pay, how to contact them for more information, and more.
They do publish sections of the book separately if you know specifically what you want to write.