Last week I described how your first task with respect to teaching an art class, writing class, or music class is deciding where you will hold it. This week let’s look at your next task: what will you teach?

There may be many things you know. Let’s be a little silly about it: let’s say you are very good at doing eyes, ears, and noses. Will you teach eyes, ears, noses, or all three? Here are some criteria you might use to help you decide:

1) Which do my fellow artists have the most trouble with and where can I be of the most help? Do artists have far more trouble with ears than noses? And do they already know that they have this particular difficulty or will I have to convince them and “sell them” on the need for my class?

2) Which might be the most popular class and draw the largest attendance? Is there a pent-up clientele for ears, have artists written me that they need help with ears, have their been blog posts about how hard ears are? Might this be exactly the right moment for my class on “Your best ears ever!”?

3) Where do I want to build my brand and my reputation? Am I looking not only to teach the occasional class but to teach regularly, several times a year and perhaps around the world? Might I want to follow up with individual instruction, a book or an ebook, or a self-paced downloadable class? If this is more than a one-time affair, what would I like to get known for?

4) In which area do I want to continue learning and growing myself? As well as I paint ears, is there a great deal more about ears that I’d like to learn? Recognizing that teaching is a great way for a teacher to learn and recognizing that my own painting style may grow and deepen by virtue of some new learning, which do I want to teach: ears, eyes, noses, or perhaps all three?

5) Which can best be taught in the number of lessons/classes I envision offering? Maybe part of me would love to do all three, eyes, noses, and ears, but can I adequately cover all three in the four-week class I’m contemplating running? If I really do want to cover all three, if that is both my truest desire and also a smart marketing decision, then ought I to simply offer more class sessions and decide on a six-week class or an eight-week class instead of a four-week class?

The clearer you get about these two fundamental choices, the “where” and the “what,” the better your chances are that you will make teaching work for you. Teaching can be exciting, enjoyable, profitable, and even a game-changer, allowing you to live on your art income and your teaching income. It is or course real work, with all of the downsides of real work. But it may also serve you beautifully and amount to your exact next right step. I hope you’ll give it some thought!


Take a deep writing workshop with Eric Maisel! Come to Esalen in May or Paris in June. More info here:


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